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USA ROAD TRIP

 
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Ian M
Green Cloverleaf


Joined: 13 Mar 2003
Posts: 940
Location: Bath Somerset

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:48 pm    Post subject: USA ROAD TRIP Reply with quote

Title speaks for itself really, I spoke to my son who is a part time musician & batman in Cleveland Ohio. He tells me he is planning to move to long beach California to hook up with some friends to form a new band.
The upshot of this conversation was that I would fly over and help him with the move....Overland in his car, along with all his worldly possessions & Tyson his boxer dog.
I arrived in the states on tues 29thfeb to help with the packing.
Unfortunately during wed night I went down with a violent sickness bug & so spent the rest of the night in the bathroom & most of thurs & that night.
Needless to say I had to stay within puking distance of the the toilet bowl (a bowl I am now very well acquainted with) so I wasn't much help with the packing save for a good job of packi g up the bathroom stuff.
Friday being the 1st meant we had to out so the move had to go ahead.
So the car had to be loaded & we had to get on with it, luckily the old tum had settled down a bit.
So now we are ready for the off, Tyson is on his perch atop some boxes & yes securely strapped in but really pleased with his new elevated position.

Ahh the car I hear you ask, this is a car forum after all.
Well it is one of Pontiacs finest...
Trans am, firebird?
Nope & not a Grand am either.
No it's an Aztec, described by many motoring journalists at its launch as the single ugliest car they had ever seen & has featured in many a top 10 ugliest list since.
Putting looks aside, once behind the wheel it's not a bad drive.
Very comfy supportive seats, smooth transmission & quite a torquey 3.4l v6, not quite in the Busso league but very capable none the none the less.
My only real criticism would be the tall tires it wears require quite constant steering input on the long straight interstates.
So we're ready for the off.
One spanner in the works tho, it had been snowing all night & there was a good 6" on the ground & just like the UK Cleveland had ground to a halt :/
No only joking, the corporation had been out all night ploughing & gritting & everything was running as normal.
The plan was to head southish out of Ohio then southwest through Indiana Illinois Missouri Oklahoma Texas New Mexico Arizona Nevada where we going to spend a day in Las Vegas & where we have some accommodation lined up.
So we're on our way leaving Cleveland behind snow still falling quite rapidly.
Takes a couple of hours to get out of Ohio & into Indiana where although not as snowy it's very very cold.
We've reached our 1st goal interstate 70 which take us right thru Indiana & right on to St Louis in Missouri via Illinois .
It nearly all ends here tho as we are cruising up alongside a FedEx truck, a semi with not one, not two but three trailers decides he going to pull out to overtake.
At this point we are about level with the rear of trailer two so some heavy braking hornblowing & cursing ensues but he keeps coming, my son manages to get it slowed and the truck carried on I'm sure blissfully unaware of that he'd just made some poo come out me

Leaving Ohio


Arriving in Indiana



Pulling into a rest area to change pants we get out to give the dog a stretch & do his business.
After being outside for about 5 mins the wind chill is starting to burn the skin off our faces & we decide walking the dog here is not such a good idea after all, trouble Tyson being a dog want to sniff everything before he decides what he's going to **** his leg on.
Eventually back on the road & thawing out my son decides he's going to go as far as he can today to get away from this cold weather.
At the next fuel stop (we are getting barely 300 mls per tank) I take my 1st stint behind the wheel & having been feeling a bit queezy in the stomach department still, I'm hoping this will take mind off that.
Luckily it does as I 70 is very busy and dodging semis while getting used to the Aztecs little ways while driving west directly into the sunset keeps the mind focused but not for long as after barely an our and a half I have to stop.
Having had next to no sleep over the past 48hrs I'm in falling alsleep at the wheel territory.
So I slide back into the passenger seat and as we set off again I drift off into the lovely land of nod.
I don't remember much after that till we are pulling into a service station with my son saying he's really pleased with progress but he's now getting a bit drowsy and needs a nap.
It turns out to be 5.30 in the morning & we've left Indiana & Illinois behind, not only that with the help of some famous energy drinks he informs me he's barged thru Missouri & reached the second goal which is I 44 & we are now most of the way accross Oklahoma.
Next up Texas
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Ian M
Green Cloverleaf


Joined: 13 Mar 2003
Posts: 940
Location: Bath Somerset

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well Ive now started my 2nd stint behind the wheel of the Aztec, its 6 in the morning & I can just see a thin strip of orange starting to appear on the horizon in the rear view mirror.
As this gets wider & it starts getting light I get my 1st look at Oklahoma, which is vast & undulating & brown.

Not very good quality but you get the idea


The Aztec casting a long shadow in the early morning sun


The road is fairly empty bar a few trucks so the cruise control goes on & stays on (unlike this country) for mile after mile, in fact my feet do nothing (except from stopping the ends of my legs from fraying) until our next stop to give the dog a run half way through Texas.
The road at this point of the jouney is very very smooth so driving the Aztec is like gliding along in a fast moving armchair holding a wheel.
Some stretches of the road are concrete, which is textured in such a way that the tyres seem to make a whistling sound, almost singing as they pass over it.
We continue on through Oklahoma City & onto I 40, which we will now be on most of the rest of the way apart from our detour up to Las Vegas.
Before long we are crossing into Texas which turns out to be similar to Oklahoma but flatter.
In every direction there is a wind farm on the horizon, line after line of them.

A comfort break in Texas


The Aztec taking a well earned rest, still plastered in salt from the snowy Ohio roads




Its quite flat in this part of the world

We are not in Texas for long as we are just crossing the very top which is quite narrow & are soon entering New Mexico.
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Ian M
Green Cloverleaf


Joined: 13 Mar 2003
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Location: Bath Somerset

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

So we've driven through Texas passing through Amarillo en route.
So if anyone wants to go there I now know the way
We are now into New Mexico and the terrain is changing from flat plain gradually to a more sandy, rocky desert like area dotted with dead looking bushes and the occasional mountain pushing up out of it.

We go for mile after mile of nothing but this, there is no phone signal in this part of the country either, it is quite a lonely place and I wouldnt want to break down out here.
We are on I 40 which is the road which replaced the famous Route 66 and from time to time as we go along we see stretches of the old route still in place running along in parallel beside us.
Alot of the old Route 66 has been restored and relaid as a tourist attraction and virtually all the businesses along the way incorperate route 66 into the name, theres even a route 66 airport out there in the desert.
After a brief lunch stop at a roadside Dennys, (the restaurant that never closes)at a place called Tucumcari we decide to look for somewhere for an afternoon rest stop and dog walk.

A small town called Santa Rosa is next on the map and it has a state park called Santa Rosa Lake so we take a 6 mile diversion north to have a look.
In summertime this is probably buzzing with people but in Feb its deserted save for a lone fisherman a way off in the distance.



Santa Rosa is not the richest looking place in the USA



Dog walked and photos taken we are back on the road again heading for Albuquerque.
Our goal this day is Las vegas which we expect to reach by midnight.
Just before Albuquerque at about 4pm we start getting excited as we start seeing signs saying Las Vegas is only a few miles away.
This cant be right we think as we are not even in Arizona yet, turns out New Mexico has a Las Vegas too. DOH!
We encounter some interesting truck loads along the way

Some kind of boat, note the motor (orange lump sticking up at the front.

After Albuquerque we start to climb into mountains and once again we are driving directly into the setting sun, luckily for me my son is driving at this point.
Eventually we cross into Arizona but by this time its dark and after a long day at the wheel of the Aztec I am soon catching Zs so cant tell you much about Arizona.
More to come.....
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Last edited by Ian M on Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:00 pm; edited 1 time in total
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The Wombat
Alfa Sprint


Joined: 31 Aug 2012
Posts: 173
Location: Deepest darkest Huntingdonshire

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice one.

Did a similar trip in Jnauary 2006 when me and wife moved from Connecticut (in deepest winter) to South CA (just north west of LA, a place called Thousand Oaks).

Touched the Atlantic Ocean at the beach is Rocky Neck state park, CT, and 11 days later, touched the Pacific Ocean in Malibu.

First part of the journey was a bit different, CT, touching NY, through NJ, into Maryland and stopping at Baltimore first night out, then West Virginia, then a corner of Kentucky, and Tennessee where we visited Gracelands. I40 all the way through Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and into CA at Barstow.

We had 2 Irish Wolfhounds with us in a Dodge Grand Caravan and enough stuff to keep us going for a week or so in CA until our worldly belongings arrived by truck. Each morning, found the next dog friendly hotel along the way and drove to that. Stopped along the way to see a lot of the tourist places, including a detour up to Grand Canyon, petrified forest, painted desert, meteor crater, desert ghost town and a bunch more.

Weather in the desert is cold that time of year. Several days we woke up to a covering of snow, and the 2 days at Grand Canyon we had a blizzard and around 6 inches of the stuff.

Drive of a lifetime really.

That Pheonix must be the US equivalent of the Fiat Multipla Very Happy Very Happy

Keep it coming. Brings back memories.
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Ian M
Green Cloverleaf


Joined: 13 Mar 2003
Posts: 940
Location: Bath Somerset

PostPosted: Sun Feb 17, 2013 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote



When I next open my eyes its about 10:30pm and we are well on our way to Las Vegas.
We are on route 93 up in the mountains again at an elevation of around 6/7000 ft and descending.
We seem to be going down for mile after mile just going down down down.
As we get closer we get to Vegas the night sky changes from the usual black to a sort of shade of yellow.
This is caused by the lights of Las Vegas and gives us some interesting silhouettes of the mountains around us, black against the yellow sky.
This continues for a while, the sky getting ever brighter and we are still going downwards.
We pass the Hoover dam at some point in the dark and then eventually we round a bend in the mountains and come out onto an open bit of road (still going downhill) and there in front of us is the single most amazing stunning view I have ever seen.
Las vegas at night, a vast area of light, it looks like gold glittering on the desert floor and is by far the largest area of light I have ever seen, it has to be seen to be believed.
No photos of it Im afraid as they just could not do it view justice, if you dont believe me go and see it for yourself, trust me its worth it.
We have now arrived at our rest stop and two nights in a proper bed
And when you get the wrong side of 55 trust me a bed for the night really is something you look forward to.



The next day was superbowl sunday so we spent the afternoon and evening in a bar with lots of very excited americans enjoying one of the longest superbowls ever.
The floodlights went down at the start of the second half delaying the game over half an hour.
Then we get to the last 2 or 3 minutes with the scores quite close it gets rather silly as the coaches start using timeouts (Timeout? Whats that all about America? Get on with the effin game) and it probably takes another half hour to play those last few minutes.
It certainly was an experience and the beer was on special offer for the game
Next day we went down to take a look at the strip, a drive along in both directions was enough for us, quite a sight but not one I wanted to be part of, its all so unreal, false and contrived and after the vast wilderness we had just driven through it kind of didnt do it for me.
After a spot of lunch we said goodbye and thanks to our hosts and set off on the last leg of our journey.
The 5 hours into California and Longbeach.
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paulhide
P4


Joined: 20 Dec 2003
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 8:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Awesome Cool
Hope the band works out.
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john 33_16v
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Joined: 27 May 2005
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 18, 2013 11:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Part time musician and BATMAN- cool!

Interesting stuff, and that yank car is f**king ugly.

What does your son play?

I used to bang the skins in a band (we once supported Chesney Hawkes band Laughing ), now just play the guitar at home for pleasure.[/b]
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Ian M
Green Cloverleaf


Joined: 13 Mar 2003
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Location: Bath Somerset

PostPosted: Tue Feb 19, 2013 10:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

john 33_16v wrote:
Part time musician and BATMAN- cool!

Interesting stuff, and that yank car is f**king ugly.

What does your son play?

I used to bang the skins in a band (we once supported Chesney Hawkes band Laughing ), now just play the guitar at home for pleasure.[/b]


Oops that should say barman.

He plays keyboards mainly, also plays guitar & harmonica on occasion.
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