Deputy Dog takes us on a wild and windy trail through Wyoming to Colorado
After a day’s drive from California and a short night at the pet-friendly Best Western Hotel in Evanston, we were ready for a day-long doggie drive with our adventurous pack-mates! After check-out, we literally blew onto Interstate 80 and drove miles with up to max speed limit of 80 mph heading east through the state of Wyoming. High gusts of wind buffeted our SUV and the Thule storage container on top which was stacked full of winter gear.
The winds whipped all morning during our journey. At times we had to reduce car speed to 45 mph so as not to tip over as we approached curved highways snaking around the hills. Seriously, the winds were whipping all about and quite noisy actually hurting my ears. I reached for my iPod to wash out the noise and turned up the volume, ironically Michael Buble’s song “Silent Night” was playing. No kidding. It was wiiiinnndddyy!
Wyoming takes advantage of the mighty winds through various means; there are hundreds of “wind” farms along our route.
Relentless wind howls day after day across this high desert, pouring through a low gap on the Continental Divide. This is said to be one of windiest places in the nation. Local news shared there a plans for a massive wind farm on a cattle ranch owned by Anschutz Corp., better known in Los Angeles as co-owner of Staples Center. It is reported to produce as much power as three nuclear reactors, making it the largest wind-generation facility in the nation, if not the world. But not a single kilowatt would be consumed in Wyoming. Instead, it would feed a new 750-mile transmission line to the California grid, where the electricity would help California’s crusade against global warming, while much of Wyoming continues to rely on the fuel that is one of the big contributors to climate change, coal.
As we traveled on through the state we saw rows and rows of wind break fences along the route throughout the state. The strong wooden fences help to keep drifts from building and becoming too high and potentially dangerous.
The temps here can dip into single digits and even lower with the wind chill factor – so as you can imagine it is bone chilling cold – during the past trip we stayed in the car and decided to do some “drive-by photo shooting”. We captured some amazing picturesque mountains and interesting vistas.
It is relatively fast drive through Wyoming with an 80 mph speed limit, yet we usually pull over from time to time to enjoy the wildlife. The past trip we encountered a couple of herds of more than 100 antelope and dozens of cattle – definitely more animals than people here! I understand Wyoming has the lowest population of all 50 United States.
Interesting to note, Wyoming seems more progressive that surrounding states and it is the first state to give women the right to vote; now that’s progressive! The state motto is “equal rights”. Another little factoid is that the original JC Penneys store is located in Wyoming. We didn’t have any time to shop, except to stop at a Shell station to fill our gas tank in which we paid $2.29 a gallon! As an oil, coal and gas-producing state, we witnessed a large number of oil derricks, in addition to coal fueled power plants along I-80.
With this vast state of wide open spaces, one can drive, hike and explore for weeks. One of my favorite parks, Yellowstone, was the first official National Park to be founded in 1872, thanks to Teddy!
There is also a notable desert in Wyoming, the Red Desert. Located in south central Wyoming, this area drains neither to the east nor to the west; the continental divide splits and goes around the desert on all sides leaving the basin without normal drainage. I just love these interesting facts. If you like driving in wide open spaces with beautiful vistas, this is the road trip for you. If you go, pack a picnic as there are very few towns along main Highway 80. And, don’t forget the dog.