Thursday, December 25, 2008

Some Observations While Traveling About The West

1. Highways and roads have deteriorated over the years to the point where we're now living in a third world country. Some really bad stretches - Mt. Shasta area, east of Boise on route 84 and highway 160 south of Cortez, CO.

2. Wash your hands very frequently. Disinfectant wipes help.

3. Some states are extemely traveler friendly. Some aren't. Nevada has long stretches of lonely highway and placed inviting rest stops for weary motorists. You can pull over and sleep in any of these in your rig. California considers that a criminal offense, especially in populated areas.Someday I'm going to write a book titled "Gravel Pit Camping".

4. On the border near Columbus, NM, illegal immigrants have built a series of rock cairns along route 9. No one I talked to knows why. It could be some form of communication.

5. Some stretches of highway should be avoided at all costs because of insane traffic. I will never drive the Central Valley in California again.You should go out of your way to drive other roads. Going-to-the-Sun in Glacier NP comes to mind, also route 12 through Utah's Escalante is a must if you like up and down scenery a few inches from your tires. There's a sign at a rest stop there that says "Take a Deep Breath".

6. Coming into Salt Lake City from the west on I80, for miles hundreds of aspiring artists scrape designs in the mud. Some of these are very elaborate and creative, using rocks.

7. Annual National Park passes are now $80, still a bargain.

8. Don't be suckered by claims of free WIFI while traveling. From my experience 75% of places from coffee shops to campgrounds use cheap crap equipment that wastes your time.

9. Everyone, at some point in their lives, should visit southern Utah, a unique and hallucigenically astounding territory so achingly beautiful it will change you forever.

10. At Devil's Tower they play a continuous loop of "Close Encounters of the Third Kind".

11. Prices vary wildly for everything all over the west. Some places are so pricey I don't know how people can live. Probably on credit cards. The Albuquerque area was the most inexpensive by far.

12. Tombstone is schizophrenic.

13. "Border" checkpoints on highways are popping up everywhere. They have nothing to do with illegals, but everything to do with intimidation and getting americans used to being stopped and questioned.

14. The government trend is to micromanage your activities at parks and monuments. More and more you're restricted in what you can do and where you can go. I call it the Mesa Verde treatment because at that place all you can do is walk on paved paths or get herded around in tour groups. You cannot go off on your own. There are still wide open spaces to roam free and experience things your way like Canyonlands and the amazing Chaco Canyon, but the handwriting is on the wall to keep us boxed up, at least at the more visited parks.Their intention is for us to go to our special places, gawk and take pictures, and of course spend money at their trinket shops.

15. Skip Mount Rushmore.

16. Over and over again you'll find more foreigners than americans enjoying travel around the west.

17. If you can swing it, go to one of the many scenic smaller monuments for as long as you can. Get away from people, bring hiking boots, a chair to watch the sunset and soak in the starry sky.


Anonymous Ricky said...

Great post, thanks for sharing.

25/12/08 3:36 AM  
Anonymous mad tinfoil hatter said...

Merry Xmas, nolocontendere.
I took a road trip out to the Dakotas a couple of months back. What struck me is how suspicious of outsiders they are in North Dakota. I had cops repeatedly pulling me over wanting to know what I was doing around there. They were even upset when they saw me taking pictures of a butte!
God, it was like visiting East Germany during the height of the Cold War. Mt. Rushmore was too far out of the way to visit. But could you fill me in on what i didn't miss?

25/12/08 7:24 AM  
Blogger Pugs in Space said...

I really enjoy reading about your travels.

25/12/08 8:55 AM  
Blogger nolocontendere said...

Thanks Ricky.
Rushmore is a one trick pony, mth, and a ripoff unless you have some sort of pre paid park pass.
One minute after spending your money to look at (from a distance) big faces of white men blasted into a mountain sacred to indigenous people, essentially a deliberate historical insult, it's quite boring. Unless you love an excess of flag waving, piped martial music and collect snow globes there ain't much there. A better mountain carving work in progress is the Crazy Horse park down the road, or even better, Devil's Tower, a truly amazing geological wonder.
there you can spend hours watching the prairie dog antics, or hike the base, or glass the climbers hundreds of feet up or catch "Close Encounters" and camp.
Thanks Pugs.

25/12/08 5:27 PM  

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