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I recently transferred from WA to the Pentagon, and in the process had to get my 3 cars from one side of the country to the other. I shipped my Mustang and Subaru and drove the V. I had some time to burn, so I decided to do a bit more sight-seeing than I had done during my last couple cross-country trips (in December 2005 and March 2008). Most of the stops I made weren't conducive to getting shots of the car along with the scenery, so this thread won't have too many V pics in it. Sorry. :)

I have about 310 or so pics from various places. The folder is here with all of the pictures. Here are some highlights.

First stop was Redwoods National Park. My intention was to make it from WA to Crescent City, CA, around 500mi, after leaving WA in the afternoon on 2/26. Getting to Crescent City would put me in position to visit Redwood National Park in the morning/early afternoon on the 27th, and then make my way to Yosemite National Park that night. Of course, I got a late start from WA :rolleyes:, so I didn't leave there until about 4:30pm. Coming down the Redwood Highway (US 199) late at night was quite an experience. It was 11:30ish when I got on 199, and there was NOBODY around. Patchy fog, pitch black. The whole way down there were pine forests alongside the road - the ride was like driving on my old favorites back in CT, but all evergreen stuff on the sides rather than the mostly deciduous trees with a few evergreens in CT. Eventually I got down to the redwoods area itself, and I think I was concentrating on the road so much (due to the fog) that I missed the transition. All of a sudden I realized, "Holy shit, that tree on the shoulder is 12ft across!!" :eek: The "highway" then became much less a highway and much more a slalom course. In the dark I couldn't see anything up above me, of course, but just the size of the tree trunks was mind-boggling.

:D

I stayed at the Hampton Inn in Crescent City, which is right on the water. The beach was almost no sand - all rocks, polished by the wave action, and lots of driftwood. It was pretty cool to see, and hear, the rock polishing in progress.

Video of the waves polishing the rocks.

I made the short trip from Crescent City into the park(s). What I didn't realize until I got down there is that there are a number of state parks (I think it was 6) around the Redwoods National Park. The people at the hotel told me the best scenery was in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park, and that I should take the Howland Hill Rd thru the park. It's a packed dirt road, and with the generally damp atmosphere in the area, it was messy. The car was immediately filthy, but that's OK - it was worth it for the scenery.






I pulled over at one point to take this picture...

... and there happened to be a park ranger about to take a walk back into one of the groves with some other random guy. She asked if I wanted to come along, and I initially waffled, but then she said it was only like a 5min walk, so I went along. It turned out to be a good decision, as I would never have ventured back to where she took us. I can't remember the name of the grove, but it has the biggest tree in the area - 24.5ft diameter at the ground! :eek:

Unbelievable.

Along the way we passed by a "nursery tree", so called because it's a tree that has fallen and new growth is growing out of the trunk. It was about 10-12' in diameter and the ranger said it was 150' long.


Here's the ranger and the other guy at the root structure of the fallen tree:

(Obviously a bit blurry, but you get the point.)
 

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As I went for a walk through another portion of the park I came across this falling tree. I caught it and held it up while a bus-load of school children passed underneath, then I heaved it back upright. :p


Towards the end of the Howland Hill Rd there was this stump right alongside the road, perfect for a picture.


Once I was done at Redwoods I began driving down the coast on the way to Yosemite. I came around a bend at one point and there was a herd of elk right off the side of the road (I think I was still on 101 at that point):




I ended up staying the night in Stockton, CA, which wasn't exactly a scenic hot spot. Brand new hotel, though (still smelled of new carpet), so that was nice. It also was farther (time-wise) from Yosemite than I appreciated, which kind of screwed me for the next day.

So, the morning of 2/28 I got underway from Stockton, which is about 130mi from Yosemite. The poor car was already looking filthy - probably the hour or two on the wet sandy dirt road up in Redwoods didn't help:


I got a little crossed up getting into Yosemite, and it was pretty much all 2-lane highways, so it took me nearly twice as long to actually get into the park as I thought it would. The weather was pretty comfortable while I was there (upper 30s), but clearly they had had some snow:


I went to the Yosemite Valley portion of the park, which I imagine is probably the "typical" place that people go. Here's a shot from outside the valley looking towards El Capitan and Half Dome, the two very famous rock formations in the valley.


And then a shot from inside the valley:


Across from where I was taking the first picture above was a big exposed rock face. You could see the fresh, clean rock where a rather massive chunk had broken away at some point (looked like it was relatively recently, but I don't know long it takes for the rock to become discolored - days? months? years?):




Here are a couple shots looking along the valley from the Tunnel View overlook. I didn't find that until kind of late in the afternoon; with better planning, I would've gone there first, as I think earlier in the afternoon there was less cloud cover. Half Dome was basically in the clouds when I actually got to Tunnel View.




The waterfall roughly in the center of the pictures is Bridalveil Falls, which is (according to Wikipedia) 617ft high. Pretty damn impressive, and I guess all the falls get even more impressive when the spring melt starts and the rivers get bigger. I got some closer shots of Bridalveil:


 

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On the other side of the valley are the Upper and Lower Yosemite Falls.




There was a short trail to hike to the base of the Lower Yosemite Falls, so I did that.




Pretty cool to be close enough to be getting wetted by the spray and actually feel the air flowing past you as it's pushed away from the base of the falls!

At the Ahwahnee Hotel, which is actually in Yosemite Valley, there is a gift shop that I wandered around briefly. They had this hand-made, old-fashioned music box on display. It was, admittedly, gorgeous. It was also $8000. :eek: The stand was a bargain at only $3500.

You can read more about the company here.

Caught a quick glimpse of a coyote when I got out of my car to walk to the Bridalveil viewing overlook:


Apparently sunset in the Yosemite Valley is supposed to be pretty awesome, as it lights up the face of Half Dome, so I was going to stick around until sunset. But, as mentioned previously, the clouds were coming in late in the afternoon, and I couldn't even see Half Dome with about 20 or 30min to go until sunset, so I went ahead and hit the road.

My plan entering the day had been to make it to around Barstow, but due to getting into Yosemite so late and staying until almost sunset, that just didn't turn out to be feasible. Contributing to that was the exit from Yosemite. I had come in from the west on CA-120 and 140, but I left the park to the south via CA-41. That turned out to be a winding mountain road for much of the way, and I was stuck behind some sloooooow drivers. For quite a while it was foggy in addition to being dark, but even after the fog cleared the Focus at the head of string of cars I was in refused to pull off into one of the turn-offs (the ones that had big signs that said "SLOW TRAFFIC USE TURN-OFFS") :mad:, so I spent what had to have been an hour or more doing anywhere from 5 to 15mph below the speed limit. I ended up stopping in Bakersfield, or thereabouts, and was worried my car was going to be gone and/or emptied of all my possessions when I got up in the morning. :) Fortunately, that wasn't the case.

On the 1st I spent the day completing the trip from Bakersfield to Rubys Inn, a Best Western in Bryce Canyon City just a couple miles outside Bryce Canyon National Park. That day was basically all smooth sailing as I enjoyed what the great wide open West has to offer:


Bryce Canyon was probably my favorite part of the trip. It's absolutely gorgeous. The weather once again cooperated, with temps in the mid to high 30s. I got a good early start on March 2nd so I was able to explore quite a bit. I started out by hiking the Queens Garden trail, which connects to the Navajo Trail. The trail was packed snow and pretty easy to follow, but it was a pretty good work-out - particularly getting back up to where I started from. According to the park's website the combo that I hiked has 580ft of elevation change (down 580ft and then back up), and it's pretty damn steep. When I connected to the Navajo Loop Trail I had two options on how to get back up the hill - I did a best 2-out-of-3 coin flip and elected to take the Two Bridges side of the Navajo Loop (vice the Wall Street side of the loop).

I had picked up some Yaktrax at the Visitor Center, and I'm glad I did. Although I saw other visitors marching around in running shoes and sneakers, I can't imagine how much harder it would've been to get around on the packed snow trails with that sort of footwear. I did a little bit of walking around in just my boots (some old Adidas hiking boats - not very serious hiking equipment) and the difference was substantial.

Here are some shots from the first hike. The first shows what the trail typically looked like:

The snow was damn deep if you got off the packed snow trail. The volunteer I spoke with at the Visitor Center said they had had 3m of snow. Not all of that was still there, obviously, but you can see in this picture that the packed snow trail is just a few feet away from a wood rail fence that's almost invisible in the deep snow.

Continuing on...
 

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You can see the trail running along the spine here running downhill to the left:








The Queens Garden trail is so named because it takes you to an offshoot that goes to Queen Victoria:


As I came around a bend in the trail I watched a deer cross the trail 50ft or so ahead of me, climbing uphill to chow down:


Turned out that was actually the 2nd deer - the first one had already crossed the trail and was a little farther up the hill:




Here are the two rock bridges that give the Two Bridges trail its name. They're actually located in an offshoot, so you don't pass under them.


This looking back down from part way up the Two Bridges trail. The two bridges are on the other side of the rock face to the left.

As you can see, it's pretty damn steep, and I'm not even all the way to the top yet! Combine the steep trail with my moderate level of physical fitness and the 7500-8000ft of elevation and I was huffin' and puffin' pretty good by the time I got to the top! :p

This is pretty much back at the top of the trail:


Once I had completed that loop, I drove down to the southern end of the park (~17mi) and then made my way back north, stopping at each of the scenic overlooks along the way. Some weren't particularly amazing, others were breathtaking. I didn't make any note of which pics were taken where, so I don't remember which overlooks they came from. The best were taken at Bryce Point and Inspiration Point, as I recall.





 

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After I did that full down-and-back trip, which took probably 2-1/2 to 3 hours, I went back to the Visitor Center, explained what I had done so far and asked, "What's next?" The volunteer told me that if I had come back up via Two Bridges, that I just had to go back and do the Wall Street portion of the Navajo Loop trail.

So, back I went to Sunset Point and set off down the Wall Street side of the Navajo Loop. As with the Two Bridges side, it was wicked frickin' steep, but again the scenery was pretty awesome.

This was probably 1/2 to 2/3 of the way down - you can see the couple coming up:


Here I am pretty much at the bottom:


I made a little shelf in the snow and took a couple self-portraits with the timer on the camera :p:






Here's looking back the opposite direction at the bottom of Wall Street. The snow on top of the rock right in the middle of the picture is where I carved a shelf for the camera to sit.
 

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A couple of the few pics I managed to get that really highlighted the blue sky against the white snow and different rock shades:




The next stop after Bryce Canyon was Yellowstone, and it was about a 600mi drive to get up to West Yellowstone. So, as it got later in the afternoon I was trying to decide if it was worth heading out from Bryce Canyon, or if I should just stay another night in UT before heading north. I had heard the rangers and volunteers at the Visitor Center saying that sunrise was a sight to see in Bryce Canyon, and I ended up with a day to burn (my reservation to go into Yellowstone via snowcoach was for the 4th), so elected to stay until the morning of the 3rd. Unfortunately, Mother Nature conspired against me. :p

There was a little bit of snow overnight - maybe 2" or so accumulation. Not a big deal, but only the 2nd time the V has seen snow. I got up at the crack of ass and drove into the park to Inspiration Point. The place was packed:


Here's a quick video showing the sight I was met with at Inspiration Point. Damn you, Mother Nature!!! :p



At least the moon looked pretty cool:


Eventually things started to clear a bit. I actually relocated to Bryce Point, then went back to Inspiration Point.






I imagine the fog/clouds would've continued to burn off, but I didn't want to stick around all morning with 600mi of driving ahead of me, so I hit the road, but not before leaving my mark (with my finger, dammit!!). I did stop at the gift shop at Ruby's Inn to pick up some odds and ends for the family. One of things I've seen at pretty much all of the western and midwestern national parks is that the gift shops all have various Native American arts and crafts. What's kind of strange to me, though, is that the stuff is rarely from local tribes - it's just from all over the place. Sometimes, as in this case, all the stuff has stickers on it that says, "Made in the Philippines". :p

That cracked me up.

This also cracked me up:

I actually drove past it, then jammed on the brakes and reversed to get the picture.

Even outside the park there was some beautiful scenery.


 

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Heading north on I-15 presented quite a bit more wide open spaces and impressive views.







I wasn't able to get a picture, but as I passed by that rainbow I was eventually able to see the complete arch. Even out in HI, where rainbows were relatively common, it wasn't often that one could see the whole thing.

The trip from UT to MT went swimmingly. I averaged almost exactly 80mph until the one fuel stop I made, even with some traffic in the SLC and Provo areas, and had my best gas mileage ever in the V. The onboard computer said 25.4mpg, but my calculator said 26.8mpg using the actual amount of fuel I pumped into the tank. First (and only) time I've been over 400mi on a tank.


Once I got off I-15 onto US-20 and started angling over towards Yellowstone things got a little more interesting. No real issues, but the temp was hovering right around freezing, I was climbing in elevation, there was a little bit of mixed precipitation, and it was dark. I got in to West Yellowstone around 8 or 9pm, I think, and called it a night to be ready for a relatively early morning.

I discovered a couple days before going to Yellowstone that much of the park is inaccessible to wheeled traffic during the winter months. Basically, you can drive in from the north, but you can't drive to any of the "standard" sights, like Old Faithful. To get there you have to do a guided snowmobile tour or a snowcoach tour. I elected to do the latter, and chose these guys basically because they were the first operation that came up when I searched for it. It was about $100 for a full day tour - left the hotel in W. Yellowstone @ 0830, and all traffic had to be back out of the park by 1700.

This was my trusty steed for the day:

Pretty badass. Directional control is a little shaky - the driver said he just kinda lets it go where it wants and just provides enough steering input to keep it near the middle of the road.

Unlike Bryce Canyon, which had seen tons of snow, it apparently was a very light year for snow in Yellowstone. It was light enough that a couple of days before I went into the park they had restricted access to some of the roads to only fully track'd vehicles - the snowcoaches with skis up front and the snowmobiles couldn't access parts of the roads because the snow was already starting to melt off to the extent that the skis just wouldn't work. Our driver said they would typically have 3 or 4 ft of snow on the ground in late Feb/early Mar, and instead they had probably less than 1/3 of that.

This was the first major wildlife we saw as we drove into the park:

There were actually 2 of them, and they both seemed to be basically dozing. This one finally moved his head a little and I could see his eyes were open when a string of snowmobiles came up behind us.

Most of what we saw were bison/buffalo. We saw some elk, but they were always on the other side of the river we were following along, so there weren't any particularly close encounters with them. We also saw a few coyotes - a couple out in the open fields, most likely hunting for mice under the snow:




And one that crossed the road right behind us after we came to a stop to watch it:




No sign of any bears. At one of the scenic trail stops we talked a bit with a ranger who came by on a snowmobile. He said that the bears were just starting to come out of hibernation. He and others had seen tracks, but nobody had actually sighted a bear yet. I was surprised to learn just how long bears will hibernate - a female with a cub can hibernate up to ~200 days! I had no idea; I would've guessed about 1/2 that.

Back to the bison... That same scenic trail stop where we met the ranger we actually stopped at twice, once on the way to Old Faithful and once on the way back. Only on the way back were we able to actually get out of the snowcoach and go walk the trail - the first time we pulled off the main road and drove back to the parking area and found this:








Needless to say, we didn't get out of the snowcoach that time!
 

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In addition to Old Faithful (which, honestly, was a bit underwhelming) we stopped at two different trails that had the full range of thermal features - geysers, mud pits, hot springs, and steam vents (links to video clips).




Both stops had raised walkways that wound in amongst the thermal features. The ground could be as warm as 180+F in places, hence the walkways.












The various yellows and greens are bacteria that grow in the hot water from the springs. In the picture below you can see little black spots on the bacteria - that's little bitty flies and mites that survive on the bacteria. They live year-round, even in the deepest, coldest winter weather, because they stay right on the surface of the hot water. Pretty amazing that life can survive in such hostile conditions.


This hot spring pumps 4000gal/min of 190F water into the river. I didn't jump in.






 

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A couple of the other snowcoaches, new school and old sk00l:






At the one restroom stop we visited there was a "warming hut", which had a bulletin board for people to post pictures. I took pictures of a couple of pictures :p because they were pretty awesome shots.

A couple of wolves on the hunt, I presume taken from a helo (?):


A bighorn sheep captured at about the perfect moment:


That night I stayed in W. Yellowstone and had dinner at the Wolf Pack Brewing Co - a good burger. Their menu had 18 Yellowstone trivia questions in it, my favorite of which was: What's the worst way to distinguish between a black bear and a grizzly bear? A: To get away, climb a tree. If the bear follows you up the tree it's a black bear, if it knocks the tree down to get to you, it's a grizzly. :D

The obligatory Old Faithful picture:


The rest of the story isn't nearly as interesting, I guess, nor as picture-intensive. The full summary goes like so:

  • Day 1 (2/26): Depart Silverdale, WA, head down I-5 thru WA and OR, stop in Crescent City, CA after midnight
  • Day 2 (2/27): Leave Crescent City, CA, sight-seeing in Redwoods National & State Parks, then down 101 along the coast for a bit before cutting across 299 to I-5S again, finishing up in Stockton, CA
  • Day 3 (2/28): From Stockton, CA into Yosemite National Park for a few hours of sight-seeing, then exited the park to the south on 41 to 99, stopping in Bakersfield for the night
  • Day 4 (3/1): Left Bakersfield down 99 to I-15, heading northeast thru NV, clip the corner of AZ, into UT, stopping in Bryce Canyon City
  • Day 5 (3/2): Spent the whole day in Bryce Canyon National Park
  • Day 6 (3/3): Left Bryce Canyon, heading west initially to get back to I-15, then up I-15 thru UT and ID, branching off on UT-20 to US-20 in WY, stopping at W. Yellowstone, WY for the night
  • Day 7 (3/4): Spent the day in Yellowstone National Park. I made it to MT, but I guess the car never did.
  • Day 8 (3/5): Left W. Yellowstone, heading north to pick up I-94E; elected to take the northern route, staying on I-94 (rather than I-90) thru WY and stopping in Bismarck, ND for the night
  • Day 9 (3/6): Left Bismarck, ND, continuing along I-94E thru ND, MN, and into WI, stopping in Madison for the night
  • Day 10 (3/7): Left Madison, WI, down I-90 and I-39 into IL to I-88E, passing south of Chicago to pick up I-90/80E across IN and OH into western PA, stopping in Grove City for the night
  • Day 11 (3/8): Left Grove City and continued across I-80 thru PA, then picked up I-84E to cross NY well north of NYC, into CT and arriving at home in Ledyard, CT
  • Days 12-13 (3/9-3/10): Stayed at home with the family
  • Day 14 (3/11): Drove down from Ledyard to Bolling AFB in the south end of DC
I was somewhere around 5100mi when I got to CT, and then I didn't really check the odometer again after that. It's 375mi from home to Bolling, so altogether I was around 5500mi.

A few other random pics from the trip... First was one from the middle of nowhere MN. I generally stopped for gas around the 16-16.5gal used point, figuring that stretching beyond that, particularly out in the great wide open west, would be pushing my luck (17.5gal tank). The computer lets you display a trip odometer or a number of other things, including fuel used, and I've found it's pretty accurate - generally within a couple/few tenths of a gallon. So, I pull off the highway in MN, hop out to get gas and find:

What the...? There's no fucking premium! :mad: I think it was an Exxon/Mobil, so it's not like this was some no-name generic gas station, but all the pumps were like that. Of course, I'm at the point now that I don't know if I'll make the next exit if I don't get gas, so I put a couple gallons in and proceeded on to the next exit to find a real gas station.

A nice sunset, I think in ND. This was taken with the camera held up through the sunroof at 84mph :p


I've seen guys with stacks poking up through the bed of their diesel pick-ups, but these struck me as just a biiiiit much :rolleyes:

They had to have been about 8" diameter.

Last but not least, a crappy picture of a pretty damn impressive sight. I passed 2 wind turbine blades heading the other direction, and unfortunately wasn't able to dig out the camera quickly enough to get a better picture. The damn things had to be ~90ft long. I knew those turbines could be big, but when I'm seeing them up on a hill/mountain from a mile or two away, I just don't appreciate how big. Seeing the blades on the trailers, though, was a real eye opener!
 

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What an awesome trip you had. Great pics!
 

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Fantastic trip.. thanks for the pics
 

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:cheers:

Great pictures! I live in the Pacific Northwest and still cant believe the scenery!

I am surprised you missed Crater Lake.... You were not too far away when you were at the Redwoods...

I hope you enjoyed your trip. :cool:
 

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Great pictures! I live in the Pacific Northwest and still cant believe the scenery!
It's definitely something I'm going to miss about being up there. I had an unobstructed view of the Olympic Mountains from my master bedroom in the house I was living in up in WA. Just don't get to see scenery like that on the East Coast!

I am surprised you missed Crater Lake.... You were not too far away when you were at the Redwoods...
Yeah, there were a number of other parks I was interested in - Crater Lake, Zion, Arches, etc. While I did have time to burn, I also wanted to get home to CT and spend a couple days before I headed down to DC, so I limited my stops a little bit.

Do you have a high res version of bryce canyon6.jpg?
http://www.submariner.org/thepno95/Pictures/Cross Country 2010/IMG_2042.JPG

If anyone wants any of the other pics in full res versions, just let me know and I'll upload them.
 

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Great pics! And a great story. When my '04 was just over 2 months old, we went on a 10,000 mile trip circling the country and hitting 25 states and provinces.

We did Boston through Niagara Falls into Ontario back through Michigan, ferried across Lake Michigan, straight to the Dakotas, Wall Drug, Badlands, Mt Rushmore, Devils Tower, to Billings up over Beartooth Pass to Yellowstone for 2 days, Tetons, Jackson Hole, to Mt Ranier, Seattle, Crater Lake, Redwoods, Bay area for a week then Death Valley, Las Vegas, Hoover Dam, Grand Canyon for 2 days, Tulsa, Chicago, Pro Football HOF in Canton, OH back to Boston. Took 3 1/2 weeks.

Amazing sights out there. Seeing many of these pics brought back the memories. Thanks!
 
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