Provo to Monticello, the Long Way

The Route

Gas Stations

I write this laying down from the back of my car near a combination fried chicken gas station place in Monticello, Utah. The power is out in this town so it may not be uploaded for a couple days. After leaving Provo we thought we might be able to escape the snow and shoot over the passes to Steamboat Springs just north of Denver. A drive and a night's rest at Vernal, Utah and that proved to be wrong. Steamboat Springs was predicted to get almost two feet and that night Vernal got another 4 inches. Mother Nature was to win again.. With a storm coming it made sense to get out of town.

But the Dinos

Arriving in Vernal on Sunday everything was closed. With a 63% LDS population I should have expected few stores to be open. I'll remember to keep this in mind for the South. The search for food led to a couple spots but we settled for a Mexican restaurant after deciding to check into a hotel for the night for $45 instead of trying to brave sub-20 degree weather.

The next morning we hadn't quite given up on our Denver dreams. Even in the face of new snow. A morning drive out to Dinosaur National Monument led us to a completely empty parking lot save for a few government vehicles. An empty but open building also greeted us. Once we got the attention of a ranger we consulted with him on the passes. While looking, Ashley pulled up the cameras of the passes and that did it for us, not passable in my car, especially if it had another foot of snow by the time I passed it. Friends in Steamboat advised similarly.

Luckily there was still the fantastic fossil quarry to be seen. In the car I followed Ranger Terrance to the quarry which was a building that enclosed a fossil layer where the actual fossils had been left exposed. The sheer scale of some of the bones was impressive but not as much as what led to hundreds of individuals being trapped in one location. The sheer density was incredible. The working theory is that after some event hundreds of individuals were pushed down stream to a single choke point where the fossils we preserved until they were later discovered in the early-20th century.

With goodbyes to Ranger Terrance we set out with warmth in mind.

Texas or Bust

I had become frustrated with the snow. I want out and I want warmth. I tried to convince Ashley we should just catch a flight to Cancun to weather the storm but she didn't have her passport (although I expect she didn't think it was realistic).

Leaving the monument I was set on making it to warm weather. Texas or Bust. I was prepared to drive 15 hours if it meant not having to look and worry about snow any more.

And thus started the drive. About an hour north of Moab the snow started coming down. Driving through winding canyons at slightly too fast speed I was determined. Safety be damned I wanted warm weather.

Safety Safety

![Snow covered roads, worse around the passes]({filename}/images/2_snowy_roads.jpg =760x)

Pulling through Moab the snow started to come down even harder. After a quick gas stop, I started to lose the road and car started to slip with almost no speed. I slowed down and focused intently but the occasional flurry would cause a near whiteout. Through one town and then another. Texas or Bust.

And then traffic. And we passed a jackknifed semi. Sobering. Realizing that escaping the snow tonight or tomorrow wasn't going to make much of a difference expect perhaps to my own inveterate machismo I pulled into a the nearby gas station.

Ashley and I set up the car and prepared for more adventure. We'd agreed on the midway stop of Santa Fe, New Mexico where she had an old friend but that would have to wait until tomorrow.