A Northbound Adventure to the End of the Road – Part One, Prologue

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It was late August. Summer jobs were finishing and my friend and I wanted to do something different before returning to school. “Let’s drive north, as far as we can go!”

(Three-second pause …) “Ok!”

Although my 1962 Austin Healy Sprite was slightly damaged by a rear-ending just a week before, its fun handling characteristics and open-air ambiance was an easy choice of vehicle, not to mention great mileage for college kid’s stingy budgets.

There was little debate, and in the warm, humid air of a New Jersey evening, we decided, …the trip was on.

Back in 1966, there was no internet or Google Maps. Preparation was more fly-by-wire as our available time and financial resources didn’t allow many options besides just …going! The Sinclair, Mobil, or Exxon paper maps were our planning media, and if it wasn’t on the map, we’d have to resort to local advice along the way.

Below is the 1098 cc Sprite as it appeared ten months prior our trip, when it was …clean! (“FANG,” the dog, agreed to be the model!)

See Part Two here. 

As usual, click on or stretch for a closer view, and comments are always welcome. M 🙂

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pine Barrens, Lost Railroad and Civil War

A few weeks ago,  I explored a small but typical part of an abandoned single track railroad constructed in the early 1860’s. It transverses the New Jersey Pine Barrens, an immense area of 1.1 million acres of sandy soil characterised  by oak and pine trees, cranberry bogs, blueberry cultivation and underlying aquifers. When new, these now forgotten rails carried some 17,000 troops to America’s Civil War.

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Images captured with an I-phone 5s, a few steps off Savoy Blvd., Woodmansie, NJ

Alien to the peace and tranquility of this warm afternoon, I could almost feel the undeniable apprehension of regiments of soldiers riding these very tracks towards the inevitable battles to the south, 155 years ago.  

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

 

Mid-day Sun Disappears on Cloudless Day – Total Eclipse, 45 Years Ago

March 7th, 1970: Jeanne and I, now engaged, traveled to Virginia Beach, Va., to see a rare total eclipse of the sun, 

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We chose to drive down the Jersey Shore; across the Delaware Bay by ferry; through the sparsly populated Del-Mar-Va Peninsula; across the recently opened 17 mile Chesepeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel to Norfolk, and then over to Virginia Beach to be in the center of the several-mile wide “path of totality,” or shadow of the moon.

As the the partial phase began, hundreds of spectators were already in place with telescopes, cameras, and blankets! (The cold Atlantic Ocean is to the left.)12.044     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

Below: Using eye protection, viewers carefully watched as the moon slid across the sun, casting an eerie pale on the beach, which just a while earlier was bathed in brilliant sunshine. Note the twilight-like coloring near the horizon. This was about 1:00 PM12.048     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1 - Version 2

Below: The moments before totality were enhanced by silence from usually gabby shorebirds.12.060     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

My equipment was laughable, and getting “text book” images was not to happen. But except for a slight double image, this was what appeared a second before totality – a pheneomena called Baily’s Beads, where the last rays of the sun pass through the mountain valleys and topography of the moon.12.061     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

The Corona, not ordinarily visible, is the plasma atmosphere of the sun. It is seen here with the sun totally blocked by the moon.12.064     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

Jeanne, tolerant of my varied and questionable interests, would put that to the test in the next few hours as restauranteurs did not anticipate the overwhelming flow of hungry travelers up the Eastern Shore later that afternoon. Finding a place to EAT was an unanticipated challenge.12.079     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-1

A 10x “finder scope” with Neutral Density filter strapped to an  EXA SLR – on a flimsy tripod proved interesting, but inadequate. It was only matched by my lack of experience in better capturing this event.  12.082     3-7-70    Solar Exclipse Trip, Norfolk, Virginia._edited-2

The filter needed to be removed for the total phase, which lasted an unusually long 3 minutes.

In a little under 24 hours, Jeanne and I drove about 800 miles in our 1967 MGB-GT to see the eclipse. Couldn’t get much better! 

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Final Note: There are usually several total solar eclipses visible somewhere on earth every year, but the next one passing  along the Eastern US would be 54 years later, in…2024. A MAJOR correction here: 8/21/17 will see a TSE stretching across the US exiting off the South Carolina coast. 

Thanks for viewing, and comments are always welcomed. M 🙂

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’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.

 

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 – one 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.

“Likes” and “Comments” are always appreciated.

Marty

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 “not for the faint-hearted” 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 “driving” road, we detoured a mile or two to the shore of Mono Lake. This is not a place you’re 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,) “dead,” saline soda lake, land-locked for nearly a million years.  But was it dead? Just ask the millions of annoying “Alkali Flies” 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 – 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. “A” is our location above, “B” 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 “Loneliest roads in America,” 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’t help; and we had no information with us on possible “interesting” 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’s odometer. 

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