MOVILLE, Iowa | Two drivers whose paths crossed hundreds of miles from home forged a bit of a friendship in the eye of a blizzard Monday afternoon.
Kevin Taylor, of Waterloo, Iowa, was on his way west to Fort Dodge, Iowa, when he pulled off U.S. Highway 20 at the 4 Way Stop Shop in Moville around 10 a.m. Taylor's semi had gotten stuck twice while leaving the streets of Sioux City. With visibility diminishing by the minute, he pulled his empty flatbed into the expansive lot at the gas station/restaurant/refuge (on this day, at least).
"It was difficult to see," said Taylor, a former music education major during his days as a student at the University of Northern Iowa, a school whose sweatshirt he wore this morning. "I had 44,000 pounds of steel on my truck coming out here to Sioux City. I'm empty going to Fort Dodge, so that can make things real difficult."
Taylor unloaded at State Steel in downtown Sioux City after spending Sunday night in his truck. Sunday's drive was fine, as he encountered only rain.
That rain changed to snow around 4 or 5 a.m. in Sioux City. It didn't relent until the early-evening hours, a heavy, wet dose, maybe a foot or more, whipped by wind gusts approaching 50 miles per hour.
The conditions made for treacherous driving and resulted in the closing of interstates throughout Siouxland and the Midwest. Taylor learned of two semis being jack-knifed on Highway 20 near Sioux City shortly before noon.
"I may see if the snow quits and the wind dies down," said Taylor, who had hoped to reach Bettendorf, Iowa, by day's end. If that didn't happen because of the weather, he'd live with it, as would the transportation company for which he works.
About that time, Nancy Reed walked through the front door at the 4 Way Stop Shop. She and her sister left Dubuque, Iowa, at 7 a.m. Monday and endured a rain-soaked drive the first hour. That rain gave way to sleet and slush before it turned to snow as they hit the western side of the state. Luckily, she said, they followed a snowplow for several miles before pulling off the roadway at Moville.
Reed's destination: Casper, Wyoming, to pick up a family member. "It's a 14-hour drive, 800-some miles," said Reed, who works at Loras College in Dubuque.
Reed checked road conditions and sought the advice of Taylor, who, in no uncertain terms, advised they park the van for a while, at least until the snow let up.
"I wish we would have left on Sunday," she said, indicating that, despite the truck driver's warning, they might press westward.
"I like to call myself adventurous," she said.
Taylor nodded and checked the weather. "I guess maybe I'd be more adventurous if I owned the truck," he said.
The two chatted about college life and their working careers, a pair of northeast Iowans whose paths intersected on a dangerous day along Highway 20.
Andy Dose, the owner of the 4 Way Stop Shop, shared information about the highways while ringing up a fuel purchase for Reed. Dose's truck, an old snowplow he bought from the City of Anthon, sat not 15 feet from the front door, catching its breath during its busiest day of the season.