Commercial trucking is the lifeblood of this country with trucks carrying more than four times what is shipped by rail. Interstate 80 is the main northern route across the west. There is a steady stream of trucks across Wyoming in all kinds of weather.
Most of I-80 across Wyoming is above 6,000 feet elevation, and there can be tremendous storms rolling across the empty land. Wyoming Department of Transportation works hard to keep the trucks moving, but it has to close sections of the road several times each winter. (And yes, it is still winter there.) Usually the closure is for less than a day. Trucks line up at either end of the closure, waiting for the road to open.
Friday — two days ago — the roads were slick and there was a crash involving several trucks. The weather was typically awful, and the crash blocked both lanes. The highway was closed in both directions to allow emergency and recovery vehicles to use the opposing lanes. WyDOT estimated it would take 12 to 14 hours to clear the wreckage and re-open the road.
In the afternoon, a notice went out from Wyoming Highway Patrol and WyDOT: They would be performing a snowplow escort around the crash for only those commercial trucks transporting essential COVID-19 supplies. Those supplies were defined as: “water, food, heating oil, motor fuels, propane, agricultural products, agricultural supplies, livestock and poultry, livestock and poultry feed, forest products, removal of waste or for providing restoration of utilities.” A trooper at the gathering point at either end would read each truck’s bill of lading to make sure they qualified. All other traffic would have to wait.
I lived in Laramie for almost ten years. The highways would close, sometimes for a day or more, and all traffic would stop. I don’t remember that there ever was a snowplow escort for trucks carrying essential material. During this unprecedented time, there are a lot of people working in unprecedented ways to keep us safe.
We went to two church services today. We watched the live stream of First Unitarian of Portland’s service on Facebook. And because Wyoming is an hour earlier than here, we were able to watch on Zoom the combined service for the UU Community of Casper and UU Fellowship of Laramie. It was wonderful to connect in that way.
I joined the Zoom session out of curiosity, but it affected me deeply. Wyoming and the people of the Laramie fellowship are such a very important part of who I am. I lived a lot of places — 17 US states and 2 countries overseas — but it is Wyoming and Laramie and the fellowship and the people there that are embedded most deeply in my soul. Thank you.