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Sorry if people are tired of me asking this question, but another possible job opportunity in Casper has turned up & have to decide whether to go for it. I am currently in State College, PA, 7 hours of travel from Denver using planes & ground transport combined. I can only do it once every few months. I am looking to move closer to Denver for greater ability to visit & help aging family members in Denver w/ health issues.
Details of the possible travel :
Hopefully as often as once every few weekends. But what frequency is actually realistic ? 280 miles plus, often in bad weather, is kind of a long haul compared to what I'm used to. I've frequently traveled Fort Collins to Denver in the past & that was very easy (even fun), but that is only 1/3 the distance, and the weather is not anywhere near as bad on that part of I-25.
Would be interested in rotating between driving, Black Hills Stage Coach, and flying. I couldn't afford to fly every time, as these flights are expensive. Even the bus is relatively expensive. Driving is potentially hazardous, as has been explained here many times, although all 3 methods of travel are probably equally hazardous. How often do long distance buses blow over in this wind ?
So ... is this crazy ? Am I better off just staying in State College & continuing to try to convince them to move east (which just plain ain't gonna happen unless the situation gets desperate) ?
I think it is feasible if you are willing. It's all in the attitude I think. Once you live in Wyoming you learn that traveling 280 miles is nothing! It is a nice drive from Casper to Denver most of the year. When the weather is bad, it's just plain bad! But in those cases you might want to save your "flight money" and fly if you have to go. I would not hesitate to live in Casper if the right job opportunity is there and you are that close to the family. I say GO FOR IT!
It is doable, but it won't be easy. We once had our boat on the Gulf of Mexico, 3.5 hours drive away. At first it was fun to go every couple of weeks, but it got old pretty fast, and there were two of us sharing the driving. Once a month might be more realistic then every 2 weeks. Maybe you can advertise at the college in Casper and find someone willing to share the driving down to Denver and back.
I hear often that the worst stretch of roadway in bad weather is between Cheyenne and Ft. Collins. If the weather turns bad you can always stop in Cheyenne overnight.
As CptnRn says ... "it is doable, but it won't be easy".
There is a high probability of inclement driving conditions for this route during 6 months of the year.
Some of those days, you'll just be slightly inconvenienced; ie, snow/blowing snow/icy spots, slushy spots/low visibility. You'll need to adjust your speed accordingly and pay attention to your driving. These are days when you'll greatly appreciate an AWD car ... not a 4x4 off road suspension vehicle, but a capable AWD car platform built to cope with these adverse road conditions (think Audi, Subaru, Volvo, BMW, MB, etc). The exposure could be all the way from Casper to Fort Collins, or in isolated spots on I-25, or it could be just a handful of tough spots in your route of travel. Do this trip enough times and you'll get to know the places where it's most treacherous because that's where you'll consistently see vehicles off the road or the tracks where they have been off the road.
Some of these days, you will be facing severe storm fronts, where the road will be obscured due to blowing/drifting snow, potential black ice formation/very slick roads, and visibility will be reduced to virtually nil. If you're interested, there's a bunch of You Tube vidoes you can see on-line about these driving situations ... simply google them and you'll get an idea what real world driving conditions are around here during the winter months. It's a very daunting set of circumstances to drive through, and the difficulty presented is that on any given day of frontal passages, you may encounter this situation for your entire drive in Wyoming, or several times when the roads will present a more moderate challenge between some of the more extreme circumstances.
Some of the days, I-25 will be closed to all traffic due to conditions. There are places along your route that historically have high winds prevailing which promote some of the low visibility/drifting snow to a point where the WYDOT crews cannot keep the road reasonably clear, nor can you see to drive the road. The tendency over the last few years has been to close the road sooner than later and not have so many potential accidents turn into real ones. Realize that when you are out in these forecast conditions, there's not a lot of motel rooms along your route between Douglas and Cheyenne, nor places to stop just to get off the highway.
You'll also have winter days where the roads are reasonably clear (if not dry), beautiful sunshine, moderate winds, and a pleasant trip. Just don't count on these conditions for your round-trip to Denver and back.
Also, don't rule out that the trip from Fort Collins to Denver can also present some very challenging driving days, too. With slick/black ice conditions on I-25 being a common occurence in the area north of Denver on the north-slope facing rolling hills. Stretches of I-25 around exit 235 are famous for multiple car pile-ups when conditions are right for black ice formation. Of course, there's days when you'll find snow/slush on the road, too ... and the three lane highway effectively down to 2 lanes of traffic.
As far as your commute exposure, do consider that you'll encounter far more inept and incomptent drivers in these adverse conditions than folk who really can handle them and drive appropriately for the conditions and their vehicle's abilities. Another hazard on the road is that the semi-truckers have a whole different set of parameters about their vehicles ... they can often see better than you can and can travel at faster speeds than you can safely drive ... so they're not slowing down too much. Trying to see where you're going when they pass can be quite a challenge, if even at all possible for a brief time as each passes you or you pass them on the grades where they cannot maintain their pace.
The busses have to contend with the same conditions that you do in a car. To their credit, they have a pretty good safety record, but as you mentioned ... they're not inexpensive transportation, either. Scheduled air service is also pricey, but it does have a frequent advantage of decent (now that's a relative condition!) flying weather when the roads are still really messed up.
If you move Coloradans to PA they may never forgive you lol. Sorry I'm a little jaded from living in Delaware for 7 LONG months. I wouldn't worry that much about commuting from Casper to Denver. Yes there are parts of the year that it won't be possible but for the most part it wouldn't be that bad. It's the interstate and it is constantly tended to and if it isn't fit for travel they close it down. For interstate travel in Wyoming there are a lot worse areas in the winter. Coming from PA the wind will be a new thing for you, but you learn to contend with it just like you'll learn how to slow down and get through the ice and snow. The really bad thing is when their is a storm and you get caught in a white out, but if you watch the weather and check the web cams you can pretty well avoid those situations.
I live in Gillette, 110 miles north of Douglas (which is 30 miles east of Casper) on a 2-lane state road.
I've gotta go back in time a bit to relate to this, but road conditions and weather haven't changed much. (It seems I mentioned this once on this board, hopefully not to you.) For most of a decade from the early 80s to early 90s we were season ticket holders for the Denver Broncos and attended most all of their home games. I can only recall missing a game due to bad roads once in all that time, when I-25 was closed south of Douglas. We were never stranded coming home. There was some nasty weather a few times, but nothing else that closed the roads or should have closed them that I can recall. We drove down Friday nights or Saturday mornings and usually returned immediately following the late games.
Granted, we're talking about traveling September through December, and the weather is more iffy January through April.
Provided that you have some leeway on which weekends you'll travel, I don't think it should be too bad. But I grew up driving on slick roads and have been driving on them for 50 years -- some that I shouldn't have been on. (Most of those were in the midwest, where there's more snow and ice and less sun to melt it.)
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