Kevin Standlee (kevin_standlee) wrote,
Kevin Standlee

The Road to SMOFCon, Day 2: Tonopah NV to Williams AZ

Today's travel was Tonopah to Williams, optimistically 426 miles but I find the real-world distance for us to be about 10% more, and the Google Maps travel time projections are nonsense, particularly if you are like me and need to stop at least once an hour for either a bathroom break or a chance to stretch a leg that keeps wanting to cramp up.

Cold Kuma

It was pretty cold in Tonopah at 7 AM this morning: about -18°C factoring the wind-chill. travelswithkuma wasn't the only one bundled up against the cold. The Astro was balky, not about starting, but about opening its doors. Both the passenger side door and rear door were difficult to open. We got everything packed into the van and warmed it up, with Lisa scraping frost while I checked us out of the hotel. I'm very grateful we remembered to buy a new frost scraper a few days ago, or this morning would have been even more troublesome. We got moving about 7:30 AM PT, 2 1/2 hours before my scheduled departure, by dint of us having laid in some food last night to have for breakfast this morning.

Goldfield Subway

Goldfield, the next town south of Tonopah, is barely alive in many ways. It has no gas stations anymore, and only a small grocery store. But someone, for some reason, brought these subway entrances here some years ago. We saw them when we last passed through here, and they still are there today. Why and how, we still don't know.

US-95 in Nevada is not a good place to be driving when you take diuretics for high blood pressure and drank two cups of coffee over breakfast. We managed to find the town park in Goldfield which had public restrooms, but it was a long haul (over 60 miles) to the next place we could stop, and I was quite relieved when we got to Beatty. After using the facilities and buying candy, nuts, and jerky from the "Eddie World" shop there, we partially refueled the minivan, assuming gas would be cheaper in Las Vegas. Bad decision. We would have been better off to completely refuel at Beatty and then again at the Pilot truck stop in Kingman AZ. Now we know for the return trip.

Alien Center

South of Beatty, we did a driver change across from the Area 51 Alien Travel Center. We also stopped briefly at Indian Springs, where US-95 becomes a multi-lane divided road again.

We went through Las Vegas (approximately the halfway point of today's trip), eventually stopping in Henderson to refuel and buy some take-out food to get us back on the road as fast as possible. I took no photos; I was too busy driving. The same goes for the construction work and signs for the Interstate 11 project.

Lake Mead -- What's Left of It

However, because I took a wrong turn in Boulder City and thus ended up on the old road, I had a chance to stop and take this photo of what remains of Lake Mead before getting back on the main road for the un-scenic trip over the bridge across the Colorado, which is constructed to give you no view at all.

Colorado River

At the vista point a few miles south of the crossing, we stopped to change drivers so I could eat my lunch and take this picture of the Colorado River downstream from Hoover Dam...

Wildlife Crossing

...and of the wildlife crossing (the bridge over the freeway in the distance) built to allow bighorn sheep and other critters to cross the highway safely.

We pushed on as fast as we could south to Kingman, but we did take the "scenic route" (Andy Devine Blvd/Old US-66) in Kingman itself on our way to a grocery store we've used before. No pictures this time, but I took some on our last trip through here a few years ago if you're curious.

Stopping for the groceries, we had a slight setback: the minivan's rear door won't open. When I tried to open it, I heard something inside go clunk and now it's stuck shut. This is not a catastrophe, but it's going to make the trip very annoying, as we now have to remove everything via the side door over the middle seats. Lisa says she thinks she can repair it when we get home. This could have been considerably worse, with the door refusing to close, for example, or us carrying our "big tech" gear for Match Game SF. As it stands now, it's just an inconvenience.

By now the sun was heading for the horizon, and we were heading away from the sun as we set forth east on I-40 as fast as we could legally go, which is 75 miles per hour. We made excellent time, but I was getting pretty worn by now and really wanting to get to Williams. On the way to the hotel, we saw that downtown Williams is full of winter fun with the streets closed off, but by the time we got to the hotel (6:30 PM MT), we were too tired to do anything but order in pizza and collapse.

My scheduling software did not take into account the fact that Arizona is on Mountain Time. I'm glad we got going as early as we did this morning, as this partially counteracted that scheduling error. We took about ten hours to make more than 425 miles, and that's probably the best average we can manage given the number of stops we usually make. While this is the longest leg of our outbound trip (we have 360 miles planned to Albuquerque tomorrow), the return trip has a couple of even longer segments because of having slightly less time to get home and a planned two-day stay in Las Vegas. I think I'm glad we have two nights planned at Albuquerque.
Tags: kuma bear, lisa, smofcon, travel

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