5/27/12 – They say that things happen in threes. I hope they are right, because after three days of driving in whiteout conditions on roads we don't know, we deserve a break. Hasn’t anyone noticed that our license plate says FLORIDA on it?
We left Salt Lake City at 8:30 AM headed for Steamboat Springs, CO. The temperature was a chilling 39 degrees and I was expecting that it would rise. It didn’t. The mountains that I had hoped to photograph this morning were in the clouds. That should have given me a clue. Being the eternal optimist that I am, I decided that all we had to do was get over to the other side of this mountain range and all would be sunny and warm. But as we drove around the mountains, we went higher and higher and the temperature went lower and lower…down to 32 degrees…and then the snow started. Soon we were in another whiteout. Unable to see 50 feet in front of us, it was impossible to make any kind of assessment as to what was coming down the road. This is the scenic route, but we missed all of it for the first 2 hours. Even the baby moose that we saw dead on the side of the road must have been confused.
So, after 40 miles, we started going down and down and we had driven through the Wasach Mountains, but never saw them. Eventually it let up and we began to see blue spruce and pine and white birch along the side of the road. And they had snow on them, and again I thought, this looks a lot like Maine.
We soon were on flatter ground. And on the right was a lush, green valley with trees and grass and a lone farmhouse with a red roof off in the distance. And to our left, was a huge mesa, not unlike those we saw in Arizona but with one difference. The plateau on the top was slanted upwards, with the headstone seemingly looking up into the sky. And all of the rocky striations had the same diagonal slant. And as we drove on, most of the other mesas had the same construction. And I wondered what had made them that way.
And the land became a desert once again…brown dirt with sprinkles of green trees and bushes on the flat lands, and rusty, rocky hills of pinkish tan dirt and yellow grass, and ledges of striated stone. And the colors of the striations were sometimes layers of cream over pink over green trees and I though of a slice of spumoni ice cream…vanilla over strawberry over pistachio. And the trees grew out of the rocks and they were dense and tall and it amazed me that these stony formations can sustain this much vegetation.
As we moved across Utah toward Colorado, the temperature rose until it hit 60 degrees and we took off our sweatshirts. We drove through desolate areas and small towns, few and far between, and we saw things from out of the past, like a drive in theater…and the marque had current movies advertised on it. And, surprisingly, we saw oil well pumps on hilltops. Not the same kind of pumps we saw in the south, but tall and sleek towers with a sliding plate that moved up and down in rhythmic fashion.
At 1:10 we crossed the state line into Colorado and at 3:30 we arrived in Steamboat Springs, an alpine town cut out of the side of a mountain, with lodges and cabins dotting the mountain side and smooth green paths rising to the sky between the trees…ski trails with no snow. And we checked into our hotel and were lucky enough to have a room with a view of the ski slope.
And the word for the day is BUFFALO. We saw a small herd of them be the road…large, brown, muscular animals, a reminder of the past.