Home Travel Stories Destinations OOCC CORVETTE TRIP Part 6 Circus Road to Bonneville Salt Flats
OOCC CORVETTE TRIP Part 6 Circus Road to Bonneville Salt Flats PDF Print E-mail
Written by Double Dragon
Monday, 16 January 2012 16:50

OOCC CORVETTE TRIP  Part 6 Circus Road to Bonneville Salt Flats

oneownercollectorcar.com

Writing and photography copyright D. S. Brown

____DAY 45 _________________________________________________________________

Milwaukee, Greenfield, West Baraboo, Baraboo, Devil's Lake, Sumpter, La Crosse, WI/ Dresbach Welcome Center, La Crescent, MN

I was tired, blearily piloting a 1968 Charger down an empty two lane blacktop at high speed. Out of nowhere a figure stood menacingly on the crown of the highway, center of the road. He leveled what looked like a rifle or a shotgun at windshield level. My peripheral vision picked up a group of cars at road's edge. The shooter would have gotten off a clean shot and killed me if it wasn't for the fact I was coming on a lot faster than expected. I dove flat onto the console keeping my left hand on a steering wheel spoke with the car aimed dead center of the highway. The car hit the shooter catapulting him over the hood and roof, cracking the windshield in the process. As I got back up into the seat I saw the road was blocked by cars, strategically placed, while the cars from the side of the road moved out behind me.

I drove off the highway, lurching and pounding up and down over rough terrain circling round the road block, regaining the highway. By now I could hear not just car engines, but high revving motorcycle engines, too. The Charger could lose cars, but the new breed of high speed cycles could run this car down.

A sign ahead offered hope.

CIRCUS ROAD.

A dirt road. With the cover of darkness and my lead it was worth a shot. I hit the side road and kept it as fast as I could until I rounded a corner down into a valley with a sinister black lake tranquil but ominous glittering at the base of the road. Cutting the engine and lights I let the car roll in neutral onwards along the road. Seconds later atop the rise cycle lights followed by car lights careened along the highway. They missed me.

Now to backtrack to the highway and race back the other way. The car was rolling along but the engine wouldn't restart... the slope dropped further... the engine caught with a roar... I hit the lights which illuminated the faces of shambling wrecks of horribly disfigured people... dead people blindly reaching at the car... blocking the road... dead but animated... I hit the gas mowing them down but soon their mass was overwhelming... arms and torsos crushing in on all sides, thousands of them in front and back of the car impeding movement in any direction. Many of them were old or mangled.

I suddenly realized that I was dead. It happened when I drove off the highway. I crashed and died. The wreck of the car was taking me along CIRCUS ROAD which is the road to Hell.

But why was I here? I hadn't done anything but react to a deadly situation. I wasn't acting in malice, but self preservation. I deliberately hit the guy with the gun to put him out of action. I could have swerved around him. Could that intentional killing be why I was here? Are you supposed to turn the other cheek to the extreme of sacrificing yourself when confronted with a do or die situation?

I could debate the fairness of it all but there wasn't going to be any answers forthcoming in this black pit. I was here, I was dead and the windows were splintering and smashing in under the weight of the bodies.

I woke up.

I was in Marie's house. I wasn't dead.

Later today I would be back on my road trip heading into the night. Driving at night is usually one of my favorite things, but over breakfast I kept rerunning the nightmare. Sleeping in some remote spot in the car wasn't so appealing right now.

Over the last few months I'd left Marie's house to go on weeklong jaunts several times, but this time I was leaving Milwaukee for good. It didn't seem real. Marie said,

"It feels like you're just going away to a car show and you'll be back in a week or two."

Tom had recommended the Valvoline quick change place in a suburb of Milwaukee named Greenfield, Wisconsin.

"These guys counted how many grease fittings I had and hit them all. Half these quick change places don't even make the pretense of lubing cars."

The guys at the Valvoline did a good job of getting everything right, actually checking filter numbers by the book and, yes, getting all the grease fittings. Back on the highway the Corvette carved through humid air that almost felt like water it was so thick.

The first rest stop was overflowing with racks of fliers and pamphlets outlining all the attractions yet to come. Somehow I missed any pamphlets about CIRCUS WORLD which in light of my dream this morning would definitely have caught my eye.

I didn't miss the big exit sign further down the road:

CIRCUS WORLD and DEVIL'S LAKE.

Either destination alone was enough to provoke memories of my dream, but together on one sign!

gto nats trip devils lake baraboo wi

Devil's Lake lies at the bottom of a steep road winding through a forest. Flickers of light shot through the trees like a diorama. The road is a tunnel muffling outside noise holding in a cool damp despite the hot sunny day outside Devil's Lake. A close facsimile to the Circus Road in my dream... Devil's Lake sat placid and dark and cold at the bottom of the road. The foliage pressed in from all sides. No other cars. No people. I stood at water's edge briefly, and then got out of there.

In West Baraboo, Wisconsin the general store on South Boulevard is of course named 'The General Store'. They sent me to Kristina's Family Restaurant off Highway 12. I told the waitress about the weird dream and how the real life Devil's Lake and Circus World names combined elements of my dream.

The nightmare also sparked memories from ages ago. As a kid I had a recurring nightmare about an evil Jester painting on my wall. By day it was a frivolous and friendly painting, by night sinister and evil... coming to get me with an leering smile. I wasn't alone with this strange fear. Clowns are frequently played against type in film and literature as evil scary figures. The circus itself has an underbelly of danger, a haven for fugitives and con men. Carnies often see themselves as a special society apart from the squares. The waitress was a regular sort and humored me with tip in mind, but set me straight,

"Sure there are some shady types in the circus, but the performers are pros. Carnivals don't have as many high class acts and that's where the bad reputation comes from."

She sent me to see a series of huge metal sculptures along Highway 12 in the Town of Sumpter. There were newspaper clippings about the sculptures and their creator 'Dr. Evermore' framed on the wall of the restaurant. The sculptures sat at road's edge, huge iron statements with surface rust coloring them brown. Behind a gate in a woodsy area, pieces of industrial equipment from the deconstructed munitions plant that used to be here were packed away doubtless as raw material for new sculptures to come. Dr. Evermore's real name is Tom Every and his past as demolition expert led to his inside track in scoring the leftover scrap.

The most grandiose sculpture is the Forevertron. It's 50 feet high and uses two 1880 era Thomas Edison dynamos, 1920s power plant pieces, and even the Apollo 11 moonshot decontamination chamber. There were strange peackock statutes dotted around the area made entirely out of pieces of metal.

Back in town a 1970 Olds Cutlass sat in the showroom of Kruse Motors. Kruse was originally an Oldsmobile franchised dealership. When General Motors killed off the Oldsmobile brand Kruse floated adrift as a used car lot and service facility. See a history of Kruse in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website filed under WISCONSIN.

al ringling theatre baraboo wi

Just up the street an amazing movie palace dominated the sidewalk. The Al. Ringling Theater was built in 1915 by one of the Circus Ringling brothers and has shown movies as well as housing live performances.

CIRCUS WORLD MUSEUM sits on the north side of the Baraboo River, with general admission just off Water Street. Aside from the connection to my dream the name also reminded me of the science fiction horror films WESTWORLD and FUTUREWORLD.

The museum was far from sinister or scary. It contained a fascinating chronological history of the circus arranged in buildings along the shores of the river at the original location of the first Ringling Brothers Circus. Original buildings house a collection of old items like posters, costumes, cages, wagons and other artifacts from the early days of the circus.

circus world baraboo river

A walkway bridge carries tourists across the river where contemporary performers keep tradition alive displaying classic circus acts including acrobats, trained horses, elephants and magic acts. Further up the river on this same side, a huge building houses original wagons and vehicles that brought the circus to town.

Interstate 90 headed west until it hit La Crosse, Wisconsin which is on the shores of the Mississippi River. When the interstate crosses the bridge it descends into the city of the township of Dresbach which is in Minnesota. The Dresbach Welcome Center was situated right alongside the Mississippi River. Mosquitoes abounded.

____DAY 46 _________________________________________________________________

Dresbach Welcome Center, La Crescent, Hokah, Houston, Rushford Village, Peterson, Whalan, Lanesboro, Harmony, MN/ Waterloo, IA

I headed west and south along State Highway 16 into Hokah, Minnesota around 10:30 AM. State Highway 16 passed through Houston and a few minutes after 11 AM I stopped for gas in Rushford Village, Minnesota.

Cruising south I ambled through Peterson, Whalan, Lanesboro and stopped in Harmony, Minnesota: population 1,680. It was around 2 PM and very quiet.

A friendly chat with Marilyn who runs the Harmony visitor center led to my decision to visit the town caves and to look up her husband Robert. He had a ONE OWNER car stashed in a shed out in the countryside. A slash cut through high fields on a two lane black top on the way to the ONE OWNER car.

Once I had interviewed Robert and photographed his car he urged me to check out the cave. Heading back into Harmony I cut south to Niagara Cave. I was lucky because the last tour was slated to head down underground just as I pulled up at 3:50 PM. Inside the dark cool wet cave stairs had been built into the walls in particularly steep areas. Niagara is rated one of the top ten caves in the nation partly because of an incredible 60 foot waterfall about half way down into the cave as well as impressive stalactites and fossils.

The current owner of the Niagara Cave is Mark Bishop. His wife and 3 sons work in the gift shop and cave. Mark is the 3rd owner of the cave since it was opened for public tours June 1, 1934. The first owner was a farmer who leased the land out. The second family that owned the caves ran the tours during the mid 1990s. Thus far about 400 weddings have been performed in the chapel in the caves. Mark said owning the cave is a unique experience. He meets 200 to 400 people a day. He's met people from over 70 countries now.

The highway traffic out of town idled along behind a tractor going from one field to another. Eventually the cars sped up to 50 MPH and soon crossed over the border into Iowa. Just before 7 PM I had dinner at the Happy Chef on West Milan in Waterloo, Iowa.

____DAY 47 _________________________________________________________________

Marshalltown, Melbourne, Des Moines, IA
In Marshalltown I picked up some oil in the local NAPA in the downtown area which had a lot of older buildings.
I pulled up at the house of a ONE OWNER car guy. We chatted about his car and I photographed it. His wife came out with tomato sandwiches which we ate in the garden.
The ONE OWNER car guy provided directions to a mini car show going on that night in the Culver's. Take Old Highway 30 which is also known as Center Street. At 14 go west one half block on South Center. The show was beginning at 5 PM.
The ONE OWNER guy expected his buddy to be at the show in a 1966 Corvette which he bought when it was only 6 months old. The Vette wasn't there but I saw some other cars and chatted to some car guys while the sun was up. Later while I was waiting for my film to be developed at the Walgreens on SE Anson I went to the China Buffet on South Center Street to load up on food.
After leaving Marshalltown, Iowa I headed south through Melbourne where I made a stop at Randhawa's Travel Center on 1659 Marshalltown Blvd which is actually Highway 330. The 330 became 65 as it headed south west towards Des Moines.

It was dark when I pulled into Des Moines and filled up with gas at the Git N Go just around 9:30 PM. The station didn't sell AFT fluid and the Vette was a touch low. After cruising around a bit I picked up some ATF at a Shell station. This was just me getting the fluid level perfectly right. It was no longer spewing out like crazy.

____DAY 48 _________________________________________________________________

Adair, Casey, Menlo, Stuart, IA/ Grand Island, NB

oocc trip adair iowa welcome road

It was wet and overcast when I entered the city of Adair, Iowa in the morning through a nice formal welcoming gate. Gassing up at Casey's General Store on S 5th around a quarter to 9 in the morning locals told me that this town is famous for a Jesse James robbery. The first train robbery committed in the west happened a mile outside of town. The Jesse James gang robbed a train July 21, 1873 where a wood sign on the side of the road seen below marks the spot. The railway is gone now but the current highway runs along the same route.

oocc trip white pole rd jesse james train robbery

Just off the highway an old steel train wheel holds a second sign with more details about the first train robbery in the west.

White Pole Road is a famous section of old U.S. Highway 6 which runs parallel to the Interstate. Driving backwards heading east along White Pole Road through the fields the soaking greenery radiated a bit of steam.

This stretch of Highway 6 was called White Pole Road due to the utility poles along the highway being painted white during the 1920s. Iowa revived this feature to draw attention back to the old road much the way towns along Route 66 generated tourism nostalgia.

US 6 was first called 'The Roosevelt Highway' and later named 'The Grand Army of the Republic Highway' usually shortened on signs to read 'GAR'. Highway 6 used to run from Long Beach, California to Provincetown, Massachusetts. In 1964 parts of US 6 in California were renamed and it lost status as the longest highway in the USA.

OOCC vette trip casey iowa crows nest antiques

Highway 6 led me into Casey, Iowa where with some antique shops and rusted out cars bearing testament to severe winters. Crow's Nest General Store is located in a pretty cool old building as seen above.

OOCC vette trip menlo ia white rose sign

I followed White Pole Road east into Menlo, Iowa where the 'Menlo Man' original gas station sign stands 12 feet tall and waves his arm at passing cars alongside a parked 1972 Chevy C20. The sign reads: 'Menlo Oil Co., Established 1934, Harry Kalbach, Sr'. The White Rose gasoline crest reflects the brand of gas the station carried at the time.

The present owners of the sign are Harry and Jan Kalbach. Harry was 5 years old when his father commissioned the sign for his gas station. When the Interstate bypassed Menlo the gas station shut down. Harry, Jr. kept the sign working at the old gas station location 502 7th Street and now operates Signs From Your Design out of the old building.

oocc vette trip US highway 6 white pole road

The White Pole Road is a narrow winding 2 lane highway that takes you back just like the more famous Route 66 does. The railway crossed over the highway on the low bridge covered with graffiti.

oocc vette trip hotel stuart iowa

In Stuart, Iowa the ramshackle remains of Hotel Stuart sit across from the railway depot where Jack Kerouac spent the day as described in his book ON THE ROAD unable to get a ride. The 1906 hotel was originally known as the Sexton House. In 2013 it was saved and redeveloped with a 'Kerouac' Restaurant/ Bar inside.

OOCC vette trip bonnie and clyde bank stuart ia

Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker are credited with robbing The First National Bank in Stuart, Iowa April 16, 1934. The sign on the old bank building states that the First National Bank was located here from 1882 until 1944. The building is now ironically the Stuart Police station.

I stopped in at Hometown Foods on Division Street. No one was on the sidewalks or roads. The town was extremely serene. The ride along the highway was also similarly quiet. The Vette was the only car on the highway.

oocc vette trip iowa mobil gas motel white pole road

In Walnut, Iowa the Rolling Hills Bank is located inside the light yellow well preserved old building in the background of the photo below. The Corvette is parked on the cobblestone Antique City Drive. I visited the Granary Mall on Pearl Street and The Villager on Antique City Drive searching as always for POPULAR MECHANICS and MECHANIX ILLUSTRATED issues from the 1960s.

oocc vette trip walnut iowa rolling hills bank

Gassing up later at a Philips 66 in Grand Island, Nebraska at Highway 281 and Interstate 80 the humidity was fierce. There was a place called Mormon Island nearby and recreational vehicles and boats around as well as a wall of mosquitoes and other bugs.

____DAY 49 _________________________________________________________________

Ogallala, Potter, NB/ Pine Bluffs, Rawlins, Laramie, WY

In Ogallala, Nebraska I took a few pictures of a 1965 Chevrolet El Camino parked outside Central Auto Repair at the amazingly 'E' oriented intersection of East 1st (confusingly also Highway 30) and East E Street. A guy told me it had been sitting on the street for about a week. The plates expired back in Dec, 2003 so it had been off the road for quite some time now.

Around a quarter after 9 in the morning i filled up with gas at a Cenex in Potter, Nebraska. Heading west through Nebraska on Interstate 80 I cruised making stops whenever I felt like it. In Around 2 PM i filled up again at a Sinclair station in Pine Bluffs, Wyoming.

oocc trip wyoming terr prison bars

Around 4 PM I toured the Wyoming Territorial Prison State Historical Site on Snowy Range Road in Laramie, Wyoming. The prison is famous for housing Butch Cassidy. It was initially built as a Federal Prison 1872. When Wyoming became a State in 1890 the prison became a State Penn. Prisoners were transferred over to the Penitentiary in Rawlins in 1903.

After closure as a prison the grounds were used as an agricultural experimental complex for the University of Wyoming. In 1991 the buildings opened to the public. The prison grounds include a reproduction of the prison industries building and a well preserved cell block.

oocc trip wyoming ter prison tumbleweed gas pumps

Also on the grounds there were also some old west structures inside ranging from wood ghost towns to 1960s gas pumps.

On the way to GTO Nationals I'd been to the court house where The Sundance Kid was sentenced and now on the way back I'd visited the jail where Butch Cassidy was imprisoned. Seems like a full circle in some way. Both Butch and The Sundance Kid teamed up shortly after each had separately served 18 month sentences for horse theft. Sundance served his time in Sundance and Butch in Laramie.

Butch Cassidy was one of 1.063 inmates who passed through this prison. Butch's real name was Robert Leroy Parker. He was born April 13, 1866 in Utah. Butch ranched as a teen and briefly worked as a butcher which led to his nickname. He had already robbed a bank in 1889 but didn't wind up in jail until 1894 when he was nailed for horse theft. He served 18 months and received a pardon but promptly formed 'The Wild Bunch' and started robbing banks and trains with The Sundance Kid becoming his closest ally.

oocc trip wyoming terr prison open door

Jail is always a drag; especially so in the olden days of the wild west. I was glad to be able to walk out the door. While eating at the Hong Kong Buffet on Grand Ave the local Walgreens processed my film. I left town around 7:30 PM.

oocc trip return sunset wyoming

Heading into sunset the Wyoming sky was tinged with heavy black clouds while piercing sun intermittently broke through.

______ DAY 50 _________________________________________________________________

Point of Rocks, Little America, WY

The rest stop was freezing cold; the car was covered in dew and the wind whipped me. The architecturally interesting V shaped 'shelters' didn't keep the wind off when trying to prep food.

oocc trip v rest stop

Things were flying around while I was attempting to eat breakfast. The wind settled down when a hard yellow sun broke through. The bitter air kept my fingers stiff but the wind mercifully backed off a bit so that I could eat without constantly holding onto overturning objects trying to fly away.

At 7:40 AM I gassed up at the Conoco station in Point of Rocks, Wyoming. You can tell you are out in the middle of nowhere from the station address: Milepost 138- I-80. In the year 2000 the town population was 3. At the time I passed through town the population had swelled up to 4 people due to the presence of Stuart who was working in the gas station. Stuart joined his parents up here in the mountains while his father Paul was doing survey work for the oil companies. Stuart and I talked cars leading to him sending me over to the family's camp to see a ONE OWNER 1966 Powerwagon 200 four door he had just purchased.

Initially I was intending to include trucks on this website but have since decided to stick to just cars. But it was worth spending the day hanging out with Stuart's family. I ate wild antelope meat with Stuart's parents Paul and Dolly. Dolly told many car racing stories. She is actually a talented metal fabricator and was teaching Stuart how to restore a car. Stuart finished his shift and joined the fun later in the day.

oocc vette trip overland stage stop powerwagon

We took the Powerwagon out to Overland Stage Stop. The sandstone building dates back to 1862 when Ben Holladay's stage line was rerouted this way to avoid Indian attacks. Wells Fargo took over the stagecoach business. In 1868 the Union Pacific Railway made it this far west and the Stage Stop served a dual purpose. The current Railway can be seen in the backdrop of the photo above. At the turn of the century the building became a schoolhouse and later private residence. One of Butch Cassidy's Hole In the Wall gang members, Jim McKee supposedly lived here until 1946.

OOCC Vette 66 powerwagon stu wyoming

Stuart's Powerwagon was purchased from the original owner who was a rancher in Pinedale, Wyoming. It was driven year round in and eventually the floor rotted out. The new 'floorboards' are a metal road signs welded into place! The Powerwagon otherwise is in pretty good shape. The truck has a poly 318 engine with a Stromberg 1 barrel carburetor and uses an oil bath air cleaner for serious off road use. Unlike modern SUVs used for soccer mom duty this truck is the real thing. With 4.09:1 gears maximum speed is about 60-65 MPH.

We took it to the top of some rocky cliffs. It pulled up those hills the way it was designed to. The twin stick shift allows you to shift down into granny gears that enable this 4 wheel drive to climb a wall through front and rear Dana 60 heavy duty axles. Spiky one foot diameter rocks passed harmlessly below the undercarriage.

I headed out of town at dinnertime. There are always strange effects on the road. At one point I drove through a pollen storm and later a storm of straw coming off the back of a big semi truck filled the air like a blizzard floating in the windshield.

oocc trip pollen storm on highway

The sky is clear and there isn't a cloud in the sky but it looks as if it's snowing. Around 8:30 PM I gassed up at the Sinclair station on Exit 68 in Little America, Wyoming.

______ DAY 51 _________________________________________________________________

Salt Lake City, UT/ West Wendover, Wells, NV

At 8:30 AM I cruised into Salt Lake City, Utah and bought some milk from Tesora on N W Temple. After breakfast I continued down West Temple and gassed up at a Chevron.

It was still early in the day when I pulled into the Bonneville Salt Flats which are west of Salt Lake City. Bonneville is the largest of the salt lakes in the area. The section of the salt flat known as the Bonneville Speedway has been the locale for many land speed records over the years. In the 1950s and 1960s performance era Pontiac Motor Division adopted a practice of naming their cars after race events and hence the flagship full size highest prestige Pontiac model was named the Bonneville.

ooocc trip vette bonneville staging line

At the Bonneville Salt Flats some mean looking retro rods were covered in salt after making a few runs. Most anyone can run in the Bonneville Speed Week event. There were motorcycles and cars and trucks. There were some serious contenders. Guys squeezed into missiles on wheels needed push starts from cars or trucks.

OOCC trip bonneville salt flat rat rod

Cars were lined up waiting to run. Everyone was sheltered under broad hats or umbrellas. The sun was incredibly strong reflected back up onto the underside of chins creating strange red burns in areas that normally don't get sunlight.

Bob pulled in driving a ONE OWNER 1969 VW and let me do some pictures of his car. Eventually this website settled the focus onto my favorite cars: 1960s-1970s domestic musclecars and their family derived cousin cars with some luxury thrown into the mix.

The Vette got a little salt infested even though I drove it slowly over the flats. Outside the runs local stations offered salt washing for a fee. Most people were unworried about getting some salt on their cars.

At the Dirt's End self car wash facility in West Wendover I got the salt off the car and frame then vacuumed the interior in case any salt got tracked inside.

OOCC trip bonneville salt flat vette

Around 8 PM i finally ate dinner at the Rainforest Buffet in the Rainbow Casino, West Wendover. I caught a glimpse of myself in the full length mirror and nearly didn't recognize the image looking back at me. I was tanned so brown my eyes and teeth flashed white like diamonds in soot.

I gassed up at a Flying J on North Highway 93 in Wells, Nevada. I was stuck in town. When I fired up ready to hit the highway and get running the Vette headlight doors stayed firmly closed. The headlight doors are reluctant to open at the best of times due to the radical cam in the engine but right now they weren't budging. There is an override switch under the dash but I wanted to actually fix the problem which was likely a combination of cam timing and minor vacuum leaks. The car parts supply places in town were closed. It was late anyways so I decided to crash out early.

______ DAY 52 _________________________________________________________________

Wells, Jackpot, NV/ Filer, Twin Falls, Buhl, Hagerman, Bliss, Boise, ID/ Baker City, OR

Next morning in Wells I bought food from Roy's Market. On a quest for a car parts place I also decided that the Vette needed a new air filter. The Vette had sucked up air from desert wind as well as dirt laden clouds raised in farm country where tractors stirred up dirt darkening the air over the highways.

The Wells NAPA on Humboldt Ave had an air filter and some superglue for a cracked vacuum splitter and a few rubber caps to deal with some brittle looking caps on vacuum hoses. A combination of cam shaft timing and hose issues was causing the headlight doors to stay clamped shut. I pulled the headlight switch after gluing the cracked splitter and putting new plugs on some hoses and one headlight door jumped up. After a minute the other one reluctantly popped open, too.

The Vette also receives very little vacuum boost to the power brakes at idle so the situation was never going to be perfect. These slight annoyances are livable because the trade off in exciting performance is what makes this car live up to its image.

oocc vette highway 93 nevada

Highway 93 passed through Jackpot zipping by The Covered Wagon Motel. The sign said 'For sale. 5 acres plus hotel.' The General Store and Casino flashed by the next. Bartons Club 93 Casino whipped by after that. The instant the city limits of Jackpot end the highway crossed the border into Idaho.

Shooting north through Idaho I cut through Twin Falls and decided to stay on Highway 30 going west instead of getting onto Interstate 84. It was nice cruising through the country. Along the way I encountered a Lincoln collection. A bunch of Lincoln's parked in fields sat beside a giant 1970s Mercury. The Lincoln Continental on the right seemed to be in decent shape.

oocc-vette-merc linc idaho

Further down the field a Lincoln sat under a tarp cover. All these Lincolns were still in good shape. The license plates have been edited out to protect owner privacy.

OOCC-vette-lincoln idaho

These cars just seem apt for comfortable motoring out in the country. You want a giant luxury boat to float around those old country roads with the A/C counteracting the humid hot air. You can sit with the climate control on and keep the windows up so no bugs to intrude into your personal space.

oocc vette trip filer idaho delta 88 haaaks bodyshop

In Filer, Idaho this good looking Oldsmobile Delta 88 sat outside Haak's Bodyshop. Not sure if this was original paint or not but white cars tend to survive in the sun longer because they reflect the light back. Hopefully this factory correct looking car was going to be kept original.

Highway 30 cut through the countryside ambling along here and there. I felt no desire to get anywhere enjoying rolling along a classic narrow 2 lane blacktop.

OOCC-vette-buhl idaho stone hall

Highway 30 ran through Buhl, Idaho which was founded on April 17, 1906. Frank H. Buhl of Sharon, Pennsylvania introduced large-scale irrigation to the Magic Valley and the town was named in his honor. The Stone Hall Antique shop at 216 Broadway Avenue South caught my eye. The building traces back to 1908. Unfortunately the store was closed when I passed through town.

OOCC Vette iidaho highway

The two lane blacktop Highway 30 wound through fields where tractors threw up dust that covered the road like a desert dust storm. Good thing I have a new air filter in the car. Soon the highway climbed into hilly terrain following the Snake River which carved out valleys alongside the road. This part of Highway 30 is named the Thousand Springs Scenic Byway.

OOCC Vette fossil beds idaho highway 30

I stopped at a look out area around Hagerman, Idaho. A huge paved area provided plenty of pull out stopping space. A historical marker explained the Fossil Beds area down below.

The sign said: Fossil bones of zebras, beaver, otter, pelicans and other water birds are found in sediments left from a 3,400,000 year old pond on the bluff across the river. Lava flows, pouring out over the plains on this side, met and dammed up sedimentary deposits washed in on the other side, making lakes and swamps. Here the river divides these two important geologic settings, formed at a time when the climate was wetter, and the plains were tree dotted grasslands where zebra-like horses used to graze.

The National Park building further along has some interesting old fossils of early horses that were Zebra like animals. The Highway ran through Bliss and weaves back and forth paralleling the Snake River and I-84.

OOCC Vette idaho ill with dirt road stirred up

Letting the car soar down the hills I saw a guy stirring up dirt on the road alongside the highway. He was making tracks. We were all flying. Pedal down and make the world go away. The empty road provided miles of clear vision and I was the only car on the highway. I let the Vette charge through the hills in an exciting rush.

oocc vette trip I-84 hills

A little after 3 PM I stopped at the Chevron on Broadway in Boise, Idaho and gassed up. In the Chuck-A-Rama Buffet on Overland Road I ate insane amounts of food. I spent a long time in the buffet as did other customers. Everyone went back for seconds, thirds before even approaching the deserts.

Interstate 84 was completely empty on my side. There were some cars and trucks on the other side of the median slowly making their way up hill but my side was empty. I made up for lost hours in the buffet with rocket like bursts of speed racing down hill and despite incredible velocities never passed another car. There just weren't any other cars going my way.

I slowed down a bit to round a corner and suddenly found myself down low and in line with the Snake River. I had no idea where I was at the time where I took the photo below and even less idea now. But using sun angle and extrapolation we can place the approximation location of this picture likely around Weiser, Idaho.

OOCC Vette I 84 snake river

The beauty of just driving is that the stuff passing by is a blur of scenery and at a certain point its all just consumed as if there is an infinite amount of territory available to keep running under your wheels forever. The car is just sucking this stuff up and it dazzles your eyes and it never ends. Infinite. It feels strange to stop and have your feet on solid land again with immobile buildings in front of your eyes.

OOCC trip vette baker city or

Baker City, Oregon has this interesting mural on the side of a building with the date 1874 which is when the city was incorporated. The city actually traces back to 1865 and is named in honor of Edward D. Baker who was a senator killed in action 1861 during the civil war.

oocc vette trip baker city or geiser grand hotel

The Geiser Grand Hotel seen above with the clock reading 8:02 has a horse and carriage ready out front. The 1889 building was restored in the 1990s. In its time this was the ultimate luxury hotel situated between Portland and Salt Lake City. Baker City grew with the railway and eventually plateaued in size while Salt Lake City and Portland continued to expand. The population in Baker City stands steady around 9,800.

______ DAY 53 _________________________________________________________________

Pendleton, Stanfield, Portland, OR/ Chehalis, Des Moines, WA

oocc vette trip oregon underpass

Interstate 84 curved north west towards Pendleton, Oregon. The hills were bright and whipped by wind. The top of the world highway shot me along in hot yellow light. I was once more alone on the road able to enjoy this well maintained superhighway as if it was my own private road.

oocc vette trip oregon hills

Outside Pendleton, Oregon the Pendleton Lincoln Mercury dealership sat empty on top of a hill. See a story in the DEALERSHIPS section of the website under OREGON.

Dropping downhill into Pendleton I stopped to look at the wild array of cars languishing at Wally's Auto Sales on Southeast Court Avenue. There were a few modern clunkers and some semi decent looking used cars at one edge of the lot. The cars that fascinated me were a collection of weathered old cars spanning the 1950s to 1970s.

OOCC Vette trip wallly's auto sales pendleton or

There was an insanely rusty 1973 Oldsmobile 442 and a 1972 Cadillac Eldorado which can be seen in the ALLEY FINDS section of the CAR STORIES on this website. Oregon's wet rots out cars severely.

Wally's Auto Sales is located next to the old Comry Olds-Cadillac dealership building. See a story on Comry in the DEALERSHIPS section of this website under OREGON.

OOCC Vette trip wallly's chev vega pendleton or

At the entrance at Wally's an old chair for 'setting' is close to an old Chevrolet Vega with a racing stripe and some old mag wheels. When the Vega was introduced to the public they were eagerly snapped up by people who perceived them to be economical mini Camaros. But Vegas were ownership and warranty nightmares riddled with so many problems that it's rare to see a Vega in one piece nowadays.

OOCC Vette trip wallly's 50s cars pendleton or

Old cars and trucks that were only somewhat rusted sat beside cars that had pure rust on roofs and hoods. Years of Oregon rain had taken a toll on the Oldsmobile Cutlass seen below. The VIN was illegible but it has 'Guide 76' tail lights so its likely a 1976 model. The license expiry date from March, 1994 gives testament to how long this car has been out of the loop. The new exhaust extension suggests it has been running although not formally registered.

OOCC Vette trip wallly's oldsmobile pendleton or

Driving through town I got pulled over for making a very fast turn and for speeding. It wasn't outrageous behavior but in a quiet small town it attracted attention. The cop laconically commented, 

"The way you darted around that corner and then got on the gas it looked like you just robbed a bank!"

I admitted that I am a quick, decisive driver but never sloppy or dangerous. The cops noted that I was driving without a seatbelt. I'd gotten into the habit of jumping in and out of the car lately and not buckling up.

We chatted and I ended up showing them some photos from the car shows. The cops were pretty friendly. I ended up getting a warning. I thanked them and made a mental note to start doing up my seatbelt before turning on the ignition from now on.

OOCC Vette oddfellows pendleton or dorian

On Dorion Avenue a pair of old signs popped up. The Odd Fellows Hall and Ruud's Hearing Aids signs were both a nostalgia trip. Ruuds' had an old clock below the sign.

OOCC Vette working girls hotel pendleton or

In the old west days Pendleton had 18 bordellos. Pam Severe restored and opened the Working Girls Hotel in 1991. The hotel is located at 17 SW Emigrant Street in a boarding houses (bordello) built in the late 1890's. The interior uses Victorian style furnishing to recreate the atmosphere of the old whore house. Tourists can rent the rooms for about the same cost as an ordinary hotel.

A yellow train is chugging towards the railway crossing in Pendleton.

OOCC Vette railway pendleton or

The bordelo theme reappears down by the railway tracks where a small mini store front was painted with the sign Madam Stella's Cozy Rooms and Brothel. All the tracks run behind a park near here.

OOCC Vette hamley pendleton or

Hamley and Co at 30 SE Court states they were founded in 1883 and specialize in saddles but also upscale leather goods and western clothes. Like most businesses in town they are located in a well maintained period building. Around 1130 AM I gassed up at a Chevron on SW 12th and said goodbye to Pendleton.

At noon I pulled into Stanfield, Oregon to eat a Subway sandwich in a Pilot gas station right on Highway 395. I kept moving, wishing to avoid Portland rush hour. But I got stuck in Portland traffic grind. Finally frustrated by the blockade I pulled over on Burnside and had something to eat while waiting it out.

Around 8 PM I gassed up at a Chevron on Rush Road in Chehalis, Washington. I had managed to hold out without eating until about 10 PM when I stopped at the Des Moines, Washington Safeway and bought some prepared food.

______ DAY 54 _________________________________________________________________

Blaine, WA

The final ride into Vancouver, BC when it's late at night seems to take forever. No matter how fast you drive the border is just out of reach. I crossed over the border tired and disheveled just exactly the way I had come over the border a few months ago when the trip began.

END OF OOCC VETTE GTO NATS STORY

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

JN23091900 AS 04SA38 GZ ve ma (17 ta)/ MC 29VI10 GZ SA ju ur ne

MO 20CA41- VE17TA55- MA17TA06- SA16VI07- NE26AQ18- UR26PI36- JU26AQ53

J0582/39/84/ MO 17TA53- SU15CP02- SA21LI40

A2173/39/84/ MO 17SA18- SA17GE28- MA18AQ20- UR20LI34

Last Updated ( Thursday, 20 April 2017 11:40 )