Not familiar with the area had me checking counties to see where the storm was headed and if I would be affected. Snow amounts were ranging from dusting to measurable amounts. There was always the chance it would miss us and everything would be fine. I went with that thought as I settled into bed, only to be proven wrong the next morning.
I woke up to a gray sky and what appeared to be snow in the far distance. Aria and I got up and headed outside for a walk. I looked back to the mountains that were behind us and they were gone as well as part of Bozeman in the distance. The clouds had dropped and looked like they weren't going to be lifting anytime soon. After breakfast, the phone continued to buzz and beep as updated weather alerts continued to pour in. Now they included passes that were closed or would be closing soon.
Even though the clouds were low it wasn't snowing hard in Bozeman so, being the adamant photographer that I am, I decided to head out and see if maybe the further West I went the better it would be. Not only was I wrong, I was almost dead wrong. The roads became slushy and sleek only a few miles West of Bozeman and clouds dropped so low that visibility was limited and the snow began to fall harder. Trying to find a place to turn around wasn't easy as turn-offs became far and few.
Finally, I was able to find a ramp that allowed for a turnaround and headed back towards the hotel. As I turned around and headed up the ramp I couldn't help but pull over and snap a few shots of the snow and the storm. The drive back was even worse, the slush had built up and the trucks were running fast and heavy. Images of mountain driving came screaming back only this time the slush was thick and tried to pull my car over to the shoulder. More than once I almost lost control and one time was next to a dump truck.
Thankfully, I was able to regain control before the total loss occurred and made it safely back to the hotel. Aria was only too thankful to be back to the hotel room where she curled up quickly and laid low for the remainder of the day. Bummer. I did some blogging and website work but needed to do something else while I was here besides hanging out in a hotel room. A quick view of the town revealed a local town museum that wasn't too far away.
I also needed an oil change and there was a Jiffy Lube near the museum that I could use. Leaving the hotel revealed a slight lull in the storm which allowed me to find the Jiffy Lube that had two garages and two cars in line for each garage. I decided to come back and went over to the museum but parking was on the main street with the closest spot being several blocks away. I passed on the museum and turned back towards Jiffy Lube only to discover the lull was over and the storm was back, blowing and snowing harder than before.
This lead to whiteout conditions and unable to see where it was located. What should have only taken five minutes to find ended up being fifteen and by then the line was now four cars deep. Stay or go. Once again I was asking this question, and once again I decided to stay. It needed to get done and what else did I have to do today. Almost two hours later the car was done and I was able to watch the snow go from heavy to nothing, slow to nothing and then when leaving it kicked back up to heavy.
I knew when I got back to the hotel I would not leave it again until I was ready to head back towards South Dakota which would be the next day. I went back to the hotel and found Aria curled up in her carrier enjoying the sound of the TV in the background. We went for another walk and settled in for the afternoon which was spent watching movies, updating social media and my website while I watched the snow continue to fall outside. As the night closed in, the storm began to move out and the alerts began to expire. A review of the map, weather, and route told me I was going to have to deal with some of it tomorrow.
Driving across country can bring about some interesting situations. Broken down on a day by day basis enjoy my adventures and set backs along the way to some beautiful destinations.