Racing the Weather Back to Flagstaff

Dirt road through Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming
Medicine Bow National Forest in Wyoming

After spending more than a month in Wyoming, it was time to head back to a warmer climate. The weather was beginning to cool by mid-September, and the rains were becoming more frequent. Since my traveling companion, Debra Dickinson, had never seen the Medicine Bow National Forest, we decided to take the scenic route back to Flagstaff.

Medicine Bow National Forest in southern Wyoming is a stunningly beautiful area. It is well worth the detour if you plan to be in the area. One note of caution, however, is that the roads are designed for summer use and many are not maintained during the winter.

As it turns out, even the middle of September can be questionable. We headed west out of Douglas with sunny skies and temperatures in the 70s. Once in the mountains though, the weather took a turn for the worse. As we climbed into the mountains, the sun disappeared and was replaced with ominous black clouds. It thundered, hailed, rained, and snowed as we pressed onward since there was nowhere to turn around with the trailer. At one point, I was driving on a road that was nothing but sand - actually very wet sand - and the van was slipping side to side trying to climb a hill. Finally, we made it through to pavement again.

Day one of the return trip concluded with a late dinner at Taco Bell and a decent night of rest at the Walmart in Rock Springs, Wyoming.

The second leg of the journey took us from Rock Springs into Utah, and then into Arizona. Still continuing the pattern of taking the road less traveled (we didn’t learn anything the day before), we continued through scenic areas like the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area and Ashley National Forest.

Somewhere along Highway 89 in Utah, at just about dusk, we met a friendly state police officer. Apparently the trailer lights were not working, though they had worked earlier when I checked. It turns out that all the mudding we did the day before in Medicine Bow National Forest had made a mess in the wiring connector.

We arrived back in Flagstaff around midnight. Too tired to deal with finding a campsite in the dark, we spent the night parked at the Pilot truck stop. In the morning, we enjoyed breakfast with a blog reader who just happened to be at the McDonalds inside the truck stop. He recognized the van and trailer in the parking lot.

After breakfast, we headed out and found a great campsite that we had stayed at earlier in the summer with a spectacular view of Humphreys Peak. The weather was fine, and more tribe members soon arrived as they were passing through on their way from Idaho to Texas.

Digital nomad, minimalist, writer, photographer, and videographer. In my spare time, I like to hike, read, or study maps for ideas about where to visit next.


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Terri Ann Witham

Terri Ann Witham
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