Eastward! Today marks the beginning of our trek back east. On our way out of Jackson, we visited the Teton Village/Jackson Hole Ski Area. It was fun to see a ski resort in spring when lots of improvements are being made and everything seems to be under construction. John’s long-held desire to ski Jackson Hole has only intensified – we’ll definitely be back.

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The drive to Devil's Tower in northeast Wyoming was supposed to take about 7 hours. It took 10. Now, some of that is because we can’t go quite as fast as the speed limit out here (80 mph!) in the RV. But, on this day, weather was not helping us out. Outside of Dubois, WY, the skies started to get pretty threatening. The winds were picking up and since the RV is 12 feet tall, you feel every breeze. We decided it was best to pull off at the next rest area in Waltman, WY. John was savvy enough to predict there was probably an emergency alert on the radio, which he quickly found, and it basically said seek shelter if you’re near the Waltman rest stop. After waiting for the radar to load on John’s phone (have we mentioned how intermittent cell service is out here?), we opted to stay in the RV but had a plan for a quick exit (John grabs Roscoe, I grab our phones and IDs). The storm passed to our north and east, and while another one popped up to our west, we opted to get back on the road and try to out-run them. The good news is, we didn’t end up hitting any storms the rest of that day’s drive. The not so good news is that we experienced flash flooding for the first time! A few miles down the road from the rest stop we came across the first flood. There was a sheriff’s deputy there and he said it was safe to cross, as long as we stayed to the left. Which was easy to do, since no one was coming west on the road. Amazingly, the vehicle in front of us was a motorcycle, and that dude just powered through the water like it was his job.

 

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The flash flood created a whirlpool!
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The first “puddle” was pretty dramatic (video here), and the second was similar. The last one was probably the most nerve-wracking since it was just popping up and getting deeper as we crossed. At that point, we were thinking we’d just pull over and wait for the flooding to subside if we hit another one. Lucky for us, that was the last one. When we got to the next interchange, the sheriffs had closed the road west, and a quick check of the radio confirmed they had closed the highway eastbound as well. We were one of the last vehicles to make it out! The rest of the drive to Devil’s Tower was pretty uneventful, comparatively, although one of the other reasons it was a 10 hour drive was because we took a more indirect route to avoid more storms – call us the “anti-storm chasers.” We drove through the self-proclaimed “energy capital of nation” in Gillette, WY. A decidedly industrial town, oil drilling, coal mining, and fracking are the mainstays of the economy in northeast WY. We rolled into the campground around 9:30pm…

Stats from Day 13:

  • States traveled through: 1
  • Day 13 miles: 521
  • Total trip miles: 4380