I-80 to Laramie

Some advice for if you’re ever planning a road trip in the States: avoid I-80.

Now, I can’t say for certain that the whole of I-80 is a nightmare, but certainly the stretch that we (R) drove from Rock Springs to Laramie was.

For a start, you’re driving through some of the most desolate land you will come across. I thought that once we’d got off the Oregon trail stretch from Jackson Hole down to I-80 we’d hit civilization, but no such luck. We continued through areas called Point of Rocks, and Red Desert, and through landscape reminiscent of the Badlands. Wyoming is the least populated state in the US with a population of about 584,000 (according to Wikipedia). That’s about the same as Glasgow. Wyoming also has the second-lowest population density in the states, behind Alaska. And when you’re driving along I-80, with hours between settlements or even services, you really experience this.

But the thing that makes driving on I-80 most unpleasant are the trucks. It turns out that this interstate is a major truck road, which makes sense as it’s the direct route from San Francisco to Chicago. But all this might be fine, if the truckers didn’t drive so badly. Quite frankly, it was dangerous. On a two-lane highway, these trucks drove too fast and were reckless when overtaking. It was not pleasant to be stuck behind trucks engaged in overtaking battles, with other trucks bearing down on us, and being confronted every now and again with the evidence of just how dangerously these trucks were driving; we saw at least three trucks turned over on the side of the road – creating even more hazards.

What struck us as even crazier was that the police didn’t even react to this behaviour. At one point we were behind a tanker, which was being overtaken by a truck it had overtaken earlier. Now this truck had started its manoeuvre at the start of a small incline (of course), so took at least ten, maybe fifteen minutes to overtake. Meanwhile, a police car sped up behind the truck – effectively cutting off any possibility of aborting the manoeuvre. And this police car just sat there, patiently waiting. No-one was pulled over.

So, after about three or four hours of this, we eventually made it to Laramie, our stop for the night. There’s not much in Laramie, but we had thought that we’d probably want to stop sooner than Cheyenne, and after our experience on I-80 we were very pleased to get off the road. We also had the option of taking a smaller road down to Fort Collins the next day, which we thought might make a nice change.

While we didn’t see much of Laramie, I still remember our stay there with fondness. For the first time in our trip, we didn’t leave our hotel. We checked in, we splashed about in their pool to get the dust of the road off us, and we ordered Dominos pizza that was delivered to our room, while we watched the football.

After the day we’d had, it was bliss.

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2 thoughts on “I-80 to Laramie

  1. Yes, but at the end of the day, you got to go to Laramie! When I was a boy, “The Man from Laramie” was one of the three best cowboy series on TV, vying for top honours with “The Lone Ranger’ and “Have Gun, Will Travel”. I wasn’t impressed with the town of Laramie either, but it was a significant tick on the bucket-list to have visited it. Same goes for Cheyenne.

    Still got “The Alamo” to tick.

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    1. Ah – I’d never seen The Man from Laramie, so didn’t realise it was a place of significance! Now that we’ve been watching Hell on Wheels we’re rather sad that we missed out Cheyenne… but that meant that we had plenty of time to enjoy Fort Collins and Denver (blog posts coming soon!).
      The Alamo is also still on our list – though we did see a great exhibition about it in the Texas State Museum in Austin.

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