I-80 from California to Iowa
This Summer I'll be driving from Sacramento to Ames in Iowa on I-80. I figure on three days with stops in Salt Lake City and somewhere in Nebraska, so a fair deal of the time will be spend driving, but if anybody has any good tips for things to see along the way I'ld be most grateful. I'm thinking Sights of the "Worlds Biggest Ball of Yarn" or "Twelve Cadillac's Buried in the Desert" type, or maybe just a quaint little diner in a sleepy farming town.
Also, now that you have an impression of my taste, do you think there'll be any aesthetic difference in taking Highway 30, which runs parallel to I-80, for part of the way through Nebraska?
Any input will be most appreciated.
I always recommend two-lane roads, although I drive the interstates when necessary as well. Two different purposes -- the interstate will get you there in a hurry when you need to do that, the two lane road (preferred!) is for when it is all about the journey! I drive them whenever I can.
Along your route, perhaps the Como Bluff Dinosaur Graveyard near Medicine Bow, WY would interest you? For western scenery, there's Flaming Gorge in western Wyoming/Utah. If you are interested in the history of westward expansion of the United States in the mid-nineteenth century (Oregon Trail pioneers, wagon trains, etc), then also in WY see some of the Oregon Trail sites -- South Pass, & Independence Rock, for example.
Chimney Rock near Scottsbluff, NE is another landmark from the Oregon Trail days, and near Gothenburg, there is an old Pony Express station.
Once in Iowa, you might be interested to know that US30 was our first national highway -- named in honor of Abraham Lincoln (put together in the 1920s/1930s I believe). It stretched from New York City all the way to San Francisco. Like US66, it no longer exists in many places, mostly replaced by interstate routes. However, in Iowa, I understand there is at least one original bridge from the early days. You might watch for that (I'm not sure of its location), but it'll probably be marked. Watch for signs noting "Lincoln Highway" points of interest -- these signs will have a silhouette of Abe Lincoln's head on them.
Also, once you are in Ames and need a weekend trip -- check out the Amana Colonies SW of Cedar Rapids. America has had many experiments in communal living over the years -- one of the most successful was religion-based & founded at the Amana villages. Also, there is an "airpower museum" near Ottumwa. Considering the location, I'd bet it is an old Strategic Air Command base of some sort (Cold War related).
Road trip Romanticism
Thank you for the tips. I absolutely agree; two lane highways are the way to go. Unfortunately I also have a schedule to keep, so I'm afraid I'll have to compromise a bit, but will definitely travel by US-30 for part of the way.
I wonder, does anybody out there know of any nice eateries along the route? I have a vision of a cosy little diner across from the courthouse on a tree-lined main street, with ma taking orders and pa flipping the burgers.
There ARE a few of those around -- but unfortunately this is the age of McDonalds, Burger King and Subway. I don't know that route well anymore as I haven't driven it for a few years -- perhaps some other poster knows a place or two.
I did a quick search on the internet for diners or cafes and didn't come up with much -- there were a couple in Reno and Truckee CA, but apparently they have since closed. If no one on the forum comes up with any suggestions for you, then I think you can get "lucky" by getting into some of the small towns along the way and seeing what's there. I've tried that tactic before and been more often pleased than punished!