Friday, April 23, 2010

Everyone's OK. Just a little shaken up. Forecast showed the usual snow ahead that was supposed to turn to rain in the afternoon. We hung around the hotel this morning until just before check-out time to wait for temps to rise and for snow to turn to rain like it until now, always has. We rode in light snow from Rawlins,Wy to Elk Mountain where I-80 is nearest mountains and where if there was no accumulation, we'd be in the clear. NOT! We were at a constant 7000 up to 7700 ft alt and it began to drop to 7500 when light snow slowly became large fluffy flakes. The gravel shoulder of highway started turning white. I could see the town of Laramie (decent size town) on my GPS screen so it didn't make sense to turn around and return to Rawlins almost 100 miles back (we passed no towns with lodging along the way). Our face shields slowly fogged up because they constantly collected slush. Slush started collecting on highway which was I constantly tried to and planned accordingly (until now) to avoid. Semis flew by absolutely drenching us with slush as we tried to clear faceshields. I started to continually ask Kim how she was doing as it got worse. She didn't respond which wasn't good. She was scared, as was I. We pulled over just past a parking area which wasn't a rest area with a building or anything just a paved area. It was full of semis. I walked by her and could she was shooken up and scared. I tried to reassure her that if we rode slow and stayed in truck tire tracks in the road we'd be ok and that town was just ahead. I did consider just going back to parking area and setting up tent and waiting for a second.I let her lead and I stayed back with my flashers on. We rode very slow about 30 as semis still covered us with slush as they went by at normal 65-70 mph speeds. White-out conditions revealed those beautiful blue signs marking an exit, lodging,food,gas, and truck stops ahead. We made a good choice. Said Exit 310 and mile markers showed 308. 2 miles to safety. As we hit exit slush was deeper. As I downshifted (instead of braking) my back wheel slid sideways. Warned Kim just keep feet down and brake SLOWLY. We pulled in truck stop and I almost cried in my helmet. I feel absolutely horrible about putting her in that situation and making her go through that. It was tough for me and I couldn't imagine going through that as such a new rider as she is. She is an absolute machine and has gone through an experience that 10-20 year riders don't and would be terrified to do. In the window of truck stop I could see blank faces looking at us. We shook off slush in corridor and walked through restaurant (all truckers) like we were walking up an aisle to some stage where everyone was focused on us and what we must have just went through. "Where you comin from", "How long you been drivin through dat?", " Where u headin?" I just wanted to sit down and decompress. After about an hour of sitting and watching white-out conditions continue a guy came up and sat down. " I saw BMW's and just had to see who it was and how you were" Guys name was Rodger and had a BMW 650 GS (like Kim's). He lived nearby. Talked a while and offered any help he could give. There was a hotel across road about half mile away. I before he came, decided instead of sitting and worrying ourselves sick we would just get bikes to hotel and wait this out. We had alloted a day for weather that we hadn't needed to use yet anyways. My plan was to call a taxi to pick me up (or I could have walked) at hotel where I rode one bike and take me back to restaurant where Kim was to get other bike and drive her to hotel. I took Rodger up on his offer to help and he rode Kim to hotel and followed me there. Then took me back to get her bike while Kim checked in and started unloading my bike. Got Kim's bike over safely without incident and here we are. Snow is supposed to stop tomorrow afternoon where we will finish final 100 miles home. Last night Scott (my cousin in Windsor, Co where truck and trailer are) had offered to pick us up because of rain. He is a very kind-hearted man (as I am coming to get to know him again - lost touch since we were kids) and didn't want to impose. It was just rain forecasted and after all we didn't finish the trip on bikes last year so we couldn't do that again. We WILL make it tomorrow. Thanks Scott, your parents really should be proud of you and the man you've become!