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American Road Magazine
Celebrating our two-lane highways of yesteryear…And the joys of driving them today!


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About roadhound

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  1. roadhound

    My Oregon Trail Odyssey

    Gee Hutchman, thanks a lot. I mean seriously. You had to bump it up. I was all set for my usual Friday routine of paying my bills and editing a few photos but thanks to you I instead spent the last 3 hours doing google searches of the Oregon Trail, placing pins in Google Earth for every interesting location I can find, planning a route there and back, estimating miles and expenses for 3 different route scenarios, and determining if this will be a solo trip or I if I will be able to convince a traveling companion to come along. Later I am going to have to figure out how much marital capital I am willing to expend to make it happen. I hope your happy with yourself. (/sarcasm) 😉 Sarcasm aside, this post inspired me. Oregon Trail has been on the back burner for a long time and its high time that I push it a litle higher on the destination list. I've traveled western sections of the Pony Express and Transcontinental Railroad and I think the Oregon Trail would complete the holy trinity of pre-automobile western migration routes that haven't been completely covered in asphalt. While I've got you here, can you recommend a good, informative, and entertaining book on the topic? Also, I'm glad you took your grandson along. I'm certain it will be a time that he treasures later on in life. Roadhound
  2. roadhound

    CA 190 and the Jedi Transition

    Dave, a few weeks back I was doing the research for a road trip I was planning across Nevada. As I traced my way westward on I-80 using Google Earth I came to a pin that I had placed a number of years ago on Golcanda Summit and recalled a challenge that had been issued on the ARM Form regarding that spot. Not recalling the details I began searching the ARM Forum and after finding what I was looking for spent the next few hours reading all the various threads and postings. So much road information captured there. I was an early adopter of Facebook, back when it had a "the" at the front of its name, but recent revelations have turned me sour to the whole idea and I deleted my account at the end of last year. Facebook is fine if you want to share a photo of what you're eating for dinner or find out if an old girlfriend got fat, but it is not a good repository for information. Basically, it's 1.5 billion narcissists screaming "look at me." I've lost a few real world friends because of Facebook. What the ARM Forum provides is a record of history. It is a bit sad to see the way that usage dropped off, and yes, I was part of the problem, but I hope that as people begin to realize the downside and limitations of Facebook they will come to the realization that a topical forum, especially one as well organized as ARM is, is a better way of sharing specific information and preserving it in a way that others can benefit from it in the future. Rick
  3. roadhound

    CA 190 and the Jedi Transition

    Hutchman, I hope you get the chance to visit Death Valley sometime soon. I've been there 7 times that I can recall and each is a unique experience. You wouldn't think that a place that appears to be so desolate would have so much to see, much of which is within reach of the asphalt and even more if you're willing to get onto the dirt. One of my most memorable experiences was a solo camping trip to the Racetrack Valley. During the course of the day I only saw 3 vehicles pass through and at night it was quite possible that I was only living soul, or at least one of only a handful, in a 20 mile radius. Roadhound
  4. One of the main roads through Death Valley National Park is California Highway 190 running from Olancha and US 395 on the west to Death Valley Junction to the east. Along its 131 mile route it passes the constantly irrigated dry lakebed of Owens Lake, over the southern tip of the Inyo Mountains, descends the Argus Range into and across the Panamint Valley, veers northeast over the Panamint Range and into Death Valley before turning southeast and passing through Furnace Creek and exiting Death Valley. In addition to having the distinction of being the lowest road in North America at 282 feet below sea level as it passes through Badwater in Death Valley it also could be the hottest road in North America. As CA 190 enters the western side of Death Valley National Park there is a geographic feature identified on the topo maps as "Rainbow Canyon". The three mile long canyon is a mere 1500 feet wide at the top with 1000 foot tall walls of reds, greys, and pinks that some compare to the Star Wars planet of Tatooine. Pilots that fly through the canyon compare it to the trench that Luke flew on the Death Star in his X-Wing fighter with one difference being that the canyon isn't surrounded by laser cannons but rather Nikons and Canons. The Father Crowley Vista Point (36°21'6.92"N 117°33'2.05"W) sits on the south side of the canyon towards its western end and is a good place to stop, take a comfort break, and get a good view of the canyon. If your lucky you will be standing near someone with a scanner set to a frequency of 315.9 and you will hear the call of a pilot at the Olancha waypoint requesting clearance to the Jedi Transition heading east to Star Wars Canyon. As you look along the canyon to both sides you notice small groups gathered on the hillsides, all excitedly looking west. Soon you notice a small dot pop up over the hillside and quickly descend, growing larger, and heading toward the canyon's western end. As it continues descending into the canyon, its form now readily apparent, the small groups gathered on the hillside raise their telephoto lenses and follow the object, capturing pixels by the gigabyte, as the aircraft passes below them with the sound of afterburners echoing off the canyon's wall. Military pilots know the route between Olancha and a location east of Panamint Springs as the "Jedi Transition". The area around Rainbow Canyon, and Death Valley in general, is known to be the most dense flight-test complex in the world, with aircraft from Edwards AFB, NAWS China Lake, Plant 42, Mojave airport, Nellis AFB, NAS Lemoore, MCAS Miramar and the Fresno Air National Guard Base all using the restricted air space for training and testing. Aircraft as diverse as F-16 & F-18 fighters to B-1 bombers to C-17 Globemaster transports have all been spotted making runs through the canyon. As target rich of an environment as it might sound for the aviation enthusiast it can also be frustrating, and possibly dangerous if you venture outside the parking area. Rattlesnakes are not uncommon in the dry rocky terrain and between the months of April and September temperatures well above 100 degrees, and sometimes close to 120, are common. The best time of year, from a temperature perspective, is between October and March. It's also possible that you could find yourself hiking out to a prime location and sitting all day with no aircraft flying by no matter what time of year you go. A VX-9 Vampire F/A-18F Super Hornet out of China Lake NWS in low level flight through Star Wars Canyon. Royal Danish Air Force F-16 in low level flight through Star Wars Canyon Royal Danish Air Force F-16 crew gives a wave as they exit Star Wars Canyon. Air crews from the Denmark Air Force were based at Nellis AFB as they transitioned to the F-35 Lightning II. Roadhound
  5. roadhound

    California Agricultural Inspection Stations

    Dave, The location of the abandoned inspection station is a section of Route 66 between Dagget and Newberry Springs that was in use between 1928 and 1972. I have read that the inspection station was closed in 1967 but would have been closed for sure in 1972 when I-40 bypassed that section of Route 66. This is the third and final Inspection Station that was built in Daggett. Its predecessor operated from 1930 until 1953 and was the one featured in the 1940 film version of The Grapes of Wrath. The Joad's traveled this section of roadway at night in order avoid the heat. Today the agriculture inspection station along I-40 is 140 miles further east between Needles and the Colorado River\Arizona border. The photos actually posted on the forum in the reverse order of what I wanted them to be. The second photo was composed to emphasize the approach to the station where you reduce your speed, move off the highway, follow the signs into an open lane, and do a mental inventory of any fruits or vegatables you have with you while you work your way up the queue. When in operation I would think that there would have been cones to help guide you in addition to the painted roadway signage. The first photo was composed to show the point where you would be greeted by the agricultural inspector with the highway waiting on the other side. There was some extra processing work in Lightroom and Photoshop necessary to balance the exposure due to the difference of the light levels in the shadows and the desert in the background. Both photos were shot looking west in the early afternoon and you can see by the shadows that the sun was in front of me, creating an additional exposure challenge for the background and a challenge to adjust the contrast to my liking (which I wasn't able to do). Roadhound
  6. roadhound

    California Agricultural Inspection Stations

    Great story Dave! Whenever I see a California Ag Inspection Station it serves as a reminder that I'm a day's drive or less from home and that my journey is nearly over. I've never had any hassles though and have always been waived right through. At one inspection station in the Mojave Desert I didn't even get a waive and by the looks of it I would bet it's been a long time since anybody has been pulled to the side there for a Peruvian plum. Rick
  7. roadhound

    Richfield Oil Eagle

    Dave, I appreciate your discretion in not revealing the location of this gem of a time capsule. Too many times I have traveled to what I hope is an intact ghost town only to find that it has already been ransacked and tagged by vandals, especially true in California. Places like this are disappearing fast. Rick
  8. I recently returned from camping trip with my daughter and son near Florence and during one of our day trips we ventured north on 101 to the Cape Perpetua Scenic Area. While we where there we checked out the tidepools at low tide and then waited until later in the afternoon to view the spectacle of Thor's Well and other features that become active as the tide comes in. Cape Perpetua is a few miles south of Yachats and easy to miss if you're in a hurry. It's fantastic views from the visitors center and paved trails are worth a stop if you are passing through the area. The ocean's water rushing back into Thor's Well. Churning tidal action as the sea makes it's way down a chasm on the shoreline. US 101 passes over Cooks Chasm
  9. roadhound

    Us 50 Drive

    That is a trip I hope to make someday. Thanks for sharing that usroadman.
  10. Dave, Since you asked... The road trip east to Santa Fe was a good one even if much of the 1100 miles driven was on the Interstates. We left the Bay Area and headed down I-5, cutover to 99 at Shafter, made a left at Bakersfield before heading over the Tehachapis to Barstow and I-40. We ended the first day in Kingman with dinner at the El Palacio on Andy Devine Drive, a favorite of ours. Day 2 started with the news that a large earthquake had occurred in Napa overnight, which is 30 miles from our home, and after checking with my son to confirm that our house was still standing we continued east on I-40 to Flagstaff were picked up picnic supplies at the Fry's grocery story before continuing east to Two Guns where we ate our lunch poolside. When traveling I take my family to the nicest places. After lunch we proceeded to Winslow, drove past the corner of West 2nd and North Kinsley and stopped at the La Posada Hotel to look around. The architecture and gardens are worth the time. We stopped in Holbrook for the day but I wasn't done yet. Leaving my wife and daughter at the Motel I proceeded to find my way to the Painted Desert Trading Post, another of the "must see" items on my list. That story is HERE. On Day 3 we only went as far as Gallup but we did take a side trip onto the Navajo Reservation and did some hiking in Canyon de Chelly. On Day 4 we drove a lot of Route 66 blacktop between Gallup and Albuquerque before making a left at Albuquerque and north to Santa Fe. While in Santa Fe we were busy setting my daughter up in her dorm and all the other things freshmen parents have to do but in addition to La Bajada we did make it north to Taos and stopped at the Rio Grande Bridge on US 64. On the return trip west we followed US 550 (with a stop at Chaco Canyon), US 64, and US 160 finally rejoining I-40 at Flagstaff and then back the way we had come. Ancient Doorway in Chaco Canyon Much of what this particular trip was about was getting my daughter to college, which was an emotional ordeal for us all. All along the way I kept hearing the voice of OPP (Over-Protective-Parent) screaming "DO YOU REALIZE WHAT YOUR DOING?", "YOU CAN"T JUST LEAVE HER THERE!!!", and "YOU HAVE DUCT TAPE IN YOUR TOOL KIT, YOU CAN JUST TAKE HER BACK HOME!!!". Fortunately I took enough side trips and stopped at enough places that I was interested in to keep OPP from getting out of control. Roadhound http://rick-pisio.fineartamerica.com
  11. Hey Dave, It was on my list for a long time too and when my daughter got accepted to a college in Santa Fe one of the first things I did was figure out how to get to La Bajada. I am still trying to figure out how to pay for her education but that is a discussion for a different forum. It is fairly easy to get to the base of the hill but approaching the road from the top is a bit of a challenge and not something I would recommend in a sedan. There are a few sections of the dirt road on the upper plateau that are deeply rutted where high clearance is needed. If you happen to be there in monsoon season a 4x4 is almost a necessity. I approached from the top and hiked down and back up the hill. Although the temptation to drive down the road was there I was by myself and did not feel like shredding my new tires on the basalt. When I go out there in the spring I plan on exploring the Route 66 alignment down the hill. Hope you get to make it out there someday. Rick
  12. A few months ago while on a road trip through Santa Fe I took the time to walk the pre-1924 alignment of the the La Bajada Grade. The challenges of the La Bajada escarpment date back to the Spanish settlement of New Mexico and the Camino Real and posed a formidable challenge to transportation along the Rio Grande Valley. In 1909 work started on the roadbed and cuts were made into the solid basalt caprock. Retaining walls built of dry masonry where built to stabilize the roadbed. The project was heralded as an engineering wonder along New Mexico’s Scenic Highway that soon became a part of the National Old Trails Road Ocean-to-Ocean Highway. In 1924 the road was realigned along the upper slopes of the escarpment. With the creation of the federal highway system in 1926, this improved roadway became a part of the U.S. 66 and U.S. 85 alignment. The alignment remained a part of the highway system until 1931 when a new alignment was completed along a gentler slope three miles to the south. Roadhound
  13. In August I took a trip across Arizona and into New Mexico to drop my daughter off in Santa Fe to start her freshman year of college. Along the way I was able to do a little bit of road exploration and reached a destination that had been on my radar for a number of years. Full story is on my blog page HERE Roadhound
  14. roadhound

    L H A Conference Plus

    This is as close as I was able to get and I took the picture from 150 feet away from inside the cab of my truck and my father leaning forward in the passenger seat while I discreetly held my telephoto lens behind his back. No, not paranoid at all. Rick
  15. roadhound

    L H A Conference Plus

    Looks like it was a worthwhile road trip. That was too bad about the Goodyear Cutoff. That is on my bucket list of roads to drive that I will probably never have the chance to do, especially if the Air Force is there to muck things up.