CT To CA — Flat First, Then The Mountains

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We are in Avon, Colorado. Only one of us is awake. Why does driving, literally sitting in a chair, make you so tired?

The day started 581 miles ago in Lincoln, Nebraska. We picked up I-70 and turned west. The speed limit is 75 mph. I drove at 81 mph. That seemed the consensus speed. You don’t want to stick out when the police are looking.

Nebraska is flat! Really flat. Swamp flat.

Early on we saw corn fields, then more cattle than corn.

Even from the highway cattle stink! Someone needs to invent cow cologne.

I’ve learned a bunch of things through observation on this trip. One has to do with farmers.

I can’t tell you how cash flow is, but most of the farms I saw are big businesses with a great deal of capital at work. Usually the farmhouse is surrounded by other buildings used to accomplish the work of farming. That’s not done on the cheap.

Neither is the equipment you see, including motorized irrigation rigs that roll through the fields on tires. Some were at least 150 yards long and pivot around a center point, producing an irrigated circle of growth.

It was hot, gusty and humid today in Nebraska. Even our loaded SUV moved around in response to the crosswind.

I-80 in Nebraska has one highway artifact that’s extra weird. There are gates that can be lowered to close the road.

During snowstorms, when the wind comes sweeping down the plain, whiteout conditions make the interstate impassable. The road is shut often enough that permanently installed gates make sense.

The farther west we drove into Nebraska, the more sparse the population became and the drier the conditions. Once we turned southwest on I-76 and crossed into Colorado the landscape turned even drier… and uglier

Northeastern Colorado is just not pretty. The population is sparse. Many of the exits from the highway seemed to lead nowhere.

We stopped for gas at a tiny outpost straight out of a B-movie. The restaurant section had a large closed sign in front of it. The sign was not new!

The pumps dispensed Sinclair gasoline–a brand I haven’t seen in decades. There was a Sinclair dinosaur in the parking lot.

About a half hour after we left, the Weather Service issued a Severe Thunderstorm Warning for that area. It warned of:


Glad we were gone. There was no place to hide.

By that time we were farther south, driving past the United States Penitentiary, Administrative Maximum Facility, aka Supermax. It’s home to Zacarias Moussaoui, Richard Reid, Theodore Kaczynski, Terry Nichols and a bunch of other sweethearts. It is wisely in the middle of nowhere.

A timelapse video as we drove south on I-76 is at the bottom of this entry.

As we approached Denver, the Rockies appeared! Seriously, one moment there was nothing, the next moment they were there. Some even had snow capped peaks. Colorado quickly turned gorgeous.

I-76 ends at I-70 and again we turned west. This time we were climbing the Rockies, heading toward the Colorado ski resorts (which can often be seen from the highway) of Vail and Breckenridge. The area is as upscale as it’s beautiful. How anyone who works here can afford to live here is beyond me.

I-70 twists and turns in ways unexpected on the Interstate Highway System, often while climbing or descending at a 7% pitch. It’s a beautiful road, through a spectacular area. It’s also quite scary!

Roadside signs warn truckers to stay in low gear and point the way to “Runaway Truck Ramps.” Farther down the road one sign advises drivers of out-of-control 18 wheelers not to exit, but to merge left and wait for a convenient hill a mile away.

While climbing hills, cars going 75 mph pass trucks doing 40! With lots of blind curves you come up on the slow traffic in a hurry. I-70 is not for the faint of heart.

I shot a timelapse of this part of the journey which is also below.

Tonight we’re staying in Avon, part of the Vail area.

We’re over halfway to our destination, Irvine, CA. To accommodate Las Vegas weekend traffic we’re stopping Saturday night in St. George, Utah, then cutting through a tiny sliver of Arizona before transiting Nevada and California Sunday.

9 thoughts on “CT To CA — Flat First, Then The Mountains”

  1. Love the time lapse video Geoff!!! The view of the sky was amazing…..nothing around on I-76!!! Was it kinda creepy???

  2. I love your travelogue!
    I remember while driving west to east on the southern route we marveled about the changes in scenery. From the desert to the rock formations, Texas and then the green and trees of Oklahoma.

  3. Beautiful videos. That sky was amazing. You may have said in previous post. Did you take your sports car with you to California? Perfect weather for the car, top always down. No worries of cold or snow. Safe travels as you continue the journey to your new lives.

  4. In Savannah, on I 16,we have gates like that on the Inbound side of the highway for about 20 miles. we have gates to shut one side of the highway incase there needs to be an evacuation due to a Hurricane and they need both sides of the highway to move people out of harms way.

  5. The videos are great – almost like being there! Looks like lots of drivers are going faster than you- definitely not for the faint of heart!

  6. Safe travels Geoff & family…. we did the same route in 2006…except we were in a 1932 Ford Roadster. With no windows it was pretty hot going thru the desert. From Wallingford our destination was Pomona, Ca. for a Father’s Day Roadster Show. Over 6,000 miles total from coast to coast.

  7. Nebraska is a very boring, long, cow filled state lol! We’ve taken that same route, when I lived in IL and we visited Denver. I feel your pain on that leg of the trip.

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