Part 1: Mega Trip Report – Vegas to Philly

This is part 1 of 3. Part 2 is posted here and Part 3 is posted here.

As you may know, I recently completed a move from Las Vegas to Philadelphia. The move has been in the works for a long time but it finally got under way in full force on Monday August 8th when my “pod” was dropped off at my house in Henderson (suburb of Vegas if you’re not familiar). I woke up early on Tuesday and loaded up my pod with the help of the strongest person in the US (no, not kidding): Pat Mendes. In case you’re wondering who Pat is, check out this article. After Pat helped I spent the rest of the day doing all of the annoying little remaining things related to packing. For my final dinner as a Nevada resident, I went with Pat and his coach John Broz (and John’s wife) to the brazilian steakhouse Texas de Brazil at Town Square. It was delicious. They do the usual endless rounds of various meats and I enjoyed pretty much everything.

Day 1 – Wed, August 10th: Las Vegas, NV to Grand Junction, CO

The next morning I woke up for my 9am house walkthrough with the leasing company. That went smoothly and by around 9:20 I was headed to get some breakfast. At exactly 10:17am (I will explain why I know that in a second) I turned on the car ready to get on the road. My destination for that first day was Grand Junction, Colorado which is a town of about 100,000 just over the border from Utah in western Colorado. The drive mapped out at just under 8 hours and roughly 500 miles. I picked a medium distance drive the first day partially because there aren’t a lot of decent places to stay in that region of the country and I didn’t want to book a stay in Denver in case I got a late start from Vegas — driving all the way to Denver the first day seemed too far with the unknown variables in the morning (i.e., if the person from the leasing office doesn’t show up on time). But I also wanted to make sure to get in some miles the first day so 500 miles seemed like a good compromise. It turned out to be perfect. I got in to Grand Junction in the late afternoon (remember that time jumps forward an hour going from PST to MST) and I had plenty of time to check in and then grab dinner at a place called the Rockslide Brew Pub which was right down the street from my hotel. But before I get ahead of myself, back to that whole 10:17am thing.

As you might remember from my prior blog entry with the driving test video, I bought a keychain video camera to record my entire drive across the country. I was planning on releasing the full footage as a torrent file (the files for this much driving are over 100gb in the keychain video format) as well as editing it down into a super sped up version and putting that on youtube. Everything started off smoothly — I turned the camera on at 10:17 (and I wrote down the time to make sure I changed the memory card in time and didn’t run out of space), drove about 3.5 hours to Beaver, UT, stopped to get gas and, as expected, I had a bunch of files on the memory card. I decided to unload them onto a hard drive so I could delete them from the card and use the same card for the remaining 4.5 hours to Grand Junction. So I did that, started the recording back up and continued on my way. At some point in Utah, I saw a sign for a scenic overlook so I pulled over to check it out. I also checked on the camera. That’s when I knew something was wrong. I tried to stop the recording but it appeared the camera was off. I tried to turn it back on — nothing (it’s plugged into the car so it definitely had power). I checked to see if anything was on the card — nothing. So I had everything up until Beaver, UT but nothing beyond that. I finally managed to get the camera to appear to turn on and start recording so I started driving again, wondering if it was recording. I really hoped it was because I drove by this guy walking on the highway and I saw a bunch of other cool things. Alas, when I got to Grand Junction it was not recording and I played around with it for about an hour without much luck. There went my hopes of recording the whole trip. Which is really sad because Colorado was an amazing state to drive through.

So even though I don’t have video, I did manage to snag some pictures of a wildfire north of Grand Junction. I could see it from really far away but it wasn’t clear what it was until I got closer. I read about it a bit online and it said that it was started naturally by lightning.

Overall Grand Junction seemed great. The restaurant was good, people seemed nice, weather was perfect, hotel was fine, etc. I’d love to spend more time in Colorado (particularly, west of Denver) and I definitely plan on it. I’m not much of a skier simply because I’ve never really done it — I’d love to learn though so I’ll try to get to that as soon as I can.

Day 2 – Thu, August 11th: Grand Junction, CO to Lincoln, NE

I woke up really early (5:45am) to get an early start. Day 2 was my longest drive of the trip at 725 miles from Grand Junction, CO to Lincoln, NE. Basically, I was driving almost all the way across both Colorado and Nebraska in one day. I was really excited for the first four hours or so which would take me through the Rockies on I-70. As you may know, this stretch is one of the most famous and difficult-to-build portions of the Eisenhower Interstate Highway system. I’ve seen TV shows about Glenwood Canyon before and it really lived up to the hype. It’s an incredible drive and I highly recommend that everyone make it out there at some point if you haven’t already. The rest of the Rockies were really awesome as well. Here’s a picture from the Rockies:

I was amazed at how my car went from being a fairly high performance sports car at 4,000 feet to being a struggling vehicle at 10,000+ feet during the higher parts of the drive. At one point I was going along in a slower construction zone and I needed to downshift to get some acceleration because traffic had slowed and then started to speed up. I put it in fourth gear at around 40 mph figuring that would be more than enough to give me some oomph. Nope. I put it in third gear and it was still not quick at all! It’s amazing what not having oxygen will do for an engine. Going through the Eisenhower Tunnel at 11,000+ feet was probably the highest I have ever been on land. And I think that most planes are pressurized to 8,000 feet so I think 11,000 feet is actually the thinnest air I’ve ever been in. I didn’t notice any difference but I guess sitting in a car doesn’t give you the full experience. I’m sure I would have had trouble running. Here’s a screenshot of the altitude screen on my car’s GPS system:

After descending out of the Rockies and going past Denver, I got off of I-70 and got on I-76 which heads up to the northeast corner of Colorado and merges into I-80 right around the Nebraska-Colorado border. I stopped for gas in the small town of Sterling, CO for gas and some food. I’d actually driven this stretch of I-76 only a few months before when I flew into Denver and drove up to Nebraska for ahh_snap’s wedding reception in Oshkosh, NE. But I hadn’t seen the rest of Nebraska so most of the state was new to me. It was not exciting. The post-Sterling aspect of the trip was about six hours (and prior to that was about five hours) so it was not a short day considering I only stopped once for a few minutes. But due to my early start, I managed to reach Lincoln between 6 and 7 PM despite losing another hour when I crossed into CST. On ahh_snap’s recommendation, I went to dinner at Bisonwiches which is a divey college sports bar. The corned beef sandwich was really good though.

After that I went back to the hotel to get to sleep — I was pretty worn out after the ~19 hours of driving I’d done over the prior two days even though it was really easy driving overall. My next stop was Chicago! Here is a map of my first two days:

To be continued…

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