We’ve visited Kenora several times, in 2016, 2015, 2010 and so on.
So, in 2015, we drove to Newfoundland and had a debilitating oil-in-coolant issue unrelated to our veggie oil system. I thought I had fixed the problem in the off-season, by installing new heads and head gaskets, but by the time we reached Kenora, it was apparent we still had the leak.
So we pulled over at an A&W and investigated the issue. Sure enough, the problem was still there, and it only arose once we put down some major miles.
In order to better assess the issue, without opening the radiator when it’s hot, we decided to use some of our wire to make a temporary dipstick, which would reside in the coolant reservoir. Since we were already this far, we figured, we should keep driving the 2016 roadtrip and see if the problem gets worse.
Here’s me building the dipstick:
Also, we stopped through Kenora in 2010:
Lots of oddities on the way from the Ontario border to the Peg. The top hat really completes this piece.
We’ve stayed in Edson in 2010 and found a hotel. We assumed that a hotel here would be much cheaper than finding a hotel in the mountain towns near Jasper. It was, but marginally. Like most of Canada, there is very little sprawl. That means unlike the U.S. where good hotels are outside of town, most of the cheaper lodging is located near the city center. In hindsight, the cheapest option would have been to find a hotel near the Edmonton airport, and got up early to make the drive to Jasper.
From the 2010 log:
East of Edson was probably the highest latitude that we drove thru on the 2010 WVO Roadtrip. (53.6°) As we checked out the local A&W, Glenn thought $349 for a set of twins was a reasonable price for hookers.
Also, we cruised through Edson in 2013 on the Prince Rupert drive. It was between meal times, so we pushed on to Edmonton.
We have visited Jasper BC twice. Once in 2010 on our detoured east-to-west trip along the Yellowhead highway, and once in 2013 on the west-to-east journey from Prince Rupert to Wisconsin.
Hwy 93, near Jasper Nat’l Park at the Kootenay Crossing, BC. 206408. 9:11pm Sun.
Added 1.5 cubes. Finally! Something other than prairie! Jasper Nat’l Park from a distance:
Entrance into the park is $19 Canadian. I guess that’s the cost of viewing the last glacier below the Arctic Circle. The mountains are pretty amazing. We couldn’t stop through Jasper on the 2008 Veggie trip from LA to Fairbanks and back. It was originally on the itinerary, but had to be cut because it is avoided by the Alcan Highway and the route from Prince George to Vancouver. Now it’s on this trip and it was never on this itinerary.
Still one of my favorite pictures from all of our WVO Roadtrips:
The park is quite full of wildlife. Saw a black bear, some mountain goats, and dozens of deer.
Part of the reason we went to Jasper was because of the wash out at Medicine Hat. But another driving force was the visitor’s center in Manitoba. They told us to head west on the Yellowhead, and then handed us a magazine detailing the whole highway. The cover had a cable-car. Maybe it was the hours of driving over farm land that inspired us to head toward Jasper Park. Here’s the cab.
At the top of the route, there are trails to the top of the mountain. You have great views of the city of Jasper, the Canadian Rockies, and huge valley
I kind of wish I didn’t wear shorts. It was windy and cold for July.
We climbed to the top. I figured it would be packed with travelers, but luckily, most people stayed near the cable car, gift shop, and restaurant. After 30 minutes of hiking, this was probably the highest elevation for the 2010 WVO trip: 8103ft.
We grabbed some grub at the mountain top restaurant. It actually wasn’t that expensive. Get the catch of the day.
In 2013, we stopped into town to get a bite to eat. We walked the streets to stretch our legs found a bar and grill to get a burger.
We hung out for an hour or so delaying the inevitable. We needed to hit the road as soon as possible because the drive through massive Canadian plains provinces is slow.
Jasper is the last stop for seeing the mountains of Canada.
After this, it’s 2000 miles of farmland. After driving the Cassiar and Yellowhead for days and seeing thousands of miles of picturesque mountain vistas, it’s going to be a depressing change.
Winnipeg is swaddled in a blanket of farmland. Unlike most American cities, Canadian cities have very little sprawl. We’ve visited the Peg so many times, starting in 2010, and almost every year till present day.
This is really cool, and you can be driving in a place like this,
and within a few minutes, be eating at a restaurant in The Forks (in downtown Winnipeg). Whenever we visit this place, we usually stop by The Forks to check out the town. It’s a community place, it’s open all the time, and there are lots of shops and places to eat. It’s just nice to get out of the car, and fill our guts with more fucking food.
Five miles west of the Peg, Manitoba. 205226. 8:03pm Sat.
After hitting up Lower Fort Garry, we were told to visit the Forks district. I guess it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t that awesome either. It was just a bunch of shops and places for Canadian posers can figure out ways of justifying the time they wasted on their skateboards. They even had some sort of event where a flock of wallflowers showed off their skateboard moves. The announcer was really hardcore when he continually remarked after every trick with “Oh my gosh.” Canada.
From Winnipeg to Yorkton. Sat.
We ran into some storms and showers for the duration of the trip to Yorkton. We were stuck in the Forks for an extra hour because of a major downpour in the city. After grabbing some sushi, we set up to run the two blocks to our car in the rain. No biggie. On the way out of the restaurant, the owner insisted that we use her umbrella to get to our car. She was rather insistent, but we maintained that it wouldn’t be that big of a deal. Just outside the restaurant under a canopy, we got ready to sprint over to the car, and another woman insisted that we take her umbrella. It was getting a bit weird. She said she trusted us to bring the umbrella back. After being barraged with Canadian kindness, we relented and took an umbrella. Crazy.
More on the way to Yorkton, SK
The clouds would open up occasionally. It was strange, because the clouds formed so close to the ground.
This town is the companion border city to International Falls Minnesota. It’s the gateway to western Ontario. We’ve been to Fort Francis twice: once in 2010 and once in 2012. The 2010 trip had us coming up to Canada from Int’l Falls, and the 2012 had us coming from the east.
It’s a typical Canadian town. Tim Horton’s, Boston Pizza, etc.
Here’s a lake near Nestor Falls Ontario. There are thousands of lakes all across Ontario and very few lake houses or boats on the water. If this were in central Wisconsin, there would be a hundred Flatlanders in their gasoline boats ruining the scenery.
The 2010 trip allowed us more time to stop and see the Fort Francis sites, but we were on a schedule and had to keep on to Kenora.
Fort Francis, ON. 10:42pm Fri, 2010
Finally made it across the border. We got there at a reasonable hour in International Falls, and we thought it’d be a simple jump across the border like always. No way. Normally we get no problems with Canadian side of the crossing, but this time we got a full search of everything. They pretty much took out everything and searched it all. Except the veg. Crazy, they wasted so much time on trivial things like underwear and receipts, but left 17 cubes of grease completely unsearched. We had nothing worth searching anyway, but I would have thought the priorities would have been reversed.
Added 1 5/8 cubes. We drove up from Fort Francis and were only a few kms from the turn off for the Trans-Canada Highway when a couple flagged us down. Turns out one of their cars had a flat tire. It looked like the stock jack they were using wasn’t cutting it, so we helped out with my hydraulic jack. Also, their dummy tire was a bit low on pressure, so we used my cigarette lighter pump.
While Glenn was in L.A., we still had the itch to keep sightseeing even though the 2010 WVO Roadtrip was officially over. We stopped off at the infamous Watts Towers to see what all the fuss was about. It was actually really impressive. How that one guy made all of this with leftover scraps and trash is pretty cool. Kinda similar to what we have accomplished with all our WVO Roadtrips, using filtered trash-fuel to drive for hundreds of thousands of miles. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure.
Just our luck, we were trying to get home before sunrise after leaving Yosemite after sunset, and we got stuck in a traffic jam from a speeder who got into an accident. He had passed us a few dozen miles back over 100 mph. Looks like his luck ran out. Must have been bad (maybe even a fatality) judging by all the emergency services on site.
We had just enough grease to make it home.
Driving on Highway 120 through Yosemite is actually a highly elevated and meandering. We got up to almost 10,000 ft in altitude driving our way to El Capitan.
As we got closer to the center of the park, various mountains started poking through the blanket of evergreens.
One of the major destinations in this already majestic national park is El Capitan and Half Dome. While we were there, we walked up to the edge of the waterfall. It was getting dark, but we figured there would be enough humans around to deter any animals. We were dead wrong. Half way there, we encountered a full sized grizzly eating berries. Instead of playing dead or slowly walking away, Glenn took off, so I decided to run as well. No sense in standing still at that point if Glenn caught his attention. Luckily, he was enamored with the fruit instead of our gelatinous bodies.
We returned to the car and grabbed the bear spray this time.
It got dark quick, so we snapped as many photos as we could and headed out of the mountains. This would be the last stop on the 2010 WVO Roadtrip. After this, we planned to drive the remaining stretch down I-5 to Los Angeles.
The mountains up here are wild.
And the bugs are horrendous.
We got into Reno really late, but in Nevada it doesn’t matter. Reno and Vegas never sleeps. We got a cheap hotel that was actually really nice. They drop the rates to bring in the gamblers.
The next morning we got up early to visit the best car museum in America: Harrah’s Collection. There is literally nothing like it. The finest quality cars from the turn of the previous century. Even a few electric cars too.
The museum had an exhibit for one of the earliest road tripping pioneers, and his car. Who knows, maybe one of our veggie cars will be in this museum some day.
In the Sand Mountain Recreation Area, there is a massive set of dunes. The area is surrounded by the tall Stillwater Nevada Range and Shoshone Mountains, which cause wind currents to accumulate huge dunes that crest at dozens of feet. We climbed around on them until it got dark.
The recreation also has one of the infamous Pony Express stations. I never knew they were stationed this far north.
We cruised down State Highway 95 (again, seemed like we had been on highway “95’s” since Jasper BC) in the brutal desert heat of July. At one point, our veggie oil temp gauge was showing over 250 deg F! That means our system was getting really hot, and the outside air might have been over 108 deg in the sun.
I think this highway has a crew of snowplows for the drifts of sand. There were dunes everywhere.
We got into Winnemucca mid-afternoon. There is a park in downtown showing heavy timbers and displays talking about how they are a conduit to the Pacific Ocean. It’s a long traveled path, dating back centuries.
Onward to the Singing Dunes.
Pretty cool place. Long tour and you get to see the hanging room. Also the sewer communication thing was ingenious.
The geology museum next store was nice as well. Small, but full of good stuff.
Cruising down I-84 toward Boise…
Near Mt Emily:
Near La Grande:
Cement Plant along the highway.
We got close to Walla Walla and there were some interesting landscapes and waterways.
Eventually we got to the Whitman Massacre site. There isn’t much there, but a few monuments, foundations, and exhibits. Some preamble: The Whitmans were a family of missionaries that tried to set up shop in native lands to spread the Gospel. They installed their mission along the Oregon Trail pathway, so they could help the settlers as they flooded into the area in the mid 1800’s.
Initially, the natives were pretty cool. They accepted the Christian faith without much struggle. You’d think that would be enough for the Whitmans, but the family got upset when they learned the indigenous population had merely incorporated Christianity with their spiritualism, instead of replacing their spiritualism.
After several months of badgering and harassing the natives, they finally snapped. They proceeded to kill the family and various helpers in their employ. In the era of Manifest Destiny and Indian Wars, word got back to the rest of the country, and most Americans vilified the native population. They erected this (and other) monuments to the memory of the Christian missionaries, and drove off the First Nation peoples as a punishment.
In the last few decades, public perception has reversed. Instead of vilifying the Indians and praising the Whitmans, people are learning more about the mistreatment of the natives and their right to practice their spirituality without interference. The site has transformed from a memorial to the Whitmans, to a more balanced portrayal of both sides of the conflict. There are exhibits showing the indigenous architecture and artifacts from the area.
Eventually, we wrapped up our hike and tours, and headed east toward Mt Emily Oregon.
We cruised through the tiny town of Touchet WA. When I was a kid, my first western roadtrip with my family started in Wisconsin and concluded in Touchet to visit my grandfather’s brother’s family. It sparked my interest in roadtrips and is the main reason why I find myself planning the next journey into the wild.
We checked out the Crehst Museum in Richland, which houses various science exhibits. It’s a great place for families, and they have lots of interactive activities. They had an electromagnet that allowed people to see how different metals can react to electrical forces. I tried to situate my gold wedding ring on the device, but the scientists in the room (albeit curious themselves about what would occur) recommended not using Au because it might fly into the ceiling for all they knew.
They also have a lot of nuclear exhibits and artifacts, talking about their proximity to the Manhattan Project Hanford Reactor Site. It was this visit that inspired us to sign up for and visit the Hanford Reactor tour in 2012.
After a day of sciencing around at the Crehst, we took off for Walla Walla:
I pulled into Pasco WA really late after eating in Spokane. We had a coupon to this hotel, called the “Vineyard Inn” which is now the “Loyality Inn.”
It is not an understatement to say that was the worst hotel of all time. It was so awful, that we felt compelled to file complaints to the BBB and the Washington State Board of Health. We got into the room, and there was rotted food in the microwave. The beds were not clean, so we slept in our clothes on top of the bed. The AC malfunctioned, and TV was broken. There were prostitutes in the halls, and drug dealers in the parking lot. Someone was awake for the ENTIRE night above our room, and must have been wearing clogs. We barely got any sleep. It would have been cheaper and safer to just sleep in the car in the Walmart parking lot.
We woke up, and I avoided taking a shower. I was too afraid what I would catch if I touched that bathroom with bare skin. Glenn took a gamble and showered. He found pubic hairs and feces on the walls.
That hotel was horrendous. We filed reports against the owners of that place.
On the way out of town, we crossed the Columbia river on this elegant bridge.
We pulled into Spokane after things started shutting down. This town is kind of sleepy and doesn’t stay up late. We found a bar + restaurant called Charlie P’s that was still open on their main drag. The food was ok, nothing super special. We wrapped up our drive by filling up here and then finding a budget hotel in Pasco WA. TERRIBLE Idea….
Crossed the border into the United States without any issues.
We visited Cranbrook in 2010 and in 2019.
In 2010, while in the town of Cranbrook BC, we visited their expansive train museum. They let you tour the old railway cars. It’s not bad.
Then we drove south to the border. Before crossing into the U.S., we saw a farmers market and bought a huge bag of BC cherries. They are delicious, and only a few miles from the border station, did we realize we couldn’t bring this into the country! So we ate probably 5 lbs of cherries in about ten minutes. My poop was violet!
In 2019, we passed through on the Crowsnest Highway on the way to Vancouver Island.
The train museum we visited over 9 years earlier. Cray cray
It would have been nice to stop in and see what enhancements and inclusions they have added to their collection, but we had to move on. There was a different museum we had our eyes on down the road.
Hammer down. Quantity not quality peeps. MILES!
Quite possibly one of the most scenic drives we’ve ever experienced, we ended up staying in the tiny town of Radium Hot Springs. The roads around here are nestled in massive caverns and valleys.
Radium Hot Springs has natural geological activity, thus their rivers and water features are naturally heated. They have a small tourism industry serving people who want to lay in the bubbling waters. Of course, we spent a few hours swimming around in the hot springs. It’s a good thing to do on these long road trips.
Heading south on the Hwy 93 in Jasper Nat’l Park.
There’s a great lesson on global warming near the south end of the park. Visit the Icefield Glacier. They put up posts that indicate the location of the glacier over the last one-hundred years. The ice was originally up to the roadway, but now it’s hundreds of meters receded.
Headed south into the rain storms…
Lloydmeister, AB. 205885. 8:12pm Sun.
Added 1 cube.
We drove across Saskatchewan and saw lots of interesting farms.
The sights were really nice, and as the sun started to set, we figured we pull off to find some food.
We made the mistake of going to Golden Star. Some intense Chinese food. If you are Lloydmeister, stay away from the “Golden Star” restaurant on the Yellowhead. The buffet was $15 and it had several items I’ve never heard of. One group of customers actually came in when we were there, and then they looked at the buffet and walked out. Too bad we didn’t think of that. That’s the second Canadian-Chinese fusion we had that was a bust. Same goes for the Chinese food in Wawa.
Saskatoon, SK. 205712. 4:39pm Sun.
Added 0.75 cubes. Cruised into Saskatoon around noon. Surprisingly bigger than I expected, especially at that latitude.
Ended up at a tourism center and they suggested we visit the Westward Expansion Museum. We’d seen brochures about this place and it appeared to be one of those places where they reenact the early 20th century.
The inside of the WEM:
They had a chapel from the original town, otherwise the place was fully recreated. The strange thing about this place is how underrated it is. No one told us that it’s the largest museum west of Toronto until we left. The section where they had all the recreations was only a fraction of the whole museum. It’s really nice. They had a section of old Saskatoon autos and even a Model T with the tractor option. Here’s a pic of an old powerplant for early twentieth century farm lighting.
Our location on Google Maps isn’t correct, because we couldn’t find the longitude and latitude from the image, but this is a decent estimation.
On the way to Saskatoon, SK.
The Yellowhead is basically just a two-lane county road called a highway. And the traffic is predominately semis and late-nineties Crown Vic’s. It get’s pretty dry and the radio reception is negligible. At least the gaps in reception are less than the trip on the Alcan Hwy, but it’s still annoying to have nothing to listen to. So to break up the long stretches, they put dozens of these “Historical Markers” all over the place. These are good places to add a cube too, if necessary.
If you are interested in a higher quality image of this marker, please contact us. I can dig out the original raw photo and decipher the text for you.
Yorkton, SK. 205495. 9:00am Sun.
Added 1.5 cubes. Well we cruised into Yorkton around midnight and it’s really the only major town before Saskatoon. We stayed in a hotel that wasn’t that good but also not that bad. We’ve stayed in worse. I forget the name now, but I’ll post it later. Had to get on the road early, so we could hit up Saskatoon during the day, and then make the long drive past Edmonton, if possible.
More on the way to Yorkton, SK
The clouds would open up occasionally. It was strange, because the clouds formed so close to the ground.
If you’ve cruised the Yellowhead highway, you probably know about all the grain silos scattered throughout the countryside.
We are taking the Yellowhead highway because a visitor center guide at the border of Ontario and Manitoba mentioned that the Trans-Canadian Highway was CLOSED! Turns out by Medicine Hat, a part of the freeway was washed out and they are working on making a detour. She speculated that there wasn’t even a detour now, and potentially they may even make a frontage road of sorts possibly within a few weeks. !!! I literally asked, “So you have only two east-west roads in your country, and one is washed out??!” She responded “Yep.” So now the trip is all about the Yellowhead. We plan to take this northerly highway all the way from where it begins in the Peg over to Jasper National Park. That’s pretty much 80% of the total strip.
Another pic of the low hanging clouds:
Continued on the Yellowhead!
Five miles west of the Peg, Manitoba. 205226. 8:03pm Sat.
Instead of heading directly into Winnipeg, we circumnavigated the city to approach Lower Fort Garry on the northeast side of town. It’s becoming apparent the next few days will be driving through farm land and flat prairie.
Fort Garry was pretty interesting. It’s one of those national sites where they have a dozen people acting like it’s 1850. We kept encouraging those Canadians to revolt against the English, and we ended up getting a few of the wenches in trouble.
Onward to the Peg.
We drove Highway 71 between thousands of lakes and ponds in western Ontario.
Around every corner was a pristine lake for fishing and boating.
Fort Francis, ON. 204890. 8:45am Sat.
Added 1 cube.
Not really the kind of nudity we were looking for.
Onward to International Falls….
In 2009: It was still way too early to do anything in Duluth or Superior. Kept heading north to Thunder Bay.
In 2010: Duluth MN. 204725. 3:50pm Fri.
Added 1.5 cubes. Had a loose hose, and it was squirting D all over the passenger side of the engine compartment. Tightened ‘er up.
Hometown to WVO Travel and Awareness founders Nick Pisca and Glenn Wienke.
Wisconsin. 204425. 6:10am Wed-9:15am Fri
Added one cube. Installed new timing belt, tensioner, top roller, valve cover gasket, water pump, thermostat, thermostat housing, o-ring, water flange.
In the process of getting at the thermostat housing, we fractured the “water flange” off of my 1998 VW Jetta TDI. It’s a bit annoying, because the elbow is made of plastic and there is no documentation on how to remove it. So pulled the pin out and then gave it a little twist. Not the right move. There is a hidden tab on the rim of the elbow, and if you torque it, you’ll bust it along the edge. The best move is to pull the elbow off without any twisting. There is a o-ring seal on the inside of the elbow and it connects to the thermostat housing. So just pull. No twist.
Here’s the damage:
It put us back a day, because we had to drive to Minneapolis from the north-central part of Wisconsin to the Luther VW dealer to get a new replacement “water flange” part. Nice place; normally I can’t stand the dealer, but these guys were very informative, prompt, and had all the parts they claimed to have. I can’t say that much for the VW dealers in Los Angeles.
Ellsworth, IA. 204060. 11:15pm Tues
Added one cube. Three tornados surround us on the I-35 as we head north. 77 mph wind gust try to tip over a rig in front of us. Luckily we get thru the storm without issues, and the rig only tips about 60 degrees on it side.
204284. 3:10am Wed
Added one cube.
Winterset, IA. 9:30pm Tues.
Here’s where the Duke was born.
They had a statue in a nearby park. There was a storm on the horizon, so we hammered down to make it to Wisconsin before sunrise.
Weston, MO. 4-5ish. Tues
Lured by the largest ball of string in the U.S., we found the Irish pub housing the ball much more appealing. Good food, service, and drinks at O’Malley’s. Definitely stop in if you are in the area.
And Weston was actually a nice town. It’ll be a shame when a bypass is laid.
Kearney, MO. 3-ish. Tues
Jesse James’ ranch. It’s a lot more lush and less desert-like than Hollywood would have you think. You could drop bank for the 1-hour “tour” or just wander around the premises with a thumb up your butt. We chose the latter.
After the ranch visit, we were informed of the grist mill nearby. It’s a landmark designed by the American Society of Mechanical Engineers, so naturally we couldn’t contain our excitement. If the ASME says “jump,” you say “affirmative.” Actually, the mill was pretty nice. The grounds are quite expansive, encompassing the owner’s house and various other structures nearby the mill itself.
Excelsior Springs, MO. 12:00-2:30pm Tues
Prior to the trip, we found some interesting sites in northeast Missoura. First off was heading up to Excelsior Springs. They have some interesting history, notably the hot springs spas set up in the works projects of the 30’s to cure people’s buttholes. One piece of architectural interest was the Hall of Waters. It’s an amazing piece of Art Deco work, and there is a self-guided tour of the grounds. One downside was that they were doing a lot of work on the outside and inside. I’m sure it’ll be in primo condition once they wrap up the maintenance. Check out the dilapidated pool in the basement if you bend the rules a little. If you have time, go visit the museum next to the Hall as well-they had some really nice people that toured us through an old-timey bank full of E.S. memorabilia. No pics of the bank allowed though. Here’s the hall:
Leawood, MO. 9:59am Tues.
Nothing like a BBQ breakfast to start off the day. We got word that the best barbeque in KC was Gates. Since we needed to get off to an early start, we made the devastating decision to eat about 4 lbs (348 kgs) of ham, ribs, and brisket at 10 am. Really good food, but if you want to go there, it was hard for the GPS to find the place. Also, the accents were super thick. I only understood about a quarter of the words spoken to me. Missoura.
Rest area 30 miles west of Topeka. 203555. 10:10pm Mon.
Added 1.5 cubes.
Topeka, KS. 10:44pm Mon.
While cruising through Kansas, we stopped off at the Brown vs Board of Education site. It was long closed for the day, but we still could check out the grounds and get a few pics.
Fort Hays, Kansas. 6:10pm Mon.
We are always up to check out a fort or old military site. The gals in Liberal suggested we check out this site and hit up the tour. Upon arriving, we learned they weren’t even open on Mondays. Luckily, the gate was still open, but no one was conducting tours. So we did a self guided tour which was well laid-out.
Unlike Fort Pulaski, the Citadel in Halifax, Fort McHenry, and other forts we’ve visited, this is not a walled complex. It was a clustering of officers’ quarters, barracks, and other remnant foundations of demolished structures. It had a vibe similar to visiting Kenesaw Mountain tracking Sherman’s march.
Heading to Topeka or Kansas City. 9:04pm Mon.
On the march…
Oakley, Kansas. 203285, 4:38pm Mon.
Added 1.25 cubes.
Oakley has the Fick Fossil and History Museum adjacent to their library. We thought we’d check it out, since a lot of the rock formations and fossil discoveries from the Monument Rock area were stored there. It was nice, if you are in Oakley with the kids for an afternoon or if you have family history in west Kansas, but don’t go out of your way if your GPS pops this up as a suggestion.
If you don’t really have anything invested in the history of Oakley, a lot of the information provided doesn’t translate to the everyday traveler. One note though, props to the mural artist(s).
That Liberal Kansas Tourism office suggested a different route to our journey. Originally, we planned on driving northeast to Wichita, however they suggested we visit the Monument Rocks National Landmark. Then we could take the I-70 east, and see several other sites along the way. The Monument Rocks are really the must-see geological destination in Kansas; the whole west end of the state is flatter than a pool table, and then out of nowhere are three-story crumbly rock formations and arches.
The road way is suffuse with cattle. And they had no intention of yielding the right of way.
The road is a bit rough though, so if it rains and you don’t have four-wheel drive, you may want to avoid it. We saw only one other car there, so I imagine if you get stuck or breakdown, it would be a long wait until the next person comes along.
Liberal, Kansas. 9:30am Mon.
Initially drawn into the city to check out the tourist trap, “Dorothy’s House from the Wizard of Oz,” the Liberal Tourism office directed us to their local Aviation Museum. The place was pretty nice, and considering its remote location, it was very extraordinary. They had wartime, record-breaking, and experimental aircraft. Also, they had a repair shop accessible to the visitors which was in the process of restoring new planes, autogiros, helicopters, models, and rockets. For $7, it was a reasonable price too.
Also that Liberal Tourism office suggested a different route to our journey. Originally, we planned on driving northeast to Wichita, however they suggested we visit the Monument Rocks National Landmark. Heading north:
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.
We’ve been to ALBQ dozens of times. It’s truly one of my favorite places in America. It’s like a southwestern Portland without the mildew and pompacity.
Albuquerque, NM. 202643, 5:40pm Sat.
We’re a little late getting into Albq, but we made it before it got too late. A pic from the road from Flagstaff to Albq, near the border.
Ordered a pizza from a local restaurant and asked for a “pizza with the works.” The clerk didn’t know what that was, so they put on the manager, who said, “We don’t have something like that. However, we have a ‘special’ pizza with onions, peppers, sausage, pepperoni, mushrooms, and olives.” I guess I that’s not the works.
We got a hotel room in the cheaper area of town, along the old Route 66. Wasn’t the worst hotel, wasn’t the best.
The next morning we drove around town. Check this out! It’s the ALBQ Isotopes stadium! TOPES LOSE! TOPES LOSE! TOPES LOSE!
We visited my former college roommate and his wife, who have become some of my best friends and family to me. They run Routes Bicycle Rental in ALBQ and Santa Fe, but in 2010, it was still a burgeoning business. They were really busy, so they gave us some good recommendations to eat in town. If you are in ALBQ, you must get everything Christmas Style and make sure to find Sopapillas (the Bannock of the Southwest.)
Later in the day, we stopped at the National Museum of Nuclear Science and History.
Then we had to get on our way. It’s a long drive to Wisconsin.
Petrified Forest National Park, AZ. 202400, 11:45am Sat.
Added 1.5 cubes.
Alright alright. One thing we must mention before starting this article, is Glenn had been begging for a trip to a petrified forest for years. He loves this crap for some reason, and I had been purposely avoiding this location just to mess with him. Either we would be driving through at a late hour, or we had some other place to go in time for they closed, or some other trumped up excuse not to go, I made it my mission to avoid them.
But this trip, there was no way to avoid it. We got in around lunch time, and Glenn was having none of it. We were stopping. This was his special day.
We stopped at the southern end and drove north through the park.
The park allows people to drive through and stop at various trail heads. We even went on a tour that had real indigenous petroglyphs.
After stopping at a few of the driveby hikes, Glenn seemed bored. I asked him if he wanted to stop at more places, and he said no. Hilarious. All these years of waiting and once he actually saw some spectacular petrified wood, and he ended up finding them bland.
We stopped at the diner in the national park, and got a few burgers. Then on to Albuquerque!
If you ever get to drive the infamous Route 66, you must stop in all these tiny desert towns to see the historical and kitschy hotels and restaurants along the path.
After our Day-One Breakdown, we were set to continue our Route-66 trek.
We zipped passed Flagstaff, because we had visited here a few years back in 2005 or 2006.
Also, we cruised passed the infamous Meteor Crater, which we visited in 2004. It’s a really neat thing to check out, but it’s kind of expensive. It’s privately owned. Bring your checkbooks.
Start: Los Angeles 201818 miles on the odometer, 10pm Friday the 18th.
Well, we got started on the trip on Friday. We left 4 hours later than expected due to custom modifications to the car. Plus we had to reload the car because it was sitting pretty low when we left.
Near Lake Havasu, CA. 202099, 2:45am Sat.
Added 1.75 cubes. I guess we were running a bit fast and also we are really loaded up. We estimated better mileage on vo, but ran the tank dry by accident. We did a system purge with about a thousand moths and desert flies swarming our flashlights. Thankfully, one didn’t do the tempting dive into vo funnel, as has happened in the past.
Kingman, AZ. 202145, 3:30am-6:45am Sat.
As with all these trips, we always get a first-day issue. This one came very early. In some of the other threads, I had posted my issue with a diesel-side fuel problem, which I thought I had worked out. Well, after running the vo side dry, I must have got some air in the diesel system or something. We were having some power issues up hills and the speed maxed out at 70 mph even down hill. We thought we could make it to Flagstaff and do some repairs there where supplies could be more prevalent, but after passing Kingman and some truck stops, it seemed more logical to tackle it right away (in the dark) instead of in the Arizona sun.
I had packed a spare generic fuel pump and several useful parts, like fuel hose, clamps, wire, switches, etc. Within a few house of diagnosing the issue (even considering dropping the tank in the parking lot), we found that putting a pusher pump at the stock diesel tank fuel pickup was the best solution for now. This way, if there was a small air leak in one of the fuel lines from the diesel tank, at least I’m pressurizing the system, rather than sucking air.
The only thing we didn’t have on hand was an in-line generic fuse housing. I tried asking some of the 24-hour trucker shops and auto supply stores there, but none of them knew what an in-line generic fuse housing was. One manager insisted that my fuse housing was under my dash. I didn’t want to argue with him, but I said I was just putting an auxiliary electrical thing on my car, like fog lights or a transfer pump. He just repeated my fuse box was under my dash several times. Ugh.
We fabbed up a homemade fuse holder out of some spare electrical end plugs and electrical tape. We also set up some wooden block supports so that our diesel pusher pump hoses wouldn’t become pinched by a cube in the back seat or other heavy item. The diesel pump now resides inside the dummy tire rim.
Now we have two pumps on individual switches, one pushing vo and the other pushing diesel, which really makes purging air out of the system easy. So far it’s appearing to resolve the power loss problem.
After reloading the Jetta (AGAIN), we were back on the road to Flagstaff.