A Total Eclipse Family Event – 8/21/17

My wife and I (and Sandy Paws, the dog,) journeyed about 750 miles (1200 km) from New Jersey to see and photograph the Total Solar Eclipse last week, meeting up with most of our immediate family for an unforgettable, awesome event which none of us, including the youngest, will ever forget.

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Through a very dense solar filter, these first two images show the moon in silhouette, moving slowly from upper right to lower left across the sun. Click on to see the sunspots near the center, and lower left limb.

Totality descended rapidly in the final seconds… exposing this unreal, and unforgetable sight, joined by gasps and “Oh my God, it’s beautiful (s)..” Fontana Village is a resort in western North Carolina, today within the “path of totality,” a ~70 mile (113 km) shadow area – this time moving west to east across the United States. Above,  the sun’s outer corona is captured.
Above: Totally eclipsed over two minutes, the sun just ….reappears. This shorter exposure shows the inner corona and solar flares (reddish bursts to the right and lower right of the sun,) often referred to as the ‘Diamond Ring effect.”
As the moon continues along, gradually exposing more of the sun… the strong filters and solar glasses are again required, as the landscape moves from deep twilight to full daylight in a little over an hour.

Besides finding it hard to concentrate on the quickly changing demands of eclipse photography, the totality is unlike anything you could ever experience. Spontaneous applause and cheers welled up from the field in a unified expression of being witness to something extraordinary.

Accompanied in the field by our children, their children; my brother and sister-in-law, and Sandy Paws, we appreiciated such a beautiful day for an exceptional event just south of the Great Smoky Mountains.

As usual, click on the images for a closer look, and thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome. M ūüôā

1920 Ford Model T Touring Car – Grandpa’s First?

 

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1921-00-00-005ABOVE: My grandfather was the photographer, likely in the fall of 1921 near Suffern, New York, as he took his family out for a Sunday drive. That morning started closer to home in Guttenberg, NJ, as seen in the lower picture. Grandma, my father, (age about 11,) and his sisters, (8 1/2 and 7,) were the passengers.

Below:¬†I suspect the “Kerosene oil ¬†carriage side lights” were an option, a nice touch.

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The image above is from the internet and, as a antique, selling for about $70 today. The entire cost of the new car, was about $325. A similar restored version is pictured below.

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Thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome. M ūüôā

(Feature image tonight:  remembering Gene Cernan from the last lunar landing mission)

1958 Thunderbird – This Guy’s First Car

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Seventeen came with the privilege to drive Р a legal license for  liberation, freedom, wondrous opportunities to explore with friends or a date, and a major lifestyle advantage. But it would take 20 months before I would actually buy my very own car, a  1958 Thunderbird.

Unfortunatly with this particular great looking coupe, I had quickly become owner of an aging, poorly maintined chasis with unsettling grinding sounds, clunks and bumps and  serious (expensive) mechanical failures deemed likely. Bought relativelty inexpensively  for $500, partly financed by my older brother, I parted unscathed with a slight profit a month later.

¬†But for those few springtime days of happily¬†cleaning and waxing …while¬†ambitious aspirations and fanciful daydreams played along with its radio, this beautiful¬†classic car was mine.

 I wish I had it today.     

As usual, click on the image for a closer look, and thanks for viewing. Comments are always welcome. M ūüôā

A Night To Remember: Driving Through a Winter Snowstorm

¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† January 22, 1965, 8:30 PM. ¬†I was all of¬†18 years old and casually asked my father if I could borrow¬†the¬†car¬†to go¬†to the “bridge.” ¬†He was okay¬†with that, as the GWB¬†was only about 12¬†miles away; but would soon discover that my intentions were a little more ambitious and the bridge in question was actually in Niagra Falls, NY, some 400 miles away. ¬†I loved the recent liberation of being a licensed¬†driver and anticipation of seeing and experiencing new adventures. ¬†I was also very aware that a winter¬†snowstorm was intensifying over western¬†New York State¬†and consequently about to learn winter driving skills that would last throughout my¬†life. ¬†¬†

Short on time? Just browse the images below.  

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Google Map: Mostly secondary and tertiary roads from Northern New Jersey to Niagara Falls between 8:30 PM and 8:00 AM, with significant overnight snow. Few divided highways except the NY State Thruway existed at the time.

¬† ¬† ¬†There are no photos of the night. I had no boots, no gloves, no sense and no ambition to try and take pictures of featureless, blowing whiteness at night. There were few “interstate” roads, and I scoffed at the idea of paying money for THE toll road, the NY State Thruway. So it was secondary and tertiary roads with little traffic all night, except for snowplows, a few trucks, an amusing Corvair, and speeding Cadillac. I hated it when snowplows passed me – made me feel inadequate and messed up my windshield! ¬†

     Snow had begun falling about 150 miles up Rt. 17 before midnight and began accumulating rapidly.  Around 3:00 AM I pulled into a deserted rest area just past Corning, my tires clogging and squeaking to a stop in the deepening snow. An hour later, with chattering teeth, I wiped the fresh snow off the car, rocked it to get some traction, and plowed my way out to Rt. 17.

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Coming through Buffalo, I had no idea where this “Sky Way” went, and after I drove over it, I still didn’t know. (NOTE: These photos were all taken after daylight, offset time-wise¬†with the text.)¬†
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Snow drifts along the Niagara River. Canada is in the distance. My sneaker-clad footprints on the left!
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Rear wheel drive; a weak defroster; a terrible automatic “Slide-O-Matic” transmission or something, … a perfect learning machine.

¬† ¬† ¬†Around 280 miles into the trip, 4:30 AM, ¬†I was on Rt 15, a two lane highway now heading north following the tracks of a patrol car who in turn was following a truck in heavy snow all doing about 30 MPH (48 km/hr.) ¬†Coming down a hill, still behind them, I cleverly decided to drop the car into low gear to slow down, and promptly spun out, sliding sideways in a panic. I quickly (yeah, right, like skillfully??? I was only 18! …okay,¬†I luckily) got the car¬†under control ¬†by putting it back into drive, ¬†just one of many¬†lessons learned tonight. ¬†

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I called my father from this “bridge,” actually a relatively new observation tower, overlooking Niagara Falls, and¬†reluctantly paid $.50 to park in an empty snow covered lot. A lesson in local¬†fiscal “rigidity.” ¬†I¬†suppose I could have refused and gone back home.¬†

¬† ¬† ¬†Continuing in the snowy night, ¬†Rt. 15 heads west at the little town of Springwater in the western Finger Lakes region. There really was no town there, at least I couldn’t see anything. Rt 15a continued straight. I took 15 because it was a short-cut, and in a half mile came to a gradual hill.¬† As I continued the climb, the wheels started to lose traction until I …stopped forward motion. ¬†So I backed slowly and very¬†carefully down the hill while learning¬†more lessons… this time about simple coeficient of friction and its relation to losing traction and then forward motion! (I was struggling thru Physics I class¬†at this time, after all!) This “experiment”¬†was tested several¬†times before a guy in a light truck stopped and suggested sarcastically that I wait for dawn and the snowplows. Instead, I scoffed, imagined hearing¬†him utter something offensive¬†about kids, and, after backing¬†down the hill for the third time took the longer and flatter Rt 15a.¬†

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Desolate, frigid, and awesome! The American part of Niagara Falls.

     A few miles north was Rt 20a, just a simple, two lane east-west, single path roadway in the shadow of the New York State Thruway, a half dozen miles  north.  In the pre-dawn snow storm, this was an interesting stretch Р heavy snow falling, the long white un-plowed lane in the headlights of the car.  For a while I was following a small Corvair.  On the sides of the two tire tracks were about 8 or 9 inches (20 -23 cm) of snow. Occasionally, he would swerve into the deep snow throwing a white-out cloud of powder over the Buick.

     While on 20a, the sky started to brighten, not very much, speading an eerie blueness over the landscape. Snow was coming down as hard as ever. There were several modest hills, some with larger trucks trapped before the summits. I needed to keep strongly focused with the car square in the tracks. Not too much later, a large Cadillac whooshed by at about 60 Mph (100 KM.Hr,) scaring the hell out of me with a blinding cloud of snow engulfing my car in its wake.   

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Goat Island, in the distance, is located between the American Falls, and Canadian Falls beyond.

¬† ¬† ¬†¬†I eventually came into the town of Lancaster around 7 AM, found¬†some breakfast, and then¬†to Niagra Falls after going through near deserted Buffalo.¬†¬†Later in the day, I would car-surf on “waves” of snow drifts along a road¬†skirting¬†the southern edge of Lake Ontario; stop and skitter up in my white sneakers across high drifts and stinging gale winds to catch a glimpse of the lake – its¬†just barely visible shoreline marked by enormous blocks of ¬†ice showered with angry, spraying wind-blown¬†waves of frigid water.¬†

     The long day ended that night, me sleeping well at an $8 motel in Bath, NY, 658 miles since beginning. Part of that afternoon was not without more adventures, but that will  be noted on a short follow-up post including information about the camera and photos. I was back to New Jersey on the following  day,  after a total of 967 miles. 

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The Canadian Falls. Getting this picture was another challange as the mist from the falls froze hard to things like the car windows while I was outside walking to the edge. Bare fingers began to loose feeling on the cold metallic SLR camera.

Please see Part two, the return, at: http://wp.me/p37YEI-1tl

Thanks for visiting, and as usual comments are always welcome. M ūüôā

I Hear the Train a comin’….. Images of the White Pass and Yukon Railway

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Around this time of year, a few years back, we had the pleasure to ride this narrow gauge railroad, tracing the path of the Great Klondike Gold Rush of 1897. From the Sea Level town of Skagway, Alaska, to nearly 3000 ft (915 m,) this unique experience features ¬†tunnels, “steep grades and cliff hanging turns,” followed by serene meadows; clear, icy lakes; and the snow streaked peaks of Canada’s Yukon Territory.

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To get there from the lower 40 US States, you either have to drive a thousand miles or so along the ALCAN Highway, and then the Klondike Highway; or take one of these awesome vehicles. In our case it was the latter, The Princess Sapphire! РAwesome indeed! 

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¬†As usual, click on the images for higher resolution. And… Thanks for viewing! ¬†

Three Days of Summer, Sandy Paw’s Winter Get-away (Part 2)

After a couple of long days on the road, we delighted in the warm, wonderful sunshine of South Florida, relishing in outdoor waterside eateries, and soft sandy beaches. Sandy Paws enjoyed exploring new grounds and meeting ODD friends.

Carefully sniffing the fauna on Bowman’s Beach, Sanibel Island

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In a small rental boat, we explored backwater mangrove islands,

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Colorful waters and condos,

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new types of friends,

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pristine beaches,

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and across “New Channel,” sighted a special beach, … for DOGS!!! (Whoo Hooo!)

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Sandy Paws was a little intimidated at first by the BIG dogs playing…

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but quickly fell in love with a cute canine friend – a back beach romance.

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Unfortunately, it was soon time to go,

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stopping first at the doggie shower

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and saying goodbye as the sun set over the Gulf of Mexico.

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Thanks for visiting. Click on any image for full resolution, and as usual, Likes and Comments are always welcomed.

Dedicated in memory of Shep, Sandy Paw’s best friend…

1500 Miles (2414 km) to “Summer”

Recently in these posts, Sandy Paw’s paws were seen freezing in the icy cold of North Jersey’s winter. ¬† ¬†She was sad!Image

So, after a haircut, we drove her 1500 miles (2414 km,) over three days to South Florida, out of reach of yet another winter storm. ¬†She was patient…

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pleased with over-night accommodations…

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basked in the first warm sunny food stop…

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felt revitalized when first dining at waterside restaurants…

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and happy as a flying eared puppy when she reached the beaches of Bonita Springs, Florida – with summer-like temperatures and plenty of sunshine!

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Be sure to see her fleeting encounter with puppy-love along the Florida gulf coast, and other discoveries, as her vacation continues… ¬†in my next post!

Click on images for full resolution; thanks for viewing; and comments are always encouraged. 

The Great American Road-Trip – Last Two Days, 10 and 11

Moments, in words and photos, of our 7704 mile (12,398 km,) 11 day trip across the USA and back in a 1965 MGB roadster.

This series began here

Short on Time? Just visit the photos. “Click” for higher resolution

Thanks!        Likes and Comments are the lifeblood of our work, and always appreciated

Approximate return route from San Francisco to New Jersey

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DAY 10:

Tuesday, Aug. 22nd, 1967      956 miles (1,539 km)    ~16 driving hours 

 Western Kansas to Ohio

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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

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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

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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.

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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‚Äôm 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 ‚ÄúCousin Brucie‚ÄĚ 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.

 

DAY 11:

Wednesday, Aug. 23rd, 1967   676 miles (1,088 km) ~12.5 hours  

Western Ohio to Home

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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

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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

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 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

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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 Рone final picture, dirt and all

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Some Statistics

Miles on odometer:           7704 (12,398 km) +  roughly 50 additional  miles on family miles tour in Los Angeles.

Most in one day:                 1118 miles (1799 km) 21 hours.

Total time:                          ~10 days, 19 hours

Total driving time:            183/2 = roughly 90 hours each

Average Gas cost:             $.409 per gallon

Highest:                               $.449  (Grand Canyon/Yosemite); $.439,  Flagstaff Arizona

Lowest:                                $.309 (LA); $.319 (Western Pennsylvania)

Gas and oil used:               289 US Gal., $117.80. 13 US Qts. Oil, Av. $.568  per quart

Average mpg                       26.8

All expenses:                       Food, room, purchases, entertainment, tolls,  film, etc.: (~$150 each.) 

Performance of car:          Exceptional. No issues except Pikes Peak; no  needed repairs; engaging to drive; and  surprisingly comfortable.

 

Thanks for your many likes, and comments and taking time to make  this project successful.

‚ÄúLikes‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúComments‚ÄĚ are always appreciated.

Marty

The Great American Road-Trip – Day 9

Moments, in words and photos, of our  ~7000 mile, 11 day trip across the USA and back in a 1965 MGB roadster.

The series began here, posted originally 8/6/13

Short on Time? Just visit the photos.

Thanks! And, comments are always appreciated

 

Approximate route covering the first 9 days

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Day 9

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

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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 ‚Äúburn out‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúexhaustion,‚ÄĚ included returning though the Rockies. But we were simply saturated with great scenery, too many photo ops and ‚Ķlack 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.

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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

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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

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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 ‚ÄúCheeseburger?‚ÄĚ

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

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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 ‚Äúold faithful geyser ‚Äúerupted 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 ‚ÄúBrake Check‚ÄĚ 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.

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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‚Äô 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‚Äôt 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‚Äôs hard to explain the feel of the ‚Äúroad.‚ÄĚ

 

Historical Note: The standard transmission was a 4 speed manual like this, photographed recently, of a 1969 MGB

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The radio was mostly void of anything, but occasionally, especially late at night, we would pick up shadows of distant stations. ‚ÄúFunky Broadway‚ÄĚ (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.

 Days Ten and Eleven, Homeward Bound:    http://wp.me/p37YEI-Tg      

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Great American Road-Trip – Day 8

Moments, in words and photos, of our  ~7000 mile, 11 day trip across the USA and back in a 1965 MGB roadster.

The series begins here, posted originally 8/6/13

Short on Time? Just visit the photos.

Thanks! And, comments are always appreciated

—–¬†

Approximate route covering the first 8 days

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Day 8:

Sunday Aug. 20th, 1967    830 miles (1,336 km) over 16.5 hours.

Near Turuck Lake, Rt 132, (Yosemite Blvd.) California to 4 miles west of Evanston, Wyoming

Note: The Yosemite Park  portion shown below is  further north than our actual more direct route to the Mono Lake area.

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Sunday Morning. Tom was in his sleeping bag just outside the car, while I managed the available space inside, wrapped in blankets, this time with the soothing sound of the Tuolumne River coursing gently down from the central Sierra Nevada mountains, not far away.

On the banks of the Tuolumne River, west of Yosemite National Park 

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We slept fairly well for 6 hours, but were starting to drag a bit more with each passing day as the MGB had taken us 4,446 miles already.  Saturated with impressive scenery; our constant need for more film; and primarily a time-frame to reach Utah before dark influenced our decision to stop, and turn around minutes before coming into Yosemite Valley on Big Oak Flat Road. In Retrospect, this was unfortunate, as the grandeur of this valley is unparalleled anywhere. It was practical, but arguably the worst decision of the trip.

Returning to, and traversing the park on Tioga Road, was, however, incredible in itself; driving amongst tall, beautiful redwood groves, stunning lakes reflecting rock formations of the Sierra, and lush meadows.

Redwood grove in Yosemite National Park

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Ellery Lake, off Tioga Road, Yosemite

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Possibly near Tuolumne Meadow Rest Stop

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The vistas were like scenes out of a painting. Snow appeared on many of the highest peaks, contrasting to the granite faces of others, and the clear blue lakes. With the late morning temperature in the upper 70’s the open MG provided the perfect platform for taking in this incredible place. After eating breakfast at the pretty Toulumne Meadow rest area, we filled the tank with 11 US gal. ($4.55) plus oil, 100 miles from today’s start.

Near the highest point in the park, Tioga Pass, ~9,500 feet (895 m) just prior to changing in shorts and T-shirts

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The highest surrounding peaks were over 12,000 ft.; (3,660 m), and finding a snow patch, we couldn’t resist a snowball fight here in late August! The air was cool and fresh, but the sun was hot!

Summertime fun in the High Sierra’s, California

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The road down from Tioga Pass, descends about 2,700 feet on the ‚Äúnot for the faint-hearted‚ÄĚ northern slope. Known historically as Great Sierra Wagon Road, it ends at Rt. 395, just south of Lee Vining, California.

Tioga Pass Rd. is right there, that sloping horizontal line. Oh yeah! There are several cars just barely visible in the original slide.

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At US 395, with the Owens Valley to the south, we soon turned east on CA Rt. 120 toward Nevada. Just 10 miles along this desolate but wonderful ‚Äúdriving‚ÄĚ road, we detoured a mile or two to the shore of Mono Lake. This is not a place you‚Äôre likely to find many visitors. Think: NONE. Once described by Mark Twain as a “lifeless, treeless, hideous desert… the loneliest place on earth.” (Wikipedia), This is not a tourist stop. The primitive road brought us to within a few hundred feet of this large ( ~11 miles across,) ‚Äúdead,‚ÄĚ saline soda lake, land-locked for nearly a million years. ¬†But was it dead? Just ask the millions¬†of annoying ‚ÄúAlkali Flies‚ÄĚ that cover the edges; and in the uncanny still air, beneath the deceptive, alkaline water, is a thriving life-colony of tiny brine shrimp, just part of an alien environment. We did not spread out a blanket and turn on Music-Radio WABC here. But migratory birds love it.

Desolate Mono Lake, California, looking Northwest

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A few minutes was enough at this hot, alien place. Note our trusty (it better be, here!) MG in the distance ‚Äď center

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It would be 40 more miles to US 6, along Rt. 120; a roller coaster like ride for a stretch as it traversed fairly deep gullies, one after another, every few hundred feet.  Primarily, it coursed along dry basins stretched between 7,000 and 8,000 foot peaks, to over 11,000 (3350 m.) 

Rt. 120, heading toward the White Mountains, on the Nevada/California border

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The view of the road, the arid terrain, the 13,000+ ft, mountains (4000 m)  of the high White Mountains bordering Nevada, was palatable….except maybe to Tom, who was …tired!  The town of Benson Station is to the right; Mt Montgomery to the left center, Mt. Dubois right center.  

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Compare this “terrain” view to the previous photo. ‚ÄúA‚ÄĚ is our location above, ‚ÄúB‚ÄĚ is Boundary Mountain, NV. Montgomery and Dubois are labeled. (Google Maps)

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We crossed into Nevada on Rt. 6, with hope fading on reaching The Great Salt Flats in Utah before dark. Fascinating at first, then a bit boring for its desolation, we would drive nearly 240 miles through the High Desert of Nevada, to Ely; one relatively colorless mountain range after another, mile after mile, with only two small towns with any services. This is cited as one of the ‚ÄúLoneliest roads in America,‚ÄĚ and we would see few other cars. It was about 5:45 PDT when we reached Ely, and stopped for food and gas; and another 120 miles NNE to Utah via US 93, and then onto Rt. 40 East, where several large casinos huddled on the Nevada side of the state line.

Not far into Utah, Tom pulled over and we walked out on the dried, caked, white salt, which went on for as far as we could see, which was not very far in the darkness. It would be late evening by the time we approached Salt Lake City.

Some miles before that, we considered finding a place to stay on or near the Great Salt Lake, but there were no signs; local people at a root beer stand couldn‚Äôt help; and we had no information with us on possible ‚Äúinteresting‚ÄĚ accommodations. ¬†Eating at another drive-in later, ¬†just before it closed, we decided to push on, passing through the city and onto Interstate 80. ¬†Leaving the lights behind as the new super-highway climbed north-eastward into the night, we stopped at a truck stop just across the Wyoming state line. It was 2 AM (MDT) with 5,275 miles (8,489 km) on the MG‚Äôs odometer.¬†

See Day 9 here: http://wp.me/p37YEI-T0 Wyoming, to Pikes Peak, to Kansas: