In the 1950s my family had a cattle ranch at the base of the Medicine Bow Mountains. To get there from Laramie, where we bought our groceries every few weeks, we would drive north on Highway 30 to Rock River, then cross the railroad tracks and head south west toward our place, the Rafter Six.
I think the distance from Rock River was about 20 miles but it seemed to take forever, even though I distracted myself by eating Fig Newtons and reading my newly acquired EC comic books in the back seat of the station wagon. More often than not, I got car sick.
In the winter, the only way we could get back and forth to Laramie was in a four-wheel drive Dodge Power Wagon, which (in theory) could master all terrains and just about any kind of weather. That was, unless you got caught in a blizzard and the 70-80 mph winds that whipped around Elk Mountain.
We sold the place well before the Army Corps of Engineers began mapping out that corridor of the interstate that ran from Laramie to Rawlins. My father always claimed that many of the locals suggested to the builders that they construct the highway farther west, closer to Highway 30, where the snow and the wind weren’t so severe. Of course, the builders ignored this advice. What did a couple of dumb ranchers know, anyway, about building an interstate?
So let’s jump ahead almost 50 years. My wife and I are about to acquire a house in Dubois. We fly into Denver, rent a car and head up to see the place, taking I-80 from Laramie. This is in late February, early March. About half an hour outside Laramie it starts to snow, hard. Soon we’re in a white-out with a semi-truck about two inches from our rear bumper and another maybe a foot in front of us. But who can tell? We can’t see a thing. Nada. We are surely about to be crushed alive between two semis from hell.
Which, of course, didn’t happen. We pulled off the road, managed to wait out the storm. And lo and behold, when the skies cleared, and I finally get my bearings, I discover we’re at the Cooper Cove Road exit, which traverses our old hay meadow.
And they say you can’t go home again.