Monday, June 16, 2014

View From the Top of the World

June 7

It is once again foggy as we set out to drive over the Bighorn Mountains today. 

The ascent is a steep series of switchbacks and we keep seeing signs for "scenic overlook" but all we see is fog.  The fog is so thick, we can only see about twenty feet in front of the car.     Suddenly the fog ends and we realize that we actually just drove up and out of a cloud.  

The air is thin up here at just over 9,400 feet.  

Snow fields cap the mountain and disappear into dark clouds.

What goes up must come down.  While the official grade is 10%, we find out later that it is actually slightly steeper than the 10% allowed by law.  

That's an encouraging sign...
We are so thankful for our brake controller right about now.  Hubs has the steering wheel in a death grip and I am pushing the passenger side brake pedal through the floor.

Yes, those are clouds we are scraping the bottoms of.
Brake-cooling areas and runaway truck ramps are frequent sights, and we avail ourselves of the former to give the car a rest and disengage ourselves from high levels of stress.  

Our mountaintop walk yields signs of spring...

...and breathtaking views over Wyoming.

Back to the task at hand.

We survive our steep descent and land in high desert.  A truck-sized car wash in the town of Lovell provides some much needed grooming for both car and camper.  Our wheel wells have at least two inches of mud caked in them and the Airstream has a lovely dirt-colored sheen.  A large timer and deafening buzzer count down the seconds of water usage we have left.  

I feel like we are on a Japanese game show.  

I dash frantically around the car with soap and sponge while Hubs uses the power washer to cut through the mud.  We are both soaked, covered in suds and mud, and trying to fish more quarters out of our pockets with soapy fingers as the seconds count down.  


Out of breath and laughing, we climb back in the car and leave.

We make camp in the parking lot of the church we will attend tomorrow in the town of Powell.

It has been over three weeks since the last pug bath and it is high time to de-stink them.  Using our backpacking solar shower, Hubs is almost gleeful at their discomfort and dislike of bath time.  It is payback for their miscreant behavior in the car today.

Take that, clean pug!


  1. Enjoyed your description of your drive down the mountain; been there, done that. Carpet has a very specific worn spot on my side of the vehicle. ��

    1. I can't imagine doing it with a trailer any larger than ours! It must have been a real pedal-stomper! Hope we see you sometime this summer.

  2. In '67 your Grandfather Jones came home with a 17' travel trailer and announced that we were going on a trip. Your mother would have been about 10 at the time. The trailer had three beds, the third, my bedroom, was a bump-out that overhung the car's trunk. Dad hooked it to our sky-blue Buick Electra and put a sign on it that said, "The Snail." His objective was California to visit Grandmother Propps' brother, stopping at all of the national parks, scenic sights, and tourist traps along the way. We took a route reverse of yours, driving south through Texas and returning up through the Dakotas. As I said, for the trailer, the trip ended in Wyoming. A boy who had not been driving very long, didn't notice that something the size of a bread truck was stopped at a red light at the entrance to his father's oil company. He swerved the delivery truck he was driving but not in time to keep from ripping the side off of the trailer. In the car, your mother was in the back seat with Aunt Julia, who was pouring ice water from a Thermos. I was in the front seat between your grandparents. The collision sent breaking glass from the trailer's window against the Buick's back window and ice water into the back of my neck. Hearing the sound of shattering glass at the same time my neck was splattered with ice and water, I was convinced that I had been shredded by the glass and burst into tears. We all got out to see what had happened. I was crying. The girls were crying. Nana was crying. Dad pulled some Tums out of his pocket, the only thing he could think of, and began passing them around in hopes of taking our minds off the catastrophe that had just unfolded. We continued the trip, sans trailer, but the next stop held another surprise. . .

    P.S. Be sure to see Craters of the Moon. It is a truly freaky sight to see.

  3. Aw the Tums nearly made me cry. That is so sweet. I wish I could have known Grandaddy.