It’s not just an ordinary trip. It’s an adventure! Here is a list of where we will RON (Remain OverNight) as we wind our way west:
July 18, Friday: Hannibal, MO – Quality Inn & Suites, 120 Lindsay Dr/Hwy 36 (573)221-4001
We really did just RON here. We had a nice drive today, mostly on US and state highways that we had to ourselves. Our 20-year-old 12 volt cooler isn’t working too well anymore. Rats! Now we need to buy a regular ice chest. We split an appetizer-size quesadilla and half-size dinner salad in the VERY NICE room. Half of the quesadilla is in the fridge (lunch tomorrow if we don’t forget it). Tomorrow we spend all day on US 36 (yawn – to the tune of “Happy trails …”). 🙂
July 19, Saturday: Oberlin, KS – Landmark Inn (formerly Bank of Oberlin), 189 S Penn (785)475-2340
Five hundred miles of open road, no traffic, not much to stop for. We’re looking forward to a short drive tomorrow to Colorado Springs.
July 20, Sunday: Colorado Springs, CO – US Air Force Academy TLF, (719)333-4910
Against conventional wisdom, we continued on US 36 into Colorado, finally turning south on CO 59 at Cope. Suffered 42 miles of I-70 from Seibert to Limon where we paid $4.15 for gas (too much, as it was $4.07 at the next exit, and $3.95 all along US 24 to Colorado Springs). We spent much of the afternoon playing tourist at the Academy (see pictures by clicking on the one below). Long day, tomorrow, taking US 24/CO 82 through the Rockies via Aspen, then a bunch of I-70 to Richfield, UT, setting up the drive across Nevada on US 50. The old Igloo 12v cooler has been cooling better the longer it runs, so it looks like we won’t dump it after all.
July 21, Monday: Richfield, UT – Hampton Inn, 1100 West 1350 South, (435)896-0373
We got an early start this day, stopped near the North gate to the Academy, then drove south on the Interstate to head up into the mountains on US 24 past Pike’s Peak and most of the other scenic attractions. After a lengthy climb to altitude, we crossed several wide plateaus where the road was straight and level, alternating with more mountain ranges. After a quick lunch we turned west off of US 24 onto CO 82 that crosses the Great Divide at Independence Pass, closed in the winter and a difficult drive of many steep grades, hairpin curves and sections of one lane road, with no guard rails east of the pass. We (mostly Jan) took a lot of pictures, often through the windshield, as the view was absolutely gorgeous all of the time. At the bottom of the mountains we passed through Aspen, which was a let down as it was crowded, touristy, with heavy traffic. From Aspen, we headed north to connect with I-70, the only practical route from there into Utah. (Nine years ago we crossed into Colorado from NW New Mexico on US 160 into CO 10 then US 50 – an easier drive past Mesa Verde and Durango, Lamar and points east en route to Dodge City.)
July 22, Tuesday: Fallon, NV – Naval Air Station Navy Lodge, (775)426-2818
This was a great drive full of very long stretches of expansive landscapes and long distances between islands of civilization on US 50. Next time, we’ll take the last two days and plan them as three, and spend the night at one or more of those islands. The road is very good, but the sections going over the various mountains have enough curves to throw your equilibrium off for a while. I strongly recommend this route.
July 23, Wednesday: Sacramento, CA, Radisson Hotel, 500 Leisure Lane, (916)922-2020
Driving out of Fallon, we stopped for Starbucks, and again, avoiding conventional wisdom, decided to stick with US 50 through Carson City and around Lake Tahoe rather than jumping up to catch the short route to Sacramento on the Interstate. The latter half of this beautiful drive was a hard drive in the mountains, leaving our brains feeling battered a bit by all the curves. Slow going through the resort areas along Lake Tahoe. I recommend this route if you are not in a hurry.
At the agriculture inspection, the officer relieved us of our fresh blueberries. He asked where the blueberries were from and I said, “I think California.” He thought I was being a smart mouth, but the truth is, I bought them at Sam’s Club in Beavercreek, and I think they were from California. I hope he enjoyed them on is cereal as much as I would have.
The reunion was great. Some photos below. More at the class reunion blog once classmates get home and start to post their thoughts.
July 27, Sunday: near Sonora Pass, CA
As we were driving through Nevada last week, my aunt and uncle finally got in touch with us, so we were able to visit with them on this first stop on the way home. You see, they spend most of their time in their cabin off of California 108 about 7 miles west of Kennedy Meadow, where they have no phone service, no cell phone service, or Internet. My uncle Harold is my mother’s younger brother. The Danicourts are lumberjacks stock and have been hauling lumber and cattle/horse in the Sierra Nevada mountains of central California for four generations. My uncle, though 80 and retired, still hauls horses and cattle in season from range to range many days of the week, where my cousin Chris (my age) hauls it all about six days/week.
Friday during the reunion Chris, my cousin, calls and offers to lead us from Jamestown up into the mountains so we don’t miss the turn off. That was a really thoughtful offer. We also got to very briefly got to see Cathy and her husband who were packing up to leave just as we drove up. After visiting for a while, Chris and Kathie had to go home, and Uncle Harold and Aunt Jo took us up to Kennedy Meadows for a real dinner. Harold proved that he knows all the cowboy bosses by name and they all know him. I got to round things out a little bit by speaking Spanish to the Mexican cowboys and other help.
We slept (nominally) in a loft over their kitchen. We were comfortable.
The food was good at Kennedy Meadow and we even went back for breakfast before taking our chances at the Sonora Pass route (closed in the winter). It was a hard mountain drive on roads somewhat better than we found in Colorado.
July 28, Monday: Winnemucca, NV, Town House Motel, 375 Monroe St, (775)623-3620 (Great little motel!)
Uneventful but beautiful drive on CA 108 over Sonora Pass to US 395 to Carson City, then US 50 to Alt 95 where we picked up I 80 to Winnemucca.
July 29, Tuesday: Ogden, UT, Hill AFB TLF, (801)777-1844
Because we were able to get space-available quarters at Hill AFB’s transient lodging facility, we continued on I-80 East via the Great Salt Lake Desert (Bonneville Salt Flats) to Salt Lake City where we ran into the perfect (storm) highway backup – where two 18-wheelers carrying an ultra large (empty) tank lost their load and totally blocked I-15 North near Bountiful. Hearing about the impossible situation on the radio, we crawled to an exit where we slowly picked our way back south through Salt Lake City to try our luck on the back road mountain passes east of the city on Utah 66 to Utah 65, a beautiful but torturous drive in the twilight, arriving at Hill AFB just past dark. Local news later reported that I-15 was cleared about 10 p.m. (Lesson: Map reading 101 and learn how to use your GPS, and don’t leave home without it!)
July 30, Wednesday: West Yellowstone, MT, Comfort Inn, 638 Madisson Ave, (406)646-4412
Great road – easy drive – scenic beauty going north out of the Salt Lake City area through southeast Idaho into Montanta. In touristy West Yellowstone we actually had a great dinner at surprisingly not touristy but eclectic and high class Sydney’s Mountain Bistro.
July 31, Thursday: Buffalo, WY, Comfort Inn, 65 US 16 E, (307)684-9564
YELLOWSTONE today! This turned out to be a very good but extra long day, what with going to Yellowstone Canyon Falls in the morning and seeing Old Faithful in the afternoon, and just too many mountains to cross before laying our heads down again. If we had decided to stop for the night in Cody, Wyoming, it would have been just about right. A large fire burning in Yellowstone was getting worse. We had to drive around the fire and in doing so, got some pictures of the same. Story told in pictures.
August 1, Friday: Keystone, SD, K_BAR_S Lodge, 434 Old Hill City Road, (605)666-4545
Because we drove so far yesterday, today was a very easy drive, first on the relatively uncrowded I-90 to US 14 past Gillette to Devils Tower, WY. We had a nice lunch at the KOA just outside the state park. We then went on various WY roads and US 16 to Mt. Rushmore, SD, still arriving early at the K bar S Lodge. We had a relaxing evening and watched the sun go down and the lighting of Mr Rushmore from our room’s balcony.
Itinerary changes: We got a call Thursday, July 31, from The Abbey Hotel (formerly Regina Coeli Monastery) that we were to be their only guest Sunday evening, so we agreed to cancel. We have rerouted the rest of our trip accordingly.
August 2, Saturday: Sioux Falls, SD
Today was a tiring and competitive drive on I-90 from Rapid City to Sioux City, South Dakota. The route, though conventional wisdom, was a bad decision. If we come through here again, we’ll take the back roads, no matter how indirect. No notable photos.
August 3, Sunday: Coralville, IA
A bit road weary, we didn’t take any pictures today as we drove out of South Dakota and through most of Iowa. We bailed off I-29 south quickly onto SD 48 which ran into IA 3 and stayed on state, county and US roads till four miles outside of Coralville where we are spending the night. Although some of the roads were rough surfaced, the drive was nice, leisurely and non-competitive though we made great time. Jan found us an excellent route, using the map and GPS on the fly. We saw many fields of modern electricity generating windmills. Way to go Iowa! No notable photos.
August 4, Monday: Urbana, IL
Nice drive that was a lot like yesterday. We started out going south to Keokuk, IA, on US 218, then west on US 136 through Illinois. We bailed out to state route 21 and various county roads at Havana, and then followed US 150 into Urbana. An easy drive in the country, making great time. No notable photos.
August 5, Tuesday afternoon (home)