For anyone who lives in Colorado or Wyoming between Laramie and Colorado Springs, March 13th 2019 will probably be a day you remember for a long time. The "bomb cyclone" as it is referred to in the media brought one of the wildest blizzards we have ever seen, and we live in an area that's used to blizzards. Everyone will have their own story from simply cuddling up and watching movies to hours with no power. Others lost trees and fences, and then some got stranded on the roads.
My story from the storm started with a decision that many will question, and possibly even ridicule. Some of the guys who run the company I work for were in Denver for a showcase of new country artists. As reports started coming in about how bad the weather could get, my direct boss and I decided we should probably not make the trip to Denver. However, after talking to a few others that were going to the event, we all agreed that we live in Colorado, we are used to snow, and we will be fine. If it starts getting really bad, we will leave the event early.
So we got up early and made the drive to Denver. The drive there was just rainy, but was one of the smoothest drives to Denver I'd ever seen as there was no traffic on I-25. Soon after arriving at our event, the weather started to take a turn for the worst. We sat through a couple meetings and speakers, and just before noon we heard I-25 was closed, but some of the alternate highways were still open. We decided if we were going to try and get back home, we had to go then.
So we left Denver and quickly learned the drive would not be easy. Luckily, my boss has a Jeep that is built for trails and got us out of a few nasty situations early in our drive. We slowly but surely got about three quarters of the way home on main roads before running into a sheriff that told us all roads were closed, and we needed to find a restaurant or hotel to wait in until things cleared up. We didn't listen...
Because my boss has the Jeep, he knows about a bunch of back roads up through the mountains that could eventually lead us home, so we decided to try them out. We had smooth sailing until we were about ten miles from his house, and then things got real bad! On the up-slope of a mountain there were a bunch of cars stuck blocking the road to anyone trying to pass. We sat in the Jeep for a little over an hour as people tried to maneuver some of the cars out of the way. As we sat the storm intensified, making drifts on the side of this mountain that even trucks and other 4X4s were getting stuck in.
It was about this point that I realized we had only about an eight of a tank of gas, I was wearing thin running shoes, socks I've had since high school, a pair of jeans, and a light wind jacket, and we probably weren't going to get off this mountain until either some sort of help arrived or maybe the next day. Walking was impossible, as my boss who dressed for a blizzard got out at one point to try and help move cars for about ten minutes, came back and looked like he had climbed Mnt. Everest and thought he was going to pass out.
By some miracle a few people were able to move one of the cars just enough to create a small path, and we moved up the road about a quarter of a mile, only to run into a similar situation, this time with a jack-knifed semi involved. It was then that I was fully convinced we were never getting out of this mess, and I might freeze to death. All the while, my boss stayed confident that we would get out and make it home.
For a second time a car miraculously moved after being stuck for hours, and we had another path out of this situation. With a few minor hiccups along the way, we made it into the town where my boss lives, and we started high-fiving and celebrating that after nearly 6 hours, we were going to find safety. But Mother Nature wasn't done with us yet...
In town looked like a scene out of The Walking Dead. There were hundreds of cars stuck and just parked in the middle of major streets, and the storm had reached it's peak making it impossible to see anything more than two or three feet ahead of you. There were multiple close calls, and a few situations where had we not had a Jeep we would have been stuck in drifts that were several feet high. But again, we lucked out, and navigated to his house were after all we had been through, we got the Jeep stuck in the street directly in front of his house. You can't make this stuff up.
As the storm ravaged on into the night, I choose not to test my luck any further by leaving his house to go to mine. So I warmed up, thanked my lucky stars we were safe, promised to always listen from now on when they say not to drive, and thought about the hundreds of people who we were out there with all day, that weren't as lucky as us, and were staying the night in their cars.
Also a huge thank you to the men and women who had to be out there working to keep other safe. Emergency services, public service workers like the plow truck drivers, and anyone else who ran into the storm while we were trying to run out. I have a much better appreciate for those folks today, and also a much better understanding of why it's so important to stay off the roads when they get that bad.
Lesson learned! Thanks to everyone who checked in on us, and made sure we were safe. It was highly appreciated!