Larry and Vicky's Excellent Adventure 2002

last update September 5, 2002


As the road opens up in front of my eyes

The only limitation is in my mind

-- The Alarm --

More pictures here:


Number of days:  15 (Aug 3-17, 2002)

Miles:  7,512

Hours of driving:  132

Number of traffic citations:  1 speeding ticket (80MPH in a 70MPH, North Dakota)

Collateral damage:  1,000,002 road kills (1,000,000 insects, 1 bird, 1 chipmunk)


Lowest Elevation:  0' Pacific Ocean

Highest Elevation: 11,200' Red Mountain Pass?

Lowest temp:  39 Logan Pass, Glacier National Park

Highest temp:  113 Las Veags

Maximum speed:  121 MPH (Sorry Nebraska.  There wasn't much to see.)


States (17):




North Dakota










New Mexico





Major Attractions:

Spam Museum

World's Largest Ball of Twine

Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Glacier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount St. Helen National Monument

Coastal Highway 101 Oregon

Tillamook Cheese Factory


Las Vegas

Zion National Park

Grand Canyon National Park (North Rim)

Bryce Canyon National Park

Capitol Reef National Park

Arches National Park

Four Corners National Monument

Mesa Verde National Park

Million Dollar Highway (US550) Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnisen National Park



Daily Log:





Day 1 - August 3 - Palatine, Illinois to Bismarck, North Dakota

Spam Museum - Austin, Minnesota:  I'll have to give it a thumbs down since they don't have a restaurant much less free samples.  I would have loved to try out a spam burger or other recopies.  I did learn something though.  Did you know there is Hot and Spicy, Garlic, and Turkey Spam?  Vicky picked up some Spam with Cheese.  



World's Largest Ball of Twine - Darwin Minnesota:  We get to Darwin to find out that we're one week too early for the Annual Twine Festival.  Darn!  Local cop notices our Illinois license plate and asks if The Ball is really that famous that people from out of state would come to a town of 267 people.  Guess he's never seen the movie Vacation?





North Dakota State Trooper:  Vicky' gets her first speeding ticket in her life.  She's considering changing her name to Sarah Fischer and racing Indy.  (Heee! Heee!)  I think Vegas had the odds at 100:1 of Vicky getting the first ticket of the trip.



Day 2 - August 4 - Bismarck, North Dakota to Billings, Montana

Theodore Roosevelt National Park:  Nice 1.5 hour scenic drive.  Saw buffalo and Moose.  After seeing the herd I have a buffalo burger when we get to Billings.

Larry avoids road trip ticket number 2!  Thank you Valentine 1!  Would have been a definite fine there.

Our original plan is here:


Day 3 - August 5 - Billings, Montana to St. Mary Montana

Great Falls and Helens, Montana:  A guy in a dark suit and sunglasses compliments me on my Vette.  He says he has owned several mid-year Vettes and recently sold his '67.  Turns out he works security for the governor of Montana.  She owns an '84 that keeps the state troopers working radar fairly busy. ;-)


Day 4 - August 6 - St. Mary Montana to Moses Lake, Washington

Glacier National Park:  Unfortunately Glacier was overcast.  Low temperature on the trip is Logan's Pass at 39 Fahrenheit.  Vicky's actually glad she can't see how high we are in the clouds.  The Going-to-the-sun Road would have been more fun to drive if it was dry.


Day 5 - August 7 - Moses Lake, Washington to Portland, OR

Mt. Rainier National Park:  Approaching Rainier is very impressive.  The thing is huge!  Many active glaciers can be seen.  We hike up to the Alta Vista trail to get a great view of a few.  









Mt. St. Helens National Monument:  Unfortunately we're too late to get into the Johnson visitor center but the lookout is still open to the public.  Although the top of St. Helen's is in the clouds we get a great view of the devistation caused by the 1981 blast.  More than a cubic mile of the mountain was blown away.




Day 6 - August 8 - Portland, Oregon to Roseburg, Oregon

Oregon Coast via Highway 101:  Great scenery!  First time we see the sun for the entire day.  We stop at Ecola State Park.  We keep on thinking about the killer Ecoli bacteria but it truly is some of the most picturesque scenery along the coast.  Some sections are congested with too much traffic while others have just enough to make passing interesting.  Lots of switchbacks and elevation changes.  Awesome!  Driving it at night brings on additional challenges.  


Tillamook Cheese Factory:  When people told me to stop there I was thinking "Yeah, sure.  Whatever you say."  Turns out the place is pretty good stop for breakfast or lunch.  Great cheese and ice cream and 

Sea Lion Caves:  Smelly, noisy bastards.  Oh wait.  Since there are 10 to 20 females in a harem per bull most of them are bitches.


Day 7 - August 9 - Roseburg, Oregon to Monterey, California

We arrive at the Monterey Hilton and the first person we meet from the is Alfonzo from Naperville, Illinois.  Small world.  We have dinner on Fisherman's Wharf.


Day 8 - August 10 - Monterey, California

It's nice to sleep in a little an not have to pack up in the morning.  We take in just one of the many Corvette shows going on around here.  My favorite is the 1962 ragtop with a C5 LS1.  Schweet!  I also liked the direct port nitrous on the ZR1.  We also do the Seventeen Mile Drive around Pebble Beach Golf Course.  I try to do it in 17 minutes but Vicky paid for it so she wanted to make sure she got to actually see most of it.  A little wine tasting at Chateau Julien completes the afternoon.  Later at dinner I win a Carbon Fiber Power Duct that matches my wallet.  I also get on the internet for the first time in a week.  Whoohoo!






Day 9 - August 11 - Monterey, California to Las Vegas, Nevada

We did a poker run in the morning.  First time we've ever done something like that and it took us through some great roads around Monterey.  After lunch we said good bye to Alfonzo and headed for Vegas.  Got there to find out most of the hotels in Vegas were booked.  After much searching we end up in the Boardwalk.  Turns out to be pretty good for decent price for being on the strip (right next to Monte Carlo).



Day 10 - August 12 - Las Vegas, Nevada

We experience 113F degree heat and do the casino rounds checking out the hotels.  I've never seen the Fremont Experience so we do the buffet at the Main Street then go out to watch the light show.  Rolled some dice at the Hard Rock, played a little blackjack at Paris, then played some more at Boardwalk.  I recommend against playing at Boardwalk.  Of course Vicky, the rookie player wins and I leave Vegas with a lighter wallet.  I'll get 'em next time.


Day 11 - August 13 - Las Vegas, Nevada to Jacobs Lake, Arizona

We drive from Vegas to Zion National Park.  We try to enjoy the scenery but it's hard to enjoy anything in 103F heat.  From Zion we drive to the North Rim of Grand Canyon National Park just in time to see the sun set.  During the drive to the Canyon we pass grassy alpine meadows and see lot's of deer.  Unfortunately they come out at night and we see about 20 deer (and a half dozen cows) along the dark, twisting mountain road side before deciding to wait for morning at the Jacobs Lake Inn.  Before doing so I pulled the car over and shut off the lights so we can get the best view of the night sky I have ever seen in my life.  So many stars that it's almost scary.

I'm a gadget guy.  Here's some of the stuff I packed and unpacked every night:



Day 12 - August 14 - Jacobs Lake, Arizona to Moab, Utah

We check out the hoodoos formations at Bryce National Park.  On the way back from one of the lookout points we follow a 7-year-old boy speaking German to his mother.  The only thing I understand in his excited language is "Corvette".  Then he sees the motorcycle parked next to my car and I hear "Harley".  His mother takes a picture of him next to my car and the biker let's him sit on his Hog.  Lookout BMW!

We leave Bryce and take the scenic route to Capital Reef National Park.  It's an amazing road that passes a high ridge at 9200 feet.  During the 3 hour drive the scenery changes from desert to alpine-like meadows, to spires of red sandstone capped with lime rock.  The drive turns out better than the destination but we encounter a family that recommended a stay in Moab.

So we drive to Moab.  We take the easy route that run along the rift that Capital Reef is part of.  The Highway 24 runs pretty straight to I-70.  As much as I like the switchbacks on mountain roads it's a nice change of pace to open up the Vette for a while.  We check into the Best Inn and ask the girl at the desk for a place to eat.  She recommends the Sunset Grill right next door.

The Sunset Grill turns out to be amazing.  It's perched on the top of a hill that overlooks Moab.  We sit down on their outside patio as the sun sets over the ridge.  The first quarter of the moon is directly in front of us as the sky darkens to reveal the planet Venus and then stars one by one.  We see a moving light through the sky and suspect either a satellite or the International Space Station.  (Later the Salt Lake City weatherman confirms it was the ISS.)  I see another shooting star.  Dinner is wonderful.  Anyone that knows me already knows what I had to eat.  The executive chef is from Australia and says he has a friend that works at a restaurant in Wheeling.  Turns out it's Dino from Bob Chin's Restaurant.  He knows Bob and Mike as well.  Small world.



Day 13 - August 15 - Moab, Utah to Purgatory, Colorado

We head first to Arches National Park to take in just a couple natural arches.  I enjoy the winding, twisting high roads while my captive, umm... I mean passenger wonders when will the nightmare end.  We hike the 1.6 mile round trip trail to Landscape arch.  At it's base it is 309 feet or about the length of a football field.  We decide to skip Canyonlands National Park since we've seen enough rock formations and need to save time.  We head to Four Corners National Monument.  It's the only place where four different states meet at one point.  Of course I lay down at the spot so I can be in Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and New Mexico at the same time.  Everyone wonders my state my mind is in.  


From there we head to Mesa Verde National Park.  More twisting roads over 8000 feet.  We're too late to get a tour of the Cliff Dwellers site but the Spruce Tree site is open to walk through some ancient Pueblo housing from 1200 AD.  On the way there I pass through land that was recently burned by a July fire.  I find it ironic that one of the structures destroyed by the fire is a water station.

We start the scenic drive from Durango to Silverton but since the sun is setting we decide to stop since we want better lighting for the San Juan mountains.  Catholic girl Vicky is amused at the town name of Purgatory so we stop there for the night.  She swipes the pen from the room with the town name.


Day 14 - August 16 - Purgatory, Colorado to Alliance, Nebraska

We continue our drive north on US 550 known as the Million Dollar Highway.  I don't think anyone really knows how it got it's name but the scenery is spectacular with many 15 MPH switchbacks.  When we get to Montrose we realize that Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park is only about 10 miles to the east.  We make a quick stop there but have to push on to make a drive through Rocky Mountain National Park.

We turn off of I-70 to Highway 40 but there is a haze that obscures the sun.  It bathes everything in a reddish-orange light.  Nobody seemed to know anything about any forest fires but the odor of burning wood is definitely in the air.  The radio makes no mention of forest fires so with a curious excitement I continue on.  The smoke gets worse and Vicky asks, "Why are we going towards the smoke?"  Uh-oh.  Someone isn't happy.  She doesn't do well on mountain roads and has been looking forward to flat land.  Since she has put up with me and my search for the most "interesting" roads for two weeks I concede and turn the car around.  On the way down we get the wave from two other Corvette drivers headed up the mountain.  I feel like the boy who can't come out to play but can see and hear the other kids outside the bedroom window.  It's bittersweet to come so close.  Rocky Mountain National Park will have to wait for another time.   

We head on to Denver then turn North towards our original destination of Cheyenne, Wyoming.  The last view we have of the mountains is the sun setting over them.  I'll miss them.  I'm already looking forward to skiing this spring.  We get to Cheyenne ahead of plan.  I do calculations and figure if we drive on to Alliance we can make the home a day early.  So onward we go.  High winds cause tumbleweeds to blow across the highway.  I run into one and have tumbleweed stuck to my right headlight for about 30 miles.


Day 15 - August 17 - Alliance, Nebraska to Home

The last roadtrip in 2000 culminated in an example of wacky America (Cadillac Ranch).  So why not end this trip on a similar note?  This time it was Carhenge!  What a riot!  The story goes that some guy was so inspired by Stonehenge in England that he wanted to build one here.  Carhenge was created during a family reunion.  


Microsoft Streets and Trips estimated the drive home at 14.5 hours and almost 900 miles.  I wanted to make it home for some Barbeque Pork in a Nest at Heng Wing and it seamed reasonable as we took off at 8:44am.  It was a long shot but I thought that if I push it a little we should make it there right at the 10:00 closing time or we could call in an order if we get there a little late.  Then I realized that we're on Mountain Time and will lose an hour as we go east.  I'm bummed thinking there's no way we can make it now.  Hey!  Wait a minute!  I'm in a Corvette!  I have the Valentine One scanning for bogies.  Have Corvette -- will travel.  Get in, hold on, and shut up.  I'm driving for food and you know you better get out of my way.  I drop the hammer and shift to overdrive.  We get to there by 9:15.


August 18 - Sunday at Home

It was awesome sleeping in my own bed.  My brother Phil treated the family out to Bob Chinn's Crab House.  I've got a ton of stuff to go through and the Corvette still hasn't been washed since Monterey.  You can imagine what 3500 miles of bugs looks like.  Even the weather was so good on Sunday that the Corvette sat in the garage while I drove around in the convertible.  As much as I travel there's no place like home.  


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