The day I drove US-287 through the Great Divide Basin there were long stretches of roadworks. These meant travelling at a snail's pace and even times of being stationery for extended periods. For once I did not mind. It gave excellent opportunit6ies to take in the surroundings and locate them on my maps.... including the Topo maps.
At Muddy Gap I stopped for lunch. A service station with lovely people, expensive food / drinks and lots of souvenirs as well as picnic tables outside..... and ever so much history. You have to stop here, just to read the roadside boards, learn about the history and what lies ahead. I continued east on 220 to Alcova. Having read about Martin's Cove, Devil's Gate and Independence Rock, at Muddy Gap, when I got to a sign to the Mormon Visitor Centre, I decided to call in. A regretful decision!
On arrival I felt as if I were ambushed. Now I know Mormon's are known for their zeal and enthusiasm, but here I felt they got completely carried away. The woman who decided that she would be my (unwanted) guide proceeded to tell me all about each building and the surrounds. I am not a museum person per se. All I wanted was to walk through, look at what is there and maybe read a few items which caught my interest. Then, get off my sore feet and back in the car. I explained to the woman that I was not interested in all the detail, and simply wanted to have a quick look around. She seemed to be deaf. In the end I simply told her to buzz off, I was not interested. Even this she ignored, but by then I did the ignoring as well, and simply went my way. Insisting on my signing the visitor book, I put, as I always do, "Lifemagician, on the road, in the US".
As if all that was not enough, when exiting the building one was ambushed once again with questions about one's religion, quotes from the bible, etc. (Remind me never to visit a Mormon site again.)
Some 30 miles further east on 220 is Alcova, the northern end of the Alcova Seminoe Scenic Byway, which David at the Rawlins BLM office had recommended. Once again a great drive, though in no ways challenging. I stopped to check out some of the campgrounds along the Miracle Mile and in the State Park - where I spent the night. State Parks are known as safe spots to spend the night. Here I was in quite a remote SP, visible from the road and not another person within coooeee. It was not a good feeling, but too late to go elsewhere. Besides, I did not want to go elsewhere. There was very little flat ground to park, other than the picnic table under cover, which had a large concrete apron with it. I chose to spend the night there, even though it was a good ways away from the toilets. I figured I could drive to them. Later I was to discover that this was the camping site for disabled.
Less than 25% of the Scenic Byway is not paved. It is steep in places, and it is clear to see why trailers are not recommended. As the road entered the Mountains there were five pieces of neatly cut firewood in the middle of the road. I figured they had dropped off someone's trailer. Then I saw another piece, and another. Eventually I saw a large coat/jacket on the road with pieces of firewood in and near it. Must have been some two dozen pieces in all. Someone was going to go without a campfire that evening. If I could have, I might have picked up some, but I would never be able to find the owner.
South of the SP the road leads over the high plains through open range and cattle country, where a large number of pronghorns roam. Then, as one approaches I-80 there is yet another scar on the landscape, the ugly, foul smelling oil plant.
A drive I would highly recommend, but do it from south to north, so you have all that wonderful scenery to erase the ugliness near Sinclair from your memory.
In Rock Springs the folk at the BLM office had tried to influence me to drive the Snowy Range Scenic Byway, from Saratoga east to I-80. With time on my side, I drove down to Saratoga. At the Community Centre I asked where I could find the library, as I wanted to check my email before continuing. The lady informed me that they had wifi, and I was welcome to use it. Not only that, she was also the tourism office (and a dozen other things), giving me great information especially about the road I was about to drive.
The Scenic Byway goes over Snowy Range Pass, 10847', and passes Medicine Bow Peak, 12013'. Once again, what can one say, these mountain roads are so spectacular, and yet, so easy to drive. Some of the pull offs and picnic areas along the way were still snow covered, others were readily accessible. I stopped at one for lunch. Up the top is Libby Flats where there are interpretive signs which tell of the flowers - most of which were in bloom - and how some of the tiny plants by the path could be more than 100 years old.
When I arrived, I was alone. Shortly after a hoard of folks arrived all at once. They did not read the boards, they did not stick to the paths, and I thought of the 100 year old plants being trampled. I spent a lot of time here, just absorbing the atmosphere.
A community built observation tower was erected here in recently decades, which affords views over the surrounding valleys and peaks. Everyone stops at Libby Flats. I did not check out any of the apparently abundant accommodation along the way.
Another great detour off the Interstates.
In CO my intention had been to stop in Evans on US-34, just east of I-25. However, late that afternoon there were severe storm warnings for the area, and discretion prevailed. I stayed west of I-25. Next day US-34 took me to Brush where I took 71 down to Limon. It was then US-40 to Oakley KS. Such an enjoyable drive through areas where people live and earn their keep off the land.
At Salina I headed south, as I wanted to check out Marquette KS. On the hostel site I had seen that it was not certain if the hostel was still open, as they did not have a contact; had not heard from them. Since I was going to be in the area, I swung past there to check it out. Was then able to inform David and Eileen at Hostelz.com of the contact information and status.... which is all good.
Marquette is one of these little towns where everything is within one block. Much like Cottonwood Falls, but without the Historic Courthouse. Actually, it struck me a bit of an artist community. I have no facts on which to base that assessment, purely the feeling I got. Then there is the museum for two wheel enthusiasts.
From Marquette it was down to US-56 to US-77 which took me down to US-400. It was here, in Augusta, that I was invited by the staff at the 24 hr Maccas to park overnight, and assured that they would keep an eye on me. :) US-400/69/166 then took me into Joplin where I was able to attend to business, speak with the mechanic and - best of all - get my computer fixed.
48hrs later saw me head off to Boston. The usual... I-44/I-70/I-71/I-76/I-80 to Austintown OH. It was in Hilliard IN when I saw fuel for less than $3.50, that I filled up. First time I had seen it that low since leaving Joplin. (Not seen it under $3.75 since.) At the advice of our friend, glc, I decided to take I-86 across NY. Here was an interstate (though not all the way) which I had not considered before. It has a reputation of being a pleasant and scenic route. It did not disappoint.
From Austintown route 11 (interstate standard) leads to I-90, which in turn leads to I-86 in PA. It was some way into NY that we were detoured off the interstate for quite some distance and time. Concentrating on following the detour signs, I did not really bother with exactly where we were, until I came to a road sign which caught my attention.....
Hamlet of Kill Buck
Arrived in Newton on Monday 30th June, determined to complete this report before we leave..... in a few hours' time.
When the paperwork is up to date, I will post a summary of the first part of my trip. We will be back in Boston on 13th July. A week later, after grandson's birthday, I will have five weeks to hopefully explore yet another part of this beautiful country.
18th March - 3rd July .... A brief summary.
32 nights were spent with family and friends.
55 nights were at Truck stops... of all persuasions.
8 nights at paid accommodation - 1 Hostel; 4 Motels; 3 State Parks for a total of $241.
12 nights were at other venues, such as rest areas in FL; 24 hr Maccas; BLM campground; Turnpike Plaza; etc., and of course, 1 night on the plane.
Drove 18053 miles
Using 1240.753 gallons of fuel
At an average cost of $3.477
For a total of $4314.46
Or 23.9 cents per mile
Consistently getting 14 - 15 mpg.
A rough count here shows she requested somewhere in the vicinity of $5000 in repairs, maintenance and minor improvements.
I haven't even counted food and other daily necessities. Nor the America the Beautiful Pass and the repairs to my camera and computer..
Nothing to do with the roadtrip was the $6000 for the trip with my grand daughters. That's the next 20 years of birthdays taken care of.
Glad I was able to replenish the coffers whilst at home.
Or how Hurricane Arthur turned our trip into a nightmare.
We missed the flight from Sydney to Melbourne. The boarding pass we had been given was for a 0940 flight, but we arrived in Sydney at 1120. By the time we had cleared all the formalities and picked up the luggage it was after midday. Finally they found three seats on a 1330 flight to Melbourne.
But we should never have been in Sydney. We were booked on QF94, direct from LAX to MEL, due to leave at 2330 (but did not leave until 0030). Our flight from Boston arrived at midnight.
By shovelling a few passengers around, the staff found three seats on QF108 to Sydney - due to leave at 2350. Obviously not going to be on time. Finally left almost four hours later.
The flight from Boston was almost three hours late leaving. The flight path chosen went over Quebec City then west to as far as S St Marie, to avoid the storm's affects. Only then did we head southwest to LAX, where we arrived some four hours late. The plane on which we eventually crossed the Pacific came from JFK in NYC at about the same time, with the same detour and storm delays. By the time it was cleaned and safety checks completed we were able to board soon after 0300 and took off just before 0400.
A scheduled door to door trip of 25hrs, turned into 38hrs. Bad enough for me, but very traumatic for two little girls. Nothing grandma could do would help. If only Mum and Dad could have been there. Not a good start to our week away.
However, one of the captains put it all into perspective when in his welcome message he said "We chose safety over schedule". (I could not help but think what a great statement this would be for some roadtrips.)
Within an hour of arrival at daughter's place, all was forgotten and seven grandchildren (aged 13 - 3) were on the trampoline..... together.
Not only did the girls with their cousins, get to see all the sites around Melbourne; the Little Penguins and the Koala Park on Philip Island, we all spent three days in The Grampians National Park. Together my two daughters had organised cabins for the eleven of us. Pity it was a very wet time, but a lot was achieved despite that. Highlight was the dozens (maybe hundreds) of kangaroos which gather in the small NP town of Halls Gap - on the oval and all other open grassed area. The Grampians is my favourite NP in Victoria. We spent many a holiday there with the family.
We were all thankful that the flight home was uneventful and on time.
Since then I have enjoyed reading the journals the girls kept and viewed the large albums of trip photos my daughters assembled for each girl. A trip of a lifetime. I look forward to them coming to visit downunder when they are older.
All worth it by the sounds of things.
Shame about the delays but at least it was for the right reasons !
What a wonderful family gathering and a great experience for the girls, you must have felt very happy and proud.
Time to leave Boston
Next destination - Douglas AZ..... with a few detours along the way.
It was raining when I left son's house, at lunch time, with sufficient fuel to get to Mahwah NJ. Gasbuddy had indicated that this was to be the first 'reasonably' priced fuel along the way. Well, other than at Pilot in Sturbridge MA. But I have had a couple of not so pleasant incidents there, that I chose not to return. Besides, I rather like the Pilot in Mahwah. Unlike other places in NJ, the manager there allows me to fill my own tank. I do so object to others filling my tank. I like to fill it to just the same spot on my fuel gauge each time, no matter when the pump 'automatically' cuts off. The guys there know me. I have stayed there three times so far, this trip.
A great spot to spend the night, even though they are not listed as providing overnight parking for RVs. On this, my third stay, I still asked the manager if it was OK. He assured me it was, but also stressed the importance of asking every time, lest someone should think it is an unoccupied vehicle, and have it towed.
It was a good run down I-84, I-684 and I-287 over the Tappan Zee to 17 in Mahwah. Not only did I discover it is shorter than my usual I-84, I-380, I-80, I ended up saving something like 50 - 60 cents per gallon. When pumping 30 gallons, that is not to be sneezed at. Unleaded up in that northeast corner is outrageously expensive.
The most productive part of that day was that after many phone calls, I found an affordable place to store the van when I leave in September. $20 per month in Greensboro NC (the cheapest insurance State). I have already had an offer of our dear friend in the area to look after the health of the batteries during my absence. So much appreciated.
Next day the destination was Meadville PA. With camera in hand, I wanted to photograph what I had seen there on my last pass through, when my camera was out of action.
Headed down to I-80 which I would take through NJ and most of the way through PA. It did not take long for me to realise how fortunate I was to be heading west. I-80 heading east, west of I-287, was stationary or barely moving for the best part of ten miles, all four lanes of it. If ever there was an argument to run a high speed train down the centre of that interstate, that surely was it. All I could think of is the space all these vehicles would be taking up in and near NYC, where no doubt the majority were heading.
As I approached the Delaware Water Gap I passed the two scenic overlooks along this road. Having been up them a couple of times, I chose to by pass them, this time. But I did think of how many people would not bother or be in too much of a hurry to enjoy the great views it gives of the lie of the land and the beauty of the surrounding mountains.
As one drives through PA on this heavily travelled interstate, the scenery changes constantly. At some points the roadside is planted with trees; next one gets views across the valleys to mountain ranges in the distance. Just before mile marker 138 (west bound), there is a trestle railway bridge spanning the valley. At this point the road too, is spanning a valley, hence no shoulder to legally pull over and get a photo. I would love to know more about that trestle bridge, if anyone out there knows its history, etc.
Took exit 70 onto US-322, to Meadville. Shortly after the turnoff there is another lovely old barn painted with the Mail Pouch advertisement. It looks to be part of a plant nursery - Sawyers Nursery. As one proceeds northwest the road passes through Clarion, probably the largest town, Cranberry and Franklin before Meadville. These are lovely little towns to stop off and get supplies. Alas, there are only so many supplies one can carry. Franklin and Meadville did not benefit from my shopping sprees.
In Meadville there is a small garden and large mural made completely from old discarded roadsigns. The signs are cut to fit the purpose and colours appropriately allocated. For instance, the green ones are used for leaves, the blue for water and red and yellow for flowers. Very cleverly done and most eyecatching. The mural is on US-322, 3/4 mile east of I-79, right at an intersection with traffic lights. It is not convenient to stop anywhere there. By turning into the Home Depot carpark at the lights, one is able to park and see the mural from across the street, or cross with the lights to see it close up. It goes for the best part of a block.
From what I could tell, this mural is on private property, as is the garden. The garden, which is by traffic lights a little closer to I-79, can be accessed by entering the firm's car park, where there are numerous 'no parking' signs. Since I could not see how else to get photos, I ignored the signs.
p.s. I'll see if I can upload the photos tomorrow.
Images of the Garden and Mural Constructed from Recycled Roadsigns.
Love it !
That's pretty cool and you captured some great pictures.
Big Rigs and so much more.
With the weekend now looming, and not due at the mechanic in Joplin till 8am Monday, it was a leisurely trip with late nights, sleep-ins and some 300 interstate miles per day. Glad I planned it that way as the endless roadworks Through OH, IN and IL were tiresome, to say the least. Other than that, the drive to Joplin was uneventful and as pleasant as the conditions allowed it to be. The slower pace gave me an opportunity to stop off in places I had often traversed, but never stopped.... Columbus, Indianapolis, St Louis and Springfield. Took the opportunity to have my lunch in a town park, as often as I could.
A month earlier I had been told that I would need a new master cylinder, since it had leaked enough to switch on the dash light. But, since there was not one in town and it had not leaked since being topped up over 4000+ miles ago, it was decided that I should be OK. Keep some fluid in kitty, just in case. Something I will need to keep an eye on. The oil change, and a couple of small other issues, attended to, I was ready to go. Headed down to Pilot to fill up and check out, once more, the Petro Truck Stop next door. A real show piece which I first visited back in 2012.
Between Pilot and Petro is a Maccas, where the wifi is good out in the parking area. This gave me an opportunity to catch up with things on the internet. It must have been going on for midday when I finally decided to pull off.... but not before I made one more visit. Little was I to know what was to come.
I had actually put this off a few times, not really knowing what to say and fearing I might make a fool of myself. Across the road from where I was, is the Chrome Shop Mafia, 4 State Trucks. Fans of Trick my Truck will know exactly what I mean.
I entered and just stood there taking in the scene before me. I had no idea the shop was so big. Then I heard a voice ask if there was anything he could do for me. It was Jersey (because he comes from New Jersey). I sheepishly told him I was a fan of the show, and that at home these had been showing over the last year or two. However, they were all 2006 - 2009 and I wanted to know if there were more recent once.... if they are still doing them. Jersey said that only the three seasons were filmed, and yes, they keep being repeated. I also asked if he knew what happened to all those trucks. Do they ever follow up with them. He assured me that as far as they knew, all but one are still on the road. The only one which is not has been garaged by its owner.
Seeing I was quite interested in all that was going on and how these trucks were transformed, etc., Jersey said if I had a little time he would get a golf cart and take me out to the workshops where they are working on current projects. The whole operation is huge. There are workshops behind workshops and more workshops over the road. It is no wonder they need golf carts to get around.
The one workshop where we spent most of the time, is where they are working on two trucks which started of as only a chassy. It was unbelievable.
Here was a huge black truck. The cab and then an extension behind that.... long before one would even add the trailer. I did not ask how long it is, but he did show me the entrance round the back. As one entered, just inside the door, there is a full size toilet to the right and a full size shower on the left. These are followed by a kitchen on the right and the bedroom on the left before moving further forward to the most luxurious cab. This truck has been in the workshop for some 30 months, and not finished yet. The owner plans to use it purely as a show truck. (What a waste!!)
The other truck being worked on had not been there quite as long, and was not quite as ambitious, but none the less, unbelievable luxury. It is destined for a working life on the road.
Sorry, it never entered my head to take any photos. I was completely overwhelmed.
The only place which is out of bounds is the paint shop. On our return to the store, Jersey parked the golf cart next to my van, so I took the opportunity to share with him my desire of having the roof repainted (much of the paint is off it and I'd like it a lighter colour) and wondered if he knew where I could get it done. He had a good look at the roof, and when we got inside, he went off to ask some of his colleagues Meanwhile I had another look around the store.... and tried out the wonderful air-ride seats for sale. Jersey gave me the name of a firm which was the unanimous suggestion of the paint shop crew. Before departing, Jersey gave me one of the company's 2014 calendars and we exchanged contacts. A most unforgettable couple of hours.
I would highly recommend to our resident dreamer of driving big rigs, that should he ever find himself in southwestern MO he make a visit there. It won't disappoint. Bring plenty of slobber. I certainly could not stop drooling. And while you are on it, check out Petro's. Most touristy truck stop I have seen. Almost like a mini Mall.
Cool art, cool stories. Loved looking at the photos and reading the stories. If you love history, or ever enjoyed reading the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder, her final home is in Mansfield, MO, just outside of Springfield. That was a highlight of the MO portion of our trip. My husband is not a Little House fan, but he enjoyed looking at the old things and seeing his great-aunt's kitchen flooring -- "Sears flooring" from the early part of the 20th century.