CA to WI via 50 in NV - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
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post #1 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-23-2010, 09:26 PM Thread Starter
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CA to WI via 50 in NV

Well, the house is nearly packed out, a couple other vehicles are sold, and we're just waiting to find out exactly when our next step to moving overseas will be. In the next 1-2 months, my wife and I will be driving the Elise from the SF Bay Area to northern Wisconsin to put the car into storage. Obviously, I-80 is the most direct route, but we've done that literally dozens of times over the years, and while we will probably use that road at some point in the trip, I wanted to mix it up a bit.

Several years ago, a friend of ours did a motorcycle trip across Nevada on US-50, the "Loneliest Road" and I've had an interest in seeing it ever since. I've searched here, done some other research online, plus talked to our buddy and other folks who have been on that road, but I wanted to see if anyone here had either 1) any personal experience with travel on US-50 through Nevada, or 2) more recent knowledge of travel on the road such as construction, rough road sections, etc. that might impact which parts of the road we take or don't take.

We don't have too much time to dally, but we don't want the trip to be all Interstate, either. I've been poring over some maps, but we'd welcome any suggestions you might have for fun roads, given our starting and ending points.

Thanks-----Mark
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post #2 of 30 (permalink) Old 05-25-2010, 11:19 PM Thread Starter
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Wow, the only recent RoadTrip thread with no responses. I guess I'll post one to myself!
Starting to put together a plan. On whichever day it ends up being, it looks like we'd be heading out of the Bay Area in the morning, picking up US-50 in Sacto, then taking it across Nevada with an overnight in Ely. The next day, we'll continue east, picking up I-70 for awhile, then cutting SE to Moab and continuing into Colorado, where I think I've picked out a cool place to stay near the town of Mancos. After that, we're still a bit undecided, but in the spirit of trying to use the Interstates as little as possible through the mountains, I'm thinking of heading north all the way to Rapid City, then east on State Route 44 in South Dakota. I drove that road in 1994 when I first moved west, and enjoyed the entire breadth of that state, especially the Missouri River crossing.
OK, this is a pretty open-ended question: any suggestions for getting from southwest to northeast Colorado?
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post #3 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-18-2010, 07:43 PM
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I drove US 50 across Nevada this April. No construction. I averaged 100 mph from outside Fallon to Utah. Two cops. A Utah mountie just before the NV state line and one stickler of a NHP just west of Austin. There are many straight stretches where one can see ahead for 10-12 miles, interspaced with Lotus loving curvy stretches. The road between Ely and about 20 miles inside Utah is the best Lotus road in North America. The road is well maintained and the mountain passes are beautiful.

Fuel up at the Amerindian gas station at the east end of Fallon. Modern, clean and least expensive in town. About 30 miles east look for a large oak tree on the north side of the road full of shoes. For years people have been hanging shoes in the tree. Fun to see, written up in National Geographic, plus an excellent backdrop for a Lotus pic.

You'll be traveling through gold mining country. Stop for a meal in Eureka at the bar/casino midtown north side. The restaurant building is about 150 years old and the food excellent.

Have a great romp.
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post #4 of 30 (permalink) Old 06-19-2010, 01:35 PM
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What area of northern Wisconsin? I'm in the Minocqua area...Dave
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post #5 of 30 (permalink) Old 07-03-2010, 09:55 PM Thread Starter
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Thanks very much for the replies! I apologize for not getting back to the thread sooner. I'm in Afghanistan and my connectivity can be erratic.

Great tips on the road--just the sort of help I needed, and it's fun to hear we can average near 100mph. Even looking at the map, I hadn't realized the curviness of the road between Ely and the UT border, so I'm looking forward to that. The food in Eureka sounds good, too.
I've been to Fallon before (drove there from Reno-Fernley Raceway), so I think I can pick out the fuel station. How was fuel availability in the middle of Nevada? I imagine I don't have too much to worry about, but I've honestly considered throwing a small, gallon gas can in the car, just in case. Am I being a bit too worrisome?

As far as northern Wisconsin---we're headed to Rice Lake, which looks directly west of you, Dave. We'll be splitting our time off between her family there and my family in Ohio.

I've only ever really documented one road trip before, and that was in a sports car, as well. I think I'd like to do it again, and these tips will really help. Thanks again!
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post #6 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-19-2010, 11:46 PM
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I drove across US 50 in mid 90's and it was great. Very beautiful. Range cattle though so either don't hit it or with the Elise just drive between the legs....
Bring water and some other things. I remember driving 20 minutes without seeing any cars going either direction.
I drove my Elise across the USA recently. On day 2 I got a small cushion at a truck stop to shove underneath my backside or move to small of my back. That really helped as my back got a bit sore. I doubt Lotus thought 50 year olds would drive 12 hours a day for 3.5 days in this car when they built it. I really enjoyed the drive though and can't wait to get back to the USA and drive it again. May drive to Seattle and then the ferry to Anchorage soon.
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post #7 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 04:30 PM Thread Starter
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Well, the trip is over, and here I am, months later, with nothing to show for it. Until now. Part of me feels obligated to close it out (since I brought it up in the first place, right?), and part of me wants to re-live the trip a little bit. We did take photos, although looking back on it, not as many as we probably should have taken.
The trip was great fun--my wife and I setting out from the San Francisco Bay Area on August 8. We had overseen our move, left our Honda Insight and Yamaha pit bike with a buddy to sell for us, packed up, and were ready to head out. A general laziness in the day, and (for me, anyway) a tinge of melancholy at leaving the nice, warm, twisty-laden area where I've lived (except for about 1.5 years) since 1996. Here's what it looked like at our friends' home as we packed the Elise. That's our friend's Challenger SRT in the garage next to his restored and covered '68 Camaro.
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post #8 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 04:55 PM Thread Starter
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That first day, we just wanted to clear Bay Area traffic, so after making our last-minute visits, we headed for the Reno/Tahoe area. We took Route 12 out of the north Bay, then hooked into I-80 in Fairfield. Having made multiple cross-country trips utilizing I-80, we wanted to spend a minimal amount of time on Interstates during this trip, but there were some places where it just made sense to jam along on such roads. All in all, we kept the Interstate miles relatively low.

In Sacramento, we hooked up with US 50, which would be with us for several days to come through multiple states. For those who aren't familiar, US 50 climbs slowly eastward out of the Sacramento Valley. We passed the exit for one of our favorite dirt biking areas, Prairie City SVRA for maybe the last time. Again, that twinge of sentimentality. We traveled on through the towns of Shingle Springs, El Dorado, and Pollock Pines--all familiar to us from our winter (and some summer) trips to Lake Tahoe. Placerville came and went, and pretty soon, we were on that section of road that races right alongside the river carrying all that water down from the Sierra. We blinked and missed the mountain hamlet of Strawberry, but I failed to notice it until we were well past. About 90% of the times I've driven this road, it has been during the winter, in a 4WD truck, hauling dogs, snow gear, and a weekend's provisions. I had never before hauled up this hill in the Elise, nor could I remember a recent drive here when we encountered such light traffic. Nervous as I was for deer or other fauna, we scooted up that mountainous section of US 50 at a fair clip, the road remarkably smooth for all of the frost heave and traffic it withstands each year. We arrived at South Lake Tahoe not very long afterward, while we still had some daylight. We decided to push across the line into Nevada before actually stopping for the night. We ended up driving into Carson City, finding a good room, and having some food (and a fantastically crisp Stella Artois) before turning in around 10pm. Total drive time from the north Bay: about 3h15m to cover something over 210 miles.
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post #9 of 30 (permalink) Old 01-06-2011, 05:29 PM Thread Starter
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I usually enjoy sleeping-in, but I was already pretty fired up to hit the road shortly after waking at 7am, and I knew I had work to do before that happened, and here's why: I really can't stand a dirty sports car. Oh, I'm fine with getting it bug-spattered, rain-splashed, and otherwise dusted with bits of Mother Earth, but I feel some sort of deep obligation against starting each day like that. Which is why I took up some of our precious cargo area with a small bucket, sponge, brush, chamois, and a spray bottle of Simple Green. It's a good thing we would be traveling in such warm weather all the way across because short pants and t-shirts don't take up much duffel bag space! So, my morning car wash ritual for that week began that morning in Carson City with my bucket. On some of the days to come, I would feel a little like the broom in the "The Sorcerer's Apprentice", carrying bucket after bucket from my water source to the car. Today, however, the bugs and grime were so light after our trip up the hills that only one bucket's worth was required. We got some free "continental" grub in the hotel lobby before topping off with fuel. I also had a 1-gallon fuel container stuffed into the boot, and that received its ration here, as well. This would ultimately prove unnecessary since there ended up being plenty of fuel stops along "The Loneliest Road." However, with my only close experience of the road being discussions with a buddy who did it by motorcycle (where fuel is even more of a concern), I didn't want to be out of fuel somewhere when we had room to carry that one-gallon can. We made a good seal, wrapped it in a trash bag, and tucked it into the corner of the boot. Even with the heat we would later travel through, it never really expanded too much, and we never approached anything close to a low-fuel emergency. Still, it was good peace-of-mind.

We passed signs for Fernley, where we had raced our sidecar several years ago. We moved on into Fallon (where we'd gone for some food during one of those Fernley race weekends), and made a funny decision. We'd mapped out our route (leaving room for some spontaneity), and we had the route written down. What we didn't actually have was a map. Oh, we had a little Garmin GPS that would get us where we needed to go, if we so desired, but both of us wanted a map and realized we'd left our atlases with family back in Wisconsin where we were headed. Having tracked so many of our travels in the two Rand McNally atlases we've had for years, we decided we'd stop for a new atlas in Fallon so we could document the trip with more detail. Lo and behold: Wal-Mart. We found a smaller (although not small) version of our beloved full-size Rand McNally which had a farm image (complete with red barn and tractor) on its green cover. Perfect! Using a highlighter, my wife would trace our route on each state's map as we went.

And we went. It wasn't long before civilization fell behind us, and we began to get an idea of how US 50 in Nevada had earned its sobriquet. The big, blue, western skies squeezed down in the distance to meet the reds, browns, and tans of the desert rocks. Sometimes, as shown in the final photo of this post, the road was only that cliche shred of ribbon in the distance. Then again, one of our favorite photos was one my wife shot out the back of the car, looking again, back from where we'd come. While the straight-line visibility was pretty incredible, there were some surprisingly pleasant sweepers out there in the middle of nowhere. We snapped one of two of those, as well.

Temperatures were high, and there was some wind. Trying to recall (and wishing I had my log of events here with me), I'm confident it was well into the 90s. Neither of us are huge fans of air conditioning (although it has its place), so we were running with the windows down, and despite some wind noise, we found it rather enjoyable, not even bothering to play the radio. Well, it's bone-stock, so we wouldn't have been able to hear it anyway. We broke a few speed limits, but even with that said, we didn't see another car for 10-30 minutes at a time. Epic beginning. More tomorrow. Good night.
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post #10 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 04:16 AM Thread Starter
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Wow. I had nearly forgotten I started this thread, and after such noble intentions at the beginning, I let it slide. Well, not that anyone might still read or follow it, but I'd like to document the rest of it anyway. So, here it goes.

We continued driving on US 50 across Nevada, stopping for fuel a couple of times because, well, I wasn't driving with economy in mind. On the other hand, we made excellent time. One fuel stop was in the town of Eureka, Nevada, where we saw a fellow in a Honda with California plates. Incredibly, his license plate frame had the name of a business located in what had until recently been our town in California! Turns out, he lived there, and was on his way back. If you look at (or rather, can find) Eureka, Nevada, on the map, you'll see why we found this coincidence rather incredible.

US 50 wound uphill and to the left as it rose out of town to the east, and we continued to make good time, enjoying the sunshine, the wind, and the car in general. Speaking of the car, I'll take a moment to mention our Elise is an '05. No Probax seats, and you know what? We didn't have a problem. I had the inflatable lumbar support where I wanted it, and my wife only used a small, curved lumbar cushion. Other than typical stiffness that comes from sitting still in anything for 2-3 hours at a time, we registered no real complaints. During my very first cross-country trek in 1994, I had significant low back tightness and right leg cramping from the otherwise very comfortable and supportive seat in my RX-7. The seat and the seating position in the Lotus were interestingly more comfy for distance driving, neither car having cruise control.

As we approached Utah, for some reason, I expected the terrain to become suddenly mountainous. I had seen the terrain on the map, but I had it in my head that this portion of Nevada=desert, and across the state line, Utah=mountains. Well, it was more subtle than that, and in fact, the "loneliest" portion of the road, for us, occurred shortly after crossing said border into Utah. The road was beautiful, and we didn't see another car for almost 40 minutes. At about the 25 minute mark in that interval, I stopped the car. My wife asked if there was something wrong, then almost instantly realized why I had stopped the car right there in the road. It was because I could. We took a few photos of the car sitting there in the road, and our stop was probably a leisurely 8-10 minutes.
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post #11 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 10:10 AM
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Fantastic! Thank you for the well-written and fascinating adventure log :-)

2005 Elise: BRG, touring TC, LSD, Larini Exhaust. S111:Tall Rails, GPan, SubStiffy, 6 Point Schroth, Re-Enforcer, Rear Panel delete, TransElixer RLS: NCI Battery Mount, Battery disconnect switch, 1/4 turn kit Parker Battery: ETX20L Power Sport Battery Manly: Motor mount inserts
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post #12 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 10:48 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the compliment! My writing was derailed again today, but I'm hoping to continue this evening.
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post #13 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 01:41 PM Thread Starter
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I should qualify that our section of lonely Utah road was not on US 50, but rather on Utah St Rt 21. We had peeled off from US 50 onto Nevada St Rt 487 just before the border because our bed & breakfast stop was going to be in southern Utah rather than SW Colorado. After blinking as we wound through the border town of Garrison, we were on Utah Rt 21. From there, we had some more long expanses of roads (first photo below), but we could now see significant mountains in the distance. We went past a ghost town monument called the Old Frisco Mining Town (second photo below), and a short time later, the road T'd into some civilization again at the town of Milford. We pushed a little further south and east before coming face-to-face with Interstate 15 at the small city of Beaver, Utah. It was getting a little later in the afternoon at this point, but we topped off with fuel (with a 10gal tank, it's silly not to, right?), and, yes, turned north on I-15 to make some time. The interstate blasphemy continued when we turned east onto the beginning of I-70 about 20 miles later. It was interesting to see the sign which stated I-70 East to Denver. Denver was quite a ways from our thoughts at this point.
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post #14 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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At this point, we were only on I-70 for a few miles before heading south on US 89. In my experience, the majority of US Routes in rural areas are well-maintained, and this was no exception. Winding alongside the Sevier River, the thin red line on the atlas did no justice to the smooth curves of this road. I wish we had photos, but the daylight was dying, and we were on heightened alert for wildlife crossing the road. Only 10 miles or so later, we arrived in the town of Marysvale, Utah, where we would be staying the night. All tolled, we did about 580 miles that day. Google Maps says it's supposed to take something over 10 hours, but thanks to the open expanses of road, the inviting sunshine, and the eagerness bred into the little Elise, our elapsed time was something considerably less.

Our bed and breakfast of choice was Moore's Old Pine Inn right there on the main drag in Marysvale. A beautifully refurbished building from 1882, it is officially the "oldest running inn" in Utah. A few folks were already outside on the porch, enjoying the evening as we quietly drove up and snagged a convenient parking place next to an outdoor water spigot (you know what's going to happen right after breakfast the next morning, right?). Innkeepers Randy and Katie Moore were super-nice, and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening in the Miner's Suite, a bedroom/bathroom/sitting room configuration full of such relics as an old mine car. Classic. Breakfast was stellar, and while I don't often chat with "strangers", I found myself quite relaxed and enjoying the moment. As my wife threw our few things back into our little duffel, I washed the car, which was looking rather bright, ostentatious, and somewhat out of place in this little mountain town which probably had more ATVs than cars. We didn't care, though, because it was all going so very well. The sunshine, the food and company, and of course, my water spigot, were all setting a great mood. I can't believe we didn't take any photos of the inn or the surroundings, but you can see plenty at Welcome to Moore's Old Pine Inn and Old West Town, Marysvale, Utah, USA.

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post #15 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 02:28 PM Thread Starter
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Before we left Marysvale, we decided to make a phone call to some close friends who were on the verge of transferring from Colorado Springs. He's a military helicopter pilot and his Australian wife is one of the most colorful characters on the planet. We weren't sure they'd still be there, but they were! Their next post would be in Mobile, Alabama, a place where my wife once lived, so we understood why they were doing what they could to prolong their stay in Colorado as long as possible. Besides, the next day was Mrs. Pilot's birthday, and there was some drinking to be done.

What all of this meant for us, however, was that instead of heading east on rural Utah state routes 62, 24, and 95, and hitting southwest Colorado in the San Juan Mountains, we would instead make time on I-70 (!), then take some backroads in central Colorado in order to get to Colorado Springs at a good time the next day.

I-70 was as uneventful as you might imagine, although the Rocky Mountains were their typical, beautiful selves. We had not quite 200 miles on I-70 to the Colorado line, a distance which passed in something less than 3 hours. I guess I should mention that by doing this, we actually remained on US 50 because I-70 and US 50 are the same road for this entire distance, an interesting fact which remained so until we reached Grand Junction, Colorado. At Grand Junction, after fuel, we split from I-70 to continue on US 50, passing through Delta and Montrose. At Montrose, US 50 turned east and began to get ever more interesting. We had been gaining elevation for some time, but after we drove through Gunnison, the climb began in earnest as we headed for Monarch Pass, a gap in the mountains at 11,312 feet. Again, the red line squiggled on our atlas page did the road itself no justice. Smooth, cambered, and nearly devoid of traffic, it had three lanes (two ascending, one descending) of laugh-out-loud turns for I don't know how many miles. As anyone who has driven in the mountains knows, it is safer to carry speed going uphill, especially when you have the added safety cushion of another lane in your own direction, but we easily doubled the speed recommendations of several of the yellow signs for both ascent and descent. What a ride.
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post #16 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 02:57 PM Thread Starter
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Not long after Monarch Pass, we were entering the town of Salida. After enjoying the mountain pass, I asked my wife if she wanted to drive. US 50 was about to follow the banks of the Arkansas River, and I (correctly) anticipated another twisty, turny run down to Canon City, Colorado. To my surprise, she declined, and I stayed put in the left-side seat. I did not ask her again for the next 30-40 miles, for sure. I can't keep writing in superlatives, saying things like "this is the best road of the trip", but for crying out loud, the roads were all just fantastic! This next stretch (first photo below) ran through several little towns with numerous roads (both paved and dirt) stretching out on both sides from US 50, doubtless headed out into ranchland. This made me think again of animals, so I didn't want to get too silly with the speed, but there were enough slower turns that I just relished heel-and-toeing, or as Neil Peart wrote, "shifting and drifting, mechanical music." OK, I didn't drift the car, but you get it.

One of the most memorable items of the trip was the UPS truck driver who joined us for this section of the drive. He was obviously a local, on his regular route, and he must have previously explored the limits of his truck's lateral-g and braking capabilities because that guy was flying! I don't remember exactly when I first saw him in the rear-view mirror, but he obviously did not share my fears about hitting an animal. While I kept speeds sane, he made up time on us during every straight stretch. I tried simply to maintain the speed limit (I think it was 60) whether straight or turn, but that guy reeled us in on the straights! We had big smiles going for miles as we watched the guy more-or-less stay with us due to his willingness to throttle-up on the straightaways. He was behind us as we had the Arkansas River on our left (fourth photo below) We eventually went different ways as we approached Canon City. We both honked and waved, having obviously enjoyed our little game. Classic! The final shot in this series is in the next post (5 photo limit per post). It was shot directly into the passenger side mirror, looking back at the mountains through which we've just passed.
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post #17 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 03:02 PM Thread Starter
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Here's the shot, looking back as we're headed into Canon City, Colorado. We stopped for fuel and called our friends, asking if there was anything we could bring and to clarify directions. Directions were easy, as was the only request: "Could you guys stop by a liquor store and pick up ..."

Total distance from Marysvale, Utah to Colorado Springs was about 550 miles. It took something like 8.5 or 9 hours, not including the beer/wine run in Colorado Springs.
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post #18 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 03:37 PM Thread Starter
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After a fun-filled birthday celebration with our friends, we got a, uh, late-ish start the next day. I think we were actually out of the house (they both left early for work) around 1pm or so, pausing to have lunch before leaving town. We had the idea of making it into north central Nebraska or southern South Dakota for that next evening, so we had our work cut out for us, for sure. Out of Colorado Springs, we went northeast on US 24. After all the mountain driving, suddenly hitting the Great Plains was more than a bit of a change. Looking at the atlas, we started seeing the familiar right angles created by road engineers when the terrain requires considerably less imagination than 11,000 foot mountain passes. At the town of Limon, Colorado, we crossed I-70 and continued north on Colorado St Rt 71. At the town of Brush, however, we jumped on I-76 and "made time" to the north east, crossing into Nebraska at Julesburg, right there on I-80. I-80? Seriously? Yep, because of our tardy start, we decided we had traded some rural route driving when we slept in that morning, so we beat feet east on the interstate, but only for about 83 miles. Here, we encountered the city of North Platte, Nebraska--truly, a landmark for us. Quick sidebar--here's why: six months after we'd started dating in 1999, my wife and I made our first cross-country trip together to see our families, driving from California to the Midwest, most of it on I-80. It was a Christmas-time trip, and in Nebraska, that means cold weather and usually snow. No problem--we were driving her '96 Toyota Tacoma. We both had lots of experience driving in the snow, and besides, what a great little truck. 190 horse V6, 5 speed, 4WD, extra cab (where my Australian Cattle Dog had his own little hovel), and good, all-terrain tires. Somewhere in west-central Nebraska, while I was sleeping, she was driving and had seen a few cars in the snowy median and along the right side of the highway. She reached over and shook me awake, saying "I think we're on black ice." No sooner had the word "ice" left her lips, and we were spinning. Strangely, I was very calm (or perhaps still mostly asleep and resigned to my fate), and I told her to both brake and push in the clutch. We slid over the shoulder on the right and down towards some farmer's field, facing back up towards the highway. She put it in low-range and powered up out of the snow, back up on the highway. From there, she asked me to drive the short distance (10 miles?) to the next place to stop: North Platte. We got a room, deciding to quit while we were ahead that night.

Back on point. It's a late summer afternoon in North Platte this time, and no 4WD was needed. The little Krypton Green Lotus turned a LOT of heads as we moved north through town on US 83. A roadside hotel guide we had picked up at our last fuel stop had us gunning for a room in Thedford, Nebraska, about 65 miles north of North Platte.

We had to stop and stretch our legs when we saw a campground nestled around a place with such a cheery name (second photo below). Actually, a young family with a pickup truck and travel trailer were the only other folks there. We waved "hi" as we looped back around the, well, I wouldn't call it a "park", but "scenic overlook" isn't too bad.

The sun was starting to go down, and we caught a couple of cool photos of the rolling Nebraska prairie, including a neat shot of our roadside shadow.
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post #19 of 30 (permalink) Old 10-30-2011, 03:57 PM Thread Starter
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No photos for the following portion of the trip. We got to Thedford where the unthinkable was unfolding before us. The hotel was booked. What the...? Here? Seriously? Turns out, the motorcycle rally in Sturgis was just wrapping up, and every hotel for hundreds of miles in every direction was full or nearly full. We drove a bit to the east where an option presented itself in the little hamlet of Halsey, but one look told me I wouldn't sleep at all if we stayed there. I don't care what color your Lotus is, it would just stand out too much for my liking. We backtracked to US 83 and made a phone call to the next decent-sized town to the north, Valentine. That call reserved us a room at the Dunes Lodge and Suites in Valentine, some 70 miles further north. As we left Thedford, the last bit of sunlight would only be with us for about another 15-20 minutes.

I've hit two deer with vehicles in my life, one of them while riding a motorcycle. The last thing I wanted--and the thing uppermost in my mind--was to strike ANY ANIMAL with our beloved little car. We were tired, but we were absolutely wired as darkness fell, both of us probing the darkness with our eyes, using the high beams whenever we could, which was quite a bit actually. Rural central Nebraska traffic isn't exactly the Bay Area, you know. We were alone for quite awhile, but locals were bound to catch up with us, traveling as we were at about 50mph, nervous as hell. When a big rig and a couple of cars came by us, we tucked in behind the last car and figured that line of vehicles would run interference for us. I didn't want to tailgate that car, but I figured the closer I stayed, the less chance any deer parts would hit us. Maybe go right over us.

When we pulled into Valentine, it was probably around 10:30pm or so, and we were mentally drained. As it turned out, the Dunes was actually a really cool place, and a lot of folks were still up, walking around, having a beer, looking at all the Harleys being trailered back from the rally. I found an out-of-the way parking spot which was still fairly close to our room, and decided to wash the car that night. Half the bugs on the Great Plains seemed to have at least struck us a glancing blow, and I wanted to get all those guts off the car before they cooked on even more in the next morning's sun. After that, we showered, and walked hand-in-hand down Main Street, Americana, to the brightly-gleaming golden arches of McDonald's for some gut-bomb comfort food. We had earned it that day, and we slept like rocks.


From Colorado Springs to Valentine, Nebraska, is about 460 miles. That was a long day.

Last edited by adracer; 10-30-2011 at 05:04 PM.
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post #20 of 30 (permalink) Old 11-24-2011, 11:21 PM Thread Starter
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Refreshingly rested, we got up around 7:30 or so the next day, and it was nice to see the car already devoid of bugs in the morning sunlight. Looking at the map, however, I realized that we didn't have a lot of the trip left to go. I didn't say anything about it, but I resolved to enjoy every minute remaining on this drive.

After fueling up and another quick round of McDonald's we were packed up and on our way north again, heading for the South Dakota border on US Rt 83. My aforementioned 1994 roadtrip had introduced me to So Dak's St Rt 44 which runs generally east-west in the southern portion of the state. I had crossed the Missouri River on this road twice (the second time during a road trip in 1998), and that location sticks in my mind as a particularly quiet and scenic place. My wife had not previously been there, and I hoped that I wasn't building it up too much.

We crossed into South Dakota and were immediately on Rosebud Reservation land. The rolling prairie grasslands (first photo) continued as they were in Nebraska, but to me, South Dakota somehow has a little bit "wilder" feel to it. We intersected US Rt 18 in the town of Mission and used it to head east. Thirty minutes later, we merged onto St Rt 44, and ten minutes after that, we encountered the town of Winner, South Dakota. We hadn't been on the road very long, but we stopped for something to drink and a quick stretch before heading east again. That Missouri River crossing was just up the road.

Before getting to the river, however, there is a little squiggle in the road on the map. I remembered these curves from my previous two trips, and I found them to be just as I left them: smooth, fast, and scenic. The second photo here shows a bit of how the road cuts through the rocky little hills. After a few blissful miles of them, the river was before us.

There's a pull-out on the south side of the road on the west bank, and it was perfect timing for a walk in the sunshine along the river. We took this picture of the car and walked down an access road to the water. Looking across the river, the bridge made a good shot, too.
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