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The latest update as of April 26, 2011
Spring Roadtrip - The Final Leg - Las Vegas to North Vancouver
Yes, we made it home in one piece and in one day. While it certainly wasn't planned to be that way, my GPS unit kept encouraging me to keep going as the hours left to drive kept shrinking and the day didn't run out too soon. Plus, I kept thinking that even though I'd originally scheduled two days of 650 miles driving each day, I kept thinking that I really didn't want to go through one long day on the road.... then have to get up the next morning and do it again.
So, after leaving Las Vegas at 9am Monday, and overcoming a challenge or two along the way, I reached my first planned overnight destination of Twin Falls, Idaho by mid-afternoon. Stopping for a quick lunch and back on the road before 4pm, I began to seriously consider the possibility of actually getting home late that night. My "best case" pitstop of Boise flashed by at 5:30 and the die was cast. Press on and get home before my energy ran out.... if possible.
Then the weather started to turn bad, and shortly after entering Oregon it began to rain, then darkness fell, the fog rolled in, the temperature started dropping... and it began to look like I'd been a little too ambitious. But things started to turn around again at Pendleton, Oregon, (the third or fourth gas stop of the day) as the road got better and the Washington border was almost in sight. Across the border, through Kennweick, then Yakima and finally onto I-90 and what felt like the homestretch.
Even though it was past 11pm at this point, the road was good, the rain wasn't too heavy and best of all: my eyes were still focusing properly. Press on regardless. Then the first sign of possibly impending doom came into sight: the big overhead sign suggesting that I tune my radio to the traffic advisory/warning channel and find out what's happening in Snoqualmie Pass. Oh, oh... all-season tires versus an early spring blizzard in an over-powered rear wheel drive Charger. Sounds like a bad bet at odds that a seasoned Vegas gambler would certainly turn down.
As the pass neared and the dashboard temp gauge kept dropping, and the rain turned into light snowflakes, then heavier ones as I began climbing and the speed limit signs kept dropping... it was certainly turning into the cliche "dark and stormy night" and my knuckles began whitening and bodily orifices started puckering... my lips, of course... as the dreaded pass got nearer and nearer.
Obviously I made it through, and only lost a few minutes slaloming through the snow, especially on the downhill side of the pass and as soon as North Bend came into view through the increasingly heavy rain, I knew that I was home free. Unfortunately, with the wide open spaces of the high plains and the desert far behind me, the safe (from speeding tickets) driving speed declined and the time began dragging as the miles to home counted down in an ever-slowing fashion.
Pulling into my underground garage at 3:30 am, the final tally turned out to be 18.75 hours total travel time; four gas stops, one lunch stop, one speeding ticket (thankfully, I was "only" clocked at 95 in a 70 zone), and a very quick border crossing. Subtracting the stops from the total time yielded a net average speed of 77 mph for the 1300 mile trip. Converting it into kilometers works out to 124 kph. Hmmm... let's just leave it in the old measurement; it doesn't sound so crazy that way.
While we're on the topic of speed, I've got to thank Larry Pfister for encouraging me to try out the ExtraTerrestrial Highway in Nevada (Hwy 375) and while I was only on it for a short stretch after my encounter with the Nevada Highway Patrol, all the secondary highways in Nevada provided unparalleled vistas and more than a few opportunities to test the limits of my (rev-limited) Charger and its new tires.
While I did exceed the speed limit on several occasions, the best picture of the speedometer (for proof of the capabilities of the car) turned into a blurry mess as I found myself having to pay more attention to the road than the dashboard at 240 kmh. Do the math into mph's and you'll see what I mean. I did get a shot of the tach on that burst (4600 rpm in overdrive) but the speedo only showed as far as 200 kmh. Next time!
Even though it seemed that the chances to really wind it out were going to be limitless in Nevada, the roads eventually started climbing and twisting and became clogged up with returning snowbird travelers, and in the end I never did get to test the limits of "Big Red". On a couple of occasions when it was nearing those limits, I either ran out of road (came to a curve) or began overtaking slower (as in less than half my speed!) traffic. Oh well, as I wrote at the end of the last paragraph: NEXT TIME!
Here's a selection of the few pics that did turn out from that day (April 4th) and that's all for now. Later this week we'll back to the regularly scheduled drag racing news, views, commentaries, editorials, rants, raves, etc. As always: stay tuned.
To see previous updates, go to the What's Old page