Last week, I came across the after spoils of an apparent Autumnal Crab-Fest on one of New Jersey’s pristine barrier islands. All was warm and tranquil this mid-day, the gulls recuperating elsewhere, but the colors of the scrub brush foretell the advancing season, assuring that the chill of winter lies ahead.
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Last year at about this time, we had the pleasure of walking along part of the Seine. We explored the northern side of the Ile (island) de la Citi, upon which Notre Dame and other landmarks are located, …and across several downstream bridges, nearby
From the river’s edge, and as seen under one of the arches of the oldest bridge in Paris, (PontNeuf, 1578,) is the Pontdes Arts and Louvre Museum behind.
The bridge (pedestrian only) is one of several adorned with thousands of “love locks,” a fad started some years ago where-by lovers write their names on mostly brass padlocks, attach them to the wire railings, and toss the keys into the river. Another option, though seldom used, is tossing each other into the river! Some detractors of the practice would think that is the better option.
But perhaps one of the prettiest views in Paris is seen from Pont du Carrousel. Looking back from that bridge, are the two previously mentioned bridges and a world class autumnal view of the Ile de la Citi and surrounds including the Square du Vert-Galant, a wonderful little park on the very tip of the island (seen in the center with the trees in this image;) spires of Ste. Chapelle, (right ofcenter;) and Notre Dame (far right, distance.)
After a sidewalk café lunch, our walk would take us to the beautiful Jardin (gardens) des Tuileries, a World Heritage Site, with this view typical of its prodigious, colorful gardens and sculptures.
Finally, after dark, the Eiffel Tower displayed its hourly light show, as seen here from the top of the 59 story TourMontparnasse. Hi PS!
As much as I hate to see summer go, you can’t deny the treasure of early autumn in the US northeast. In fact, this year, we had a three week stretch of some of the best weather I’ve EVER seen: brilliant colors; transparent, clear skies; low humidity, and temperatures right in that perfect place, the 70’s (low 20’s C.) What I still refer to as real Top Down weather – for MGB’s of course!
10/6/13 – Edwin B. Forsythe Wildlife Refuge, Ocean County, NJ
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Approximate return route from San Francisco to New Jersey
Tuesday, Aug. 22nd, 1967 956 miles (1,539 km) ~16 driving hours
Western Kansas to Ohio
Sometime in the middle of the night, Tom moved out of our luxury duplex apartment (car!) to the spaciousness of the grass, but apparently had some issues with insects, as close examination of the photo shows a can of RAID nearby.
60 miles west of Hays, Kansas. Rest area on Interstate 70. Another fine nights sleep, at roadside America
I continued sleeping while Tom started us moving at about 8:45 AM CDT, our primary objective now was simply getting home. Our secondary objective was a much overdue shower, which might explain why Tom left me in the car overnight, and why we were grumpy. About two hours later we dropped down about 20 miles to Kanapolis State Park, with wonderful facilities including showers, and snacks on the edge of it’s lake. We spent about an hour there, before winding our way back up to Interstate 70 in Salina, myself behind the wheel.
Kanapolis State Park, Kansas Ice cream cones, $.15; Malts and shakes, $.30; Sundaes, $.20 to $.30
The weather was nice; the top down, and Kansas was uneventful. The turnpike from Topeka to Kansas City was $1.10, fairly expensive. Tom would take the wheel again after I drove about 220 miles and by twilight we were crossing the Mississippi River in St. Louis, Missouri on the Rt. 66/Rt. 40 bridge where we had a nice view of the new Gateway-to-the-West Arch, and Busch Stadium II; the latter lit up for a Cardinals game.
Crossing the Mississippi, the new St. Louis Gateway Arch, and Busch Memorial Stadium II, under the lights.
An incident happened right after the bridge. An over rambunctious group of drunk kids in a wreck of a car came along side (at 65 mph,) yelled obscenities, and threw a bottle at us. It missed, but for a long several minutes they were harassing us, Tom understandably mad as hell, even AFTER they sped away. It was an interesting way to break the tedium of driving! It also was similar, but very different from the malt shake incident in Las Vegas!
Interstate 70 was not complete through most of Illinois, and US 40 was relatively slow. At one point in the night, my straw hat blew out of the car and was instantly run over by a large truck! Sympathetically, Tom went back, and we stuffed the remains in the trunk. I’m afraid that was the highlight for the roughly 350-mile nighttime drive across Illinois and Indiana. I do recall hearing a Chicago radio station, and the mention of “Cousin Brucie” the popular WABC-AM DJ from New York City. But for the most part, I was asleep as Tom did over 500 miles (804 km) before stopping 3 miles beyond the Indiana state line, in Ohio. It was about 2 AM EDT.
Wednesday, Aug. 23rd, 1967 676 miles (1,088 km) ~12.5 hours
Western Ohio to Home
The highway rest area just inside Ohio was the best we had seen. Spacious, clean cut grass, beautiful. There is no picture, because we didn’t care! It was 7:00 AM; we were 700 something miles from home, and to us, akin to a hop, skip and jump. Rt. 40 and Interstate 70 traded places across the state, we gassed up in Springfield, 12.9 gallons, costing $4.80, and would do it again a couple of hours later in Pennsylvania.
Looking back at the Wheeling Tunnel, just east of the Ohio River
About 150 miles further, now on the Pennsylvania Turnpike we drove through Rays Hill Tunnel, one of several along the highway.
Rays Hill Tunnel, Pennsylvania Turnpike near Breesewood
Historical Note: A year after we were here, Rays Hill Tunnel along with nearby Sideling Tunnel, was abandoned (1968) when a new 4 lane by-pass was opened. When this original section of the turnpike opened in 1940, it utilized several railroad tunnels bored in the early 1880’s through the ancient Appalachian Mountains in southern Pennsylvania. Ultimately its purpose, the South Pennsylvania Railroad, was never completed and the tunnels remained unused for 55 years. But for 28 more years they served as the new Super Highway’s right of way until its narrow two lanes proved inadequate for traffic volume. Of note in our 1967 picture above is the original stainless steel lettering. Today (2013) the tunnels are a biking and hiking treasure, maintained by the Southern Alleghenies Conservancy. (Credit to Wikipedia)
Current (2013) map showing abandoned tunnels of the Pennsylvania Turnpike
The final stretch of our adventure, from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, we took Rt. 22 into New Jersey, to the Garden State Parkway, and arrived home in Bergenfield at 7:25 PM, after 676 miles (1088 km) today, and a total of 7704 miles (12,398 km) to complete our incredibly memorable trip of a lifetime.
Seconds after stepping out of the MGB – one final picture, dirt and all
Miles on odometer: 7704 (12,398 km) + roughly 50 additional miles on family miles tour in Los Angeles.
Monday, Aug. 21st, 1967 800 miles (1,287 km) over 16.5 hours.
Four miles east of state line, Truckstop/rest area on Interstate 80, Wyoming to 25 miles west of Hays, Kansas
Around 8 AM, MDT we rolled out of the dusty rest area sorta by rote now, priorities now shifting to the journey back home. Our original, enthusiastic itinerary, conceived with little thought to “burn out” and “exhaustion,” included returning though the Rockies. But we were simply saturated with great scenery, too many photo ops and …lack of restful sleep and normal routines! We hated to admit it, but opted for relatively benign Wyoming.
Interstate 80 was new, and nearly featureless. Occasional points of interest were posted on signs, and our Rand McNally maps, but we pretty much pretended not to see them. Thoughts of our girlfriends, and family back home; real beds and showers were now taking focus.
Looking back at Interstate 80 tunnel in Green River, WY., 85 miles from todays start.
Historical Note: Tom and I were both interested in photography from earlier interests, and his Yashica SLR (I believe with a 50 mm f1.8 lens) and my EXA (see image below) were the hobby cameras. Then, I estimated the cost per slide at $.25 for film and processing. (Over $2.00 per slide in 2013 dollars!) So the cost of taking pictures, many of which were too poor to save, was enormous by today’s standards. And, obviously, todays quality is ….better!
My manual 1961 Exa SLR, 50mm f2.8; and with 200mm f3.5 Vivatar fixed telephoto
We topped off the 14 US gallon tank about half way across Wyoming for $.37/gal. and agreed to drop down, east of the Rockies to climb Pikes Peak. The turnoff from Interstate 80 was at Laramie, onto US 287, 25 miles NW of the Colorado State Line, which we crossed around 1:30 PM.
6 plus hours into the day, the Colorado State Line, Rt. 287
In or near Fort Collins we stopped for late lunch in a unique restaurant utilizing an intercom at each booth for ordering. Can you say “Cheeseburger?”
Interstate 25 would take us past Denver, and then Rt. 24 near Colorado Springs to the Pikes Peak Auto Road about 75 miles south. About 18 miles long, the road is an incredibly scenic treasure, ascending over 6000 ft. to the 14,100 ft., (4300 m) summit. Unfortunately, we would not get to the top! Although the MGB had performed flawlessly for 5700 miles, today it gasped and said enough!
The Pikes Peak Auto Road, before overheating. Note the dust from the road in the distance
The views were impressive as we climbed through 11,000 ft. but the road was now a steady, switch-backed climb, seeming like it would never end and needing a constant second gear. Tom was noting the fast rising temperature. In minutes it became worrisome, and it was clear the car was beginning to overheat.
Our climb ended around 12,000 ft. (3660 m,) at a sharp curve overlooking Colorado Springs, ten miles (16 km) away and a vast 6000 ft. (1800 m) below. We were at milepost 15, three miles from the summit, when the “old faithful geyser “erupted as I opened the radiator safety. In thin mountain air, one carburetor setting does not fit all with these cars; one very dirty air filter does not allow sufficient air flow; and excessive low gear RPM spells trouble. What did we know! To compound our troubles we didn’t read the cautions about excessive breaking, while coasting and breaking (duh!) on the way down, and subsequently waved over by the “Brake Check” guy at the milepost 11 check point. (I believe it was the red glow from our wheels that gave us away!) While the engine and brakes cooled, we bought post cards in the souvenir shop.
Tom checking the radiator at MP 15, Pikes Peak, 12,000 feet, and the end the line for us.
It was 6:30 PM local time, and with 5775 miles on the odometer, we were officially headed home, leaving the mountain to another day.
After fuel and another quart of oil in Colorado Springs, for $5, we pushed on, northeast via Rt. 24 through the Great Plains to Limon Colorado, and grabbed a hamburger at a drive-in with the now extremely dirty car. Among the adolescent energy of the teens hangin’ out there, I wondered what they did otherwise, as a mile or two outside of Limon, the landscape and sky again were dark and deserted … and there really isn’t very much around.
Tom fell asleep as I continued east through the night, mostly alone but actually feeling exuberant that we were headed home, although half the country lie ahead. So flat, so long and empty, the plains extended into Kansas as we drove on in the night. An endless stream of broken white lines in the headlights was punctuated by the silent blinking red lights of radio towers, miles apart, marking very small towns consisting of a few cross streets, a few simple buildings and the inevitable grain towers. It actually was magical. The wonderfully constant purr of the little engine at 70 mph, and then the dropping down to higher rpm third gear as we slowed through these empty, deserted intersections – and the wind-up again to forth gear with the town fading away in the mirror. It’s hard to explain the feel of the “road.”
Historical Note: The standard transmission was a 4 speed manual like this, photographed recently, of a 1969 MGB
The radio was mostly void of anything, but occasionally, especially late at night, we would pick up shadows of distant stations. “Funky Broadway” (Wilson Pickett) drifted in and out. Is that New York radio? West of Hays City, Kansas, now on Interstate 70, I pulled over for the night at 12:30 AM local time, 6,072 miles (9771 km) into the trip. Home was a mere 1632 miles (2625 km) away.