Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: USA Road Trip 2011

On the road to Moab

I had a repeat of the previous day's breakfast at Trofi's. It was odd that on Sunday the person on 'welcome' duties had initially thought that I sounded French; today's automatically switched to Spanish after the first exchange! After eating my fill, I returned to my room, quickly packed and was soon ready for the road.

I easily found my way to the freeway, but had to keep my wits about me for the first section: I still wasn't completely familiar with the vehicle, traffic was fast-moving and there were multiple sets of roadworks. It was a much easier and more pleasant drive once I had left the freeway behind in favour of Route 6. I had a slightly more interesting than usual rest stop next to a railway line, the rest stop itself being based around some former railroad infrastructure. Many miles later, Route 6 eventually merged into Interstate 70 near a place called Green River, and I decided that it was time to stop for some lunch.
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This also proved to be rather interesting, in a thoroughly quirky sort of way. Green River wasn't just closed, as the old joke goes; it seemed to have been closed for at least the last ten years. I followed some signs to a deli, which turned out to look exactly like a small supermarket, and bought some sandwiches and other bits and pieces to eat. I was going to consume my purchases in the car outside, but the location just didn't feel right and I drove on in search of a more suitable spot. Aware of the danger of ending up back on the interstate, I pulled over into an abandoned and derelict gas station and parked at 90 degrees to the road under a retro sign that looked as though it had come straight out of a movie set. Across the road was, well, another abandoned and derelict gas station. As I munched my sandwiches with the engine still running and air conditioning on full, I was intrigued to find that traffic on the main road had a tendency to brake as it approached and some of the drivers then stared over at me. I eventually realised what was happening: they thought that my Escape was an unmarked police car, and that I was checking their speed! I resolved to eat up and take my leave of Green River, before some local speed merchant decided to take issue with me. As I was about to do so, however, a note of sheer comedy ensued as two men arrived in a cherry picker to erect a Welcome banner on a lamp post across the street - you couldn't make it up!

I made another brief rest stop on I-70 near its junction with the main road to Moab, but I quite deliberately ignored this turn-off and proceeded further eastwards to pick up Utah State Route 128, officially designated a scenic byway and known locally as 'the river road'. I'd discovered this road on my one previous visit to Moab in the year 2000, when I'd driven in from Colorado and, on a whim, decided to exit the interstate early. So on this occasion I knew exactly what I was doing. Soon enough, I was travelling on a seemingly endless series of twists and turns, hugging the bank of the Colorado River as it passed through steep, narrow gorges of rust-coloured rock. Thankfully, there were many opportunities to pull over: I took most of them at first, but became more selective as I realised that progress had become alarmingly slow! During one stop, I noticed that the car's thermometer showed an outside temperature of 99F (37C).

I eventually emerged onto the main road just north of Moab (which, if anyone is in any doubt, is pronounced with two syllables as though hyphenated in the middle) and quickly found the Hampton Inn. I checked in and settled into my room, but even after clocking up more than 270 miles I knew that the day's business was not yet over. I wanted to make the relatively short drive to Potash and back on another Scenic Byway, Route 279. After filling up the car, I headed north on the main road and easily found the turn-off. To be honest, it was a case of more of the same type of landscape, but that was fine by me! I ran into a heavy thunderstorm at the end of the road (the destination being named after the potash mine located there) but still managed to get a few reasonable pictures along the route.

Back at Moab, I parked the car for the night and walked the short distance into town. After a brief look around, I had a nice steak and shrimp dinner at an establishment that rejoiced in the name of Eddie McStiff's. With a solid day's travelling and sightseeing behind me, I had a good night's sleep in what I found to be the very comfortable Hampton Inn bed.

Monday 29 Aug

Miles driven: 317

Trip to date: 327

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The main story in the newspapers was the continuing devastation inflicted on the Eastern Seaboard by Hurricane Irene, from Florida to New England.