Long pull from Mesquite to Grand Junction

With a little cooperation from the weather, we’re on our way.

Although drive between Vegas and Grand Junction is usually split into two easy days, we decided to just get it over with.  The plan was to be on the road by 7:00 AM and pull into the RV park in Grand Junction before they closed the gates at 5:00 PM.  Along the way, we would cross into the Mountain Time Zone and loose an hour, so we had to make good time.  It was time to get behind the wheel and drive.

The trip is really split into three sections.  First is the drive north on I-15 into Utah, gaining altitude all the way.  By the time we drove through Cedar City, we were at 6,000 feet and there was snow on both sides of the highway.  It was cold outside and the heater under the instrument panel was doing all it could to blow lukewarm air across our numb toes.  The highway was well maintained and the rig just hummed along.

A few miles north of Beaver (yes, there really is a town named Beaver, Utah) we turned onto I-70 heading east.  This has to be one of the least traveled sections of interstate in the country.  After a long climb to about 7,300 feet, the road drops into a high river valley bordered to the north and south by snowcapped mountains.  The scenery is spectacular and by the amount of snow pushed to the side of the road, we were glad we waited in Mesquite for the storm to pass.  When we reached the Flying J in Richfield, UT, the second segment of the trip was behind us.

Truckers can easily spend an hour getting through a Flying J, but the light traffic and friendly small-town attitude got us through in a record 15 minutes.  In addition to diesel, we desperately needed propane, but getting to the tank at the Flying J would be awkward.  No problem, we could fill propane in Salina, UT, only 15 miles down the road, so off we went.  After tanking with propane by the same guy who filled us four months before, we set off on the last segment of our trip.  He remembered us.

The road summit between Salina and Green River tops out around 7,000 feet, but this time there just wasn’t as much snow.  In fact, the farther east we drove, the drier the surrounding countryside became.  In order to reach Green River (yes, the river does have a green tinge to it) the road abruptly drops off the mesa through some scenic red-rock country.  The multiple run-away truck ramps were a graphic reminder to control our downhill speed.

The 100 miles between Green River and Grand Junction runs through some very dry country.  With boring mile after boring mile rolling by, you could imagine our surprise when we came across three cop cars pointed the wrong way along the road median.  There they were, surrounding a pickup truck with an empty boat trailer that was also pointing the wrong way.  It was none of our business, so we drove on and speculated what the problem was.  About three miles down the road was another cop guarding a boat that had obviously fallen off a trailer and skidded along the highway before coming to rest at the side of the road.  Strange as it may seem, the boat was pointed in the right direction.  Another mile farther and we saw the flat-bed tow truck making his way toward the boat.  All the pieces were falling into place.  I’m sure the Highway Patrol and boat owner were discussing how to properly secure a boat to its trailer.

We finally reached the small town of Fruita, which is just west of Grand Junction, about 3:30 PM.  After topping off the diesel, we made it to the RV park in plenty of time to check in and set up.  We were tired and somewhat shaky from the trip, the classic symptoms of freeway shock.  Not wanting to cook, we headed to a BBQ place for ribs and beer and beer.  The meal and drink worked its soothing magic.  Upon returning to the coach, we immediately went to bed and slept soundly.