Wednesday, March 7th - - My decision to leave Salt Lake City yesterday morning was made the previous week. I was ready to go after five weeks researching in Genea-Mecca but in hindsight perhaps I should have waited a few more days... I was headed to California but high winds with strong gusts were forecast for all of Nevada (and much of the west) for the next two days. I could take the northern route and get into the snow storm that was predicted and coming towards Salt Lake City. Or I could take the southern route through Las Vegas then west. After checking the weather reports before leaving yesterday morning I decided the safest route would be to go south.
I haven't checked to see what the weather was like along I-80 so I don't know if my chosen route (I-15 south) was the best or safest! But I do know it sure wasn't an easy day of driving! It wasn't too bad until I got about half way to St. George, which is about 300 miles south of Salt Lake City, when the winds really picked up. By the time I got to St. George, it was definitely two-handed white-knuckle driving! Then when I got into Nevada, there were times when visibility was extremely limited due to the blowing sand. There was an amazing amount of tumbleweeds blowing down the highway too, as well as plastic bags and bottles and various other debris.
My “plan” had been to stop at Valley of Fire State Park for the night, which is about 40 miles north of Las Vegas. But there was so much sand and dirt and gravel being blown about that I decided to continue on south. I stopped just north of Las Vegas for gas and had a really rough time trying to stand in one spot to pump the gas.
I made it through Las Vegas before the rush hour and drove the 50 miles or so west to Pahrump where I wimped out and spent the night at a motel. At around five o'clock or so we had a little rain added to the wind and I was glad that I was inside, safe and dry. I learned later on the news that the wind had been steady at about 30 mph most of the day with gusts up to 75 mph – no wonder my right arm and shoulder was sore!
Poor Van Dora. She needs a bath! This is what happens when you drive in blowing sand then a little rain comes along... I didn't really think the van was all that dirty when I got out at the motel. After the rain, all of the other cars in the parking lot were in this same condition, which means that as the rain fell it must have picked up some of the sand and dust in the air. I think it was basically raining mud, at least for a short time.
Van Dora looks worse now than she did traveling on the dirt roads in Alaska!