Starting off where 'Ol Red is parked

Chicago Travel Blog

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Hancock Tower from North Beach

I had roughly researched a westbound route to be 2666 miles, through nine states (IL, WI, MN, SD, WY, ID, OR, NV, CA).  All said and done, making it up as the roads rolled on, I only overshot that by 63 miles.  The actual 2729 miles (4392km) were covered on countless back roads, some were exceptionally lonely and remote, but all were scenic in their own way, about 200mi of which were dirt/gravel.  I set no speed records, averaging about 45~50mph, scenic views came into and faded from view slowly, the sun relentlessly baked the road and any exposed flesh (driving without the top/doors), and the wind was both a friend and an enemy depending on its angle.

As expected, the most consequential strategy was balancing engine temperature.  Driving a large, non-aerodynamic car with low gearing doesn't help, but add a trailer, steep mountains, scorching summer temperatures and the battle is a little more complicated.  It didn't help that 'Ol Red was marching on with a crack in each of her exhaust manifolds, a faulty thermostat and missing radiator fan shroud.  But at least when discovered, it absolved most of the blame of being operator error of technique but reassigned it as delinquent maintenance - of which little could be done until reaching the finish line since time did not afford delivery nor installation of parts while on the move.  Sometimes there was victory, but sometimes thermodynamics proved to be more stubborn than the driver.  Defeat resulted in helplessly waiting wherever the wheel of chance stopped, as it takes a while for a 540 lb boiling block of steel to cool in triple-degree heat.  But one thing I will say for our countrymen, particularly on the back roads, they are genuinely good people.  Regardless of why we were stopped, I lost track of how many times they would inquire if everything was alright, offer supplies, assistance or whatever they could - it was a stark contrast to the impersonal attitudes in the cities.  They don't believe they pay it forward out of some altruistic ideology, but rather because it's simply the neighborly thing to do and they treat everyone as a neighbor.  So with the backdrop set, the green flag dropped.

Starting in Chicago, hastily trying to get all my errands done and collect my Jeep and homemade trailer in less than 24hrs, which would be my home for the next 5 weeks, I was off on the odyssey at slow marathon pace.  Leaving in the prime window of rush hour, I made it as far as Madison on the first leg.

jacobi says:
Congrats on being featured :)
Posted on: Jun 09, 2017
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Hancock Tower from North Beach
Hancock Tower from North Beach
photo by: mahoney