Friday, January 05, 2007
Denver was closed
Frozen rest stop, I-70, near Hays, Kansas, 12/22/06
WaKeeney, Kansas is exactly half-way between Kansas City, Missouri and Denver, Colorado. I didn’t know this on the morning of December 20th, when my family's scheduled flight from Baltimore to Denver was cancelled. The biggest snowstorm in three years had shut down the Mile High City, and our holiday plans were up in the air, unlike the planes.
(I was hoping for a good story to explain the unusual name of this little town in the middle of a lot of land. Alas, it is nothing exotic: a contraction of the surnames Warren and Keeney, two land speculators “looking for wealth in the middle of the `Great American Desert,’” according to the town’s Web site. Wouldn’t Warrenkeeney be a bit more graceful?)
B and I were determined to get to Copper Mountain before Christmas: there was a beautiful rental house and a family reunion waiting for us. We quickly booked another flight the following day, which had us changing planes in Kansas City. Within hours, there wasn't a seat to be had on any flight to anywhere in Colorado. Thousands of people spent that night at Denver International Airport.
On Thursday morning, Denver airport was still closed and our flight from Kansas City to Denver was cancelled. It's only a nine-hour drive from Kansas City to Denver, we told ourselves. We packed the portable DVD player for the kids and rented an SUV in Kansas City...
I-70, near Lecompton, Kansas, 12/21/06
... where there wasn't a flake of snow.
But we didn't quite make it to the hotel room we'd reserved in WaKeeney. We drove for about an hour and half, enjoyed the magnificent sunset... and pulled off the road in Salina, Kansas, obeying the flashing highway signs insisting that the highway ahead was closed by ice and snow. We found a motel and vowed to start early the next morning, hoping for the best.
In the space of half an hour or so, I-70 turned from dry pavement to scattered dustings of snow to hard-packed snow under the tires. Glittering ice coated every vertical surface. Wire fences lining the road looked like tinsel, topping meringue snowdrifts.
It's obvious how Grainfields, Kansas got its name, but Hoxie? Gove? Mingo?
I-70, near WaKeeney, Colorado, 12/22/06
For all the ice, the driving wasn't bad at this point. Soon we were passing through Denver, and our destination was in sight.
Village of Copper Mountain, Colorado, 12/25/06
Christmas morning on Copper Mountain, Colorado
The little shredders head down Kokomo, Copper Mountain, 12/27/06