We have a love-hate relationship with Mesquite. It seemed like we always had a breakdown in Mesquite. So we usually ended up spending some time in that town fixing something. It is located about a veggie oil tank distance from Los Angeles, so either I am pulling off here to fill up one last time, or limping the van/car to this location to find a parts store and repair the issue.
On this trip in 2014, we pulled off here to utilize the extraordinarily low priced hotel rooms in the Virgin River Casino. Much much much better than getting a room in St George Utah, which can run over a hundred dollars easy.
We got a room late in the evening, and finally got some rest. We filled up the WVO tanks, conducted the last minute engine checks, and got the Veggie Van ready for the last drive through the Mojave tomorrow. Almost done.
We got home in the middle of the day. Overall, it was a good trip. Shorter than usual years, for obvious reasons, but still rewarding.
After resting in Vernal and visiting Dinosaur National Park, we passed through Price Utah and moved further south through the desert.
We stopped in Helper Utah to get some food, walk around, and visit a local museum.
The Western Mining and Railroad Museum was good. It was located in this old timey building on the main drag, and had an upstairs and downstairs full of all sorts of stuff.
Eventually, we had to make up some ground from the backtracking to Dinosaur National Park in the morning. We had to make it all the way through Utah and Arizona before dark, because we had reservations in Mesquite.
On the 2014 WVO Roadtrip, we woke up early to see the infamous Dinosaur National Park. It lived up to the expectations. The national park is surrounding a huge deposit of Jurassic and Triassic fossils embedding in the stone mountain. Back in the 50’s, they commissioned a building to encase the largest concentrations of artifacts, which in itself is an impressive structure. It’s a living archaeological site, and scientists are actively excavating the items as you peruse the national park.
The national park was so impressive, that we came back to the place in 2018.
Well, we didn’t make it to Dinosaur National Park before the close. This park isn’t open later hours during the summer, like other national parks. So we elected to find a hotel near Vernal Utah and head back to the park in the morning. The local reviews of this park are pretty extraordinary, so it must be good…
We ended up staying the night in a hotel in Casper. The previous day was a long drive, because we drove through the night to get passed Minnesota and South Dakota before sunrise. And we went sightseeing all across northern and western Nebraska. A storm loomed over Casper, so we found the nearest hotel and caught some Z’s.
The next morning, we hit the highway again, and stopped off in Rawlins at their Penitentiary Museum. Interesting place. They gave tours of the whole place and grounds. They even had a demonstration of the hanging apparatus.
Eventually we headed to Craig, Colorado. Instead of staying on the interstate, we wanted to take the county and state roads.
Eventually, our destination is to see the Dinosaur National Park, but the way time was slipping away from us, we might not make it before close.
Whenever we conduct these WVO Roadtrips, we always ask the locals about cool things to see in the neighborhood. While in Chadron, a woman said we MUST see “Carhenge.”
Apparently, some dude put a bunch of old cars in the same configuration of the actual Stonehenge. It’s pretty impressive.
So if you are bored driving across western Nebraska, definitely consider pulling over to check this out. They let you walk around the site and there is a gift shop/stand to buy some knick knacks.
Speaking of a hidden gem, this museum is really amazing. Considering there isn’t anything around this town for a hundred miles, this museum goes above and beyond. So feel free to check it out.
Random buffalo pic:
In the back of the museum, there is a small picnic area. We had some snacks after meandering the museum and grounds for a while. Then it was time to hit the road.
Every one of our cross-country trips is designed to take a different route, so we can see the remote and often overlooked spots of the country.
We left Wisconsin VERY early in the morning to get a few hundred miles down the road before the kid woke up.
This roadtrip, we elected to drive across northern Nebraska on classic Highway 20. It has a lot of farms and small towns, which seems like there isn’t much to do and see, but even these faraway destinations have their hidden gems.
Granted, Highway 20 is half as fast as taking the interstate, but we hope to find something interesting to see along the way.
After many years of driving from Los Angeles to Wisconsin, we have passed through “The Archway” many many times. It’s an indication that was are over 2/3rd’s of the way home.
The ol’ van made it up the pass! Not bad for a 30-year old engine.
On the 2006 WVO Roadtrip,
8:15pm GN Monday. 1600 Trip Meter Reading.
The replacement of the small/primary filter. We stopped off to grab some food from a Village Inn and snapped photos of the “hot rod” while it’s still sitting high.
We expected it to fall soon thereafter, but it maintained its stressed appearance for the remainder of the journey.
On the 2014 WVO Roadtrip, we hammered down to make Denver before dinner. But we still needed to make one more quick stop before Valerie took her nap.
So we pulled off I-70 at Glenwood Springs. At the time, we didn’t know about the wonderful donut shop named “Coloradough,” so we decided to pull off by the rest area which allows you access to the Colorado River. We skipped rocks on the shoreline for an hour and released some energy.
Eventually, we had to go. But Valerie didn’t want to leave. I couldn’t blame her. She was 3 and didn’t want to get back in the van for a few hours. She threw a fit, but after sitting with her for a few minutes, she decided to move on.
On the 2018 WVO Roadtrip, we had to stop off at the infamous Coloradough. It’s a doughnut shop that is amazing. We got there after hours, but the owner was working in the back. After he realized we were taking selfies in front of his beloved shop, he struck up a conversation with us. After a few minutes, he generously gave us a few day-old doughnuts for our trip. Thanks so much!
In 2014, we visited the Museum of Western Colorado for the first time. My daughter was 3 years old, so Glenn and I thought she would love a dinosaur museum. As we walked in, we paid for our tickets, and saw a quick movie in their lobby. Then entered the museum…. What we didn’t know about this museum, is there are dozens of animatronic dinosaurs all over the place. They are full scale, and look very real. My 3-year-old walked in, and the T-rex made eye contact with her, and she instantly got scared. She climbed into my arms, and we walked directly to the gift shop.
LOL. Glenn was a little annoyed that we gave up that quickly, but I knew it would have been a losing battle. We hung out in the Gift Shop for an hour, and took off down the road.
Then in 2015 and 2016, we returned when the girls were much older and mature. They really liked the museum, but Lauren would often skirt the edges of the building as far as she could get from the robotic beasts.
As we entered Colorado, the storms were getting much worse. We pulled into Grand Junction to find out there was a “Mini Cooper” convention, and all the hotels were booked up. We found a lower end motel that had a spare room on the first floor. As we unloaded the van, the storms let loose. After a massive downpour, the hail started. We ran out to cover the brand new solar panels I put on the van. My daughter, who was 3 at the time, had never seen hail before. She grew up in Southern California, so lightning, thunder, hail, and massive rain is really foreign to her.
Today got cloudy as we entered the Utah mountains, which made for some cooler driving. Late July in the American desert can be brutal, so this was a welcome sight. On the horizon near Richfield, we saw a few storm cells dropping much needed summer rain.
It was getting close to lunch time, and we decided to check the map for a place to stretch our legs and have a picnic. We can nuke anything we want in the van’s microwave, so we cooked up some mac and cheese and noodles at the Silver Reef Ghost Town. It was a hot day, so we took refuge under a large tree. Sadly, the museum was closed that day. We decided to take a walk down the town’s nearby hiking trails instead.
The 2014 WVO Roadtrip was a short trip across America. We got an early start and took off in the hopes to get passed Las Vegas before the morning rush. Leaving from Los Angeles, everything went according to plan, and we were already through the Moapa River Indian Reservation by sunrise.
Amarillo, TX. 202950, 10:10pm Sun.
Added 1.5 cubes.
On one of these trips a few years ago, we travelled the US south. We noticed that in Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, and Florida had dozens of abandoned cars along the side of the highways. Well, now we have another state to add to the list: New Mexico. The east side of NM had 19 abandoned vehicles, and we drove through it in a few hours. Crazy. Really nice scenery on the trip though…
A friend of mine from Texas mentioned a campy steakhouse when I was preparing for this trip. We got an eyeful of billboards for this place all the way from Albq to Amarillo, so we figured why not do the tourist thing. The name of the place was something like The Big Texan or Texas Roadhouse. I don’t know. It’s right off of I-40, it was packed with hundreds of tourists. Usually we avoid these traps at all costs, but it was after 8pm on a Sunday and something to do. To be honest, the food was pretty good. From my experience, those places with dozens of billboards are less than good, but this place had some decent grub.
Also, as advertised, if you eat a 72 oz steak (and all the sides, which is cleverly hidden from you prior to consumption), you get that meal for free. We watched two people attempt the feat, but both failed with a few ounces left. Something about watching a person gurgle up-and-down a laptop-sized stake that makes your own meal less appetizing.
We have been to Cadillac Ranch several times. 2010 and 2014 off the top of my head. It is what it is. If you want to check it out, bring a few cans of neon spray paint.
Perryton, Texas. 1:20am Mon.
When your GPS shows the “Budget Inn” in Perryton, move onto the next hotel. This place was pretty bad, about as bad as that place in Springfield, Ohio, but at least that place in Ohio was cheap. The guy would barely budge on the price even coming in after 1am, and when we walked into room, it was dirty, had exposed electrical, and appeared to have extreme water damage.
2006, 2014, 2018