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Monday, June 4, 2012


I was thinking that an audio book would help pass the time on the road to Denver. I used to get audio books from the library and listen to them on my way to work. I did that until I had pretty much exhausted the Beaverton library's selection. But it's been a while, and besides I live in Hillsboro now, so they are liable to have some I haven't heard. When I find the audio books section in the new library I realize it's been more than a while, it's been an age. All their audio books are on CD's. They do not have a single one on cassette tape. Well, that's it for that plan.

Once I get out of Portland I set the cruise control for 75 MPH, which is ten over the limit, which is my standard cruising speed. I have gotten a few speeding tickets in my life, but they have all been for flagrant speeding. The last time I was going 75 in a 55 zone. I have never gotten stopped for going ten over the limit on the highway. I read somewhere once upon a time that cops won't bother you for ten over, it's within the realm of mechanical error, or it's arguable or something. City streets are another matter.

Blue Mountains in sight, Thursday May 24, 5 PM
All the way across Oregon and Idaho it's smooth sailing. Traffic is light. There isn't even any congestion going up the switchbacks into the Blue Mountains just past Pendleton, where things usually manage to get clogged up. I stop for the night in Twin Falls at a Days Inn.

Friday takes me South into Utah past Ogden and then East on Interstate 80 to Wyoming. That was two exits that I made just by the skin of my teeth (the other one was where I-84 turns into I-86 and if you want to stay on I-84, you need to take the exit). There may been warning signs miles ahead of time, but I missed them all. It wasn't until the exit was in my sights that I realized, oh! I better get over there. Fortunately I was aware enough that I was able to make it look smooth and well planned. It wasn't one of  those veer-across-six-lanes-of-traffic-and-clip-the-sign-post-on-your-way kind of deals.

Traffic was kind of heavy around Ogden, as you might expect. It lightened up a little as I approached Wyoming, but it never got as light as it was across Oregon and Utah. There weren't a lot of cars, and hardly any RV's, but there sure were a heck of a lot of trucks. I swear there were as many trucks as there were cars. And some of those truck drivers are a just a little inconsiderate. Back in the day I used to do a lot of cross country driving, and truckers seemed a little more on top of it. When one truck passed another, as soon as he was far enough ahead to pull in front of the passed truck, the passed truck would flash his lights to let him know there was room to pull back in. And it wasn't a lot of room, maybe 20 feet. Now they stay in the left lane, completely oblivious to the fact that they are holding up a whole line of cars. Okay, maybe just me. Still, it's rude. But that's nothing in comparison to these yahoos who take ten miles to pass another truck. They pull out and start to gain on the guy in front, but it's at the rate of a couple of feet per minute. Look dude, take my number and give me a call when you complete this maneuver. I'm just going to pull over and take a nap while you screw around for the next 20 minutes. Jughead.

And then there were the speed demons. About half of the cars were traveling upwards of 85 MPH. As the speed limit was 75, 85 should have been my normal speed. I must be getting old, or calm, because 75 suited me just fine. So now not only do I have to contend with ordinary trucks and rude trucks but I also need to watch out for speed demons. Don't want to pull out in front of one of those guys. One, it would be rude, and two, at these speeds it could be dangerous. I often found myself coming up on a truck, getting ready to pass, and then I look in the mirror and see a black dot rapidly getting larger, so I let off the gas and slow down till speedy flies by, and then we can go. So no more set-it-and-forget-it cruising.

Friday May 25, 3 PM Friday May 25, 5 PM
Wyoming was kind of depressing. The route the Interstate takes is the same route used by the Oregon trail pioneers, the Pony Express, the first transcontinental railroad, and the first cross-country highway. It's all at high elevation, over a mile high. The land is covered with sagebrush. There were the occasional oil and windmill installations, small towns and trains. I don't think I even saw any cows. I saw a couple of what looked like new housing developments. One was a small block of nearly cubical houses, what some people might call crackerboxes, another was just mobile homes. I suppose it's for the oil boom. I hope those people are making some money. It's certainly a grim looking location, but good pay could make it tolerable.

Two trains meet. 4 PM
Trains. Lots of trains, and not coal trains either. I probably passed a train going one way or the other every hour or so. Wyoming is so wide open there were places where you could see an entire mile long train at once.

I spent the second night at a Quality Inn in Laramie. It was a little spendy, but it was late and I was tired, and I didn't want to spend a bunch of time screwing around looking for a place that might only be 20 bucks cheaper. A little better planning might have saved me some money on lodging, but that planning ahead business, that's too much like work.

Friday, May 26, 10 AM
Once I got into Colorado traffic was thick and unpleasant. Downtown Denver appeared in a brown haze. Ross lived on Capital Hill, where there is no parking, much like any congested urban area: all the free on-street parking is taken, everything else is pay through the nose. Fortunately is was Saturday so I was able to find a place that was only a couple of blocks away.

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