As I opened the car door, the wind grabbed it from my hands, jerking it open. Stepping out of the car, the biting wind brought tears to my eyes. Within seconds, I could no longer feel my ears.
As I opened the hatch, Shawnee peered out at me. Normally, she would bound out of the car, eager to explore the great outdoors. Instead, she cowered inside, not wanting to leave the safety of the car.
Who could blame her? If not for the dogs, I’d be hiding in the car too. The winds gusted sideways across the rest area. Though the car thermometer said 28 degrees, it felt more like zero. As we walked the frozen ground, the tree branches quivered. My face felt frozen. Walking back to the car into the wind, I felt like I was walking on a treadmill. Tremendous effort, with little forward movement.
Nederland is windy place. Ask anyone — one of the first things a friend told me was how windy it is there. Our first winter, I thought the roof was going to blow off the house. This past weekend reminded me of that as I watched the pine trees bow out the windows of our house.
So it’s hard for me to be impressed by wind when traveling in other places.
But today, while driving I-70 in Eastern Colorado, I got a whole new perspective on the power of wind. Even in our low profile SUV, I had to keep a firm grip on the steering wheel to the car in its lane. The winds were blowing north to south, pulling at the car while I drove.
“I feel like if I took my hands off the wheel, even for just a second, the car would end up off the road in a ditch” I said to Bryon.
Blinking signs flashed over the highway, “High profile vehicles with empty loads are prohibited.”
“I can only imagine how difficult this must be for truckers” he mused.
We watched the truck ahead of us struggle to keep it in between the center line and the edge of the road. The truck was tracking sideways, with the back wheels a one to two feet to the right of the front wheels. Every time I passed a truck, I felt apprehensive, fearing he would over correct and veer into my lane.
“Look at that!” Bryon pointed to the westbound lanes.
A truck lay on it side in the median, a victim of the unmerciful wind. What would that feel like to be moving at 60-70 miles per hour and start tipping over? What a scary moment for a truck driver! Over the next few miles, we saw at least half a dozen trucks turned over sideways.
“Those truckers really have to earn their pay today” I said. “The only thing that would make this worse if there was snow falling. But then the highway would be closed.”
It’s a frequent occurrence during winter, to see the highways closed, and today, it was easy to understand why.
As darkness approached, the rest areas overflowed with trucks.
“They must be exhausted after a day of driving like today.”
When the winds blow on the open prairie with no trees or mountains to block it, it is a force that can’t be denied.
Just ask a trucker.