Day 1 - Home to Santa Cruz
I got away an hour later than planned, which is about normal and headed north. Along the coast the air was a little cool, probably in the 60s. The first part of the journey was pretty normal since I had driven up to the Central Coast many times in the past. As I turned inland at Gaviota the air temperature started to go up into the high 80s. But it cooled down again once I hit the coast again at Pismo Beach.
A co-worker, John, called me and said that he and his wife, Leslie, were headed up to Moro Bay and would I like to join them for lunch? So we met up at a restaurant in San Luis Obispo for a meal. John even paid for my lunch so he and Leslie get a big thank you for that.
After lunch and a fond goodbye to John and Leslie I filled up the gas tank and headed out again, this time switching from U. S. Highway 101 to California Highway 1, the Pacific Coast Highway. This road goes right along the coast all the way to Oregon. It provides some spectacular views and some wonderful driving roads. The only problem is that there are people driving SUVs, motor homes or hauling travel trailers that also like to drive this route. Of course they go about 30 MPH and have no idea how to drive through a curve. There are very few places to pass so unless they use the turnouts along the road to let you by you can get stuck behind them for miles.
I was stuck my share of times but when I could get past them and on to an open stretch of road it was so much fun, at least until I caught up with the next slow poke. Also I pulled over to take some photos a number of time which meant that all the cars I had past were now in front of me once again.
I finally reached Santa Cruz about 6 o'clock and refueled once again before heading to the hotel. After checking in I walked down to the boardwalk/amusement park for a stroll and then over to the Santa Cruz pier. The pier has a number of good seafood restaurants on it so I stopped at one and had a nice meal. I then headed back to the hotel where I uploaded some of the pictures I took and then went to bed.
In planning the trip I decided to buy a laptop computer to use for the web pages and also as a GPS system. For the latter I purchased DeLorme Street Atlas and a GPS receiver. I had used Microsoft Streets and Trips in the past but I found Street Atlas to be slightly better in some respects.
However (and you knew that there had to be an 'however') there are some limitations to using Street Atlas as a GPS system. I took a wrong turn in Santa Cruz and it would recalculate the rout and give me a new street to turn on. The problem was that it would either tell me to turn the wrong way down a one-way street or tell me to turn right after I passed the street. But I did eventually find my way to the hotel. GPS systems can be nice but you still need to have some idea there you are going and a sense of direction.
So that brings to an end Day 1 of the Montreal Odyssey. Stay tuned for more in the coming days.
Day 2 Santa Cruz to Eureka
I left Santa Cruz at about 8:45 am and headed north along the coast to San Francisco. About an hour and a half later I stopped for a bite to eat in Half Moon Bay. With my stomach full I continued on north. As I got closer to San Francisco the traffic continued to get heavier. Not exactly the ideal Grand Touring traffic, but it was manageable. When I got to San Francisco I stopped by the Cliff House with its spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean. Nearby are ruins of the old bath house??? I then headed towards the Golden Gate bridge. Pulling off the freeway just before the bridge I drove down below the bridge to get some photos. While there I also toured Fort Point, an old coastal fort that was used to guard the Golden Gate from invaders. The advances in armament during the Civil War made it obsolete almost as soon as it was built. It was finally abandoned as a costal fort in 1900.
Crossing the Golden Gate bridge I headed up U.S. highway 101, known in this area as the Redwood Highway because of its route through the California Redwoods. On the first evening in Santa Cruz I realized that I had left all of my maps at home to I stopped at the American Automobile Association in Petaluma, CA to pick up some more maps.
U.S. highway 101 is inland in this area and the temperatures were quite a bit higher that the day before along the Big Sur coast. It was probably in the high 90s in some areas. I don't have air conditioning in the Montreal but if you drive fast enough with the windows down it's not too bad. As I got further along the route got closer to the coast and the temperature started down into the low 70s, much nicer.
Again the biggest complaint was the traffic. While most of the north-bound traffic uses Interstate 5 further to the east there is a fair amount of vacation and truck traffic on 101. So far I haven't seen any Alfas, not that I expected to, but it would be nice. I have seen a handful of other sports cars, mainly Corvettes.
I finally arrived in Eureka where I filled the gas tank again and then checked into the Eureka Travelodge hotel. Another day finished.
Day 3 Eureka to Florence
I got up and checked out of the hotel by 9:00 am. While warming up the engine another guest came up to talk to me about the car. He use to own a spider and has a friend with a 164S. We chatted for a few minutes and then I left him with some information about our chapter of the Alfa Romeo Owners Club. As I was pulling out of the parking lot a motor home pulling an SUV drove by. It was one of the ones that I had passed on Sunday along Big Sur. But it was okay since it was an Alfa motor home!
After hunting down a bank so I could milk the cash cow (ATM) I headed across the bridge to the Samoa Cookhouse. I had eaten lunch here in 2000 on the way to the previous Portland convention. It is a former logging camp food house and has only three choices on the menu; breakfast, lunch and dinner. Today for breakfast they were serving biscuits and gravy, scrambled eggs, hash brown potatoes, link sausages and toast. Nothing to decide, just sit down and eat. The toast is hand sliced with a knife so it comes in varying thicknesses. After eating you feel you need to go cut down some trees to work the calories off. If you are in the area I highly recommend it.
Leaving Samoa it was up the coast again towards Oregon. The day was cool with a low overcast and light fog. A little further north an I was driving through the Redwood Forest. It was really quite spectacular. Just north of the little town of Trinidad, CA I pulled over at a rest stop and took a short stroll in the woods. Go a little too far and you may never find your way out. These redwood grow 200 to 300 feet high.
While driving through the town of Orick, CA I noticed that the Orick Theater is now featuring Cowgirl Mud Wrestling. Too bad I didn't have time to stop.
A little north of Klamath, CA I did stop at the Trees of Mystery tourist sight. Some very interesting tree growths/formations. I took some photos, unfortunately the shear size of the trees makes photography difficult. They also have a large statue of Paul Bunyon and Babe, the Blue Ox, although they are reported to be life size.
In the parking lot I talked to a few people that were interested in the Montreal. They was a person for Boston that had a Mustang Boss 302 at home and another gentleman that had several interesting cars including a Cobra and a Ford GT40. We talked for close to half an hour about cars and racing.
Back on the road again I went through Crescent City and finally into Oregon. It seemed like every bridge in Oregon was being repaired and there were many traffic waits. Also a lot of the road is one lane in each direction and so you get hung up behind slower vehicles. Just north of Brookings I stopped at the Whaleshead Rock to get some pictures. As I pulled back onto the highway I was behind a truck I had passed before. I passed him again just at the end of a passing lane and I must have really impressed him with my driving because he blew his air horn to me and later when I was refueling in Port Orford he blew his horn again and with his hand indicated that I was number one. Although usually you use the index finger to indicate number one, he must have had a problem because he used the middle finger. Oh well.
After leaving Port Orford I stopped at the Point Blanco light house. However the last tour is at 3:30 and I arrived at 3:45 so I was unable to get close to it. The wind there was blowing a good 50 miles per hour and was a bit chilly, so a few photos later I was on my way.
It was then on up the coast. The speed limits are usually 55 mph or 65 mph, depending on the road but when you hit a town the limit drops to 25 or 30 mph. I did keep my speed down, especially in the towns since I have a long way to go still and don't really want to get a speeding ticket.
I finally reached Florence just before 6:00 pm. I gassed up and checked into the Old Town Inn. While driving through town I saw Bliss' Hot Rod Grill so I had to stop there for dinner. It was also recommended by Roger Long, a Montreal owner in Los Angeles. There are half a dozen Chevrolet frontends on the roof and inside there is a 1950 Ford setup as a dining booth. The food was pretty good too.
And thus ends the third day of the Montreal Odyssey
Day 4 Florence to Portland
I left Florence at about 9:15 for my fourth, and final day of driving to Portland. Just a few miles up the road I made my first stop at Heceta Head Lighthouse. The day was still a bit foggy so the view was not as great as it could be. The lighthouse is 1/2 mile up a footpath from the parking lot. Tours didn't start until 11:00 am but I walked up anyways. About halfway up the trail you reach the lighthouse keepers house, which is no a bed and breakfast. I continued up the hill to the lighthouse for some pictures. It would have been great if the weather was clear but I did not have much control over that. I found another trail that led further up the hill and foolishly followed that. When I got higher that the top of the lighthouse I decided enough was enough and turned around and started down. The fog was starting to lift so I was able to get some shots of the beach area as I came down.
I headed up the road again to my next stop at Devil's Churn. Of course I had the big slow vehicles ahead of me on the windy sections of the road. This time the footpath was downhill going in and uphill going out.
The Devil's Churn is a very narrow split in the volcanic rocks that allow the sea to come in a slit that is about 150 yards long and about 30 yards wide at the mouth. The tide was out when I was there so there was not much churning. Around the corner there is more volcanic rock that form a lot of tide pools. I was able to explore this are and observe a number of starfish, anemones and mussels.
I got on the road once again and headed north to the town of Newport, OR where I turned off on U.S. Highway 101 on to U.S. Highway 20 to go east through Corvallis, OR and on to Interstate 5. Once on the I5 I went north again to Salem, OR, the capital city of Oregon my first of several state capitol stops. I exited the interstate there and proceeded to the capitol building. Driving in Salem, which has a lot of one way streets and using a GPS system that seemed just as lost as I was, was quite an adventure. In spite of all that I did eventually find the capitol building and took several pictures just to prove that I did make it there. I was running a bit late so I did not go in the building but went back to the car to head to Portland.
About half an hour later I did reach the start of Portland and then the traffic started to build up. For the last 10 miles (16 km) it was stop and go with a speed of about 20 mph (32 kph). I did finally reach the Red Lion Hotel On The River just before 4:00 pm. For the first time on this trip I saw another Alfa. And then another, and another, in fact a whole parking lot full. GTVs, Spiders, Berlinas, GTV6s, Junior Zs and an 8C Competizione, but no other Montreals. So I checked in and got the car unloaded. I cleaned up and went to join the crowd.
The registration for the convention went very well and soon I had all my paperwork and information. At 6:00 pm they had a welcome reception for us and I got to meet other Alfisti from all over. Norm Silverman and his wife, Evie, finally arrived having to take a later flight after their original flight was canceled. We joined up with Chuck and Jan Kline and David Khoe and we all had a late dinner. That about did me in for the night so I went back to my room to slave over the computer updating this site. I hope that it is appreciated.
Day 5 - At the convention
This was my first full day at the convention. I had nothing scheduled to do so I slept in late. After rising and dressing I went to breakfast at about 10:00 am. After that I went out to the parking lot and found very few Alfas present. Most everyone had already gone off to one event or another. I had decided to head out the Portland International Raceway to view the competition events.
The track was only about a mile from the hotel so, of course, I got lost but did eventually make it there. Events were well underway having started at 8:00 am and several cars were on the track practicing. I watched them for a while and then wandered over to the autocross course to see what was going on. There was only one car there, a Giulietta Sprint. Due to the lack of other cars the driver got to go around many times and seemed like he was having a lot of fun.
After a while I wandered back over to the pit area to look at the cars. There were a number of interesting cars in front of the Vintage Racing Motors trailer including a TZ with a twin spark engine, what I believe to be an 8C2300 Monza and a Montreal. The TZ had Stirling Moss listed as the driver and Susie Moss listed as the navigator. I also found Wes Ingram working on his GTV. In the interest of saving weight even the wooded stick supporting the hood had been drilled for lightening.
Next I walked over to the swap meet area. There were only three people selling items and since it was getting on to 3:00 they were packing up to go. One vendor was selling a set of Alfa Romeo picnic dishes that I was able to get for a reasonable price.
By the time I got back to my car it was after three and things were finishing up so I decided to head back to the hotel. I had about one mile to drive on the freeway but due to traffic it took about half an hour to get back.
After resting up I boarded a bus for the Notte Italiana dinner at the Piazza Italiano Restaurant. The convention organizers had arranged for the street to be blocked off and we ate alfresco. Music was also provided. The restaurant staff took care of everything bringing several plates of appetizers and three different entrees. The food was brought to the tables on large platters and passed around. It was good that this diner was held after the competition events as the added weight would have affected the times.
And another day of the Montreal Odyssey ended.
Day 6 - Convention, the Second Day
For the second day of the convention I only sighed up for two events; the Ron Tonkin Garage Tour and the Riverboat Diner Cruise.
Ron Tonkin opened the first Ferrari dealership in the country in 1966 selling only Ferraris and Alfa Romeos. His collection consists of 40 to 45 cars.
We boarded a bus at the hotel for the ride into Portland to the garage. Once there Ron conducted a tour of the cars telling a short story about each vehicle. The collection was impressive and the stories behind the cars brought it all to life. Among the collection were four of my favorites: a Fiat Dino Spider, a Lamborghini Muria, a Ford GT40 and, of course, the Alfa Montreal. There were many Ferraris including a 288 GTO, F40, F50 and Enzo. Also included was Ron's first Ferrari, a Yellow 1967 330 Spider. The assortment also included a 1963 Chevrolet 4-door hardtop that was owned by a former school teacher of Ron's.
After returning to the hotel I hung out for a while chatting with other conventioneers and looking at the cars. At 3:30 I sat in of a tech session conducted by Wes Ingram and Herb Sanborn of Ingram Enterprises. In this session they covered the ins and outs of the Spica injection system, the heart of the Alfas of the 1970's. I had planned to attend the Beer Wash and clean up the Montreal for the next days concorso but the tech session ran longer than expected and I had no time before I had to get ready for the diner cruise.
At 5:30 we boarded the bus that took us to the Portland Spirit docked on the Willamette River. There we boarded the ship and after a welcome song from the ships staff we headed out up the Willamette River. We sailed up the river for about 45 minutes during which dinner was served and great conversation was had. I shared a table with outgoing AROC president Chip Denyko, AROC/ARI Liaison Delmas Greene and others who's names I forgot. After dinner many of the passengers went out on deck to take in the view from the river. As a tribute to the Alfa Romeo Convention the lights on the Morrison Bridge pillars were changed to red, white and green.
After returning from the cruise more time was spent kicking tires and chatting in the parking lot and then I retired.
Day 7 - Convention, the Third Day
This is the last full day of the convention. The main choices for today are the concorso & field meet or the wine country bus tour. Being more into cars than wine I chose to attend the concorso. It is held just across the Columbia river in Vancouver, WA at the Pearson Air Museum. There were well over a hundred Alfa Romeos present of all vintages and conditions from pristine pre-war cars to all out race cars. You can see a sample of the cars present on the photo page. There were three Montreals present, all red but different shades. Again I meet numerous people that I had head of through the Alfa Digest, AlfaBB and various publications but have never seen in person. It was nice to link a face to a name.
Val Herrera, a Montreal owner from Texas, was there with his Calloway Twin Turbo GTV6. Kim Buty had his wonderful looking Montreal there. I did not catch the name of the owner of the third Montreal that was on the field. I also talked with several people that had an interest in the Montreal. Some that had owned one in the past and others that were interested in getting one.
After some time back at the hotel to recover it was time for the banquet and AROC Annual Meeting. This was held in the grand ballroom of the hotel. The conversation and food were excellent and everybody had a good time. The new AROC Board of Directors was introduced and some club business was quickly taken care of and then the partying began. I didn't stay too late as I needed my beauty sleep. Some of the Alfisti are leaving tonight and most of the others will be leaving tomorrow as they need to get back to work so there are a lot of 'good byes' to be said.
Day 8 - Convention, the Last Day
I got up a little early this morning to go find a Bank of America and get some more cash. According to their web site there should have been one at the shopping center around the corner but I was unable to find it so I ended up getting some Wells Fargo money.
While I was still in the parking lot Jerry Quinlist came up and gave me a painting of a Montreal that he had done. We said that it was too big to take back on the plane so I could have it for my home. Thanks very much, Jerry.
Joined Norm and Evie Silverman and Bill and Fiona Carson for breakfast this morning. and had a nice chat. After breakfast Norm and Evie had to checkout to catch their flight home and Bill and Fiona went back over the bridge to their home in Washington. I wandered over to the Awards Brunch to see who one the various competition events. There were probably 70 or 80 people there but it seemed most of the winners had already left. So the convention committee has a lot of mailing to do. In the concours judging for class U, which is Montreals and Junior Zs, Kim Buty came in first place with his Montreal. Someday mine will look that good.
And that was the end of the 2009 AROC National Convention. I'll be spending the rest of the day getting ready to be back on the road tomorrow morning heading east.
Day 9 - Portland, OR to Nampa, ID
After a 4 day break I'm on the road again. This time going east across Oregon to Nampa, ID. What with one thing or another I didn't get away until almost 11:00. But get away I did. The first planned stop was in Milwaukie to visit a B17 bomber. This plane was placed here as the roof over the pumps at a gas station in 1947. The plane is currently undergoing a restoration and the nose has been removed and placed in an exhibit as it is being restored. The grandson of Art Lacey was kind enough to open the exhibit for me and we talked at length about the aircraft and the restoration. See the photo page of pictures of the aircraft.
After leaving the exhibit I turned north again to join the I84 interstate east of Portland. I would remain on this road for most of the days run. About 20 miles down the road I pulled off the interstate to travel the Historic Columbia River Highway. It is a very lovely 2 line road that parallels the interstate. Along this road I stopped at the Wahkeena Falls, the Multnomah Falls and Horsetail falls for some photo ops. These stops were made at about 1:00 in the afternoon. The photography would probably been better earlier in the day or later in the afternoon. At the town of Dodson I rejoined the interstate for the drive into The Dalles where I made a refueling stop. After topping up the tank I continued through town until I once again got on the interstate.
From there it was an almost non-stop run to my next refueling in Le Grande, OR. However about 50 miles before Le Grande is the town of Pendleton, OR they had the road closed and traffic was backed up for several miles. I reached there at 4:22 in the afternoon and after about a 30 minute wait the traffic go moving again. I guess that the construction crews had finished for the day. Just outside of Pendleton the road rises about 2,000 feet in less than 6 miles. It starts out with two lanes in each direction and then widens out to three lanes. The biggest problem is when one large truck decides to pass another large truck. The one being passed if doing about 50 miles per hour and the one doing the passing is doing about 52 miles per hour. This kinds of slows down the car traffic. After the road widened to three lanes I was able to finally move out however there were still some car drivers that are afraid to pass the trucks with more that a few mile per hour speed difference. I finally got past the slow vehicles and the Montreal was able to make some good time. What is really nice about the car is that even the steep hills don't seem to slow it down, it just powers on up.
The rest of the trip was pretty uneventful. The only thing of note was a couple of people in a Toyota. They were following me for a while and then passed me up when I backed off for a bit. I let them get about half a mile ahead and then, still staying in 5th gear I put my foot in it and caught right up with them. After getting through some traffic I came to an open uphill stretch so I brought her up to 90 mph (145 kph) and rapidly pulled away from the Toyota. After I got about a mile or two ahead I backed off. I never did see them again. Compared to European speeds 145 kph isn't too high but the speed limit is 65 mph (104 kph) and I didn't want to risk being stopped by the police.
I finally got in to Nampa, OR about 8:54 pm. Idaho is on Mountain time so it is an hour ahead of Oregon. I was on the road 9 hours and covered 444 miles. The temperatures got into the high 90's and even during the traffic jam in Pendleton the water and oil temps for the Montreal remained rock steady.
Day 10 - Nampa, ID
Today is a layover day. My friend Marc works evenings for the Post Office so the only opportunity I had to see him was during the day.
On the way into Nampa I saw a billboard advertizing the Warhawk Air Museum so this morning I set out to visit it. It is located out by the airport, only 5 minutes away so I set off down the road. I finally found it 45 minutes later but I had a splendid tour of the town and countryside surrounding Nampa.
The museum was really something else to see. They had eight aircraft which were well restored and most in flying condition. But what really made is great was the memorabilia they had from World War I through the current day. They had a lot of personal collections and stories to go with the exhibits. I made several purchases from the gift shop and headed back to the hotel to meet Marc for lunch.
We went into Boise for lunch and had a nice chat. We are both gainfully employed, relatively healthy and trying to survive until retirement. However he has a new Chevrolet Malibu with air conditioning and I have a 37 year old Alfa Romeo Montreal. The reader can decide who has it better.
After a while Marc had to go to work to keep the postal machines working so I took the opportunity to visit the Idaho State Capital building in Boise. When I has visited the Oregon state capital in Salem I was pressed for time so I did not go in the building. This time I decided that I would go in and take some pictures of the inside. When I got there I found that the building was undergoing restoration and no one was allowed in. So I too a photo of the outside and headed back to the hotel in Nampa.
Tomorrow I am on the road again headed to Yellowstone.
Day 11 - Nampa, ID to West Yellowstone, MT
I got away on time today, well sort of. I had already visited the Idaho State Capital in Boise so I could just pass straight through Boise. Once outside of Boise the speed limit is 75 miles per hour, fast by U.S. standards. But then there is nothing really to look at, just miles of sage brush. About 100 miles after my start I exited the interstate at the town of Bliss, ID. I switched from a four lane highway going through nothing to a two lane highway going through more nothing.
In Shoshone, ID I refueled and planned to take US 95 northeast to Arco, ID. However US 95 was closed between Richfield, ID and Carey, ID so I had to go north on state route 75 and then east of US 20. This made my GPS very upset and it kept telling me to turn around. Finally it gave up and told me to go north on state route 75 then east of US 20.
My first stop was the Craters Of The Moon National Monument. This is a large expanse of lave flows that were created between 15,000 and 2,000 years ago. For a modest fee you can drive through the area to see the landscape close up. They also allow camping and hiking.
My next stop was Arco, ID, home of the Idaho National Laboratory. There have been more than 50 nuclear reactors in this area. In the town I saw the famous "Number Hill" and a lost submarine (see the photos). A short was outside of town I stopped at Experimental Breeder Reactor 1 where electricity was first generated from a nuclear reactor on December 20, 1951. This reactor was cooled by a combination of sodium and potassium rather than water.
After causing a major meltdown I quickly exited the area and headed on to Idaho Falls. I was running a bit late and so only stopped to photograph the falls and refuel. I then headed north to West Yellowstone.
North of Idaho Falls the landscape changed and rather than lots of nothing I was now driving through pine forests. It was a much appreciated change. As the road rose in altitude it also got cooler. No longer the 90 - 100 degree temperatures I had to put up with most of my trip but it was now in the low 80s.
I finally rolled into West Yellowstone at 7:00 pm, refueled and checked into my hotel. I was staying at the Madison Hotel, a 16 room hotel that was originally built in 1912 out of logs. Thy have since added electricity and indoor plumbing, although some of the rooms still have to use the bath down the hall. I left the Montreal out front under the watchful eye of one of the many Buffalo Guards. Tomorrow Yellowstone.
Day 12 - West Yellowstone, MT to Dubois, WY
Today was the shortest drive distance-wise but the longest time-wise. That is because this is the day I went through Yellowstone National Park. I came in the west entrance and left by the south entrance so I only saw a portion of the park. The area I went through has the most geothermal activity so I saw a lot of geysers and hot springs.
They say a picture is worth a thousand words so visit the photo page to see some of what I saw. I started along the Madison River and followed it for about 14 miles (23 km) with many sightings of the river. I then turned south towards Old Faithful and the geyser basins. Along the way I saw some buffalo grazing by the road and fly fishermen in the river.
The first area I came to was the Lower Geyser Basin. This is where I say my first geysers. They are pretty impressive. The park has constructed walkways around the geysers to protect the landscape and the people. The water is very hot and if you fell into one of the pools you would not survive.
Passing on down the road I took the Firehole Lake drive. I stopped at the Great Fountain Geyser which is one of the largest in the park shooting to 150 feet high. Unfortunately it's schedule and mine did not mesh so I did not see it erupt. I did however see several other geysers, springs and pools on this drive.
I next stopped at the Midway Geyser Basin and took in the Excelsior Geyser Crater and the Grand Prismatic Spring. The Excelsior was the world's largest geyser, however and eruption in the 1800's destroyed the geyser and now it is just a pool that puts out 4,000 gallons per minute of hot water into the Firehole River.
The next stop was the Upper Geyser Basin. This is where Old Faithful can be found. It general erupts every 90 minutes but the force on one eruption can effect the force and timing of the next eruption. Also earthquakes and other geological changes can also affect the geysers.
From Old Faithful there is a two mile walk that takes you to many other geysers and springs. The people must keep to the walkways to avoid disturbing the plant life and the thermal activities, however the wildlife walks where it wants and there were tracks of various animals around the landscape.
For more information that I would ever have about the geothermal activities check out this site.
After spending several hours around Old Faithful I headed on down the road towards the south entrance to the park. Along the way I stopped at the Kepler Cascades on the Firehole River and at the Lewis Falls on the Lewis river. I also crossed the Continental Divide three times while in the park. I had already crossed it when entering Montana the day before and I will cross it once more on my way to Dubois for a total of 5 crossings.
After reaching the south entrance I proceeded into Grand Teton National Park for a 22 mile drive to Moran Junction. It is a very beautiful drive along Jackson Lake with the Grand Tetons in the background. The only difficulty was that Wyoming can only do its road repair in the summer. So there were several delays and many miles of one-lane dirt and gravel roads where I had to watch out for the rocks in the road. The majority of vehicles were either trucks or SUVs which have a lot higher ground clearance than the Montreal.
At last I made it to Moran Junction where I turned off onto US 287 to head into Dubois. After several more delays due to construction I finally made it into Dubois about 6:15 pm. Dubois has a population of about 1000 and sits at close to 7,000 feet (2,133 meters) in altitude. Dubois was originally called Never Sweat but the US Post Office did not like the name so they renamed it Dubois after a State Senator. The people objected so much that they pronounce it Do-boys.
I had no internet service the night before in West Yellowstone that I have gotten behind on my updates but I am trying to catch up.
Day 13 - Dubois, WY to Laramie, WY
I got up this morning and took some pictures of Dubois and then headed out for Laramie. I drove through the Wind River Indian Reservation and pulled in for fuel in Landers, WY where I also got a bite to eat. I then headed southeast to Rawlins, WY for some more fuel and then onto Interstate 84. Even here there was road construction going on so the speed was restricted to 55 mph or less. After a few miles I got off the interstate and headed out on US 30, a road that bypasses the interstate and enters Laramie from the north. I was making pretty good time since there was vary little traffic, all of which I passed. I have learned to slow down when entering the few small towns along the way. Most of them have 25 or 30 mph speed limits and if you go much faster the police are there to let you know.
But even on this road I ran into some construction and had to wait about 15 minutes before driving several miles over dirt and gravel. While waiting to go the wind came up blowing the dust around and it also started to rain. So there we were with rain on our heads and dust in our eyes at the same time.
In any case I finally got through and pulled into Laramie about 3:00 pm. At the hotel the power was out and I couldn't check in until it was restored, the computers were down. So I went out and got something to eat (all of Laramie except where the hotel was had power). I was finally able to check in about 6:00 pm.
So far I have covered 2,736 miles (4,403 km) and the car is running just fine. I had a slight oil drip at the oil pan drain plug due to some bad threads but that seems to have even stopped. I guess all the dirt and gravel must have caked around the leak. Yes, I did check and I do have oil in the car.
Tomorrow I am off the Cheyenne to visit the Wyoming state capital and then I turn south into Colorado. The adventure continues...
Day 14 - Laramie, WY to Georgetown, CO
Today I headed east to Cheyenne to visit the state capital building. But first I stopped at the The Tree in the Rock. This tree struggling to grow out of a crack in a rock was noticed by surveyors for the Union Pacific railroad. The train engineers use to stop the train and water the tree. When the railroad was relocated the road bed first became a wagon trail, then the Lincoln Highway and finally the I84 interstate. Through it all this tree has continued to survive.
Next to the tree is a marker for the Lincoln Highway, first proposed in 1913 as a gravel road from New York to San Francisco. Like the legendary Route 66 it has mostly been replaced or bypassed by the Interstate highways. Yesterday I drove a portion of the Lincoln Highway from Rawlins, WY to Laramie, WY.
I finally pulled into Cheyenne to stop at the capital, however there was a pioneers day parade going on and I could not get near the capital. So I got back on the interstate and headed south into Denver, CO.
My first stop in Denver was the Wings Over The Rockies Air Museum. This is located at the former Lowry Air Force Base. I was stationed there in 1968 while going to Tech School. The only thing left of the base are the two hangers and a couple of the larger buildings.
The exhibit was quite good. Many of the aircraft on display were used for training at the tech schools on the base. They also had exhibits from the various tech schools and also the Air Force Academy which was located here from 1955 to 1958.
After leaving the museum I ventured into downtown Denver to see the capital building. I was able to get there but just barely. They were having a music festival near the capital. The traffic was terrible. I was going to stop at the Brown Palace Hotel, where my grandparents spent their honeymoon in 1917 but I couldn't get near it. I finally found my way out of Denver and on to the west-bound I70 interstate. About 50 miles further I arrived at Georgetown, CO my final stop for the day. My main reason for visiting Georgetown was to see the Hotel de Paris. I had read about the hotel and it's owner Louis Dupuy in a Louis L'amour western. Louis Dupuy opened the hotel in 1875 with four rooms. He later added on several more rooms. For $4 per night Louis rented you a place to sleep, not a hotel room. So in the rooms with two beds you might be sharing the room and in some cases sharing the bed. Louis was a superb chef and people would ride the train from Denver just to eat at the hotel. The tour guide, Charles, had many interesting tales to tell about the hotel and Louis Dupuy.
I then walked around the old town section of Georgetown where many of the buildings from the 1800's still stand. After a while I went and checked into the hotel (the Super 8, not the Hotel de Paris) and ended the day.
Day 15 - Georgetown, CO to Pagosa Springs, CO
On my way out of Georgetown I swung by the Georgetown Loop Railroad. It was built in 1884 and rose 640 ft in 2 miles, a 6% rise. To achieve this it used a series of loops and switchbacks to reduce the rise to 3% so that the engines could actually make the grade. Originally it was connected to Denver and people would ride the train from Denver just to cover this loop.
I then headed west on I70 towards the Eisenhower Tunnel. This tunnel, which is actually two tunnels (one eastbound and one westbound) was built from 1968 to 1979. They are both about 1.7 miles in length and are at an altitude of 11,000 feet, the highest vehicular tunnel in the world.
Instead of taking the tunnel I chose to drive over Loveland Pass. The only route before the tunnel was made. Loveland Pass is at 11,990 feet. This was my first crossing of the Continental Divide on this leg. While the Montreal does have altitude compensation for the fuel injection when the mixture is set at sea level there is a definite power loss at 12,000 feet. It was still good enough to pass everybody but I was using 3rd gear a lot more that at 7,000 feet. Of course I was going up a 6.7% grade at the time. I also saw a lot of bicyclists on the road. I find it fun to drive the high winding roads but trying to pedal a bicycle up there is more than I would want to do.
Coming down from Loveland Pass was fun until I got near Dillon, CO. It is a ski town and has a small resident population but a lot of hotels and a large tourist population. But I was through it pretty quick and back on the interstate.
At Wheeler Junction I pulled off the interstate and on to State Route 91 towards Leadville, CO. Shortly after the exit I crossed the Continental Divide at Freemont Pass (11,320 feet). Prior to reaching Leadville I stopped briefly at Climax, CO. Climax was a mining town but now consists of just a molybdenum mine which is closed due to low molybdenum prices.
I rolled through the towns of Leadville, Granite, Buena Vista and Nathrop before coming into Poncha Springs for refueling. Most of these towns are not much more than a few buildings on the side of the road. The countryside is very nice, wide open and empty. Kind of like I saw in Idaho and Wyoming but with mountains instead of being flat. Very beautiful country, however there are not many places that service Alfa Romeos in the area.
At Poncha Springs I turned on to US 50 going west. I then crossed the Continental Divide at Monarch Pass (11,312 feet). Just past Gunnison I turned south in State Route 149. All this time I have been on two lane roads with very little traffic. Once in a while a motor home or travel trailer with an occasional semi truck. Most of the traffic was local pickup trucks.
State Route 149 was another two lane road with very little traffic. The has lots of tar strips going across the road so it gave the shocks and springs quite a workout. 46 miles down the road I pulled into Lake City, CO. I chose this route because of a story I had heard of Al Packer, a prospector in Colorado who was accused of cannibalism in the 1870's. I also refueled here at the Town Square gas station. This was the first gas station I stopped at that still and the old pumps. Rather than running you credit card through a reader on the pump you just pump your gas and then go inside the store and pay. The couple that ran the place were very friendly and we talked about the Montreal ands the Odyssey for a while.
Continuing down SR 149 I crossed the Continental Divide for the fourth time at Spring Creek Pass (10,901 feet) and came into South Fork, CO. I turned there onto US 160 for the final drive into Pagosa Spring. Halfway to the springs I crossed the Continental Divide for the fifth and last time today at Wolf Creek Pass (10,550 feet). I finally pilled into My sisters place in Pagosa Springs at 5:20 in the evening for a two day layover. It will give me time to repack the car, answer some emails and catch up on this web page. 2,734 miles (4400 km) and all is still good.
Day 16 and 17 - Pagosa Springs, CO Layover
I spent Monday and Tuesday at my sister's place in Pagosa Springs. I did not do much during these two days, mostly catching up on the web site updates repacking the car and resting. My sister feels like she is running a rooming house lately. There was a couple that visited them for a couple of days that left the day I arrived, I came for two nights, while I was there another couple, Scott and Pat, stayed for one night and there are some more guests due in in a day or so. It's a good thing that she likes to entertain. Scott and Pat are finishing a three month motorcycle trip that is taking them from the west coast to the east cost and back. It makes my odyssey look like an overnight trip.
My sister Eileen and her husband Charlie moved to Pagosa Springs last year to be near their daughter. One of my other sisters, Kathy, also lives with them. My third sister, Barbara, lives in Hawaii with her husband Randy so I don't think I can visit here on this trip but I'll say hi to her anyways; "Hi, Barbara and Randy".
On the photo page are some picture of them and of Pagosa Springs. Pagosa Springs is a small town in southern Colorado on the San Juan River. It is known for it's natural hot springs and people have been coming there to soak in the springs for over one hundred years.
Day 18 - Pagosa Springs, CO to Albuquerque, NM
I said good bye to my sisters and brother-in-law and headed out of Pagosa Springs. I took US 84 south towards Santa Fe, New Mexico. It is a nice two lane road with not much traffic. As I headed out of Colorado into New Mexico the landscape changed from tree covered hills and grassy meadows to sage brush covered mesas. It also got a bit warmer. I did experience a few brief thunder showers during the drive and I saw heavy rain off in the distance.
Before I reached Santa Fe I took a side trip into Los Alamos to visit a surplus place I had heard of, The Black Hole. They had quite a selection but I had no room in my car for anything. Los Alamos use to be a very small town but during the 1940's it was the site of the US nuclear weapons program, the Manhattan Project. It now has a population of over 11,000 and is home the the Los Alamos National Laboratory.
I then headed into Santa Fe. I had two planned stops here; the Loretto Chaple and the New Mexico State capital.
The Loretto Chapel was built in 1878 but its real claim to fame is the spiral staircase. This staircase is free-standing and has no central support column. It is also built without nails, only wooden pegs. It is still unknown today as to how it supports itself.
After visiting the chapel I strolled around Old Town Santa Fe for a while and then went over to visit the State Capital building. The building does not appear as impressive as some other state capital buildings but the architecture is designed to reflect the Spanish and American Indian heritage of the state.
After finally finding my way out of Santa Fe I headed over to Albuquerque, NM. I first stopped at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History. This museum is devoted to the use of nuclear energy for both scientific use and military use. There is a model of a nuclear reactor used to generate electricity, medical x-rays and information about radiation. About half of the museum is about the use of nuclear in medicine and energy production. The other half concerns the use of nuclear energy for weapons. There are a large number of weapons on display. Everything from the first atomic bomb to the latest US nuclear device. There are also displays of bomb shelters from the 50's and 60's and films of what to do if a nuclear attack should happen.
Out back there will be a display of various aircraft and missiles used by the US. The museum just relocated to this site so the outside displays are not yet complete. The B52 bomber is scattered all over the yard with the fuselage in one place, the wings in another and the rest of the parts against the back fence.
After visiting the gift shop to buy some souvenirs I headed out to the hotel for my overnight stay.
Stay tuned for more tomorrow.
Day 19 - Albuquerque, NM to Flagstaff, AZ
Today I went all natural, I only visited natural sites. When I started out of Albuquerque the odometer read 99966 so just a little way down the road it rolled over to all zeros. So I guess that that means that the Montreal is a new car again. The biggest issue today was fuel stops. Driving across New Mexico and Arizona the towns are far apart. There are a bunch of very small towns, mostly a store and a few houses, but the major towns with gas stations are further apart and with only a 12 gallon tank I have to fill up often.
The speed limits in New Mexico and Arizona on the interstates are 75 miles per hour for both cars and trucks, but the interstates are also only two lanes in each direction. What happens is that a semi going 75 comes across another going 73 so the first one pulls out to pass the second one. When there is only a 2 mph difference it takes a long time to pass. Meanwhile traffic backs up behind the passing truck. I cruised most of the day in the 70 to 85 mph (112 to 136 kph) range. I didn't want to speed too much as the police patrol the interstates pretty well and I haven't gotten any tickets yet.
My first stop for fuel was at Gallup, NM. I got off the interstate just before entering Gallup and took old Route 66 through the town. It is interesting to see all of the old motels along the side of the road. Some were built back in the 1940's and still look the same. There are also some abandoned motels and gas stations that did not survive the building of the interstate. Before the interstate you drove down the main street of every town along the road so the gas stations and motels got lots of traffic. Now with the interstate there are only a few on and off ramps in a town. In the small towns there is usually only one. So the gas stations and motels by the ramps get all the business and the ones located in town don't do so well.
The road also goes through a lot of Indian reservations and there are a lot of souvenir stores that sell Indian crafts. I did stop at one on the Continental Divide, which I crossed for the last time today, and bought a few things for the kids back home. I hope that they like tee shirts.
My first tourist stop of the was at the Petrified Forest National Park which also includes the Painted Desert. You start out going through the Painted Desert. The scenery is breathtaking and it is hard to capture it in pictures. The erosion of the soil by wind and rain have exposed the various colored strata. I took some photos but you really need to be there to see the whole panorama.
Just before the park road crosses over I40 there is a row of old telephone poles about half a mile from the interstate. These poles mark the path of the old Route 66 which ran right along side the poles. I the park area there is nothing left of the old road.
The next stop in the park was the petrified forests. These are groups of trees that were washed into piles many millions of years ago. They were then covered with silt and over time the organic cells in the wood were replaces with silica which hardened into crystalline quartz. After many millions of years the change in the earth left these trees in a desert region where erosion of the soil exposed the petrified trees. Again it is nice to see the pictures but being there to view them and to touch them really makes the experience.
After leaving the park I drove into Holbrook, AZ for refueling. Along the way I say a state police car parked on the road waiting to catch speeders. Fortunately I was only speeding a little bit. I Holbrook I again drove down the old Route 66.
Readers in other countries may not see anything special about Route 66. Route 66 was started in 1926 and finished in 1938. It ran 2,300 miles from Chicago, IL to Los Angeles, CA and was the major southern route linking the mid-west to the west coast. Until the coming of the Interstate Highway System it was the only way across. There is a lot of nostalgia about the road and even a song and a television show about it.
My next tourist stop was at Meteor Crater in Arizona. This crater was formed about 50,000 years ago when a meteor about 150 feet across and traveling at 40,000 miles per hour hit the desert floor. The land was claimed by Daniel Moreau Barringer in 1902 as a mining site and is still owned by the Barringer family. Daniel Barringer believed that the crater was created by a meteor while others scoffed at that theory. He was ultimately proved correct and his theory has led to the discovery of other meteor craters around the world.
The crater is 4,000 feet across and 700 feet deep. Again photos are nice but seeing it for real is stunning. It shows up quite nicely on GoogleEarth.
Finally I can into Flagstaff, AZ, once again driving down the old Route 66 and into my hotel for the night. Tomorrow I head to Tucson which is 6,000 feet lower in altitude and about 20 degrees hotter.
Day 20 - Flagstaff, AZ to Tucson, AZ
This day was just driving from Flagstaff through Phoenix to Tucson. At the suggestion of a friend I changed my route from taking the I-17 interstate from Flagstaff to Phoenix to taking state route 89 through Sedona, Prescott and Wickenburg. The road from Flagstaff starts out through pine forests and is very pleasant. About 10 miles out of town you come to Oak Creek Canyon. At this point the road drops 700 feet over a 3,500 foot linear distances. The road actually takes 2.5 miles through a series of switchbacks. I got a good run with no one ahead of me and had a good time until I got about half way down. I then ran into some other cars and it was very slow the rest of the way down. The speed limit on this road is 20 miles per hour, I did exceed it at times, well technically all of the time, at least until I caught up to the other cars. It was so much fun that I turned around and drove back up to the top for another run. I stopped at a view point at the top for some photos and to wait for a big gap in what little traffic there was. And then I ran the road again. This time I got about 2/3 of the way through before I caught up with the traffic, including a big bus. I finally came out of the canyon just before Sedona. Sedona is one of those old Arizona towns that almost disappeared but is now a thriving art center. Arizona and New Mexico seem to have a lot of small towns that artists like. The scenery around the area can be vary striking and maybe that adds to the allure but it still gets too hot in the summer for me. As a little bit of trivia: like most towns in the US Sedona has a McDonalds restaurant however it does not have 'golden arches', they are teal as the city fathers felt that the golden arches would not fit in.
After I left Sedona I looked out across the desert of sage brush, bushes and sand. I then came across a sign that said I was entering the Prescott National Forest. I guess at higher elevation there are trees but where I was you couldn't see the forest OR the trees.
I passed through Cottenwood and a little ways down the road I got a pleasant surprise. I came to the town of Jerome. Jerome was a mining town that is built on the side of a steep mountain. In the 1950's with the mines all closed the population dropped to about 50. It is now another art center and the population is now about 400. What made it so nice is that after you leave Jerome, which is about 4,500 feet, you climb over a 7,000 peak and down the other side of the mountain. It's about 12 miles of nicely twisted road. I managed to take all of it without any other traffic. When you get to the other side the land flattens out at about 5,000 feet in altitude. From there the road gradually descends through Prescott and Wickenburg and then into Phoenix.
I passed right on through Phoenix and headed southeast to Tucson, my destination for the day. In all it was about 320 miles (520 km) of surprisingly nice roads, although it would have been better to come in Spring or Autumn when the temperatures are more pleasant. It was over 100° F (38° C) when I arrived in Tucson at about 3:00 in the afternoon. Tomorrow I'm a tourist again.
Day 21 - Tucson, AZ to Simi Valley, CA
I got up and packed up everything and walked next door to the Waffle House for breakfast. I finished warming up the car and headed down the road to The Pima Air and Space Museum. I stopped for a refueling and arrived at the museum a few minutes before it opened. The Pimi Museum is one of the largest air and space museums in the world with over 275 aircraft on display. It is composed of 5 hangers and several other buildings plus a large outdoor display area. Since I was also driving back home on this same day I had planned for about 3 hours at the museum. I ended up spending 4.5 hours and could have still stayed several hours more. I had just not planned on the size of the exhibit. Close to 300 aircraft is a lot of aircraft to look at. Also I recommend visiting the museum from late fall to early spring when the temperature is fit for human habitation. At 9:00 am it was already close to 90° F (32° C). It eventually got up to about 105° F (40° C).
When you enter the museum you start out in the Spirit Of Freedom Hanger. The first aircraft you see is an SR-71 Blackbird. Sitting next to it is a North America Aviation F-107, one of only 3 made. There are also several other interesting aircraft in the hanger.
In the other hangers you will find a B-17, B-18, B-24, B-25, B-26 and B-29. And these are only the bombers. They are all restored to pristine condition. Outside is where you find most of the aircraft. They are divided up into sections such as bombers, cargo, helicopters, fighter, etc. There are no barriers keeping you from the aircraft so you can look them over closely, however you are not allowed to climb on them. Most of the aircraft have the windows and canopies shielded to keep the sun from destroying them completely. The sum fades the paint but the low humidity and lack of rain keeps most of the aircraft in fairly good condition. None of the aircraft are certified for flight but most of them could be restored to flying condition given enough money. Almost all of the aircraft are on loan from the US Air Force or the US Navy so there is very little chance of any of the aircraft flying again.
After having having visited a number of air museums over the years I have seen a lot of aircraft but the Pima Museum had many aircraft I had not seen before. Among them were a B-47 Stratojet bomber and a B-58 Hustler. The museum also had a complete set of the Century Series fighters (F-100, F-101, F-102, F-104, F-105, F-106 and F-107).
On display also is a Budd RB-1 transport, an all welded stainless steel aircraft made by a company that was known for making railway cars. Not a very good aircraft but it did pioneer a number of features found on later aircraft.
They and also just brought out a Convair B-36 bomber after an extensive restoration. It is an incredibly hugh aircraft with 6 radial piston engines and 4 turbojet engines. It occupies the center of the yard. With a length of 162 feet and a wingspan of 230 feet the aircraft occupies 0.85 acres (0.35 hectare). This particular B-36 was the last one produced.
There were so many aircraft I can't cover them all. The photo page has pictures of a lot of the aircraft but the only way to appreciate them is to visit the museum yourself.
In any case I left the museum about 2:00 pm and headed towards Mesa, AZ. In Mesa is located the Arizona chapter of the Commemorative Air Force and, according to the map, the Champlin Fighter Museum. By the time I arrived in Mesa it was 4:00 pm and the Commemorative Air Force museum was closed and I couldn't locate the Champlin Fighter Museum. So with no other places to visit I decided to head for home. Only 435 miles (700 kilometers) and I would be home so I headed west on Interstate 40. I had to go right through downtown Phoenix and even though it was a Saturday the traffic was still pretty heavy. Phoenix uses radar cameras to catch speeders but due to the traffic and the ongoing construction there was no problem of speeding.
After getting out of the city it was pretty easing going. The speed limit on the interstate is 75 mph (120 km/h) in Arizona so I generally ran in the 80-90 mph range. It was still pretty hot so I pulled off the interstate to refill my drink cup with fresh ice and Dr. Pepper. As a result I ended up passing up the same vehicles several times.
The drive across Arizona was pretty plain, nothing but scrub brush and desert. Pretty boring after the green valleys and high mountains of Colorado. Fortunately the miles passed quickly and the car ran without a problem. Even in the high temperatures of mid-day Arizona the oil and water temperatures ran right at normal.
I planned to refuel just before leaving Arizona but as I got to the border I decide to drive into California and gas up in Blyth. I should have gassed up in Arizona, gas in California is $0.40 a gallon more than in Arizona, or about $4.00 more for the fill up. While in Blyth I also had a bite to eat since I hadn't had anything since breakfast that morning.
The rest of the way home the only thing that changed was that the closer I got to Los Angeles the heavier the traffic got. Also one bit difference is that away from the cities the left lane is used for passing and other than a few exceptions a driver in the left lane will always pull over if a faster car is coming up on it. It is only in the cities where you have drivers in the left lane that driver slower than the drivers in the other lanes.
Finally I was coming down the last hill into Simi Valley when all of a sudden I saw the red lights of a police car in my rear view mirror. For the entire trip I had avoided any problems with the police and here I was 6 miles from home. I was going 70 mph in a 65 mph zone but generally it that is not a problem. Then I saw that he was after the car in the next lane that was following too close to the car in front of it. Needless to say I slowed down to under the speed limit and kept it that way the rest of the way home. I arrived home at 11:30 pm. After 20 days, 15 hours and 30 minutes and 8957 km (4995,5 miles) according to the odometer I was back home. It was an epic journey in a wonderful car.
Day 22 - The Wrap Up
Well both the Montreal and I made it home in one piece. I took along some spare parts but did not need any of them. The odometer said that I went 8957 km (4995,5 miles) for the trip but based upon the GPS my odometer reads 3.4% high so that would make the trip actually 7791.1 kilometers (4830.5 miles). In either case it could be considered a fair distance.
For the trip I used 246 gallons of gas purchased at an average price of $2.90 per gallon. I also used one quart of motor oil, most of which probably leaked out of my oil pan drain plug. The threads are starting to fail and I can't fully tighten the plug.The highest cost for fuel was $3.36 per gallon purchased in Eureka, CA and the lowest was $2.54 in Laramie, WY. For the entire trip I averaged 19.68 miles per gallon (11.94 liters per 100 km), that is using the corrected mileage.
My highest elevation was 11,995 feet above sea level at Loveland pass in Colorado and my lowest was 34 feet below sea level near Indio, CA. I crossed the Continental Divide a total of 13 times, once in Montana, 6 times in Wyoming, 5 times in Colorado and once in New Mexico.
All in all it was a fun trip. I went through 8 states and saw a lot of places that I had never seen before. There were many places that people told be about that I never had a chance to visit and other places where I altered my route to take them in. If I was to do it again I would probably take at least another week so I could spend more time visiting various places and a few more layover days. Some people take several months and travel around the country in a big motor home. It must be nice not having to worry about lodging but driving a Montreal has got to be a lot better than lumbering along in a 40 foot monster.
Now all I have to do is save up some more vacation time so I can do it again. Maybe next time drive to the East Coast and back or maybe one lap of the US. let's see 8,000 miles (13,000 km) at an average of 200 miles per day. I could do it in 6 weeks with plenty of time for sightseeing. Odyessy II. I better start getting the maps out.