Goodland, Kansas: The gateway to Western Blizzards!
Solution to a "short term" cold spell while on the road in the West.
I had bought a 24 foot Uhaul load of geological books in Ardmore, Oklahoma in late February. This was after being at the Tucson Rock Show in Arizona for the first half of February and then east to Ardmore, OK to pick up tons of books.
Weather in Ardmore was warm and pleasant, with a drizzling rain the day we loaded. Of course. We leased and filled the Uhaul truck in Ardmore, we headed north to Salina, KS, caught I-70 and headed west to Denver, CO. We were pulling our 23 foot Airstream and driving the Uhaul home. We drained the Fresh, Black and Grey water tanks at the first truck stop. Drained the water lines by opening the valves under the trailer and let them drain. Opened the cabinet door to the water pump, as there is always water in it, unless air flushed. We carry a five gallon jug for us and dogs inside the trailer.
February snow is to the High Country, as rain is to southwestern Alaska... expected, but if you time it right in the Rockies... it could be pleasant, and dry. Not so on this trip.
A Winter "clipper" closed I-70 down in both directions from the Colorado border and west to Denver. We found a familiar spot... Walmart at Goodland, KS. Snow arrived with the Kansas wind... blowing from the south across the parking lot. I topped off the gas tank in the Tundra and parked on the north side of the large parking lot. A few 18 wheelers paused to head further East, and we bought some doughnuts to wait out this blizzard until the highways were reopened, dry and clear.
That evening we had the furnace set at 45F to 50F, at least comfortable for the evening and all of the sleeping bags and blankets being used. Each Blue Heeler had their pillow and a light blanket on top of them. Power... the Tundra idling. We felt the trailer rock a bit with wind gusts and cracked open the top vents when frost at the bottom of the bedroom windows began to frost up.
By morning it was clear, sunny and by 10AM the roads were DRY. We used 1/4 tank or so of gasoline with the Tundra idling through the night. The furnace, as any Airstream owner knows in this situation... shuts off and a minute later starts up again. Over and over. You get use to it and ignore it after a few hours. I forget the low temperature that evening, but most likely under 20F. Wind chill... wow! You get frost on your mustache wind chill.
Sometimes you cannot plan for the worst. It just shows up. You hope for the best... but PLAN FOR THE WORST. Our propane tanks were full. We found a "safe zone" to park overnight. Gasoline was easily available. Walmart had unlimited food, snacks and ice scrapers if needed. We survived this with no ill effects.
To add... I found a $1 bill blown into the grass by the wind and hung up in the tall grass. Ding, ding, ding. Amount of snow... maybe two inches and blown into drifts off of the paved surfaces into a foot or more. In Wyoming... it snows an inch and drifts a foot... as another example.
YOU can make it through a temporary cold and snow event. We were wise diving into the first "safe zone" and remained patient. No hurry even if you are running late. It is best to be smart than a victim of weather.
Was it foolish of us to travel this time of the year? No. We were prepared. After a "BIG" storm in the Rockies... the blue sky, bright sun warm you up the next morning! Not like Buffalo, NY where it goes on, and on... and on.
Travel during the winter is not an issue, but you have to rethink how to prepare yourselves and trailer for the... just in the event of. We do. The doughnuts were only so... so. Our coffee... worth preparing and wearing a jacket and gloves inside the trailer, perfect.