Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Big Rig Death March


I was swimming with sharks... Its hazy now, but the ocean floor was too deep below me to be seen. It was dark and I was swarmed with fish. I passed over a great white and the anxiety woke me up.

It was about 8 am. The sun was a burning circle just at eye level. I tried to move but I guess I woke up too fast and I couldn't move my legs. For what could have been a matter of minutes or an hour I struggled with falling back asleep and half-waking-up paralyzed. Finally I was awake enough to see how beautiful the waning sunrise was, casting an orange glow to the snow-packed plains just outside of Cheyenne. I was uncomfortably warm in my sleeping bag but the windows were freezing to the touch. I ripped it off and downed a bottle of water...

Winter befell Wyoming weeks ago. Its now 10 or 11 AM. Ice has layered itself thick along the ground around the gas station pumps and I'm hungry... Its my turn to drive but I forego coffee until a further stop. As we pass over the continental divide, temporary orange road signs warn us, "WRECK AHEAD." Keeping it slow, we descend the hill to a long straitaway. Confident big rigs are roaring by me to the left, shaking us with a heavy wind, my confidence lowering on the ice.

Eventually we come upon the first wreck, a big rig jackknifed between the two strips of opposing traffic. Less than a mile ahead, another semi is pulled awkwardly off to the right, then a pickup to the left hanging rightside up from a rolled camper trailer... Half a dozen or more vehicles with trailers are sprawled awkwardly along the side of the road within a few miles. It looked like the aftermath of a big rig death march, but I managed to hold it down and deliver us safe into Salt Lake.