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Our "North Coast" road trip

 
Old 06-19-2019, 05:44 PM
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VetteDrmr
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Default Our "North Coast" road trip

After our west coast road trip last year, and the east coast trip the year before, this year we went to the "north coast". I'm going to put each major stop in its own post, so it'll hopefully make sense to you guys.

Here’s the short version of our trip:

Where we went on our trip:

Branson, MO (Corvette club trip)
Minuteman Missile National Historic Site, SD
Ellsworth AFB (Minuteman missile training facility)
Badlands National Park
Custer State Park
Mt. Rushmore National Monument
Yellowstone National Park
Tetons National Park
Craters of the Moon National Park
Utah Scenic Hwy 12
Arches National Park
Pikes Peak
Air Force Academy

Total miles driven: 4,971.5
Total Fuel consumed: 181.8 gallons Only place I could get 93 octane was home in Hot Springs, AR. Everywhere else was 91 octane. Highest price was around $3.90/gal in Rapid City, SD. Cheapest was $2.77 in Tulsa, OK.
Average MPG: 27.35

Also, several people think you can't travel in a Corvette. Well, here's a photo of everything we pack, and my view out the rear view window is totally unobstructed:



Our “North Coast” trip started out joining our Corvette club on a weekend cruise to Branson, MO. We took in a show, ate too much food, went to a really nice go-kart track, and had a great time with friends. Only non-club picture worth sharing here is of a dad taking a picture of his son next to our Vettes at the go-kart track.



Upon leaving Branson we headed towards the Badlands. Our philosophy is that vacations are supposed to be fun, so we limit our driving to around 7 hours a day. So, our first stop was in Sioux City, SD. As soon as we got north of Kansas City (on the Missouri side) we started seeing flooded farmlands. Miles and miles, and miles, AND MILES. I don’t know how unusual it is for these farmlands to flood, but certainly the severity of the flooding is huge for those affected.

Interesting thing about that city: we wanted to re-stock some supplies at a local Wal Mart, so we headed east from our hotel in SD, about a mile to the highway in Iowa, headed south 3 miles, then back west into Nebraska!



The next day we woke to rain. A steady moderate rain, that went for hours and hundreds of miles. The cool, wet spring weather that has gripped the middle of the nation didn’t let up all the way across the state of South Dakota. This didn’t really affect our first stop, at a Minuteman missile silo that has been designated a National Historical site. While that may sound strange, the policy of Mutually Assured Destruction between Russia and the US (and now China to an extent), has kept nuclear war at bay for close to 75 years now. The crews that stand vigilant even today have my respect and are to be honored.






OK, now on to more traditional travel fare. In spite of the rain, we did stop at the Badlands National Park. I found it quite similar to the Painted Desert we visited last year, and quite honestly it was not that impressive, especially compared to what was to come. We did see some big horn sheep and the first of many bison.




After making it to Rapid City, SD (still raining), we went to Mt. Rushmore National Monument and Custer State Park (home of a rather well known drive called “Needles”). The persistent rain unfortunately had closed several roads, either due to flooding, or the risk of rock slides. We did make it through the Needles pass from the warmth and dryness inside our car (temps were in the mid-upper 30s), but only took a couple of pictures at Mt. Rushmore as the rain finally subsided and temperatures warmed into the balmy upper 40s. The construction of the sculpture is an amazing story, especially the way workers could smooth the granite using jack hammers!




With the rain finally subsiding, we decided to add a stop that was fairly well along the way: Devils Tower. For those of you that are rapidly dropping into the category of “dinosaur”, Devils Tower is best known for its role in the old 80s sci-fi movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. An interesting geological feature, its formation is the subject of some debate from geological scholars. My personal opinion is that it’s the core of an extinct volcano.



As we left we saw prairie dogs in their natural habitat for the first time. These little critters are fun to watch as they interact with each other and run around. They have this unusual gait where they run for a few strides, then bound into the air, over and over. We also saw more bison out grazing.



As we headed towards Yellowstone, we were still experiencing snow, although we were still a long way from any of the mountain passes.


Once we got over the first eastern side of the foothills, the snow vanished, although the views were still amazing!


And as a bonus, we went through the VERY small town of Ten Sleep, where Sharon stayed at a long-gone Girl Scout Camp as a high school student.




After an overnight stay in Cody, WY, we went in through the east side entrance into Yellowstone. The drive got off to a spectacular start as we went through Sylvan Pass, elevation 8500’




Next stop: Lake Yellowstone. As you can see in the photos, there is steam rising from the lake. It was also my introduction to something that photos of geysers, mud volcanoes, etc. don’t convey: the smell. Yellowstone is volcanic, and the steam is laden with sulfuric dioxide. In other words, the smell of rotten eggs! It didn’t seem to bother Sharon as much as it did me, but I definitely had to watch where I observed several sites throughout the park. The scenery is gorgeous, though!



Last edited by Steven Bell; 06-19-2019 at 10:38 PM. Reason: Merged Posts
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Old 06-19-2019, 06:24 PM
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This a dream road trip, the only place i would ad on is a visit to the great salt lake.
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Old 06-19-2019, 06:33 PM
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Thanks for sharing your pictures! You visited some great places!
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Old 06-19-2019, 06:34 PM
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Speaking of scenery, the falls at Yellowstone are amazing! We spent several hours working our way around both sides of Yellowstone River. There are two falls on the river. This is the upper fall:


And the lower fall, which is the more famous and more accessible. If you look closely you can see people on the right side of the falls: we’ll get there in a minute.




That ledge is a hike down something over 300 ft. of elevation on a trail that switched back and forth many more times than I wanted to count. But the views were amazing!







Next up are the animals we saw in Yellowstone. Bison, elk, black bears, chipmunks (way too fast to photograph!), even a couple of moose from a distance. We actually had to stop and wait for a herd of bison to cross the road at one point. I really wanted to see an eagle at some point, but alas, no luck.








And what trip to Yellowstone would be complete without Old Faithful? It erupts fairly regularly, and through some process the rangers are able to predict the next eruption within a couple of minutes.



On our way south out of Yellowstone we drove through Grand Tetons National Park. This park was a bit of a letdown to me, as you can’t really drive INTO the mountains, but just along their base. There was one road that I was hoping to take that would have brought us closer in, but for some reason both rangers I asked about road conditions said that the road was great for what we wanted to do. I dunno: rutted dirt roads don’t match up with my idea of “great condition”. We turned around. Still, we found a great view of the mountains at a marina on the east side of one of the lakes just east of the mountains.



Last edited by Steven Bell; 06-19-2019 at 10:39 PM. Reason: Merged Posts
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Old 06-19-2019, 07:05 PM
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Great trip, love the sights and history of this great country we live in. Thank you for sharing and all the work it took. I've been to all of those locations and sights. You did very well.
By the way, nice Corvette!!
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Old 06-19-2019, 07:51 PM
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Appreciate the travel descriptions and the pics!
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Old 06-19-2019, 07:59 PM
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You write and photograph well. Thanks for taking us along on your trip!!!! Enjoy and be safe.
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Old 06-19-2019, 08:27 PM
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Nice. Looks like you all had a good time. Thanks for sharing.
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Old 06-19-2019, 09:49 PM
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Default Craters of the Moon National Park (Idaho)

After Yellowstone we headed west into Idaho. After spending the night at a great little hotel in St. Anthony, ID, we visited Craters of the Moon National Park. It’s a lava field that hasn’t decomposed very much. It’s known for its use as a training ground for the Apollo 14 astronauts, which did geological surveying of the moon. One interesting thing we saw was a very sharp demarcation between some lava fields that don’t grow anything, and fields that support all kinds of plant growth.





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Old 06-19-2019, 09:53 PM
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Default Bryce Canyon (Utah)

Next we headed south into Utah. After stopping overnight in Provo, we headed south to Bryce Canyon and Utah’s Scenic 12 highway. Bryce Canyon is at the southwest end of the highway, and is a gorgeous canyon, smaller than the Grand Canyon but much more colorful.




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Old 06-19-2019, 09:56 PM
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Default Utah Scenic Highway 12

Utah Scenic highway 12 is about 120 miles long and just amazing driving! The road is in great condition, the views throughout the drive are varied, the elevation changes from probably 5000 to over 9000 feet, and you’ll either spend a week stopping for thousands of photos, or just drive it and enjoy God’s creation. We did the latter.




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Old 06-19-2019, 10:24 PM
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Default Arches National Park...

At the end of the day we stopped by at Arches National Park in Moab, UT. As is the case in all of this area of Utah, the geology changes significantly in a fairly short distance. We didn’t get to explore as much of Arches as we would like to, but still got some nice shots with the sun going down.





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Old 06-19-2019, 10:35 PM
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Default Pike's Peak...

Our final stop before heading home was at Colorado Springs. There were several stops we had in mind, but we ended up driving up Pike’s Peak and visiting the Air Force Academy. Both of these were “bucket list” items I’ve always wanted to visit, and they didn’t disappoint! We didn’t get to drive up to the summit of Pike’s Peak (14,100 ft) due to massive construction (new restaurant, parking, etc.), but we did get to mile 16 (out of 19), which is around 12,800 ft. Modern cars make the drive just fine going up, the engines compensating for the lack of oxygen automatically. Going *down* is more of an issue, you have to take care to keep the brake systems cool. Sharon and I, on the other hand, saw significant effects just walking around. It was fantastic!




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Old 06-19-2019, 10:39 PM
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Default And finally, the Air Force Academy chapel

I had always wanted to visit the Air Force Academy, and it did not disappoint! The general public has limited access, but the museum gives you a peek into the life of an Air Force cadet. And then there’s the chapel. The architecture is amazing, and as much effort was spent on the acoustics as was on the visual. While we were there a youth choir from the First Baptist Church in Benton, AR (only 30 minutes from home!) came in and sang several songs (they were outstanding!), and you could hear them throughout the 900 seat auditorium without any echo. A huge pipe organ, stained glass throughout, and clear glass showing the outer scenery just adds to the overall experience.







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Old 06-19-2019, 10:47 PM
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Originally Posted by captain vette View Post
This a dream road trip, the only place i would ad on is a visit to the great salt lake.
We had originally planned to go to the Great Salt Lake, but after talking to friends that had visited they recommended skipping it. They said it was quite underwhelming, and with everything we had planned we went ahead and skipped it.

Originally Posted by v.vet's Z06 View Post
Thanks for sharing your pictures! You visited some great places!
Originally Posted by speedlink View Post
Great trip, love the sights and history of this great country we live in. Thank you for sharing and all the work it took. I've been to all of those locations and sights. You did very well.
By the way, nice Corvette!!
Originally Posted by runner61627 View Post
Appreciate the travel descriptions and the pics!
Originally Posted by AORoads View Post
You write and photograph well. Thanks for taking us along on your trip!!!! Enjoy and be safe.
Originally Posted by zo6_ ruff View Post
Nice. Looks like you all had a good time. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the kind words. You're correct, there's way more to see in the USA than we have time to visit. We plan on spending at least 2 weeks or so touring the country each year. Next year may be Niagra Falls, or maybe down through the Florida Keys.

Y'all have a good one,
Mike

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Old 06-19-2019, 11:51 PM
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Great trip....some excellent stops. Thanks for the post.
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Old 06-20-2019, 12:08 AM
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Sounds like it was a great road trip - and thanks for the pics.
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Old 06-20-2019, 12:20 AM
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Great pictures! Ashamed to say I have lived within 200 miles of Yellowstone all my life and have never been there.

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Old 06-20-2019, 12:30 AM
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Originally Posted by robertbruce View Post
Great pictures! Ashamed to say I have lived within 200 miles of Yellowstone all my life and have never been there.
Now thats messed up. Go fix that!
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Old 06-20-2019, 08:10 AM
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Hello Mike,

One word : MA GNIFI QUE. Absolutely magnifique, paradisiac trip ! A real dream. As you like to say, your mythic word, 'have a good one' !
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