Gut Rumbles

January 18, 2006

strange land

I don't know whether this guy blogs anymore or not, but I found a visit from his site in my referrals, so I checked him out. (I find a LOT of good blogs that way.) The pictures he posted reminded me of the cross-country car trip I took with Recondo 32 a little over a year ago.

I saw some jaw-dropping scenery on that trip, especially out west. It pains me to admit it, but the Appalachians are foothills compared to the Cascades and the Rockies. I was especially fascinated by what the natives called "high desert" in Washington, Montana and Wyoming. In places, you can go from lush, green, mountain forest to a landscape that resembles the surface of the moon just by turning one big curve on the highway.

The difference is caused by the way prevailing winds and thermal currents steer rainclouds in the area. Some places get rain and others simply don't. Rain may fall on one side of a mountain and not the other. Often, it seems as if someone drew a line through the high country and said, "Okay... big trees and green stuff over HERE... and nothing but brown stuff and rocks over THERE." Robert's pictures look like the high desert.

It's still awesome country, possibly just BECAUSE it's so vast and barren.

If you ever have a chance to ride in a car on the back roads all the way across the country from Tacoma, Washington to Savannah, Georgia, TAKE IT. Recondo recommends staying the hell out of Iowa, because he got a speeding ticket there in the middle of Nothing But Corn, but I say that a speeding ticket was a small price to pay for what we saw, especially since I didn't have to pay the ticket. Take the trip. Just don't speed through Iowa.

You will never forget the experience.


You are right about the fantastic scenery - don't speed through any of it. Eastern Washington is my favorite.

Posted by: Bonita on January 18, 2006 07:26 PM

That's about what we did this summer, NC to CA via Montana, Idaho, and Eastern Washington. That was the best trip decision we ever made!

Just beautiful.

Posted by: caltechgirl on January 18, 2006 07:38 PM

Yep, ya'll do tend to make mountains out of mole hills. I grew up on a mountain, where on a clear day, you could see the ocean, 700 miles away.

Then I move to Oklahoma, and I'm driving along, and I see a yellow warning sign that says 'Hill', and I keep waiting for it, but the only thing I see, is the back of another sign that, in my rear view mirror, says 'Hill'.

I actually stopped, and turned around, and went back and looked for it. I've seen bigger speed bumps at school crossings. I laughed so hard, I nearly spilt my beer.

Dang flatlanders. Wanna have some fun? Shake a glass elevator in one of those six story skyscrapers they have in Oklahoma City. You will have the whole car crying on their knees in puddles of snot and tears. That is the lowest big city I ever saw. I actually made people cry by shaking an elevator in a Holidome there one time.

I bet ladders don't sell real big in Oklahoma. None over six foot, anyways.

Posted by: Bane on January 18, 2006 10:44 PM

Robert doesn't blog as much as he should, but he still blogs on occasion.

As far as the car trip suggestion, yes. I highly recommend it as well. Haven't done the entire cross country in one shot though on various occasions I have done the following trips on nothing but backroads

DC to Randolph, Vermont (lived there at the time)
Vermont to Bangor, Maine
Northern Jersey to Buffalo
DC to Rock Island Illinois (well, I was on the highway through some of Pa and WV)
DC to Lafayette, GA
LaFayette, GA to St. Simons
DC to St. Simons
Denver to Vegas to Death Valley to San Francisco
Denver to Spokane

Can't stress enough how great backroad journeys are when you have the time.

Posted by: countertop on January 18, 2006 10:57 PM

In 1966, when I was 19, two friends and I took a road trip as follows: Started out in Northeast Kansas and spent the first night in Rapid City, SD. The next day we toured the Black Hills and then proceded to Douglas, WY where we spent the night at a ranch house where an acquaintance of ours was working that summer. Then we proceded across Wyoming and camped out the next night in Jackson Hole. Spent the next day driving through Yellowstone and camped out that night at Flathead Lake in Montana (beautiful clear lake, but really cold). The next day we drove through Glacier National Park (spectacular drive) and spent that night in a motel in Calgary, Canada that was operated by a couple originaly from Kansas. Spent the next day driving up through Banff and Jasper National Parks and camped out at Jasper that night. (Saw my first moose at Lake Louise.) We then headed south down through Kootenay National Park and into Idaho. Spent a night in a motel in Couer d'Lean (sp?) after wasting half the night looking for a camping spot. The next day we continued south the full length of Idah and into Utah; spent that night in Salt Lake City. After sightseeing in that area the next day, we spent the next night camped out in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. We then proceded across northern Colorado, drove through Rocky Mountain National Park and spent our last night on the road in a motel in Estes Park. While there, one of my traveling companions renewed an acquaintance with a girl he had met there the previous summer when a bunch of us had spent a week there, leaving me and the other guy stranded at our motel with no car for the evening. The last day of our trip, while driving east across northern Kansas, we stopped for lunch in a small town, and while we were eating, a voice suddenly cried out, "Howdy!" It was one of the ranch hands from the ranch in Wyoming we had stayed at almost two weeks ealier on his way to a rodeo in Oklahoma. If you like mountain scenery, you would be hard pressed to beat that trip. And to top it off, we were driving a convertible--absolutely the best way to drive through the mountains; even the driver could see the scenery without breaking his neck. That was probably a hell of a lot more information than anyone wants to read, but it was a hell of a trip for three 19-year-olds from a small town in Kansas--5,000 miles in less than two weeks.

Posted by: Glenn on January 19, 2006 12:10 AM

Went from San Jose, CA to Olympia, WA via back roads. Three times.

Took three days, nothing over 45mph - and never repeated the route.

Simply gorgeous.

Once, when MUCH younger, went skiing in the AM in Big Bear, surfing in the afternoon in Malibu (BEFORE Barbra started whining), and attended a beach-side BBQ in the evening. In March, 1974. I attempted a low cruise on a young darlin', but didn't quite connect. I remember her face quite clearly, but for the life of me, can't recall her name.

Posted by: Ward Gerlach on January 19, 2006 10:54 PM
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