Ever since most of Wyoming got pelted with that first snowstorm in September, I have been itching to get to a warmer climate.
On Dec. 30, we climbed into our nine-year old motorhome (aptly named FollowMyNose) and started our slog southward.
We earlier got eight inches of new snow. South Pass reports kept claiming chains were required and heavy fog was making traveling dangerous. In other words, be careful. And in additional other words, do not attempt crossing this mountain pass in a 55-foot long unit that included an old motorhome and a tow car.
So I sat around and stewed. Nancy thought it was great. She was still putting away Christmas decorations.
Finally the pass cleared. We were off.
We inched our way along on icy roads under blue skies. I had programmed my cell phone to check the weather in places like Lander, South Pass, Rock Springs, Kemmerer and Evanston. I had been checking them feverishly prior to departure.
We traveled slowly and I found myself behind a woman who was obviously scared to death. She kept driving about 25 mph. I was chomping to pass but the timing was not right. We finally got to the summit and pulled into the rest area. “Miss Pokey” was there. Rather than complain, I said, “have a Happy New Year.” (And please stay out of my way!)
She was driving a car with Johnson County plates and those folks should have been used to driving over a pass. Have you been over Tensleep Pass in winter? Whew!
But I digress.
I put shoulder to the wheel and drove 10 straight hours. The sky and the highways were clear and the wind was nonexistent. That is a great time to put as many miles on as possible when you are driving a 13-foot tall rig north or south in the Rocky Mountain region.
Apparently Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton liked to take his family on RV trips and made it a policy that his stores would open their parking lots for overnight stops by RV drivers.
Not all stores do, though, as the ones in St. George, Utah, apparently do not. However, the Wal-Mart north in a town named Hurricane (pronounced hurr-a-kin) allowed RVs.
Camping across the country at rest stops, truck stops, Cabela’s and Wal-Marts is called “boon docking,” a description that fits us well.
So we boon-docked at Hurricane.
Next morning, I checked my cell phone for the temperature. It read 30 degrees. Then I noticed it was programmed for South Pass. It was two degrees below freezing on a Wyoming mountaintop.
What was it here in St. George?
It was 28 degrees!
I told Nancy, “Honey, we have not gone south far enough. Let’s go.”
That reminds me of the old story about the guy who was also tired of winter. He took his snow scraper and put it under his windshield wiper. “Why are you doing that?” a friend asked. “I am going south until somebody asks me what that thing is for?”
We ended up at the Circus Circus RV park in Las Vegas and spent New Year’s Eve there along with officially 335,000 others. It was a spectacle.
Las Vegas Blvd., also known as The Strip, was closed off and 2,900 cops patrolled as fireworks were shot off the roofs of eight different casinos.
Last fall we visited the Chinese island of Macau, which has overtaken Vegas as the busiest gambling destination in the world. Trust me, they cannot compete with Vegas when it comes to glamour. Or neon. I think it was Lenny Bruce who said Vegas is where “neon goes to die.”
We took in the show Jersey Boys, which is the best stage show I have ever seen. Even better than Les Miserables,’ which we saw on stage in London 20 years ago.
Best fireworks show was off the 100-story tall Stratosphere, which suited me just fine. Nancy was already in her pajamas by midnight and I was sitting outside on a lawn chair with my new best friend, Tim, a longshoreman from Long Beach, who came up to Vegas for this event. He had started a warm blaze in a portable fire pit. Together, we watched the various rooftops explode in pyrotechnics. Then I went to bed.
Sorry if this column put you to sleep, too, but darn it, I have a deadline to meet! Happy New Year and let’s hope your lives are a lot more interesting than this meager travel diary.
Check out Bill Sniffin’s columns at www.billsniffin.com. He is a longtime Wyoming journalist from Lander who has written four books. His most recent book is “Wyoming’s 7 Greatest Natural Wonders” which is available at www.wyomingwonders.com.