Sunday, 30 November 2014

Fantasy Road Trips - Dallas to San Francisco, via the Loneliest Road.

[Cadiz Summit]
For me, the picture on the left is the archetypal American road trip image. The empty road stretching to the horizon, no cars, no white vans, no roundabouts, no sudden changes of direction to accommodate ancient medieval field boundaries. It's not a view I'd ever get in England.

This particular view is just over the Cadiz Summit on Route 66, California - but I've seen countless versions of it in my journeys. And it's like a drug. I need more. So it's Fantasy Road Trip time.

There are few rules to Fantasy Road Trip. It shouldn't really take more than two weeks. I guess it should involve some mechanism for dropping my daughter off at camp, and meeting my wife at the end. And it really really needs a long, empty road.

When I discovered there's a road through Nevada that Life magazine called 'The Loneliest Road', I just knew I had to drive it. To quote - "It's totally empty. There are no points of interest. We don't recommend it. We warn all motorists not to drive there unless they're confident of their survival skills...". Well, here I come.

The Loneliest Road is 287 miles across Nevada with very little on it - but not, as I've discovered, nothing. But first things first, how do I get there? Well, I'll list all the articles I used for research at the end, but like all Fantasy Trips, it involves compiling a dream team of must-do American roads, and then using Google maps to work out how to connect them all together. So here goes ...

This time I'd start in Dallas, drop my daughter off at camp, and get to Oklahoma City as fast as I can for probably most famous of the classic American highways - Route 66. I'll use this to travel the 500 odd miles to Santa Fe - with the added bonus that this now means I will have driven all of 66 between Santa Monica and Springfield, Missouri (and we all like that sort of added bonus on a fantasy trip). Maybe I'll break the journey in Amarillo and see if I can eat a 75oz steak!

Once in Santa Fe, I need to head north west to pick up Route 50, so here's a chance to see what Colorado has to offer. A clickbait article offering me '21 Roads to Drive Before I Die' introduces me to the 'Million Dollar Highway' (no. 18), and how can you resist a name like that? Especially when it involves some of the highest roads in the US. The wonderful MyScenicDrives suggests a way of connecting all together, and now I'm on my way to Utah, ready to join US-50.

[The Route]
The Million Dollar Highway - US-550 - takes me through Delta to Grand Junction, and now the once-US-50-now-I-70 delivers me to, yes, Delta again. But this time Delta UT, not Delta CO. America, are you messing with me? You give your roads multiple names, but give the same name to two towns just a few hundred miles apart?

The Loneliest Road, proper, starts when I cross the border on US-50 into Nevada - but first, I need to stop at the Border Inn. It's the first casino I'll find in Nevada, just feet over the border. Yet the rooms are still in Utah, in a completely different timezone (oh, you are messing with me, I knew it). A definite coffee stop.

Another definite stop is Ely - the only real civilisation I'm likely to encounter for some time (the only supermarket  forthe next 250 miles) and home to the (alleged) UFO crash site just outside of Area 51.

From here, we're following the path of the Pony Express (and possibly detouring to see the ruins of a few Pony Express stations too), not forgetting to get our passport stamped! Presuming we cross Nevada without incident, accident or alien abduction, we'll arrive at Reno - "The Biggest Little City in the World", whatever that means.

From there, it's a home run across California to San Francisco, and another 2,115 miles clocked up. So - fantasy or nightmare? Will I survive the Loneliest Road?

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