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Jun. 21st, 2010 06:29 pm Day 14: Newport, Oregon - The End...

Miles: 3365

Weather:  Sun, heat, snow, rain, thunderstorms, cold, hail!

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As yesterday was rainy and all, I decided to wait until today to officially complete my tour of the end of US Route 20 in Newport, Oregon.  The road ends at the junction of US Highway 101, otherwise known as the Pacific Coast highway which runs from California to Washington and from what I hear is an amazing drive!

The intersection does not indicate an END, however it is well marked as the beginning from either direction on US 101.  As with the Boston End, there is no indication that this is the longest highway in the United States, nor does it give you the mileage to Boston. It is interesting that lesser known roads sometimes get lots of attention, but our poor route 20 has no distinction. The only location I found with such distinction was in Nebraska where there was a Route 20 association.

As for Newport, the name kind of speaks for itself. It is a port city and a very heavy fishing community with a Gloucester, MA image minus the grit! Walking along its famous port you smell fish and see numerous boats and packing companies. Tour boats will take you out for a day of fishing.

The coast is absolutely beautiful, situated 68 feet below the town, due to the steep cliffs that line the shore and when the sun came out and the sky cleared , you could see for miles on the shimmering blue water.

Several lighthouses dot the coast here, one that is defunct due to a poor location and another that sticks out on a point!  The beaches are wide at low tide with miles to walk, obstructed only by the channel into the harbor.

Unlike most of the Atlantic, with the exception of Bar Harbor, when you look back from the coast, you can see the land rise into the hills with the mountains not too far in the distance.

There is a lot of natural beauty here in Newport, and a great end destination city! I wish I could stay a few more days and explore up and down the coast here, but my day is short and I will begin my return trip to Boston via Portland and Seattle.
The return road will not be route 20, but primarily interstate 90 which runs through Washington, Montana, South Dakota and will eventually parallel 20 once again as you approach Chicago. 

I will miss US 20, as it has been an amazing friend and guide to me for 14 days.   This is not the end but will be a fond memory filled with adventure and something new every mile. There will be days of editing photos and writing a summary of my trip.  For the photogeek, I took all my pictures in RAW and JPG.  RAW will help me with better editing of the best pictures of which there are over 1500 to go through. 

To the followers of my blog, I will post an a recap/summary in a few days!  Thank you for following along, and I may just put some interesting ON the WAY HOME stuff up on here as well!

To quote a friend and a song from the 90's.  "Every new beginning starts from some other beginnings end"!!

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Jun. 20th, 2010 10:40 pm Day 13: Burns, OR to Newport, OR

Miles: 316

Weather:  Mostly Cloudy, Fog and drizzle  46 to 62.

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This was it, my final day of driving west on Route 20!  There was 309 miles to go, once again a larger time frame than normal. But as you leave Burns, OR there is 100 miles of nothing except for wide open spaces.

Back to Burns,  it is like an oasis in the center of Oregon. It is just there! It reminded of me the that town that the rest of the world forgot.  This is a good thing and there were many places like that on Route 20.

In Burns, I also noticed for the first time since New York, old road signs and wrong road signs. It seems petty, I this is what gave it its charm to see relics of an older time.

As you ascend out of Burns, you are warned that there is no gas service for 99 miles!  Such a long stretch, but I had a friend who used to live in this area forewarn me of this remote area.

It was beautiful and probably the straightest stretch of road in all of US 20. You are in a valley or basin as they called it surrounded by native sage brush. This is all part of the high elevation desert!

At one point you on the road you reach a point to where you get a view of the towering Cascades in the distance! These acted as my mile marker knowing that on the other side, I was just 100 miles from my destination.

About 20 miles east of Bend, you reach a geological wayside. An ancient river gorge in which the river long dried up, which was once part of the glacial history of the area.  It is these sites that make the trip interesting and thought provoking. I am sure many people just drive by here everyday and never give it one glace.  I think for me for 99% of this trip, I was always aware of what was around me.

At this point to, you start to notice something a little different with the landscape, conifer trees! I saw them in Yellowstone, but pretty much the distance from eastern Iowa to this point has been treeless, except where people had planted them or along a water source.  As you got closer to Bend, the trees too became more numerous.

You then reach Pilot Butte, which is on the east side of the city. It is an ancient volcanic feature that rises up above the city.   There is an autoroad to the top which gives a 360 degree view of the city and surrounding features.

Desert to the east, mountains and snow to the west! I wish it was a little clearer as the mountains/volcanoes were shrouded in clouds.  This definetly gives you your weather lesson for the day, as to why there is a desert on the east side of the mountain range as the mountains create an upslope and basically ring out all of the moisture from the Pacific and as the airflow continues down the mountains and eastward it dries out.

I then got lost. Somehow, there are no route signs for 20 in the city or some were just missing. So I followed my GPS for 2 miles on US 97 which then got me back on US 20. And since I am being pure, I backtracked a bit on 20 to see if I missed anything and to say I drove the entire route. I did not miss anything.

As 20 left the city, you entered the Deschutes National Forest, and now I am surrounded by towering pines in which route 20 carved a valley through them.  It was time to climb the Cascades.

I came across the Mount Washington overlook, and finally I was looking at the 'other' Mt. Washington, but just like the one back east, it was in the clouds and I could not see it except for a small glimpse.

Then I was in the fog, or clouds whichever meteorological term you would like to use and you reach the crest at 7000 feet and it is all downhill from here! 

And downhill you go, I have not been this low since I left Iowa. My bottles of soda that I had drank began to collapse under the increasing pressure!

Now I was in a lush, green forest, surrounded by all types of trees.

I was back in a 'normal' world for me, and now I was back on flat land as I came into the town of Sweet Home!  As the sun came out and I looked around, I kind of felt I was back in Mass or NH with all the greenery and trees!  Maples were lining the streets, all sorts of flowers, so I am assuming now that we are in the same climate zone! It felt like home!

I kind of decided that I will be coming back this stretch of road on my way to Portland on I 5, so I did not look around here as much and just wanted to get to the end point!  This was in Albany, OR, an original endpoint for US 20 before it was extended to the ocean.

I then went over a few more ridges and valleys, some being extremely dense with trees that it was dark!  They are rerouting US 20 to a highway and bypassing all of the twists and turns and a covered bridge! I am glad I got to drive the original route still.

My GPS was a countdown, 5 miles, 4 miles, 3 miles... 2 miles and then 1 mile!!! 

(note: the last few pics are candid shots and not the best, but show you how I first saw the end)

I had made it! over 4,000 miles of driving  with detours and seeing other things I had driven the entire length of US Route 20 and here was the sign, Junction US 101

and the Pacific Ocean behind that!   Red light, I MADE IT!!    There is no END sign, but there is a BEGIN sign! 

As it was raining, I decided to get my END pictures tomorrow when it clears up some. I will post my Newport, OR update later on and then hopefully some thoughts!

Boston, 3366 miles east!


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Jun. 20th, 2010 12:09 pm Day 12: Carey, ID to Burns, OR

Miles:  327

Weather:  Mostly Sunny with an afternoon thunderstorm.  45 to 87 degrees

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I woke up today along a nice stream just north of the city of Carey, ID. It was an isolated area surrounded by mountains and very quiet.  It was early and I knew I had a long day ahead of me on Route 20.  Not that any day has been short, but  I would likely be driving the furthest today than any other day. In other states prior to Idaho, there were many towns and small things to see and do, sometimes going just 35 mph for long stretches of time. However, here in Idaho it is a wide open desert area where a majority of US 20 is marked with a speed limit of 65 mph, towns are very few and far between, some 30-40 miles apart from each other.

Also, your view is endless, so it seems. You can see 20 miles ahead of you, so you sort of know what is approaching. Needless to say, you could somewhat predict what you were going to see and when you wanted to stop.

With that said, I drove through the desert of central and western Idaho.  There was not much to see, except for scenery.  Route 20 roughly follows the Oregon Trail. It must have been rough back then to get west.

I then reached the city of Mountain Home, this is where 20 meets up with Interstate 15 and US 30.

This is where an anomoly occurs.
 Without getting too deep into it. US Routes start with lower numbers in the east and in the north.  US 1 runs from Maine to Florida and US 95 Runs from Washington to California and US 20 runs from Mass, to Oregon where US 80 originally went from Georgia to California.  A zero at the end of the route indicated a coast to coast route. (Note, the interstate highways run opposite of the US highways.)

The anomaly is that 20 now runs below 30 after this section of road. Not a big deal, but purists like to make note of that.

Route 20 then takes you into downtown Boise, Idaho, the state capital and just two blocks away from the Capitol. 

It was so good to be back in civilization once again.  Being isolated is nice, but when there is nothing around you for miles, it plays on you just a little bit I think. The name Boise is dervied from the French word for "woods",  since most of this part of Idaho is desert, the Boise River provides and oasis like area of trees and greenery.

Several miles past Boise, as the road sort of tracks northward you encounter a replica of Old Fort Boise

and after you meet the state line at the Snake River.

I finally made my destination state of Oregon. A little sad feeling came over me that I had made it this far and there would be no more states to enter on 20.

You enter Malheur County which boasts itself as being larger than Rhode Island, Connecticut and Delaware combined!  I have to say I was worried that perhaps I would be in for another round of desolate areas, but this stretch of road surprised me greatly and it gave me many stops.

The first was Malheur Butte, which is the inner working of an ancient volcano in which the surrounding landscape had eroded.

The first city is that of Vale, OR.  A rustic city with murals painted on many buildings depicting the Oregon Trail experience. Also and old stone hotel exists here, remnants of those days.

As you leave Vale, you see a sign that reads, "No Services for 68 miles". At least they did this here, I wish they did that in Idaho City!
One has to wonder, what will you see for 68 miles. Let me tell you, the scenery was absolutely astounding! The road winds through some very steep valleys along side of various creeks.  And every turn gave you a new perspective.

For the road geek in me this was a treasure find. Apparently several years back, the state of Oregon straightened and widened parts of 20 through this region and instead of  tearing up the old road, they left many sections behind. So you can see off shoots of what was 20, some going through other fields, some going parallel and some hugging a mountainside.

The jackpot came when I reached the area known as Old Horseshoe bend.  An original bridge that pre-dates US 20 still exists from 1932, which then goes through a cut in the rock!

I had a sense of how cars and people traveled this narrow road a half century or more ago!

If you drive this route, keep in mind that for most of the 68 miles, there is also no cell phone service. Not a big deal, but that peace of mind is gone.

You then start to enter various valleys and ridges that go through passes and eventually cross into the Pacific Time zone.  I am now 3 hours behind and even though I have been traveling, I still notice it.

The views are stunning through this section of Oregon with many pulls offs to get some great shots or just "be alone" with very few cars passing by.

I pulled into my destination city of Burns, Oregon. A thunderstorm was approaching and I figured, now would be a good time to stop!  I planned out my route for my last day on 20!

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Jun. 18th, 2010 10:03 pm Day 11: Yellowstone National Park to Carey, ID

Miles: 266

Weather:  Mostly sunny, 29 to 71 degrees.

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I started my morning in the Grand Teton National Park, and woke up way to early due to the temperature dropping to 29 degrees. It was chilly. Although this was ok, since I wanted to get an early start which included watching the sunrise cast its light on the Grand Tetons.

I then ate breakfast and made the 40 mile journey back to Yellowstone and then rejoined US Route 20 after a day away. As stated before, US 20 is not signed in the park, but on my GPS and maps it is marked, except for one park sign that I found.

This section of Route 20 goes cuts through two crossings of the Continental Divide, where the drainage either empties into the Atlantic or the Pacific. There is a unique spot at ___ Lake where it is situated on the divide itself and it had two drainage's to both basins.

The road then continues directly past the most famous attraction in Yellowstone, Old Faithful Geyser.  I arrived at 8:58 AM, and the park had predicted an eruption at 9:06 +/- 10 minutes.  Just in time. So I went, got set up on the viewing bench and waited until 9:16 for the eruption. I have to say, it was sort of anti-climatic.  Yes it was impressive, but honestly, for me, seeing the videos of it pretty much speak for itself.  Still tho, an impressive site.

As you leave Old Faithful, you drive through an area of the park that was heavily devastated by the forest fires of 1988.  I remember reading about it when it happened and in National Geographic. Now I could see it for myself. It was interesting to see burnt trees still standing, but the most impressive aspect was the natural rebirth of the forests that are now 22 years old.

Young for a forest, but not as baren as it once was. The road winds through Madison Canyon.  This is a popular spot for fly fishing and as well as the bison, who wanted to take a stroll down the road, creating a major traffic jam.

As you leave the canyon area, you cross the state line into Montana.

Of course being in the national park, there are not any flashy "welcome" signs, just a simple post stating you are in another state.  About 3 more miles you leave the park and once again you are officially on the western section of US Route 20 in West Yellowstone, Montana.  The welcome sign greets you!

I walked around this western themed town, which of course isn't really themed. This is a good way of life. The town is set up as a tourist trap though and  things are way overpriced, for example a cheeseburger at McDonalds is $2.00!  and gas was over $3.00!  Still, the town seemed very friendly and I loved the rustic look it had.

I wanted to spend some time here looking around, but I only got to a few shops. Otherwise I would have spent too much money.

This small section though of US 20, was 70 mph!  Amazing for a two lane road. As I entered the Targhee Pass,  the state border roughly outlines the continuation of the continental divide. 

I drove just 9 miles to the Montana/Idaho state border.

I finally was in Idaho! A new state again for me.

I camped out in Montana 2 nights before in the  town of  Gardiner. I seriously would like to give Montana a deeper look. When I return next week, I will be driving through more of the state and will have a chance.

Now I am in Idaho, and you know, being an east coast boy, you are used to small states and when a map of say, Vermont shows a scale of 1:5 you get used to that (1 inch for every 5 miles), the Idaho map is more like 1:20. Very deceiving.

Route 20 actually goes southwest paralleling the Grand Tetons to the east. The Tetons were route markers for people traveling in the area and I can see why, I could see them on the other side for approximately 100 miles.

There were numerous small towns along the way and you actually get to drive through an ancient 40 mile wide caldera. The collapsed region after a volcano violently erupts. I did not realize it at first, but at one point you can actually see the circular formation of the caldera in which you eventually climb out of.

As you climb out you then get an amazing view of a wide open plain. Further than the eye can see. 

The road then becomes a 4 lane highway which eventually meets up with I 15.  I somehow missed my turn in Idaho Falls and had to make a turn around.

As I headed west on 20 from Idaho Falls, I thought I had enough gas and there would be a gas station past the one I drove by. Well, I was wrong!  I just kept driving and driving .

There was a gap of 57 miles without ANYTHING!  Except some secret government research place. No homes, no roads, no gas stations, nothing but sage brush!  I rolled into the town of Arco, ID finally practically on fumes and filled my truck. THANK YOU!!

The town, small in nature, had an interesting feature of a numbered mountain. Ever since 1922, the graduating class of the high school has a tradition of marking their year on the face of the mountain. Neat to see.

After Arco, you guessed it, NOTHING!  You enter Craters of the Moon National Preserve. This is an area filled with basalt, (old lava flows) and cinders from volcanoes that erupted here thousands of years ago.  The surface is black with some sage and flowers growing, but that is it. It seemed lifeless.  If you want to talk about desolate and loneliness, this place seemed to envoke it.  It has its geological beauty, but still, on all of Route 20, there were some signs of civiliation and human life. All I had was the road!

You then decend out of the area and the sun hit the mountains just right to give it a refreshing look at least with the basalt in the front!

I finally made it to the town of Carey, where I turned off to go to a camp site along a small stream. It was peaceful and quiet!  


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Jun. 17th, 2010 06:43 pm Day 10; Shoshone National Forest, WY to Yellowstone National Park, WY

Miles: 58

Weather: Mostly Sunny

 Just to note, in this update I am only going to include the portion of the trip that was on US 20 (see below). I will be off of 20 for two day and will pick it back up on Friday!

 Once again it rained all night long, I am getting used to it now!  I woke up to a chilly 43 degrees and sunshine at least poking through the trees.  I honestly had no idea as to where I was going to go today, except get back on US 20 and head west to Yellowstone Park.

A little bit of history and information for you. When US 20 was originally planned and signed, its end was at the Eastern Entrance to Yellowstone Park. This changed in 1940 when it was extended to Newport, Oregon!  Also of note, all routes in National Parks are "suspended" or not signed. Meaning, you will not see any route signs and officially they are designated park route names.  The signing of 20 will begin once again at the Western Entrance in West Yellowstone, Montana.  However, some maps and a GPS still refer to the route inside the park as US 20. I have decided for all purposes to include what you would see if you were to drive continuously on Route 20 and not break.

Route 20 follows the ___ in a gorge with views and geology likely not seen anywhere else. The road twists and turns through snow capped peaks, then you reach the entrance to Yellowstone National Park.

The road is gated and closed during the winter months. You pay to get in and you are on your way. 

Suddenly you are transported to another world of an ascending road with mountains peaking at 10,000 feet next to you. The climate goes from summer to winter as you get higher and higher. Snow is at the side of the road and it is June 16 mind you, just 5 days til the first day of summer.

You then reach what is the highest elevation on Route 20 , 8740 feet above sea level at Sylvan Pass. This then brings you into view of Yellowstone Lake! 

The highest elevation lake in the world, spectacular views are all around and you no doubt know why this land had to be protected and was designated the first National Park in the country!  Pristine beauty is what you can call it!

The road winds around the lake until you reach the "town" of Fishing Bridge. You even get some buffalo along the side of the road!

Not a real town, but a seasonal location with staff from around the country who spend their summers catering to the visitors of the park. There is a diner, gift shop, gas station, car garage, etc. A very nice place.  Then the road splits into two directions. Here I went to do the upper loop and therefore left "20". I will return to this spot in two days!


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Jun. 16th, 2010 08:54 pm Day 9: Douglas, WY to Shoshone National Forest, WY.

Miles:  324

Weather: Fog, Sunshine, Sct Thunderstorms.  45 to 78 degrees


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I woke up in a thick fog, litterally, I was in a river valley and visibility was next to nothing. The city park I stayed at in Douglas was quite nice, they even had free hot showers! This time change thing though got to me today, I could do central, but now that I am 2 hours off, my internal clock had me up at 430 (630 eastern) this morning wanting to go. I said NO! So I tried to get back to sleep, at least til 5. I got up and around and hit the road, sadly, the fog was so thick between Douglas and Casper, all I was able to capture was a fog bow!

After Casper, Wyoming route 20 climbs to an elevation of 6,000 feet, but it is all flat land! The views are impressive in this high dessert where the main thing growing is the sage. Trees only grow where there is water, or where someone put one.

The first site to see is Hells Half Acre, an eroded part of the high plain. If you are into geology, this is the place to be! It has been said that the Indians would race buffalo off the edge for an easy kill, nice huh?? What an amazing view.

What was interesting about this part of Wyoming and of Route 20 was that unlike other states, where something was coming up around the next turn in say a mile or so, here you had a view that lasted say 20 miles until something new came up. You could see snow capped mountains 50+ miles away, or a turn in the road at least 3-5 miles ahead. But! When you did make those turns, the views that awaited were breathtaking!

Enter Wind River Gorge, at first you see the lake, then you turn the corner and see the gorge. What remains is hiding from your view. You are surrounded by cliffs some 2000 feet high around you as you begin a decent down the river valley, through tunnels and geologic time. Each rock formation is listed with its date and name (i.e. Precambrian ..) I snapped so many pictures through here it will be tough to decide which ones are the best.

Eventually you end up at the end of the gorge in the town of Thermopolis. I never heard of that name before in my life. I stopped for lunch, looked up some info. I thought about the Wyoming Dinosaur Museum, but for $10, you've seen one dinosaur, you have seen them all. So I went to the free place. The thermal spring! With a constant temperature of 104 degrees, this area is the largest thermal spring in the world. The state pipes in "fresh" heated water into a pool where you can relax for free. It was like getting in a hot tub, the only bad thing was the sulfur smell. Free is free tho!

As I kept driving, the sky became darker and darker with thunderstorms and eventually was pretty dark. I loved though that you could see almost endlessly to the horizon and the rain shafts, thunder and lightning!

I soon approached the town of Cody, which is the eastern gateway into Yellowstone. It is set up as a tourist trap with many shops and attractions, but if you want to see nature, this is not the town to do it in!

So I passed right through! I was then on Route 14, 16 and 20 all at once. Which passed through a nice canyon and lake.


I kept going until I reached the Shoshone National Forest and set up camp at the forst campsite. It was quiet, right next to the river with some nice shots of the cliffs. I then talked with another camper for a while, he was from the area, so he was able to tell me where to look and go. Just as night fell, the sky drew cloudy and a burst of rain opened up, yet again!
There are so many pictures to go through, that choosing the right ones will be tough!


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Jun. 15th, 2010 08:16 pm Day 9... UPDATE...

I will be entering Yellowstone National Park tonight and I am not sure when my next wi-fi connection will be, so an update will be soon!  Please check back daily! 

Thanks for reading!


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Jun. 15th, 2010 10:46 am Day 8: Valentine, NE to Douglas, WY

Miles: 273

Weather. Rain and drizzle to start, partly sunny to end. 55-60

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Well, I woke up at Smith Falls State Park near Valentine, Nebraska to the sound of light rain. Overnight, there was a downpour that lasted for several hours.  I knew that the weather was going to clear, but when. So I made a strategic move to delay my westward progression by about 3 hours. I went to the Niobara Wildlife Refuge.  Kind of boring, but got to drive along with a buffalo! I updated my blog, drove north into South Dakota to get a picture at the border. Spend $5 at the Casino, I won $5 so it worked out. Headed back to Valentine, by which time it was nearing 11:30 AM.  

The tour books and all the maps say that the Bridges to Buttes trail (Route 20 from Valentine to Wyoming) is quite scenic, so I really did not want to travel it as I had the day before, in the fog and rain.

Luckily after a few miles, the sky showed signs of clearing, a spot of blue here, a ray of sun there.  This is when I reached Mountain Time Zone, so in theory, I gained another hour to my day, in which I planned.

The first town after the time zone is that of Kilgore.  There is nothing here, but, this is a town I looked up a few weeks prior to see what town was next to the time zone. It stuck with me. Valentine has a sunset of 9:22, but Kilgore was 8:23.  Time is fun!

Route 20 through the sandhills is just amazing. You have these ancient sanddunes that rise up to 200 feet around you and the road just winds through each ripple of dune.

As I came up to one point where the sky cleared, I hit a peak in the road, where they changed the composition of the road type to a red stone. Then, almost like a scene from the "Wizard of Oz",  Route 20 just went to the horizon like the yellow brick road, except in red.

I read in the information that in this part of Nebraska,  there is one person for every square mile of land. Amazing

. Soon I came upon the town of Rushville. These towns are spaced pretty far apart with major metro centers very far inbetween.  Rushville had a neat little history museum right on 20, so I decided to stop. The man inside with a very strong accent greeted me and I looked around. The museum was basically a collection of everyday life in the town, from pictures, books, banners of parades, etc. Although I knew nothing of this town, you get the sense of what this town is about see how some towns take pride in their past and hold onto the good relics!

As you leave the sandhills, you enter the hills and areas of buttes around Chadron.  There was so much to see in this neck of Nebraska, but I had to decide my plan for the week and if I looked around here for another day, I would not get to enjoy things farther west, so with some regret, I moved on. But, then again, these were all things well off of Route 20.

I am so glad that I waited back in Valentine to move forward, for the timing was right for showers to pop up and just give way to the amazing landscape the covered the last 50 miles of Nebraska. Each mile I went, you went higher in elevation and the views became extraordinary!

The last town in Nebraska was Harrison. This is the highest town in the state at 4876 feet, for us back east, you are in the mountains at this elevation, here it is still a relatively flat plateau.

I finally reached the Nebraska, Wyoming border. This location was simply amazing, as the sun came out and illuminated the rocks and grasses around me, I felt I was practically in the middle of nowhere.

Compared to the hustle of Chicago, this was the antithesis of that, a car would go by every few minutes. So far this is my favorite border followed by the NY/MA border.

Now I was in Wyoming, and wow, was this sparse. Talk about wide open spaces, here it is. You could live here and really never have contact with anyone!
The first town was Lusk, a very small railroad town with a historic water tower. 

In the distance, you could see the mountains and Laramie Peak, 10,274 ft.  The views just kept getting better as I approached Douglas, WY.

This would be my destination for the night.  After some looking around, I found a camping spot along the North Platte River. 


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Jun. 13th, 2010 08:38 pm Day 7: Sioux City, IA to Valentine, NE

Miles: 237

Weather:  Rain 55 degrees

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Today is what I would call a bust day overall.  I woke up to a light sprinkle, but encountered heavy showers the entire day. I believe I saw 30 seconds of sun and a bit of blue through the heavy clouds and fog.

At the onset of my day I stopped at the overlook the state park had to offer. It was a nice view of the Missouri River valley, but it was foggy.

I continued to get back on Route 20 in which I passed an old steam boat which had been converted into a welcome center.
Here I found a guide book to the towns along Route 20, but was told there really wasn't much to see between Sioux City and Valentine as far as attractions or stops go.  Good to know, because today was definitely the 100% chance of rain  day.  

I was able to stop on the bridge first of all to get my picture with the "Welcome to Nebraska" sign, however it was quick and handheld due to the rain and the traffic.

The hills outside of the border were beautiful, but again rain soaked.

My guide book was helpful, but really did not offer up anything I really wanted to see. There was a clown doll museum, I should have stopped, but I didn't.

One site that did stick out however was the Prehistoric Ashfall Museum. Here layers of ash from an ancient Yellowstone Volcano buried alive many animals in a Pompei like fashion. The site with a good visitor center also had a working field house where you can view the excavations and uncoverings of many of the fossils. Even outside you could see fossils in the ground. What a great site to see.  I think overall though I was more impressed seeing the geology of it!  The rain had let up to a light mist by then. This allowed me to walk around a little bit.

I headed back to Route 20 and a little down the way, I was detoured due to flooding between Inman and Oneill. To my surprise though, the detour put me on an old alignment of 20 from many years ago through the town of Page.

I approached Oneill, and what is interesting to me, is that these towns are only 75 to 200 people. I am used to finding towns with at least 1000 people. A very different way of living here is for certain.

I did find however an old route of 20 right along side the new highway, which was very neat to see.

One town that I did pass was called Johnstown, and I thought, "wow, what a quaint rustic village", however after I left I read that it was built as a TV movie set for a CBS show back in 1983 called "O Pioneer". However after looking more closely at it, the town pretty much was abandoned except for the saloon!

I was very disappointed though that the weather was so bad. The views as I got into the Sandhills would be impressive and stunning, but my camera could not capture the beauty that is here.

I arrived in Valentine, NE, and took a side road, which I found out was an original route of 20, even my GPS thought so, because when I was driving on the new road, it indicated I was in a field.  This side road went over a steel bridge which has the designation of being the only arched cantaleiver bridge in the country!

I figured that Valentine would be my ultimate destination for the evening. I could not locate any campgrounds nearby, so I headed to Smith Falls State Park on the Niobrara River. The rain had let up briefly, so I checked in, got situated at my site and took a quick walk to the falls.  This is the highest waterfall in the state of Nebraska at 70 feet! day 7They were very beautiful indeed but then the rain started up again and I head for my truck for a night of typing and reading.

There is no cell service, wifi or even tv reception.  Who needs it though, right?


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Jun. 12th, 2010 08:31 pm Day 6: Quasqueton, IA to Sioux City, IA

Miles: 251

Weather;  Thunderstorms to start, then partly sunny. 66 to 81 degrees.

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I have to say that my camp out from last night was simply amazing. Sleeping along a river in a small rural town was just so relaxing.
I was awakened by the pitter patter of rain on my roof top and thunder. Well there goes my day around here I thought.  I did a quick scan of the radar and noticed that most of the heavy weather was to the south, but still I was in for a good soaking.

I decided to make the most of a rainy day and stay inside.  I first went to the local McDonalds, yes I have been going there, because of two things. Cheap food and free wi-fi!  This is where I can upload my blog and just catch up on what I need to.
The thunder and lightning did not let up any, so spending an hour at McD's did not ruin my plans or my day. I then drove a little more, found a place to shower and I was set. 

Route 20 in Iowa from Dubuque to just past Fort Dodge is just like an interstate highway. 65 mph and not too much to see except for farmland mostly.  I was not bored, but unlike the other states I have been in, nothing really changed from one end to the other.  I will share though some of the beautiful scenery that says "Iowa".

I was in luck though, the sun came out and it turned into a beautiful day, a little humid, but not as bad as yesterday.
I decided to check out the frontier village at Fort Dodge.  It was set up as a small replica midwest village from about 1860 or so. Also  a replica fort was built on site which included one of the original buildings from the original fort here in the area.

I love small things like this, that share a history of an area, in which we may only get a sentence of in our all encompassing American history.

There was a gentleman there who was very informative and was excited that I was doing a route 20 journey. He told me about the road in front and to follow that since it was the original alignment.

So I did, It was a nice road, but the gem came at the end you could see an abandoned  part of the old highway. These are relics I look for. I think this is ultimate road geekiness.

I wish I could tell you of all the different things I saw and did in Iowa, but this section of Route 20 was kind of uninteresting. There were things to see but many were 10 miles or more off the main highway, and timing would have not worked.

I then entered Sioux City, Iowa. I was not expecting to spend a lot of time here. I crossed 20 into Nebraska, and yet again, Route 20 is aligned on an interstate highway with its welcome sign overhead on a bridge, so I could not stop and pose.  I then turned around to get the shot of the Iowa sign at least and I think it will come out decent. At least the sign is in the picture I am in.

Since I was back in Iowa and it was approaching 6:30 PM, I knew I still had 2 hours of daylight left, I decided to stick around and explore the city and the sites that were around. There was a state park near town that I could possibly stay at too and why run away from a known place!
I guess the main one was a monument to a member of the Lewis and Clark team, who died at this location. It gives a great overview of the city and the Missouri River.

I learned about the glacial history of this area, which to me is always fascinating of course.  Apparently there is only one other location on earth that has these features and it is in China.  The landscape is practically windblown sand dunes.

I ended up at Stone State Park, just north of Sioux City. It was a small park with a few camping sites. For the cost of $10, I could handle this. I talked with a nice couple from S. Dakota for a little bit, turned in early!   I was happy because they had warm showers too, hehehe!


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