I originally intended to take about 3 days to drive from San Diego to Omaha, doing about 500 miles a day, or a leasurely 8 hours of driving a day.
For some reason, I just couldn't fall asleep Friday night, so at about 2 am Saturday morning, I just said screw it, got in the car and headed out. It was shortly before 3 am by the time I hit the road and stopped for gas. The first few hours were pretty uneventful, driving up I-15 through Riverside in the dark on Saturday Morning, there wasn't much traffic. The traffic started to really pick up after passing Barstow. There was much idiocy, with people doing 45 MPH trying to pass thus holding up traffic for miles behind. It finally cleared up around the state line.
You could tell the moment you crossed into Nevada, as there was a couple huge casinos just across the border. I was starting to get hungry by this time, as was the car, but I didn't want to stop in Vegas, so I continued on to Mesquite. The gas station had slot machines inside, but the Jack-In-The-Box didn't.
I passed through Arizona very briefly, then on into Utah. There was some interesting scenery, with canyons and stuff on either side of the highway, but while that was impressive, it paled in comparison to what I'd see in Colorado. Plenty of idiots on the roads there too. I'm hauling a ton of stuff (literally), and had to keep hitting my brakes because morons kept deciding to pass right in front of me. I found myself wondering if my car had a big sign reading "Please pull in front of me". I passed through Beaver, UT, and noted that this was where Microsoft Streets and Trips had suggested I stop for the night. Except that it was wasn't even noon yet, so I pressed on. I swiched over to the I-70 and stopped in Salina, UT for gas.
Then it was on into Colorado. I crossed the Colorado River several times and noted it really didn't seem all that impressive. The highway now started to snake THROUGH the canyons, instead of mearly passing by them. But the best was still yet to come! I stopped in Glenwood Springs for some more gas. After leaving there, the speed limit on the freeway dropped to 50 MPH, and I was starting to get annoyed, as there didn't appear to be any reason for it. Then I passed through a tunnel and it all became clear. The freeway passed right through the bottom of a very narrow canyon, with the walls towering overhead. I put the car on cruise control and tried to stretch my neck to get a good look. The roadbed was elevated above the floor of the canyon, with the Colorado River raging underneath. I saw a couple boats negociating their way downstream through the rapids. It was absoluetely incredible. I must go back there some time with a less loaded vehicle so I can stop and take better pictures. I did manage to get a few with my cellphone, though I haven't downloaded them yet. After leaving the canyons, the freeway started climbing, high up into the mountains. I passed through Vail and climbed to just over 10,000 feet. Then down a wee bit through Dillon, then back up again. I managed to reach 11,180 feet just before entering the Eisenhower Memorial Tunnel. At those elevations, with a full loaded car, on a hot, humid day, my car was struggling to maintain speed. I had the car in 2nd gear with the pedal all the way to the floor just to keep climbing. I seemed to be having a better time of it than other drivers, though. The thunderstorms that were threatening all afternoon finally made good, and it started coming down in buckets. The worst came after exiting the tunnel, it was raining so hard I could barely see. Most other drivers had slowed down, but there were a few maniacs to insisted on trying to do 80 or more despite the torrential downfall, steep terrain and winding road.
It was about this time I realized I didn't have a street address, just a PO Box number. I didn't know where I was supposed to go! I called my SO's cellphone and left a message that I was early and that I needed his address.
I arrived in Denver, having driven about 16 hours. Microsoft had suggested I stop here for my second night. By now it was about 6 o' clock, but wasn't really feeling all that tired. The sun was still in the sky, and I was only a few hundred miles from the Nebraska border, so again, I decided to press on. I switched onto I-76 and stopped in Fort Morgan for dinner at Arby's. The rest of Colorado was pretty boring, mostly flat with little or nothing to see. By now the sun was going down and it started getting dark. I had been driving about 10 miles over the limit most of the way, but with the increasing darkness (and the increasing highway patrol presence), I dropped back to the speed limit. The road was mostly empty, but I was still passing people left and right.
I gave my SO a phone call and sent a text message asking for the address again.
Shortly after the Nebraska border, I-76 merged with I-80. Here, some moron in an SUV that I'd passed some time earlier came roaring up in the left lane just as the two were about to merge. I had to slam on the brakes and drive onto the shoulder to avoid a collision. Shortly after that, the idiot slowed down again, and even though I was still doing the speed limit, I passed him like he was standing still. ince leaving Denver I'd thought about stopping in North Platte for the night, but it was only a couple more hours to Lincoln, so I just stopped for some gas and caffeine and pressed on again. Nebraska at night is a pretty boring place, but fortunately, there was a rather impressive thunderstorm in the distance.
I finally got into Lincoln about 2 am and I was pretty beat. I started looking for a place to spend the night. Despite there being dozens of motels all over, they were all full! Augh! I stopped in a rest area half-way between Lincoln and Omaha and starting calling, texting, IMing and e-mailing trying to get a response. Nothing. Augh! I took a nap at the rest stop, then drove around for a bit trying to find a hotel with a vacancy. Some time around 6 am, I stopped at an IHOP and had breakfast and 4 cups of coffee. I drove across the border into Iowa, just to say I'd been there, then started driving around, hoping maybe I could spot some landmarks or something to tell me I'd gotten close. I kept calling every 30 minutes or so, but by now the cellphone was going straight to voice mail, it had obviously been turned off. I got a bit annoyed at this, and even though it was about 10 in the morning, I kept looking for a hotel room. I finally found a place in Greenwood, NE that had one room available. The motel clerk asked me if I was in town for the big race. Apparently that, plus some conventions in Lincoln and the 4th of July holiday, was the reason all the hotels were full. I headed for my room, took a quick shower then crashed hard for about 3 hours.
I got up and drove to the nearest place to get some food, a truck stop on the other side of the freeway. Then, feeling bored, I decided to investigate the huge ADULT 24 HOUR sign off the highway. I never did find the adult place (I learned later it had disappeared some time ago), but instead ended up in an antique shop. It was then I finally got a text message from my SO. Apparently the ring tone he'd uploaded to his phone wasn't working (stupid Verizon), and he'd forgotten to plug it in and the battery had died. He was getting all of my messages in a sudden flood. He gave me directions to his place. It had taken me about 24 hours worth of driving to get to Omaha, and another 12 hours after I got there to find my destination. I slept until well after noon on Monday.