Monday, September 20, 2004

Where The Wind Comes Sweepin' Down The Plain

And the wavin' wheat can sure smell sweet
When the wind comes right behind the rain.

-Oklahoma,written by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein

Hello from Denver. Make the drive here Friday for another dress fitting in preparation for my sister's wedding next month and am still here. I was planning on going home yesterday but my husband called and told me he thought it would be a good idea if I stayed another day because the Weather Service was forecasting winds from the south gusting up to 60 mph/96.5kmph on the plains.

Now, I want you all to stop reading and go find a map of the USA. Go on, I'll wait.........Got your map? See how empty the land is between the Gulf of Mexico and the Canadian border? This means winds coming from the South have nothing to slow them down as they race to Canada. That makes driving...interesting. On a two-lane highway, frightening. On a two-lane highway that is laid out between plowed fields, terrifying.

First, your car can be blown into the oncoming traffic or an oncoming car or truck can be blown into you. Second, you can drive into a dirt storm created by the wind picking up a lot of the top soil in the fields. This dirt is traveling so fast it is like driving through a sandblaster. I once foolishly drove through a wall of dirt that rose to a height of about 1,000 feet and at least ten miles wide. I was lucky because it was only about 50 feet thick so I drove out of it quickly.

The last thing to fear is the herds of wild tumbleweeds. They can be anywhere from dodgeballs to beachballs or larger in size. They travel in packs of 20 to 30 in number. As you drive you can see them off in the distance tumbling quickly across the fields, racing toward the highway. When they reach the road they throw themselves onto the blacktop and skidder across it to the other side in their mad dash to Canada. Even when the road drops in between two berms the tumbleweeds keep coming, not even pausing as they fling themselves off the top of the berm in a suicidal plunge to the tarmac below. As they hit the asphalt they bounce high off the road and into wall of the berm on the other side, only to be tangled up in the mass of tumbleweeds that have made the jump before them.

This can be exciting to watch but since they are tumbling blind they sometimes cross the road so close to the front end of your car you end up smashing into them and they then get caught in the under carriage of the car body. Or they slam into the side of the car with a loud, "Thunk," and disintegrate. Later, when you reach home, you'll find sections of broken tumbleweeds wedged between the front grill and the radiator. Smaller pieces, from when the weeds slammed into the side of your car, will fall out of the cracks in the doors. All in all, the experience is pretty exhausting.

Since the wind is still blowing I am staying another day. Hopefully, I can drive home tomorrow.

No comments: