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"Racing the Snow" OR "Nebraska Hates Me"

USA | Monday, 10 December 2007 | Views [1184]

Home again, a day late but safe and sound. 

I had a wonderful time in Colorado. I absolutely love it out there for its beautiful scenery that makes you feel so small and cozy, and for the mountain culture - it feels like a small town, young, outdoorsy, everyone WANTS to be there and they'll do anything to stay. 

But like any good road trip, the journey itself is just as important and memorable as the destination.  I left Friday afternoon and rolled into Des Moines (Iowa) around 7, had dinner with my sister, and was out karaoke-ing with some friends when around 11pm I received a call from my friend in Lincoln saying I should start driving because there's a big ice storm coming and it's supposed to hit Lincoln around 3am.  The last place I wanted to get stuck for my vacation was Des Moines, Iowa (no offense friends, but I had big plans!), so I started driving at about 12:30am.  I hit the ice a little after Omaha and coasted into Lincoln at 30 miles an hour at 4am with a quarter inch of ice built up all over my car, dodging jack-knifed semis down the exit ramp.  Needless to say, I was ready to hit the hay.

Stayed in Lincoln through Saturday and drove the rest of the way to Colorado on Sunday on flat dry roads and beautiful blue skies as far as the eye can see.  The landscape was covered in ice from two nights before, so I had to get out and take some photos of it all, it was so beautiful.  However, because it's so windy in the plains of Nebraska, I nipped my trigger finger and it was numb for about a day, but it's still intact.

If you've never driven cross-country to get to the mountains, you've never felt the bliss and giddy excitement that comes from sighting that first snow-capped mountain after the barren flatlands of eastern Colorado. Even Nebraska has more character.  First you think it's just a cloud, but as you barrel on at 80 mph, the outline of the land slowly takes shape until you're close enough to see the ridge detail and plumes of snow billowing off the summits from high altitude winds.  And then suddenly you're in it!  Even on the interstates, with the cliffs and peaks towering over your car, you can't help but feel very small.

It was on the drive back home that I decided Nebraska hated me.  I stayed in Lincoln again on Wednesday night, but when I got up and started driving Thursday morning, I found I was simply following a huge snowstorm that was making its way across eastern Nebraska and Iowa.  Only one lane on the interstate was plowed, and there was about 2 or 3 inches piled up in the other lane.  I averaged about 40mph with a max of 55 during abnormally clear stretches.  It took about 7-8 hours (stopping every 30 mins to scrape ice off my windshield wipers) to get from Lincoln to the De Soto, IA exit, where I decided I couldn't do it anymore and crept my way down hwy 169 to Winterset where I took advantage of my aunt and uncle's wonderful hospitality (Thanks Vicki and Jerry!!).  I stayed there Thursday night, missed work the next day, and as fate would have it, the roads were dry as I drove home Friday afternoon. 

I was kicking myself all day Thursday and Friday because if I was going to get snowbound in Iowa, of all places, and miss work on Friday, I should have just stayed out in Colorado through the weekend and driven home on Sunday.  However, I came home to a nice relaxing weekend with friends (well, sort of relaxing...we went sledding an hour after I got home and I got kicked in the head. Note to self: don't tackle a guy wearing military issue boots :)  The rest of the weekend was spent pleasantly relaxing, playing cards and watching the Packers stomp Oakland. 

It's back to work today, and for once I actually feel rejuvenated after a vacation.  It's a lovely feeling. 

Be sure to see the photo album of this trip - there are some amazing photos of the ice storm aftermath. Unfortunately, I didn't get many of the mountains themselves, but they live on in my memory.

Merry Christmas everyone, and safe holiday travels to you all!

Tags: nebraska, on the road


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