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Platte Valley Farm-Her

Road tripping through the snow, be prepared

Barb is a freelance journalist who grew up near Battle Creek, Nebraska, and now farms row crops with her Platte Valley Farmer, Don Batie, northeast of Lexington. She can be reached at

On Friday we embarked on our first trip to Colorado in three years and encountered a substance we haven’t seen much of for over a year – snow.

We were headed to Denver to celebrate the 100th birthday of Don’s Aunt Vaunia Miyoshi. While Friday was her actual birthday, the whole weekend was devoted to celebrating with family and friends and we didn’t want to miss a minute of the festivities.

It was about Sterling, Colorado, we started seeing a white powdery substance. Within a few miles we could see that our Colorado neighbors, who are just as dry as we are, had been blessed with about 2-3 inches of snow overnight. The sun was out, but with temps in the mid-20s nothing was melting. It was a bit of a shock to be driving on slightly wet pavement and needing to be a bit wary of the snow and thin ice on the shoulders.

It was equally weird seeing semis coming from the west covered in snow and ice and drivers dodging the occasional snow blocks that would drop off their undercarriage. Wispy skiffs of blowing snow were skidding across the interstate, a sight we’ve not seen for many a moon.

In a tinder dry atmosphere any moisture is appreciated, and it was a comfort to see pastures covered in white and snow laying between the corn rows in Weld County, home to a number of large dairies and a heavily developed agriculture area.

Sadly, folks also have lost their winter-driving touch in the dry weather of the last year. Just west of Sterling we were diverted to one-lane traffic as a crane was situated at the top of the hill to winch up a wrecked Penske rental truck. From the looks of the truck it had been going too fast when it hit patchy ice and the snow-covered shoulder just pulled it over the edge.

Then at Wiggins, Colorado, westbound traffic was diverted onto Highway 34 for two miles and then back south on County Road 3 to the Interstate. At the underpass we saw another wrecked rental truck that had apparently lost control in the eastbound lanes, crossed the median and hit a westbound vehicle head on.

After those two incidents most westbound traffic was minding their P’s and Q’s, even the native Coloradoans, who we Nebraskans often chide for driving way too fast through the Cornhusker State.

So let this be an early warning that someday winter weather will return to our part of the world. With it comes the need to be vigilant and aware of roadside conditions to prevent mishaps like those mentioned above. It’s also time to be sure you have winter weather gear in the car such as kitty litter to get traction on ice, maybe a small shovel, candles, a bucket or can to hold the candles, matches some bottled water and non-perishable snacks in case you get stranded and have to wait for roadside assistance. Plus an extra bucket in case Mother Nature calls – better than being outside in a blizzard.

Extra gloves, a spare heavy coat, stocking cap, scarf and some old some old snow boots in a bag or sack can come in mighty handy as well. Throw in an insulated blanket or old sleeping bag just in case an overnight in the car is required and always follow my father’s mantra to keep the gas tank full.

Keep an ear and eye on the weather where you are and where you are traveling to over Thanksgiving as well. A few minutes of extra preparation can mean the difference between arriving safely and ending up in a ditch waiting for a tow.

Next time we’ll share more highlights from the century party or should we call it the party of the century?

Barb Bierman Batie can be reached at  

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Barb is a freelance journalist who grew up near Battle Creek, Nebraska, and now farms row crops with her Platte Valley Farmer, Don Batie, northeast of Lexington. She can be reached at

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