A Trip Across the USA
Jon Vermilye's Photo Page

Trip Index

May 31 - Tioga Pass & Mono Lake

We actually got an early start today, making our last trip up CA 140 and getting into the park by 9:30. Just a short wait at the booth. The drive across CA 120 (Tioga Pass Road) was the only part of the park we didn't see over the last two days. Quite a drive. Not as slow as some of the other roads through passes, wider, but along very high ridges above the Yosemite Valley. Except for the times slower drivers wouldn't pull into the turnouts, we pretty much did the speed limit. The pass itself, although one of the highest of the trip (9945') wasn't marked, so we didn't know we had gone through it until finding a historical marker on the way down. Still, a nice drive.

After that, we stopped to take some photos of Mono Lake, CA. A volcano went off under the lake, sending up tons of pumice rock, which floated to the sides of the lake. It has a very surreal look.

Tenaya Lake Near Tioga Pass on US 120, Yosemite National Park, CA
Mono Lake, CA
Mono Lake, CA


After the lake, we turned onto CA 167, one of the straightest roads of the trip. Although it might not have been quite as straight as some of those in the Midwest, it looked straighter because it increased in elevation the entire length in CA, and much of it in Nevada.

Not much to see other than scrub trees & small mountains so far in Nevada - we stopped for the night in Tonopah, NV, a historic mining town. We are in the Clown Motel - no, I don't know why it is called that other than the photos of clowns on the walls. Inexpensive at $29.95, it is the only place in the entire trip that brought in fresh flowers (roses) as we moved in!

Still no more disk space - I wasn't expecting anything over the holiday weekend - I'll add the photos if the space appears.


June 1 - Route 375 & Zion

Since we quit so early yesterday, we got an extra early start today - off by 8:00AM. Of course we lost an hour crossing into Utah, but still did more miles than most days. We crossed much of Nevada on NV Route 375, the Extraterrestrial Highway. Really! I think it is because area 51 is in the neighborhood, but I probably can't tell you that or the "Men in Black" will get me. Anyhow, it is another very straight road. On top of that, when just before we cross a small mountain or large hill (I can no longer tell the difference) cactus (actually, Joshua Trees) start to take over the vegetation.

The NV Route 375 Highway Sign
NV 375 - Long & Straight - Looking East & West
A Joshua Tree


We arrived at Zion & tried to get permission to drive up the Scenic Drive because of Carol's Handicapped Permit, but no going. As far as the rangers are concerned, the only way you can take a private auto on the Scenic Drive is if it contains life support equipment. It was so hot that I would consider air conditioning life support, but that didn't work either. I understand the need to cut down traffic, but my motion sickness wouldn't survive a hour & one half bus ride. If I'm driving, I never have a problem, but sitting in a moving vehicle without a steering wheel in front of me will only work for about 15 minutes. Oh well, we did drive up Kolob Reservoir Road into the west part of the park.

Zion from Kolob Reservoir Road
Zion from Kolob Reservoir Road


Carol is still not feeling well, so we will probably take a more direct route home that planned. Both of us are getting traveled out, and would enjoy relaxing a bit more than we have been able to on this trip. So, tomorrow we will head up Interstate 15 to 70 & start heading East.

June 2 - Interstate 70 to Frisco

Well, we talked it over, and decided to head home. I know Carol would be more comfortable at home, and as I mentioned tuesday, we are both a bit tired of zipping from place to place. We will probably do the southern part of this trip in the Fall, as well as some short NY trips for foliage & waterfall photos.

We went up Interstate 15 to Interstate 70, made it over the Vail Pass (10, 600') and settled for the night in the Sky View motel in Frisco. Not much in photos today - a few shots of very bent trees at a rest stop, but nothing worth posting.

When I went to get ice in the convenience room at the motel, I found a washer & dryer. Since I was down to my last pair of underwear, it was time to do laundry. The price was right - $.75 for a wash & $.50 to dry. We washed a load of essentials, then threw them into the dryer, put in the $.50, pushed the start button & nothing happened. Being the technical type, I decided to check that it was plugged in. Funny thing, it was a gas dryer, was unplugged, and the gas was not connected. Went to talk to the manager, and she felt bad - they just bought it & the gas had not been connected yet. Luckily, she had a large dryer to do the motel laundry, and everything worked out OK.

The recording thermometer in my car - yea, I'm a electronics geek - showed the temperature overnight was 29 degrees. Hard to believe it is possible to garden in a place where you have freezing temperatures in June, but there are beautiful flowers the manager was watering this morning. And I think we have it hard in Oswego.

June 3 - Frisco to Lincoln

Another early start - On this trip we got to go through the tunnel on I 70 rather than over Loveland Pass. Still a bit of a climb to get to the tunnel, but nothing like the pass. We went over the pass in 1972 - this is easier & quite a bit faster! I forgot how fast the miles pile up on the interstates - we did 520 yesterday & 550 today. Not as much fun as the secondary roads, far more boring, but you sure do get from place to place in a hurry.

We stopped for the night at a Motel 6 in Lincoln Nebraska. If we keep going at this rate, we should be in Oswego by the beginning of next week. One good thing about getting home a little early - we should have time to plant some tomatoes. They won't be home started plants, which limits the varieties, but at least they will be home grown tomatoes. We will also make the Oswego strawberry season. Oswego has the best strawberries in the world! I'm sure other people think their local berries are the best, but we have tried them from just about everywhere, and they don't stack up. We usually freeze a bunch, make jam, and eat them fresh. We were likely to miss the season, but now we should hit it.

Till next time...

June 4 - Jouliet, IL

Not much exciting to write about - we did another 400 + miles towards Oswego, stopped for the night at a Motel 6 in Jouliet, IL. It looks like we will be home by Sunday.

June 5 - Irving, NY

Another mostly boring day on the Interstate. We did make it through Indiana, Ohio, and into New York. Since we don't have a AAA NY book with us, we don't have an easy way to identify the motels that have exterior corridors. Not a great tragedy, but pulling up to the door is much easier for us. We got off the Thruway at Fredonia, and took US 20 East, looking for a small motel. Well, we found one - the Lighthouse Inn in Irving, NY is out home for the night. A nice, large room complete with sofa and refrigerator. The only problem may be the railroad tracks that go by across the street from the motel. Lets hope the trains that go by don't whistle all night!

June 6 - Home!

For anyone interested, Irving, the Lighthouse Inn & the railroad are conducting an experiment in sleep deprivation. At the same time, I believe they are testing train whistles. This comes from the fact that every 15 minutes throughout the night, a train passes the motel blowing its whistle 3 times. I can tell you from experience that each engineer has his own idea of how to blow the whistle - some blast it, others, probably feel sorry they are taking part in the experiment, just give a small growl. In any case, I didn't get much sleep last night.

Anyhow, we left around 9:00AM & arrived in Oswego about 1:00. It's good to be home. Overall, we were gone for 42 days, drove a total of 10,389 miles, averaged 247 miles per day, or, if we eliminate the days when we stayed in the same place, our average was 297 miles per day.

Lowest gas price - $1.75 in Indiana, highest $2.99 at the entrance to Yosemite in California, total fuel - $1064.04. Motels - least expensive - the Clown Motel in Tonopah, Nevada (complete with fresh roses) at $32.16, most expensive - the Mariposa Lodge in Mariposa (34 miles from Yosemite) at $137.50. Total Motel / Campgrounds - $2216.19. Total trip cost - $5953.92, or an average of $141.76 per day.

I guess the biggest change I would make the next time we do a trip like this would be to get to the West as fast as possible, so we have more time there before we are tired of traveling. Another thing - Camping in 30 - 40 degree weather isn't much fun, particularly for Carol, since she usually gets up from 3:00 - 6:00AM.

Overall, it has been tiring, but a great trip.

This page is maintained by: vermilye@oswego.edu
Last Update: March 25, 2012