Tuesday, March 24, 1992...

Turned over the odometer again today: 1,016.4 miles in 15 hours 33 minutes, or an average of 65.4 MPH. Since some of today's route was actually new to me, I stopped more often than I had yesterday, but made up the time on the empty stretches through Wyoming.

Stopped for the night at the Super 8 in Evanston, Wyoming, which welcomes every guest with the warmth usually reserved for suspected sex offenders. Signs at the desk warn of $150 charges for keeping a pet in a room not designated for pet owners; of $50-plus-$20/minute charges for all 900 and 700 numbers; of triple extra-person charges for those caught with more people in their rooms than they paid for; etc. A none-too-subtle notice in the bathroom also warns that they count the towels every morning. I thought this was supposed to be the friendly part of the country!

The morning's drive across Iowa passed uneventfully. West of Des Moines, a billboard advised: "Mt. Rushmore, then Yellowstone. I-29 north to I-90." Later on, Nebraska posted official-looking signs every 20 or so miles, alerting the driver to upcoming points of interest or routes to Yellowstone or the Black Hills via Nebraska roads. North Platte wasn't above a little lying: its billboard just west of Lincoln proclaimed that it was just three hours ahead, when in fact it was 220 miles off and someone driving the speed limit would take 3-1/2 hours.

And it would seem more like six hours -- I-80 through Nebraska was as boring at its run through Pennsylvania, and over 100 miles longer to boot. Especially throughout the western half of the state, when I knew good old US 30 lay just a couple of miles to the north, passing through everything of potential interest, the Interstate started to drag that much more.

I could feel the terrain rising steadily as I crossed western Nebraska. Sidney marked the first of the highway-department road closure signs; if the road had been blocked by snow, I could've turned off to stay in the Generic Motel just off US 30, or else shopped for sporting goods at an immense sporting-goods store just off the interstate, with at least fifty cars parked in what looked to be about a 350-car lot. The road kept rising well into Wyoming, and I passed several more potential road-closing checkpoints. Even ran into a couple of very brief snowstorms in the mountains.

Was reminded again just how irrelevant the Continental Divide should be to any tourist planning a trip. The highest point on I-80, 10 miles east of Laramie, measured 8,640', while the Continental Divides passed at 7,000' (near Rawlins) and 6,930' (Creston), both almost unnoticed. The Rawlins Divide led into a basin anyhow: water draining from there wouldn't go anyplace at all, but would simply collect and evaporate. Also discovered a difference between the western and eastern Little Americas -- the western one has 65 pumps, the eastern a mere 50. Best of all, tonight I got in with plenty of time to catch a good night's sleep before pressing on to San Francisco tomorrow. A sign at the motel desk says it's 835 miles away...

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