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


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Posts posted by mga707

  1. Cool, another Vibe in the American Road Forum mini-wagon fleet. I have a Vibe and Chris Rowland & mobilene have Matrixs Matrixes Matrixi a Matrix each. If we lived closer, maybe we could form a precision drill team and get in parades like the Shriners.



    LOL! :lol:

    I think the actual plural of 'Matrix' is 'Matrices'?!

    The Vibe/Matrix are just fantastic little cars, period! Even though the auto press pretty much ignores them, at least "Consumer Reports" always gives them high marks. The joint GM/Toyota plant where they're made in Fremont CA is highly regarded as well. My '05 Vibe has been absolutely trouble-free from Day 1 (four years in June) and my local Pontiac/Cadillac/GMC/Saab dealer has been a great place to go for routine service. Yes, I'm one satisfied customer.

    But for my road trip, I'm still hoping to take my '99 Miata. Winter in Southern Arizona is 'top-down' time!


  2. Jim,

    His death near Florence, AZ carries a message to all of us auto traveling today. According to Wikapedia, he couldn't stop at a washed out bridge and went off the end of the road, but was killed by an aluminum suitcase that hit him in the back of the head. Secure your suitcases and toys because they are still going 65 when you stop suddenly!




    Keep the Show on the Road!


    A little more to add to the Tom Mix car wreck death in 1940:

    The 'killed by suitcase to the head' story is true, so I have heard. Also heard that it wasn't quite a washed out bridge over the since-renamed "Tom Mix Wash" that caused the accident, but a bridge that was being replaced at the time of the crash. Apparently Tom was driving too fast (supposedly 100mph) to see the "Detour" sign before the bridge construction and kept on going.

    The 100mph figure is possible as he was driving a 1937 Cord 810, one of the fastest and most powerful prewar American autos, and the final glorious gasp of the dying Auburn-Cord-Duesenburg Indiana auto empire.

    Unfortunately, the braking and steering technology of the day was no match for the car's ferocious power, nor did it have any of today's basic safety features. So, poor ol' Tom was a goner.

    ...and this isn't too far off-topic, because it did happen on old US80 (which was also US89 at the time between Tucson and Phoenix), and not too far from the Gillespie Dam bridge!


    ...and as an update, the Weather Channel is now forecasting that Sunday will bring a rain shower respite, so the 'top-down' trip in the Miata on 80/89 may be a 'go' after all! And I did drive to work (in the Vibe, not the Miata) through snowflakes coming down in the predawn darkness this morning! It all had melted by the time I got home, though...

  3. Just wanted to add a rather quirky trivia bit: The stretch of old US80 that includes the Gillespie Dam bridge is one of those rare stretches in which the westbound traffic was heading nearly due east, and vice-versa.


    I'm tentatively planning a trip next Sunday (weather permitting--after a stretch of 80+ degree days, it has turned cold and rainy with a good chance of SNOW here in Tucson on Tuesday!) up old US80/89 from Tucson through Florence (Tom Mix memorial/death site!) and Phoenix down to Gila Bend and then home on (boring) I-8/I-10.

    Haven't been over the old bridge in a good many years, and the post above makes me think that it may be now or never!

  4. Of course if you must see Sunset Strip, then the California coast is a nice, though busy drive. But if it were me, I would take US395 (given your plans to see the northern California and Oregon coasts). If you have ever seen any old American Westerns you will recognize the often used movie site at the Alabama Hills near Lone Pine, and I promise you don’t have Mt Whitney in England! Then the drive over the Tioga Pass into Yosemite is like Snowdonia ten times over. And Mono Lake is a unique site.


    I have the impression you may be young (I know you are younger than me!!! :rolleyes: ), and I want to make another argument for doing US395. It is the “we took the road less traveled” and had a unique adventure. We discovered the “real” America. You can visit every site everyone else visits, or you can have bragging rights to places and experiences few overseas travelers even know about. You sort of have to decide which way to lean.


    If you take US395 I can give you some little known specific locations you will want to visit. For example, one of the most poignant is the Manzanar internment camp where we imprisoned Japanese American citizens during WWII. There are spectacular volcanic formations in the area, and at Tom’s Place a genuine old, unchanged small western resort.





    I second the US395 recommendation. It's a great drive all the way to Reno. But don't miss Bodie CA. It's probably the all-around best "real" ghost town in the whole USA (the best one I've been to, anyway), and as a CA state historic park, is relatively easy to get to (not far off of 395 north of Mono Lake) and is incredible well-preserved. I was there on New Year's Day about 15 years ago and it was simply an amazing place.


  5. PS. Oh, it just occured to me. I am not aware that any of the major auto rental places (Avis, Hertz, Budget, etc) will rent a 4WD to be taken on remote dirt roads. Maybe there is someone who will, but the contracts I've seen specifically prohibit it.


    Five years ago (August '03) I rented an AWD Mitsubishi Outlander from Alamo in Las Vegas specifically to visit the remote but spectacular Toroweap Overlook on the northwestern rim of Grand Canyon National Park in AZ. This trip involved about 60 miles of dirt road from just west of Fredonia AZ down to the overlook and a similar distance back along a different series of dirt roads to Colorado City Az/Hilldale UT (yes, Warren Jeffs' little fiefdom). While this was summer, so snow and ice was not a concern, it was monsoon season so there were muddy spots from the previous day's thunderstorms. I left my motel in Mt. Carmel Jct. UT right at sunrise so as to avoid the increasing chance of monsoon thunderstorms as the afternoon progresses.

    The trip was well worth it, as the solitude and sheer wildness of the Grand Canyon from the Toroweap Overlook (only a few other people and NO railings!) is beyond belief!

    Anyway, Alamo didn't ask me where I was going, and I didn't tell them! The little Mitsu performed flawlessly and I brought it back to the lot at McCarran in Vegas absolutely covered in red dust!



  6. There are at least four bridges I want to see or revisit. The one at Rockvillle is a classic, built by the National Park folks in 1924 to permit travel from the North side of Grand Canyon to Zion before the big tunnel on the east was built. The dirt road that served as the south approach to Zion between 1924 and 1928 is still there, and I hope to take it, weather and road conditions permitting. It crosses the Virgin on the Rockville bridge.


    The second classic is the (1928?) Navaho Bridge across the Colorado at Marble Canyon. It was replaced in 1995 with a new bridge, but the old beauty still parallels the new. And up river I want to at least visit Lee’s Ferry, the old time crossing, and one well described in my newly found 1918 pathfinder’s report..


    I too have been over the old Rockville bridge (to get to the Grafton ghost town on the south bank) and it is indeed a nice old bridge!


    The original Navajo ('j' not 'h') Bridge opened in January 1929, so you were not far off. When visiting the Lee's Ferry site, now within Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, and well worth a visit, I learned that said ferry had had a serious accident and sank into the Colorado river during the spring or early summer of 1928 and was not replaced, since the new bridge was nearly finished just downstream. This of course meant that for a period of at least seven or eight months there was NO way to cross the Colorado (in an automobile at least) for hundreds of miles in either direction!




  7. Mike,



    If you have the time, post a little description of your recent trip. It will be appreciated!


    Keep the Show on the Road!




    OK, but I'll keep it brief, since we're really getting off topic. The only parts of 66 that we were on during this jaunt were Andy Devine Blvd through Kingman AZ on the way up and about a mile or two through Flagstaff on the way back home to Tucson!

    Anyway, the trip entailed a drive from Tucson up to St. George UT via I-10, US 93, and I-15. One of these times I'm going to check out the section of old US 93 that breaks off from the current route just before 93 joins I-40 east of Kingman.

    We spent three nights in St. George and one night at Jacob Lake AZ. One interesting 'roadie' side trip was driving the section of old US 91 that branches off from I-15 at Littlefield/Beaver Dam AZ and winds north into Utah, through the Shivwits Paiute Indian Reservation, and comes into St. George from the northwest rather than the south as 15 does. The road is in decent shape and had virtually no traffic at all until we were approaching the St. George outskirts. But for scenery, the I-15 alignment through the Virgin River Gorge is much more visually appealing. Indeed I would rate it as one of the best stretches of Interstate anywhere. Still, it was good to check out the "old road"!

    On the return, as I mentioned previously, we of course stopped at the Navajo Bridge, one of my faves! It is SO good that they kept the old bridge open to pedestrians, and that they copied the look of the old bridge for the current span alongside.

    Had a brief chat with a delivery truck driver there who recounted that he drove his truck over the old span many times prior to 1995, and how narrow it was compared to modern bridges.

    One other old bridge note: If you're on US 89 north of Flagstaff, check out the old bridge across the Little Colorado River at Cameron, on the Navajo rez. It is just to the west of the current nondescript bridge. Unfortunately, this bridge is not open to walkers, probably because it is still in use as a pipeline bridge. Beautiful old style (1920s, I'm guessing) steel span!

    And one final bridge note: The construction of the MASSIVE new Hoover Dam bypass bridge on US 93 still has quite a ways to go, so I'd say you will still have a couple more years to drive over the dam. Once this bridge is finished, I hope one will be able to stop on either side and walk out on it. The view of the dam and the river from the middle of the new bridge should be fantastic!





  8. mga707,


    I see you are in Arizona. Great state! I spent a couple of years there in my doctorate program many years ago at the University of Arizona. I got to really enjoy the climate! In fact Sheila and I hope to get into the Southwest in the next couple of weeks, but we will stay north of the Grand Canyon.


    Again, WELCOME!


    Keep the Show on the Road!




    Thanks for the welcome! I just happens that I just got back from a road trip to St. George (UT) and back, including a lot of time in the "Arizona Strip" country--that's the part of the state north and northwest of the G.C. that you mention above. Visited Zion and the North Rim of the Canyon, of course!

    I love driving the 'old' US 89, which has been Alternate 89 for 50 years now, since Page and the Glen Canyon Dam and Bridge came into existence. Always love to stop at the Navajo Bridge over the Colorado at Marble Canyon and walk on the historic 1929 original bridge, which the current (1995) adjacent bridge emulates, in a more modern (wider!) fashion.




  9. Seems to me that the more logical course of action would be for the eastern portions of both San Berdoo and Riverside counties to jointly break off from their respective jurisdictions and form a new Colorado River County. Although they would probably disagree on whether Needles or Blythe should be the new county seat...

    There is precedent for this here in AZ. About 30 years ago northern Yuma County broke away and formed a new county, La Paz (county seat Parker), for the same reasons: Too far from Yuma!

    It seems to be a recurring theme in our big, Northeast state-sized western counties. Look at Nye County, NV: Nearly all of the population is in the far southern town of Pahrump (home of Art Bell!), a long road trip from the tiny county seat of Tonopah. One must even leave and reenter the county to get from one to the other, thanks to "Area 51" being between them!

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