My Condolences To The Bug Families Involved


We learned something about bugs on this 2,862 mile cross country jaunt. There are lots of them. Their carcasses are often more than windshield wipers and windshield wiper fluid can handle.

If you look back at my driving videos you quickly notice the carnage. There are spots and streaks everywhere.

With every fill-up I went to the well available at every gas station to scrub and squeegeed the windshield. What a skill to have!

Most stations had liquid that seemed fresh and clean. Most, not all. It does make a difference.

From personal observations I’d say Ohio through Nebraska had the heaviest bug concentration with an Indiana/Illinois/Iowa peak.

By the time we’d run low on fuel, visibility had already been severely impaired. This is especially true when the Sun is low on the horizon and glare at its peak.

How do you folks in Florida deal with it?

Actually, I’d probably rather not know.

Past the Rockies the bug problem tapered quickly. Amazing. It had mostly disappeared when we filled up in St. George, Utah and again in Barstow, California.

I cleaned the windshield thoroughly every time we gassed up. The rest of the car was a different story.

This morning we hit the car wash near the hotel. It’s never been needed more.

CT To CA — Spectacular Country

Good morning from St. George, Utah. We’ve now driven 2,486 miles. We’re starting to feel the effects of this long journey. Helaine and I got to our hotel room and collapsed.

Lots of folks having been asking about Doppler. She’s still not eating well, but is otherwise fine. She has shown great adaptability, sleeping all day in the car, then sleeping a full night once we’re in the hotel. She ran up-and-down the long hotel corridor last night to let off some steam.

On our way out of Avon, CO we filled up with the most expensive gas of our trip, $4.05. No time for comparison shopping.

We weren’t on I-70 long before we crossed a tunnel and headed into Glenwood Canyon. This stretch of highway was incredibly controversial when built. Glenwood Canyon is beautiful and environmentally minded Coloradans wanted it to stay that way.

“Most of the people in western Colorado see it as having preserved the canyon.” He further stated, “I think pieces of the highway elevate to the standard of public art.” – Denver highway architect (via Wikipedia)

The highway is built with the westbound lane above the eastbound lane to minimize the footprint. Below both is the Colorado River.

How often do you get to drive while looking down at whitewater rafters? On Saturday we did!

This was originally a rail route. Active tracks still run alongside the river.

The topography flattens as the highway heads east toward Utah. This is the portion of the trip I’d been most looking forward to, Glenwood Canyon having been a major surprise.

Between Fremont Junction and the junction of SR-24 near Green River, Interstate 70 crosses a geologic feature called the San Rafael Swell. The construction of the freeway through the swell is listed as one of the engineering marvels of the Interstate Highway System, with one engineer claiming this section as “one of the most significant highway construction feats of its time”. The construction of I-70 through the swell required boring through many solid rock canyons, cliffs, and mountains. The swell is noted for its sheer canyons and rock formations and is home to a large amount of exposed dinosaur remains. This includes the largest known collection of Jurassic era dinosaur remains at the Cleveland-Lloyd Dinosaur Quarry at the north end of the swell. – Wikipedia


Wow! I pulled into a few scenic overlooks to get a few shots like this one from Devils Canyon. A family, also stopping and taking pictures, asked it was the Grand Canyon? Sometimes you just hold your tongue.

We’ve had excellent cell service through the entire trip. Central and Western Nebraska had only slow data access (Edge), but we could make calls. As we drove through the Swell we lost everything. This is a lonely, desolate, strikingly beautiful place.

Local TV news this morning had a story about an overnight crash in this region. Four are dead after the driver fell asleep, swerved across the center divider and flipped the car. The speed limit is 75 mph. Signs warn about “Drowsy Driving.” This is an unforgiving area.

I-70, which starts in Maryland, ends in Eastern Utah at I-15. We headed south, joining cars and trucks heading to Las Vegas and Southern California. The landscape flattens somewhat and there’s farming alongside the road, albeit heavily irrigated farming.

As I said, we’re in St. George, Utah. It’s a pretty town known for its stark red rock formations. We’re only a few miles from the Arizona border.

Today, we’ll head into Arizona and through the Virgin River Gorge. This is another twisty, mountainous stretch of Interstate we’ve driven before. The Arizona portion of I-15 is less than 30 miles long, but it’s unforgettable. It’s not a drive for the faint hearted.

We’re leaving early today to beat the storied Las Vegas to Los Angeles Sunday night traffic. Tonight we’ll be in our temporary quarters in Irvine.

CT To CA — Flat First, Then The Mountains

Google Location history

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.

To The Woman Who Thought I Cut Her Off On Whitney Avenue

Dear anonymous driver,

I don’t know you. I don’t know what you look like. I sense you were pissed.

I was heading south on Whitney Avenue toward the Wilbur Cross Parkway. The light at Dixwell Avenue turned green, but my car was in the left lane. No movement!

I looked for an opening to get to the curb lane. My right turn signal was on

There was a gap just before your car. That space was about to be mine. I thought there was plenty of room. You gave me the horn.

Did I misjudge the gap?

Once we passed the intersection you pulled into the left lane, sped parallel to me, then hit the horn again.

You showed me!

I know what you were thinking. Why is there never a cop around at a time like this?

Uh oh. There was.

I passed a few seconds after he turned on his lights and pulled you over. Did you get a ticket?

See, the horn does work.

My Drive Home

I’ve taken to slowing down toward the top of the hill in Middletown. A trooper has been parking there recently. Running radar, right?

I was driving the little car home from work tonight. My year with Premier has ended and I’ve returned their Forester. They were great. The car was great. I recommend Premier highly because Bob’s a good guy and the cars are well made.

Anyway I’m driving home and I’m playing with this toy. I have a large dongle plugged into my car’s computer which transmits to my smartphone. It shows me things this 1999 model normally doesn’t divulge.

Seriously, how much of a dweeb am I?

One screen, three dials. One reads fuel flow, another long term miles per gallon and a third instantaneous miles per gallon.

If everyone had these we’d all save a lot on gas. Like I said, it’s a toy! I’m trying to get good mileage… without really slowing down.

Right now the car is telling me it’s averaging 30 mpg–higher than when I took the screengrab on the left. I doubt that number. Still a few days from a fill-up.

Idling uses .2 gallons per hour. Who knew? It also gives a meaningless instantaneous reading.

I’m very aware as I drive home. I try to be diligent.

I slow down toward the top of the hill in Middletown. A trooper has been hanging out recently. Running radar, right?

I caught him the first time from a distance. He was very well hidden in a very dark spot. I caught a tiny glint from an approaching vehicle. Lucky catch.

I slowed down as I approached his lair tonight. Sure enough, back again. He parked parked high up in a passthrough in the median. If he wants to write tickets, I-91 is like shooting fish in a barrel!

Attention I-91 officer: You get points for being the “Stealth Trooper!”

I know where I should be at certain times as I drive. When on-time I’m on the Wilbur Cross Parkway exit as I recite along with the radio, “WNPR and WNPR HD1 Hartford, WPKT and WPKT HD1 Norwich, WEDW-FM Stamford, WRLI-FM Southampton and WAIC in Springfield, Massachusetts. I’m Bruce Barber. Have a great night.” Midnight.

I wonder if that will creep Bruce out? It is a little weird.

The part of the Parkway I travel is a little narrower than I-91. It’s in very good shape. Traffic is light. Heading home it’s mostly downhill.

Little traffic. Lonely souls passing through and me going home.

I get off near the Oakdale Theater. I know it has some corporate name at the moment. It’s still “The Oakdale.”

From there it’s suburban roads in Wallingford then into more rural territory. I drive past a huge orchard with dozens of neat rows of fruit trees. There’s a view from Blue Hills Road I need to shoot. I keep saying that.

The road narrows. I veer left for a short connecting street then quickly left again. It’s really rural now. I travel an area that qualifies as a hollow. How many get that in 2012?

On most nights I have already seen my last car! It’s quiet. It’s dark. If there’s going to be fog it’s going to form here before any other place on my route.

I saw two deer tonight. Separate sightings. They were both in the area behind Sleeping Giant State Park. Two raccoon too.

My home is on a small hill. I gain 200 feet of elevation in the last mile.

It’s 33.1 miles from the Courant/FoxCT plant to my garage. I’d rather not tell you how long it takes. I drive when traffic is light.

It would be nice if they’d move the station closer or I could move closer or maybe the governor will grant me speed limit immunity? Probably not.

The drive is worth it.

Geoff The Lawbreaker

He finally walked back to the car and handed everything back. There was still a piece of paper in his hand.

As predicted speed is much too appealing during my nightly trip through Cheshire!

The patrol car was off to the side of the road and well hidden in the dark. His lights were on before I even passed him! I pulled to the curb.

I wouldn’t want to be a cop. Who knows who you’re pulling over?

I turned on the interior light, pulled out my license and held it where it could be seen. Both hands were visible on the steering wheel.

I’m a middle age guy in a suit. I suspect I don’t look threatening, but I’ve always been told this is what you do.

If you’re wondering if I said anything ‘weatherish’ the answer is no. I was Eddy Haskell polite&#185. I hoped the officer knew me, but I wasn’t going there.

He took my license, registration and insurance card and walked away.

I was hoping for a warning. That only lasted the first few minutes. The longer it took the more I knew there was a ticket to follow.

He finally walked back to my car and returned my stuff. There was still a piece of paper in his hand.

“I’m giving you a written warning,” he said and then explained what it wasn’t.

When he was done I asked how fast?

He told me he knew my drive was longer, but he didn’t have to make an excuse for me. I was in the wrong. A ticket would not have been inappropriate.

I thanked him for his consideration. A police officer has lots of discretion. I am grateful for his.

I was above the limit, but I was also driving safely in a well maintained car on a dry and deserted road I know well. Unfortunately I don’t get to choose the speed limit.

I guess I’m going to have to reconsider driving through Cheshire.

&#185 – Seriously, if you don’t know who Eddy Haskell is please don’t tell me. I know it’s an old reference.

I’m Not Sure How To Get To Work

Friday night I took a non-intuitive route and made the trip in 35 minutes! “I’d go that way every night,” I said to Helaine, “but I’d get arrested regularly.”

How to get to work? That is the question. Actually it’s been the big question troubling me for the last week. I live in a no man’s land where all roads lead in the wrong direction. Seriously. The most obvious way to drive north begins with three miles of driving south!

I’ve told anyone who asks it’s a forty minute trip. Maybe. Sometimes. Difficult to say.

If there’s a wormhole in the space/time continuum I can probably shave off a few more minutes.

Friday night I took a non-intuitive route and made the trip in 35 minutes! “I’d go that way every night,” I said to Helaine, “but I’d get arrested regularly.”

My 35 minute shortcut swung down I-84 to I-691 and then south on a deserted Route 10. The Route 10 speed limit is mostly 40, but goes down to 25 through the center of Cheshire.

Did I mention I was the only one on the road? That will make me easier to catch.

I’m not sure my car can maintain 25 mph without the dashboard breaking into a sweat.

Today I took the back roads past “The Oakdale” toward Route 15, the Wilbur Cross Parkway. Five minutes into my trip I ran into construction. Only one lane was open. I’m not sure how to count this trip minutewise.

Finding the right route could take weeks… maybe months. It’ll give me something to think about for the forty minutes while I drive.