Darn! That Itch Is Back Again, Even Worse Than Last Year...

Thread Starter

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
...That is, the itch to get my hands on the steering wheel and get going on another transcontinental road trip!

The days are getting longer, Spring is just around the corner, and the month of May is becoming faintly visible on the distant horizon. Around May 10th or so I'll be heading off on another coast-to-coast road trip from Philadelphia to visit my oldest son out in Santa Clara, California over the Memorial Day weekend. I am just ITCHING to get on the road again!!

Last year's trip was a lot of fun, including discussing it here. The westward leg was just a 5-day mad dash across the country on I-70 and I-80, with no sightseeing; the return trip up into Oregon, up the Columbia River gorge and across Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, Minnesota and Wisconsin was where I did all my sight-seeing. This year I'm planning on doing a LOT more.

Departure is still about 10 weeks off, but now is not too early to start planning.

I'm going to try to make this year's trip even better than last year's, with a whole lot more exploring and sightseeing, and a lot more pictures to post. And this time there will be videos, too: Santa Claus gave me a GoPro8 to play with and I've been busy learning how to use it as well as my video editing software (iMovie on the Mac). That should let me give a little more interesting narration than I did last year with only still pictures. I've created a YouTube channel, "OBW0549" and will post the videos there. So far there's nothing there but practice stuff as I learn to work with the camera and software.

I haven't worked out the details of the homeward-bound part of my journey yet, but here's a tentative (VERY tentative) plan for the westbound part from Philadelphia to Santa Clara:

Days 1-3: Philadelphia to Scottsbluff, Nebraska (1,700 miles) on I-70 and I-80 with overnights in Crawfordsville IN, Colfax IA, and Scottsbluff NE. This will be a hard, fast run to get me out of the East Coast mess and across the worst of the interior flatland as quickly as possible. The stop in Colfax IA will give me a chance to visit a lady friend from long ago and enjoy a good dinner with good company. Driving I-80 all the way across Nebraska can be a soul-crushing affair, as most of it goes along the Platte River valley which is about a mile wide and 5-10 feet deep; as a result the horizon is rarely more than a few hundred yards distant and given it's all flatland to begin with, there's absolutely nothing to see along there beside cows, hay bales and rusted-out farm machinery. If I start feeling the walls close in around me, I may get off I-80 at some point and go the rest of the way on US Highway 30 which runs a mile or two north of I-80; there's a bit more to see, and it's almost as fast as the Interstate.

Day 4: I'll be spending the day exploring around Scotts Bluff National Monument, which is a great big rock sticking up out of the surrounding plains about 800 feet above the nearby North Platte River. There's a road leading up to the top and a magnificent 360 degree view all around. I was there once many years ago but only for an hour or so, and I made a note to go back someday. Great place to take a picnic lunch and relax and enjoy the scenery. After exploring the area I'll search out a good steak dinner or some good Mexican food, and spend that night in Scottsbluff.

Days 5-6: Scottsbluff, Nebraska to Spokane, Washington (990 miles) on US Highway 26, I-25 and I-90 with overnights in Bozeman and Spokane. From Scottsbluff I'll drive NW on US 26 to just north of Wheatland, Wyoming, where I'll get on I-25. I'll take that through Douglas and Casper to Buffalo, WY where I'll get on I-90 and continue north up to Billings, Montana. Time permitting, I'll stop and check out the Little Big Horn Battlefield National Monument ("Custer's Last Stand") just north of Garryowen. From Billings I head west on I-90 through Bozeman, Butte, Missoula and Coeur d'Alene to Spokane, Washington.

I could take an alternate route for the Billings-to-Spokane leg of the trip, from Billings through Bozeman to Three Forks, then get off I-90 and head north on US Highway 287 to Helena, take I-15 up to Wolf Creek, then 287 again on up to Choteau, then US Highway 89 up to Browning near the east entrance to Glacier National Park. From there, I'd take US Highway 2 across the southern end of the park to West Glacier, and then down to Kalispell. From there I'd continue on US 2 up to Bonners Ferry, Idaho, and then down to Spokane. But that route makes for a much longer drive and as far as I can tell from Google Maps, there doesn't appear to be a whole lot more scenery along that stretch of US 2 than there is along I-90 and it would add an extra day to the trip. So I think I'll skip US Highway 2 for that segment. (Anyone thinks I'm making the wrong decision, feel free to speak up!)

Days 7-8: Spokane, Washington to Manzanita, Oregon (500 miles) on US Highway 2. At Spokane I get off I-90 onto US Highway 2 (recommended last year as very scenic by @Back to school) and head west through Creston to Wilbur, where I get off onto state route 174 and go up to check out Grand Coulee Dam; then back down state route 155 to Coulee City, where I pick up state route 17 and visit Sun Lakes-Dry Falls State Park, in the Channeled Scablands area (erosion landforms scoured out by the Lake Missoula floods at the end of the last Ice Age). From there I'll continue down SR 17 to the Lake Lenore Caves State Park and Soap Lake, where I'll get on SR 28 and go west through Trinidad and Rock Island to Wenatchee, where I'll spend the night. At Wenatchee there's the Owl Soda Fountain, recommended last year by @dendad, where I intend to get me a REAL ice cream soda (or a black 'n white malt, if they make them).

From Wenatchee I continue west on US Highway 2 into the Cascade Range, up over Stevens Pass and down into Monroe, Washington, where I'll pick up SR 522 to Bothell, then I-405 south to I-5 near the Sea-Tac Airport. From there it's down I-5 to Olympia, where I take SR 8 and US Highway 101 down through Raymond WA and Astoria Oegon to Manzanita, where I'll stop for the night. (The choice of Manzanita is just for illustration; it could be any of the nearby towns along that section of the Oregon coast.)

Alternatively, I could head north on US 101 from Olympia instead and do a counterclockwise loop around the Olympic Peninsula; but that would add 250 miles and another day to this part of the trip and I'm not sure I want to do that. Right now I'm opting to take the more direct route instead (if anyone thinks I'm making a mistake and wants to recommend otherwise, speak up!).

Days 9-11: Manzanita, Oregon to Santa Clara, California (760 miles), all on US Highway 101 and CA SR 1, with overnights in Gold Beach (approximately) and Fort Bragg (approximately). This is the part I'm looking forward to the most: the Pacific Coast Highway. I've been down the northern PCH once before, back in 2002 when my son and I took a trip up to see Mount St. Helens. On the way back to Santa Clara we drove down the coast; it was spectacular. I've also been down the southern half of the coast road, from Santa Cruz down as far as Morro Bay, several times. I want to experience the Coast Highway (or as much of it as I can fit in, anyway) at least one more time in my life and now is as good a time as any-- I'm 70 years old, and not getting any younger.

Points of interest along the PCH are too numerous to list here; I've found some good online resources at The Complete Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Guide and 25 Amazing Stops On A 1-Week Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip Itinerary and hope to see as many of the sights they recommend as I can.

Any suggestions for any parts of the trip I've outlined? Anything in the "be sure to stop here, it's a must-see" or "whatever you do, don't bother going to THAT place" categories? I'm all ears!

That's all I've got, for now. More later, as I continue researching places to go and things to do/see...
 

Berzerker

Joined Jul 29, 2018
621
OBW0549 said:
Departure is still about 10 weeks off, but now is not too early to start planning.
I say copy and paste this over into MS Word, hit print and call it a day...…..Done.
Just poking fun at you OBW. Be careful driving and wear a mask. Ground zero here we come!
 

Thread Starter

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
I say copy and paste this over into MS Word, hit print and call it a day...…..Done.
Thanks. I figure it's good at least for a start. In the coming weeks I'm sure I'll find more things to see along the way, so no doubt there will be some fine tuning of the route.
 

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,434
@OBW0549

This was discussed some weeks ago with focus on tutorials: please make sure your audio is reasonably good. As a 75% deaf, non-native, it matters to me.

I would do some traveling as you are planning but not if going alone. As a seaman I do not want to repeat the experience.

Hope to read about of your adventures soon!
 

Thread Starter

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
This was discussed some weeks ago with focus on tutorials: please make sure your audio is reasonably good. As a 75% deaf, non-native, it matters to me.
Good point. If I get a chance this weekend I'll mount the GoPro on the dashboard and hit the road for a sound check. The audio seems to be pretty good with this camera, but I haven't tested it on the road yet.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
11,088
I loved Scottsbluff. It was a refueling/breakfast stop for me on the way to the West Coast. Been there many times. You could find the airport by smell in Spring and Summer. Nice little restaurant at the airport too. :)
 

dendad

Joined Feb 20, 2016
3,914
At Wenatchee there's the Owl Soda Fountain, recommended last year by @dendad, where I intend to get me a REAL ice cream soda (or a black 'n white malt, if they make them).
My Dear Wife (from Quincy WA many years ago) says "Have one for me too!"
Such drinks are unheard of here on Oz.
 

Thread Starter

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
My Dear Wife (from Quincy WA many years ago) says "Have one for me too!"
Will do!

I loved Scottsbluff. It was a refueling/breakfast stop for me on the way to the West Coast. Been there many times. You could find the airport by smell in Spring and Summer. Nice little restaurant at the airport too. :)
Looking on Google Maps, it looks like there's no shortage of restaurants in that town, including a steak joint AND Mexican food!
 

jgessling

Joined Jul 31, 2009
82
Last time I think you missed out on steak in Billings. This time let me suggest Jakes right downtown. My brother lives nearby and we met him there on our trip through last year. That’s right downtown. If the timing is not right then the other pace kittycorner can give you a great burger. Montana is all about beef after all. Enjoy your trip!
 

Thread Starter

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
Thanks! If I recollect rightly, the problem with Billings last year was that the good restaurant which was supposed to be right next door to the hotel had grown legs and relocated elsewhere, leaving only a 4th-rate greasy spoon. Anyway, it looks like my stop for the night on Day 5 is most likely going to be Bozeman or Butte, not Billings. Regardless of where, I'm determined I'm going to have me a fine steak dinner.
 

wayneh

Joined Sep 9, 2010
17,153
Ah the call of the open road. Nothing compares. Anyway, don’t hesitate to drop by again if you pass by. We’ll go back to the brew house and check out the waitresses... errr I mean the beers.

If you find yourself on I-90 west of Bozeman around dinner time, check out Sir Scott’s Oasis in Manhattan, MT. Used to be an awesome, down home steakhouse. Big juicy steaks, no pretense.
 

Thread Starter

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
Ah the call of the open road. Nothing compares. Anyway, don’t hesitate to drop by again if you pass by. We’ll go back to the brew house and check out the waitresses... errr I mean the beers.
Yes, the waitresses were indeed memorable, certainly on a par with the pulchritudinous multitude of waitbabes at Sickie's Garage in Fargo, ND. The one in Idaho Falls outshined all the rest, though; I'll remember her always.

Though details are still hazy at this point, it looks like the eastbound leg of this trip will be some sort of southern route rather than northern, so I don't think I'm going to be passing anywhere near Rockford this time. I feel the desert calling me...

If you find yourself on I-90 west of Bozeman around dinner time, check out Sir Scott’s Oasis in Manhattan, MT. Used to be an awesome, down home steakhouse. Big juicy steaks, no pretense.
Thanks, that's a good suggestion. If I stay the night in Bozeman, Sir Scott's is just a 20-minute drive away. I may do it.
 

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,434
I did a mic check this morning driving on I-95 south of Philly; it's about the noisiest road around here. Audio doesn't seem too bad.


What do you think?
Thanks for taking the pain to test.

There is kind of a "drum" noise, louder than your voice which sounds rather low.
 

Thread Starter

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
Thanks for taking the pain to test. There is kind of a "drum" noise, louder than your voice which sounds rather low.
Thanks for the feedback.

That drumming noise is probably from driving over potholes and the joints between the concrete slabs of the road. As for the low volume of my voice on the recording, it's the same when I play the video on my computer: I had to turn up the volume to hear it adequately.

The GoPro isn't known for having very good sound quality, and it doesn't have a jack for connecting an external mic to correct the shortcoming, so I'll probably omit most in-car audio and if I need to make any voice commentary I'll add it during editing.
 

atferrari

Joined Jan 6, 2004
4,434
Thanks for the feedback.

That drumming noise is probably from driving over potholes and the joints between the concrete slabs of the road. As for the low volume of my voice on the recording, it's the same when I play the video on my computer: I had to turn up the volume to hear it adequately.

The GoPro isn't known for having very good sound quality, and it doesn't have a jack for connecting an external mic to correct the shortcoming, so I'll probably omit most in-car audio and if I need to make any voice commentary I'll add it during editing.
That will make for better results.

Keep in mind that nobody likes watching looong videos.

Enjoy your jouney!!
 

Berzerker

Joined Jul 29, 2018
621
Post #13
If your Forum picture is really you and that is your voice then they match. You sound just like I expected from your picture.
Most times you see a pic of someone and then meet them in real life, They don't match.
I have a thick southern draw. Some even say I sound like Jeff Foxworthy when they meet me.
I would just like "Some" of his money.
Don't forget the hazmat suits and mask, gloves, eye protection, homeless people spray. Don't drink the water! They don't even know what's in it.
 

Thread Starter

OBW0549

Joined Mar 2, 2015
3,566
Darn. I'm starting to think I may have to postpone my trip if this coronavirus thing doesn't clear up REALLY quickly. The last damn thing I need is to be driving cross-country and being unable to get food or a room for the night.

I went shopping yesterday at the local supermarket. Not a single roll of TP in the place. Also gone or largely depleted: pasta, pasta sauces, canned soups, ground beef (?), canned vegetables, pork, and frozen dinners.

The store was practically deserted. I remarked about that to the checkout clerk, and he said vast crowds were there over the weekend and cleaned the place out like a horde of locusts.

Driving through town on the way to the store, the streets were practically deserted; normally at that hour it would be bumper-to-bumper, stop-and-go traffic.

The parking area out front of our apartment complex has 40 parking spots. Normally at mid-day there would be about 5-10 cars in the lot, with everyone else gone to work. Yesterday I counted 36 cars in the lot.

Nothing is open in town; it's dead. How long are things going to be this way, I wonder?

Go as planned, in early May? Postpone until after Labor Day (I don't drive during the summer; too many other vacationers on the road)? Cancel altogether?

Opinions are welcome. What do you think?
 
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