Phase I - Idaho Falls
Ashley and I left Wednesday morning for Idaho Falls to visit Wes and Michelle for Thanksgiving. We made the drive of 575 miles in just under 9 hours. We cut across Wyoming on highway 191, which I'd never been on before. 191 runs north-south and holds the Wind River Range to the east for about a 100 mile stretch. The long chain of uninterrupted peaks was an unusual and spectacular site. The weather was ideal all the way there.
It was great to see Wes and Michelle and their first home. They've lived there almost a year. I'm compelled to mention their hyperactive and mentally challenged dog, Taylor, and their incessantly purring cat, which loved sleeping on Ashley's head. On Thanksgiving we all went to play frisbee golf at the local park while Michelle stayed home and tended the oven. Frisbee was fun and the dog never once tried to pick up a frisbee or otherwise alter someone's lie. I later found out that he wouldn't catch the frisbee if you threw it at his head. I tried this many times. Michelle's hard work in the kitchen was worth it. Her first attempt at cooking a full Thanksgiving dinner by herself went perfectly. All the food was great and we had 4 pies to wash it down with.
The next day we went hiking in the Bridger-Teton National Forest. The highlight was seeing a moose at about 100 yards. Wes didn't have his gun to protect us, but we miraculously survived this encounter unscathed. That night it began snowing in town, just in time to cover the roads with snow and ice for out departure.
Phase II - Alta
We left Idaho Falls Saturday morning for Alta, Utah (kind of on the way home if you stick to the interstate). The roads were a little snowy, but we didn't run into any problems and only saw one minor accident. We arrived in Alta midafternoon and waited for Jane to get off work. Jane is our friend from college who is currently working at Alta. After several beers and some buffalo burgers, and some more beers, we called it a night. It snowed about a foot during the day we arrived and 8" that night. As a consequence, we had to ski the next day before driving back to Boulder.
I think this was the first time I've skied two feet of powder that fell at a temperature of near zero degrees, unusually cold even for the Wasatch Mountains. Long story short, there's a lot wrong with Utah, but the mountains and snow beat Colorado.
Phase III - The Tortuous Drive Home
Ashley and I began our drive home at 1:00 pm. Upon entering Wyoming on I-80, we started seeing signs regarding the road being closed. I told Ashley I thought they were kidding and we kept going. 150 miles later, there was a gate across the road with three cop cars guarding it. We stopped at the local truck stop with hundreds of other travelers to wait indefinitely until the road was reopened. The consensus seemed to be that it would reopen in the morning since it was already dark out. Some people we talked to had been there for 4 hours already. 20 minutes after arriving, the road opened and we got in the middle of a 20mph procession of a few thousand vehicles. It's faster to go 90 miles at 80 mph than to go that same distance at 20mph. A few hours later we made it to Laramie. From there it was windy but the roads were clear the rest of the way home. We got home at 11:00, 10 hours after leaving Alta, Utah.