Don finally gets to speak!

Trip Start Jan 08, 2008
Trip End Apr 09, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Arizona
Wednesday, January 16, 2008

After Diane spent a week or two packing everything but the kitchen sink for our extended trip, we took almost two days to load and reload the Murano with all the essentials for a three month visit to the southwest US, mostly Phoenix, Arizona - well at least all of the essentials for Diane.  My golfing buddies back home will be thunderstruck to hear that, in a last ditch effort to pack everything Diane might need in Arizona, my golf clubs were left behind in Almonte.  Oh well, I have more invested in 40 years of marriage than I do in my golf career to date.  Our son has a set of clubs that will work for me but the hope was to play a few rounds with him.  Renting is probably an option.

We started out in reasonably thick fog at home; in fact this was the main factor in delaying our departure from Monday to Tuesday.   By the time we reached Smiths Falls, there was no fog and considerably less snow on the ground.   After we crossed over into New York State via the Ivy Lea Bridge there was no snow on the ground and this continued to be the case for almost the entire drive.

After doing a little research and listening to advice from others, we invested in a GPS at Christmas time and I had my navigator familiarize herself with it's use on numerous trips to Ottawa and elsewhere.  The Tom-tom 720 that we bought has gained my respect as a valuable piece of equipment when driving in unfamiliar territory.  It is simple to understand and operate, has fairly reliable maps and the voice warning for turn instructions proved invaluable on multi-lane thruways such as the ones we encountered in St. Louis, Missouri.  The only time that I contradicted my navigator and the sweet Irish Lass on my Tom-tom, I was wrong and they were right.

I have never had the opportunity to drive across the Midwestern US, or the Canadian West for that matter, so I was looking forward to the experience of seeing first-hand the mighty industrial regions as well as the vast agricultural heartland across the mid and southwestern US.  I was not disappointed.  Although I always thought crossing the Mississippi River in St. Louis should be a little more eventful than it was.  I had Diane take a photo of the arch that crosses the river, one side Missouri the other in Illinois.  But we were on a busy freeway and the top of the arch was hidden in fog.  I always thought that when oone crossed the Mississippi you would see water - all we could see was overpasses!

There may be a looming oil shortage but they are still trying hard to squeeze it out of the ground in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.  When you realize that they have been doing this for more than eighty years you realize there has to be a lot of it.

I always wanted to see what is would be like to drive on Route 66.   Now I have driven a portion, and I have to tell you, the nostalgia is better than the reality.  Route 66 was the first main highway running from Chicago to Los Angeles.   It passed through many small communities, not around them as highways do today, and was entirely paved by the mid 1920s.   The passage of time, modern interstate highways and the huge growth of larger urban centers have not been kind to the communities along Route 66.  Some areas promote the tourist potential but it is hard to hide the decay and hard times of these former communities.  But that's why we need to preserve good memories.

The sight of huge wind generators next to oil wells in the wide open plains of Oklahoma and Texas, gives hope that renewable energy will be part of the future.  It makes a lot of sense that these towers can be build on the crop land without disturbing its agricultural use and I would imagine they provide a reasonable income to the landowner.

The final leg of the journey proved to be an ear-popping, not to mention, white knuckle experience.  Interstate 17 running from Flagstaff through Phoenix is the major highway running north to south through Arizona.  We have driven it a number of times in the past.  It is a good modern highway all the way - busy and very scenic.  This was my first experience driving it at night. It has a 75 mile per hour speed limit and don't try going much slower. The elevation at Flagstaff is 7,000 ft. and it drops to around 1,600 ft. in Phoenix.  The good news is you can coast much of the way, thus saving gas, but we were delayed for almost an hour due to an accident when someone decided to take a short cut into the center median.
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