I don’t recommend driving RVs into Wyoming in the winter.
That doesn’t mean I won’t try. I just don’t recommend it.
March 1, 2023
The house we stayed at in Lander had a pretty long driveway. When we arrived, it was a little slick but barely manageable enough to pull in our 30′ class C and 30′ travel trailer, but then that last storm brought in almost 2′ of snow.
After getting the truck stuck, we had the driveway plowed but then, the wind blew more snow onto the driveway (argh).
When it was time to leave, we unburied Momo (class C) only to discover it had a flat front tire. Luckily, we had an air compressor and got enough air in it to get it to the closest tire repair shop 30 minutes away. But first, we had to get it through the driveway.
We’d go 10 feet, get stuck, start shoveling. An hour later it was free.
Next up was getting the trailer out. I used Gabi’s truck because it is manual and I think it was a great call. I put it in 4wd low, and as soon as I was rolling a bit, I shifted to second and floored it. The turn was really tight and the wheels started spinning but all those years of off roading in my youth paid off and I didn’t get stuck. Although for one second I looked in my side mirror and saw the trailer plowing through a huge pile of snow (luckily it wasn’t ice!).
With the trailer out, we decided to take it straight to an RV storage and just finish this loop of travel with 1 RV because a travel trailer and Wyoming wind aren’t a good match.
I wish I had taken a video of this entire shenanigan but I was so worried about being stuck and so cold shoveling in freezing weather that you’ll have to just take my word… it was another ridiculous, yet typical, moment of travel for us.
But the story gets better…
March 2, 2023 (the next day)
On the day of departure, Victor had a few clients in the morning and we knew Momo was slow. So I had the kids take off an hour before us.
Gabi and Tati in Momo, Isabelle and Jiraiya in Lolo (Gabi’s truck).
The Wyoming roads had actually been closed the previous 3 days so we were excited that they had just reopened making the expected drive to be only 5-6 hours instead of 8-9.
An hour and a half later, Victor and I got into Iroh (our truck) ready to see if we could catch them.
Our DEF (you know, the Diesel Exhaust Fluid that is another excuse for government control) had been low and when we added some the day before, the gauge didn’t go up to reflect the added fluid.
Hmmm, maybe it just needs more.
We add more and start off on the long boring drive.
10 miles in it’s not going up.
We pull over and call Dodge.
“There’s a good chance it crystalized due to the extreme cold front we had last week. I can get you in next week.”
I was not about to stay in Lander for another week.
“Will the engine really go to 5 m.p.h. like it says in 100 miles?”
You see, supposedly, in order to “protect the environment,” when the DEF runs out, the truck will only drive 5 m.p.h.
“Well, I’ve heard that if you don’t shut the truck off and don’t idle, then it won’t slow down.”
So of course, much to my husband’s disapproval, I say, “Let’s go for it.”
We barely get 10 miles down the road before I say, “Turn around.”
As much as I didn’t want to get stuck in Lander for a whole week (without my kids), I also didn’t want to get stuck in the middle Wyoming with no cell service and have to cover 200 miles at 5 mph.”
Victor called and begged the mechanic to get us in the next day and so we had a nice evening just the two of us while we waited for the truck to get fixed.
In the meantime, the kids made it to Steamboat Springs and took care of getting a campground, food, etc. Not that I expected anything less, but it did warm my heart to see them so capable.
And if you follow us on IG you’ll have seen that it wasn’t all butterflies and rainbows for them. They almost got stuck trying to get into the snow-covered campsite and then the electricity box was frozen shut.
Luckily my virtuoso daughter used WD-40 and a knife and showed the box who was in charge.
March 3, 2023
The truck wasn’t ready until 3:30pm. By the time we packed back up, the fastest road out of Lander has closed again after finally being re-opening 24 hours earlier. It was closed for a week after that.
No biggie, we just took South Pass, which only added an hour.
But then, we got to Rock Springs and 3 roads were closed, leaving the only option to Steamboat being through Flaming Gorge, which Google was saying would be another 6.5-hour drive.
It was 6 p.m.
My mind went straight to, “So we’ll arrive at midnight or 1am…okay”
Victor’s mind went straight to, “So we’re getting a hotel…sweet!”
You can imagine that this didn’t go well. Two perspectives, two different approaches, one big argument.
We checked into the hotel, defended our positions, and went to sleep.
March 4, 2023
Victor got up to go tho the bathroom at 5:30 am and I quickly reached for my phone to check the road status.
Nothing had changed.
We had a long drive ahead of us and I wanted to get it done. Victor was probably thinking, “I don’t have a client this morning, can’t I sleep in.” I could’ve said it nicer.
We were on the road by 6 a.m.
It was a beautiful drive.
I think this is why they say nature heals. Or maybe it was just that today was our 29-year dating anniversary, but by the time we were in the mountains, “sorrys” had been exchanged and we were talking again.
We started dating on March 4, 1994. I was 17. What an incredible journey it has been and to think we let a few road closures and worry about being away from our kids cause us each so much hurt.
We too are learning and I do appreciate that our learning curve is getting faster.
We actually made it to Steamboat by 11am.
We sat down at a cafe and ordered biscuits and gravy. Before Victor met me, he had never had biscuits and gravy. Before I met Victor, I had never had real Mexican refried beans (only that fake stuff that comes out of a can).
We are definitely cut from different cloth, but some would say his yin and my yang make a perfectly balanced circle.
The picture below is my phone number from when I gave it to him on March 3, 1994, the night his loud football friends locked us in a bathroom so that we would actually talk to each other.
The next day, we started dating and now, here we are in Steamboat Springs with 4 of our 5 kids, heading to Winter Wondergrass Festival.
Victor has kept that paper in his wallet for 29 years and takes it out every March 4th and says the same thing, “You gave me 3 different phone numbers. You really wanted me to get a hold of you!”
He was right.
Visit Wyoming (Just…not in the winter):
- Ultimate Wyoming Road Trip
- Yellowstone to Rushmore Road Trip
- Best Hikes in Wyoming
- Things to do in Steamboat Srping CO in the Winter
Sunday 5th of March 2023
Just finished reading your 29 year phone exchange. I to am in my 29 year relationship oh yes ups a downs but we are making it. Your trips sound so exciting an fun a yeas sometimes a challenge but such is life. I must ask how do you afford to do all this? Did you do a cookbook? Did I miss it ! Love your travels an look forward to reading more Mary Petkevich
Monday 6th of March 2023
Initially, by moving into our RV, we saved a lot of money since living in California was so expensive. For a few years we cycled through sitting still to save money and then using it for huge trips abroad. Now, we make enough money as health coaches and our 2 blogs to support our current travel lifestyle. Like marriage, it's a process of setting an intention and then solving one problem at a time :)