Saturday, July 31, 2010

If Interstate Travel Bores You Things To Do While Crossing The Desert

Driving across the vast expanses of America can be very uneventful. In the Midwest and West you can go for miles and get nothing but tumbleweeds and sagebrush. So here are some helpful tips while crossing the vast expanses of land from sea to shining sea.

Always take advantage of increased speed limits.  Most states in the west have 75 MPH speeds, except Oregon, which is stuck at a maximum speed of 65 MPH. So decrease those vast expanses by taking advantage of the interstate travel speeds and rural highway speeds.  Always watch for the law and drive safely.

Notice the landscape. This is Blue Mountain in eastern Utah near Vernal. The Western US is full of varied landforms from the Rocky Mountains to bizarre landmarks. This can break up the time so you don't fall asleep at the wheel or redirect your "are we there yet" children by showing them the beauty and diversity of the geographic features while heading to Disneyland or Sea World.

Driving along the edge of a cliff will always take away boredom. Fear of falling is something we are all born with so why not use it to our advantage.  If you are afraid of falling off of a cliff like this winding road through Colorado National Monument, you will stay awake or others in the car will insist you pull over and let anyone, including the baby take the wheel so you don't plunge to your death.  Also spectacular views should keep anyone awake just for the beauty of the trip.

If you must drive across northern or central Nevada may I suggest night. Day driving can cause drowsiness even for the most experienced drivers.  US Highway 50 is the "Loneliest Road in America" for a good reason. I have seen the miles of sagebrush and junipers mile after mile in the day. A night drive and a chance encounter with alien life forms may be more to your liking. Let the night do it's magic of hiding boredom while you quickly cross the vast expanses of the Great Basin.

Summer is fire season. Why let a good bushfire go to waste if you are driving by.  Lots of other rubberneckers will also be paying attention. The fire with its large flames, the choking smoke, the planes dropping large amounts of fire retardant on the blaze all make for good learning and lessons of nature. Just don't put yourself in danger by being a gomer and getting yourself into a situation where you could become a victim of said blaze and be injured or killed.  Point out to the kiddies that when you smoke and chuck that butt into dry grass this is what might happen and the authorities may stick you with the bill for being a dumb ass for starting the fire.

Oil is the life blood of America. These big oil well pumps have always amazed me the way they pump out crude out of the ground. This one is at the foot of the Uinta Mountains in Utah. But they are all over the West and Southwest if you know where to look such as Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona and even the liberal bastion of California.  For fun if you have an environmentalist wacko in your car stop on the side of the road next to the beast and just count the up and down movement of the pump. Preach about drill baby drill until they strip naked and run into the desert seeking a hippie colony to feel safe with.

If you are a fan of canyons and rivers may I recommend Hells Canyon on the Idaho-Oregon border. This geologic wonder of river erosion through rock to make canyons. Hells Canyon lives up to its name. Very hot in the summer and freezing cold in the winter. Hell is a furnace and also freezes over.  The Snake River is a great place to take that break to stretch as you take out your map to find out where the wrong turn was or why your GPS isn't working.

In the west Utah deserts as with other places of the west the monotony of boredom can set in quickly. Thus point out that you are confused as are these mountains. The Confusion Range in Juab and Millard Counties in Utah will confuse you if you get off the road. Some of the mountains appear to have been broken off and only half remain.  Shield volcanoes also litter this area for hundreds of miles north to south. So stay on the main road unless you know how to be confused.

When in doubt of where you are going consult the Ancients. Their highly visible images just might break up that long drive across the desert. This place called Newspaper Rock in southeast Utah will tell you about who invented the wheel, find game, plant corn, and where to hide if neighboring tribes come to kill you. Though the Anasazi have moved on they left this map for our generation so that long after they had gone to the Great Spirit, you could have their wisdom on your journey.


  1. This is funny stuff, but also full of actual knowledge. Nice!

  2. Thanks suldog! Not so political on this one :)

  3. I could suggest other things, but most of them aren't terribly legal. :) Actually my favorite is photographing dilapidated buildings.


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