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Author Topic: Alps on the Road  (Read 11382 times)

Alps

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #25 on: May 26, 2015, 12:00:33 AM »


Day 3: Idaho, or the Case of the Disappearing Rental Car. My transmission had started hunting in Wyoming. Initially I thought it had to do with using 85 octane gas and the engine knocking, so I gave it some premium and the problem seemed to go away. Then it resurfaced on Sunday. Just cruising at speed, the RPMs would randomly jump from 2000 to 2700 and back down again. I knew this was not good. But if that's the worst that happened, so what, it's just a rental car. Well, the closer I got to Boise, the worse things got. At one of the truss bridges, I tried backing out and the car didn't move. Hm, I must have missed something. Shift into N, R again, it's fine now. Whoops, okay. Then it did it again at the next bridge and I knew it was the transmission. I got the car to the restaurant. Backing out of the spot went like this: Turn on engine. Wait 6 seconds. Reverse. Ease into gas. Nope, not yet. Shift into N, R again, okay it's moving now. Shift into D. Not moving. Okay, it's moving now. I nursed it to the airport and managed to get a swapped rental (see Day 4 for the continuation of this saga).


Route: US 26 west, with WY 134 and 133, to WY-ID 22, ID 31, US 26 to US 91 south, through Pocatello to I-15 north, I-86, I-84, US 30 to Twin Falls for some sightseeing, continuing west on 30 (with Balanced Rock side trip) into I-84 to Boise (I-184 and around town)


Notes: Most of the day was about the sights, so very few roads notes. The north end of WY 133 is unsigned; it's insinuated that 133 curves hard right, but that's definitely the end of state maintenance. ID 22 is very scenic, but probably best driven southbound. Tons of old trusses just off the route throughout the day. Button copy still exists on I-84 WB approaching the US 20/26 exit in Boise, but it's short-lived because it's in a construction zone. The signs heading north on Federal Way (or is it Capitol Blvd.) are the last remaining set of buttons in town. I noticed a couple of overhead bridge signs on I-84 east of Boise that are button copy, but couldn't get any photos.

Alps

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #26 on: May 26, 2015, 12:12:15 AM »


Day 4: Pacific Time. Even though I started and ended the day in Mountain Time, most of the driving was to the west. Continuing my rental woes, the car told me the oil level was low as I headed toward Pendleton on I-84. Hm, that's not right. I got two quarts in and the level was much better, but then I noticed a slick spot on the ground. So yeah, they swapped out a car with a broken transmission for a car with an oil leak. A few hours later in Walla Walla, the oil was still okay, so maybe I can live with this. Well, I passed right by a Jiffy Lube in Clarkston, WA (the chain recommended by the rental company), so I stopped in anyway so they could look. Turns out it was a bad oil filter from the last change, so they gave me a new one and I'm finally in a working vehicle. (It has leather, a sunroof, and XM Radio. I think I'll be driving for the Front Range meet.)


Route: I-84 west with a few side trips, east to OR 207 at I-82, US 730, US 12 with a few side trips all the way out to Missoula


Notes: I-84 is very scenic, especially as it gets into the Oregonian forests but also up and down grades through mesas and canyons. The WB side does a double-180 (first left, then right) on its longest steep descent in Oregon, so it briefly faces due east. I made an unplanned stop when a highway sign pointed me to a historic arch bridge (Upper Perry) - unfortunately it's a restored one, so not half as interesting as an original. But whatever I-84 had in forest scenery pales to US 12 from Lewiston to Missoula. You get nearly 200 miles of trees, hills, and river. It goes 64 miles between services. It was raining, and someone who was going about my speed spun off the road and into a ditch. I drove on for over 20 miles before finding a forest ranger (or any other connection to the outside world, since there's no cell service). It's pretty darn remote! Make sure you have gas. Missoula has a trio of state-named I-90 shields on old US 10 at the Business 90/US 93 junction. The only standalone I-90 shield is about 15 miles west of there just off Exit 89. Corco pointed out that there are US 10 shields at the airport exit. Needlessly, I might add, because you can see the highway from the signs. No one who sees those signs can possibly be helped by them, but there they are. The road is still named HWY 10, for what it's worth.

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #27 on: May 27, 2015, 11:48:18 AM »

Day 5: Montana. This is, thankfully, the first day without some unusual intrigue to it.

Route: Old US 10 east from Missoula (including MT 210), I-90, Business 90 Deer Lodge, the Safeway known amongst certain circles for having hired Religious Grocery Store Girl, I-90/old US 10, MT 48, MT 1, I-90, I-115 into Butte, I-15 to Helena, MT 229 and old US 91, I-15 to Great Falls, MT 200, MT 541, MT 239, US 191, I-90 and old US 10 to Billings

Notes: I messed something up coming back from MT 1 and never found Old US 12 crossing, so I missed out on an old alignment with cracked pavement. Another day with a lot of trusses on and off the road - one stretch of old US 91 I took had three separate truss crossings I wasn't anticipating (it's the "canyon" alignment paralleling I-15). Also some disappointment with various old alignments being blocked at inconvenient points. Missed out on a couple of narrow-width (older) MT 200 shields in Great Falls, and didn't see any the rest of the way, so those two old ones are probably gone soon. US 191 construction did set me back 15 minutes, as I was warned (a 2-mile section is being reconstructed and has been since last year), but I also lost time due to MT 200/US 87/89 construction a little east of Great Falls. There's a lot of work underway to extend the five-lane section east, even though I can't fathom why there's a five-lane section out there to begin with. (It's currently isolated from Great Falls by a length of 2-lane road, so it really looks silly. But even if it connected, there is nothing out there to warrant a wider road, especially with a center turn lane. If traffic volumes warrant 4 lanes, of which I'm not convinced, then it should be a straight 4-lane or dual carriageway.) Billings has some oddly laid-out green signs, with wide varieties of font sizes between signs or even on the same sign.

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #28 on: May 27, 2015, 02:24:23 PM »

Can't help but think of this when I hear the term "Alps on The Road" ...



 :bigass:

But seriously, interesting read.
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Alps

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #29 on: May 27, 2015, 11:23:02 PM »

Day 6: I hate South Dakota. I hate missing turns in the morning that cost me 20 minutes to undo - in this case, thinking I had already borne right when I hadn't, thus missing a turn and ending up first heading north (on the east side of Billings) and then heading east on a dirt dead-end with no highway access. Fortunately, the state highway map inset was just detailed enough for me to see my error and double back, and I still made Gillette with time to spare. I was going to take the rim road along the Badlands but it was gated at the fee limit. I came around to the top and decided I didn't want to spend $15 for something I already saw half of from the west, so I went back up to Wall and I-90. I then stopped for gas in Kadoka, having waited since Rapid City for prices to drop (they didn't), and ate dinner to wait out an ominous hailstorm over the freeway. It worked, because I left at 7:30 and threaded neatly between the hailstorm to the north and another T-storm moving in from the south. (It's overhead in Murdo as I type this.)

Route: Business I-90, Old Hardin Road (error), Hardin Road/old US 87 intermingled with I-90 (includes MT 451, WY 345), US 16/old 16 (includes WY 51), US 16A back to 16 and I-190, east to SD 44, Sage Creek Road (couldn't get in Badlands from that side), SD 240, I-90, SD 248

Notes: Found another (standalone) state-name I-90 shield on 1st Ave. EB at MT 3 in Billings, and an old MT 3 shield on Business 90. I've noticed that both MT and WY often don't sign minor highways from the freeway; MT 451 (secondary) was not but WY 345 was (many other 3xx's were not). The east-west part of US 16A is a fine drive, it's the north-south part that's clogged with tourists. Not to mention that it's being repaved so the whole thing is grooved and it has a 15-minute wait in the middle for the pilot car to circle back. (And most tourists were heading northbound in the afternoon.) Fortunately, the grooved pavement was striped with dashed lines instead of the typical double yellow, so I passed everyone liberally whenever I had sight distance.

I do not recommend doing that yourself. But I really had to. It would have easily cost me 30 minutes otherwise.

Anyway, you don't need to take SD 244 to see Mount Rushmore. There are a few good viewing spots from 16A, including exiting the first tunnel heading EB (cut through the trees dead ahead) and from Norbeck Summit. It's two lanes from the 244 junction EB pretty much the whole way thanks to a climbing lane heading up toward US 16. 16A crosses itself three times on bridges that look like they're made of concrete designed to look like wood. I didn't get a closer look. The 16-16A WB ramp is the top level of a 3-Y on a beautiful brown arch that also looks like fake wood. These can't be wood, right? Right? 16A also has three rock-cut tunnels and a lot of hairpins. North of all that, it has two divided sections with one lane each way snaking slightly differently through the trees. Truly an unusual and remarkable road, but I recommend using it only very early in the morning.
As noted, I did not clinch SD 240 through the Badlands. There really should be a notice at Wall, just south of I-90 or at least just south of Sage Creek Rd., that 240 requires a fee to travel the park. It feels like the US government is trying to lure us in with gimmicks and then sock us with $15 charges. (Oh, it's good for a week? Covers a vehicle full of people? Why isn't there a cheaper option for a car with one person who's only passing through for an hour? I can't imagine that this is a sucker deal at all.)

Alps

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #30 on: May 28, 2015, 11:18:04 PM »

Day 7: I no longer hate Nebraska. Or South Dakota. There are parts that are really annoying. SD needs to be less touristy overall and to stop underposting everything by 15 mph. Today was my most packed schedule - I gained an hour by flying on the dirt back roads, but otherwise only scratched out another half hour from all of the other legs combined. Having a 15-minute wait for a pilot car along US 20 in central NE didn't help. This was about as uneventful as Day 5 otherwise; fortunately, the one hotel at I-76 Exit 180 (Julesburg) had a reasonably priced room and they were willing to make me a burger at 8:30, because there's nothing else open even at that not-too-late hour. I thought this was going to be more of a highway stop than it is. Good thing I got here when I did then! Another 5 minutes...

Route: SD 248-US 83 to Pierre-SD 1806-SD 273-SD 248/old US 16 to Mitchell (Corn Palace)-SD 37 south-SD 44 west-SD 49-US 183-NE 12 west and a lot of back dirt roads to see trusses-US 20-NE 87 (Carhenge)-NE 2-US 385 with a loop to Scottsbluff-US 30-NE 19/CO 113-US 138 to I-76 east-loop back to US 138 west

Notes: Nothing really to speak of that isn't covered above. The entire length of SD 273 is perfectly straight. There are many other routes that can claim that, but few that are that long. Perhaps you know of one?

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #31 on: May 29, 2015, 12:11:30 AM »

I love this.

What's a pilot car?
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jakeroot

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #32 on: May 29, 2015, 01:21:45 AM »

What's a pilot car?

Cars that travel along with/beside oversize loads (they usually have a large yellow "OVERSIZE LOAD" banner on their roof).

Unless Steve means something else?
« Last Edit: May 29, 2015, 03:05:41 AM by jakeroot »
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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #33 on: May 29, 2015, 02:30:50 AM »


Day 3: Idaho

WY-ID 22, … ID 22 is very scenic, but probably best driven southbound.

Is that not ID 33 anymore?

When my family used to vacation in the area, we liked to stop for ice cream at the Swan Valley Commissary at US 26 & ID 31. I know it's not called that anymore, but I don't suppose you stopped there for a cone?

You missed the giant spud on ID 33 and the beautiful Palisades Reservoir on US 26…
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Alps

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #34 on: May 29, 2015, 06:51:55 AM »

I love this.

What's a pilot car?
It leads vehicles through long one-lane stretches of work zones, U-turns, and does the same for the other direction.

jakeroot

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #35 on: May 29, 2015, 11:55:26 AM »

I love this.

What's a pilot car?

It leads vehicles through long one-lane stretches of work zones, U-turns, and does the same for the other direction.

I knew I'd get that wrong.
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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #36 on: May 29, 2015, 12:16:04 PM »

Jake:  what you were thinking of is called an "escort car".
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jakeroot

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #37 on: May 29, 2015, 12:19:15 PM »

Jake:  what you were thinking of is called an "escort car".

I've always called them pilot cars, since they help pilot the truck (so to speak) and keep them from getting into bad situations. I've honestly never heard the term "escort car".

Search "Pilot Car" in Google -- check out the results.
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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #38 on: May 29, 2015, 12:51:02 PM »

I've heard both terms.  But east of the Rockies, oversized loads often have escorts both in front and behind the truck.  Can't call the car following behind a "pilot car" for obvious reasons.
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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #39 on: May 29, 2015, 08:43:29 PM »

I've heard both terms.  But east of the Rockies, oversized loads often have escorts both in front and behind the truck.  Can't call the car following behind a "pilot car" for obvious reasons.

but you can call the car an asshole :P
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Alps

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #40 on: May 31, 2015, 12:03:41 PM »

Days 8-10: Colorado, again, finally. I saw so many red rocks. I need a long break from hairpins and driving with steep dropoffs.

Route: I-76, I-270, US 36, C-119, C-46, US 6 east to C-470 and Red Rocks Amphitheatre, over to C-83, C-21 (and Powers Blvd. extension construction), C-16, exploration of Colorado Springs, Rampart Range Road, over to C-67 north to US 85, I-25. Saturday was just the meet. Sunday was just some local exploration (C-224, C-265, downtown, finishing C-83 and I-225) and back to the airport.

Notes: The old shields (a cutout and a 2-digit US 385) remain in Julesburg for now. I didn't risk the fence at Boulder Falls (too obvious I was parked there). Red Rocks Amphitheatre was open and crawling with people, mostly getting morning exercises in by running, jumping, and stretching their ways up and down the stands and stairs, but with a few other tourists soaking it all in. Red Rock Canyon (Colorado Springs) was much less busy, it being closed to the public. (Well, the parking lot was. I assume that if certain trails were not closed, they remain open, as long as I park elsewhere. I was not the only person with that assumption, but I was alone for my entire hike/jog, so that was really nice.) Then more red rocks at Garden of the Gods just to the north.
Oh, roads. US 36 (Denver-Boulder Tpk.) is testing their new HOT Lane system, so anyone can ride the far left lane for free. I didn't want to risk incurring hundreds of dollars in fees for a $0 toll by doing it with a rental car. It's not a separate roadway anyway. I overheard at the meet that tolls should be coming in early July. I can see the lane getting use, it's a very busy highway. C-470 is less busy, and then the high-price E-470 is relatively emptier but still gets use (based on crossing its path numerous times). C-21 extension to the north is not active, but the ROW is clear through the development up to North Gate Blvd. and there are signs saying "Future Powers Blvd." to prove it. On the other hand, the C-21 mainline is down to just one interchange to be constructed (Old Ranch Road), and that's well underway with much of the overpasses already constructed. Old Ranch is cut off across C-21 to expedite the work. After driving 21 end to end, I can't imagine anyone doing that on purpose. It's just clogged with local traffic and signal after signal without great coordination (probably timed for the best 2-way operation possible). There were a couple of absurdly high exit numbers toward the bottom of 21, even though the "exits" were intersections. Whence the numbering?
More roads! My notes join after Garden of the Gods, as I turned at the unmarked dirt entrance to Rampart Range Road. A couple of SUVs sped past me as I took my time with a rental car on a windy dirt road, and that was it for same-direction traffic. The road itself is over 60 miles long, maybe even over 80, but I only took the bottom 20 miles because the most scenic part is the southern 12 miles. That's where the road winds 3,500 feet up from its already high base (6,000') through trees and burned forest. After about 6 miles of hairpins without guiderail and with steep dropoffs, I was clinging to the wrong side of the road and wondering how much higher it could possibly go. I was above almost all the other mountains in sight. I was above the treeline at one point. And still it kept climbing. I do not recommend descending this road in anything higher than 1st gear. I do not recommend this road to acrophobes or those who do not wish to become acrophobes. But the scenery is terrific if you can get over that. Allow a full hour for the southern 20 miles. (The posted speed is 20. Do what you will once you get out of the hairpins.)
C-67 is mistakenly represented as a through road in online mapping. It ends at a Y junction in Deckers. Signage tries to get traffic to bear left, but head right and you'll see a CR 67 shield that tells you it's where to go. Several miles later, the road splits again. Again US 287 is signed to the left, and again CR 67 goes right. And becomes dirt. With hairpins. I really had enough dirt and hairpins on Rampart Range Rd. Interestingly, the state highway picks up again at the northern end of: Rampart Range Rd. Could have just stayed on it the whole time if I knew what I was in for on 67. (And I didn't even clinch 67 because it heads southwest via US 24.) US 85 had terrible traffic for northbound Friday rush hour. After getting past the long lines turning left onto C-470 WB, there were more long lines at several traffic lights before it started getting better north of Littleton, but I was already well fried by then. I don't care what Littleton thinks, add a lane each way on 85 and give much more green time to the main road. Reduce or eliminate left-turn phases wherever possible.

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #41 on: May 31, 2015, 04:56:02 PM »

C-21 extension to the north is not active, but the ROW is clear through the development up to North Gate Blvd. and there are signs saying "Future Powers Blvd." to prove it. On the other hand, the C-21 mainline is down to just one interchange to be constructed (Old Ranch Road), and that's well underway with much of the overpasses already constructed. Old Ranch is cut off across C-21 to expedite the work. After driving 21 end to end, I can't imagine anyone doing that on purpose. It's just clogged with local traffic and signal after signal without great coordination (probably timed for the best 2-way operation possible). There were a couple of absurdly high exit numbers toward the bottom of 21, even though the "exits" were intersections. Whence the numbering?

Freeway stubs were the first thing that got me interested in roads, so Powers Blvd was always pretty cool to me. I have family in Colorado Springs, and I remember returning from Castle Rock on a number of occasions via Highway 83 towards Powers Blvd, and seeing the Powers Blvd stubs thinking "oh wow, another abandoned road project ... these things are everywhere!" Of course, as I would later discover, the road wasn't that old (I was 8 or 9 when they were built, which seems like ages ago to me, but I know it's not), but the road felt old for some reason, like as though the state had huge plans for it at one point that fell through.
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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #42 on: June 02, 2015, 02:51:59 PM »

I love this.

What's a pilot car?

A pilot car, in this situation, is a car that leads one through a construction zone.  I've seen a few here in Illinois.
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