I’d never done a cross-country road trip before, so I wanted to use my trip home from New Jersey as an opportunity to do it. It’s also one of my goals to visit all 50 states, and a trip like this would help me add a few new ones.
Mrs. Bohan and I flew to New York to hang out for a few days before Formula D. After I took her back to JFK, Larry picked me up in Vaughn Gittin, Jr.’s RTR #001. I was going to drive Larry’s rental car down to New Jersey while he drove the RTR, but first we had to go do a photoshoot with it.
That meant going back to Manhattan.
Through the Queens-Midtown Tunnel. Larry rolled the windows down and revved the engine to hear how awesome the car sounded. And it sure sounded awesome.
Larry didn’t want me to have all the fun though, so when we popped out in Midtown, he wanted to shoot too. This is totally safe. I think.
I drove the RTR through Times Square while Larry took photos. I hope I don’t get in trouble for posting this shot…
After that, we went over to Weehawken to shoot the car against the Midtown Skyline. If you’ve never seen it in person, you couldn’t even imagine how big and colorful it is. Where are the rest of the RTR photos? They’ll be on Speedhunters soon, I think.
Then we went to Newark, picked up the rental car, and went to Wall for three days of drifting. Vaughn ended up winning the event.
After Formula D was wrapped up, I hopped in Luke Lonberger’s rig for the ride back to California. If everything went according to plan, his driver Matt and I would be best friends for the next three nights and days as he made sure Luke’s Corvette, Gabe Stone’s M3, and Jhonnatan Castro’s 350Z made it safely back to California. I was stoked to get a free ride home, and Matt was stoked to have someone to talk to on the 3000-mile haul. First stop, just over the Delaware River, somewhere outside of Philadelphia. I’d been to 24 states previously, so Pennsylvania was number 25.
We woke up bright and early, and let me tell you, the sleeper in a Volvo tractor is not too bad. I slept like a rock once I was too tired to care about the heat and humidity.
Interstate 276 is the way to go if you’re in a truck. It has tunnels through the Appalachians instead of long grades. This kept the transmission happy, not to mention anyone who’d be stuck in a car behind us.
Western Pennsylvania has some cool old towns. The Somerset County Courthouse is only 109 years old, but it’s also the third courthouse they’ve had. The first one was built between 1798 and 1801.
The East Coast and Midwest are full of tollways and turnpikes instead of freeways. Crossing Pennsylvania in a 6-axle truck cost $92. What the hell are gas taxes for then?
I had a lot of photos to edit, so the truck became my office for the next few days. Luke even has a Samsung tablet with a WiFi hotspot, so I had Internet the whole way. Pretty luxurious office if you ask me.
The cool thing about the tollways is that there are service plazas every so often, complete with gas stations, convenience stores, and fast food. That way you don’t have to exit, pay toll, and get back on. We stopped at one in Ohio, state number 26 for me.
A lot of the service plazas are exactly the same, so it can be hard to remember where you were if you stop at very many of them…
We passed the biggest fireworks store in the world in Indiana (state 27), but I was editing so sorry, no photo. Matt was going to buy a load to take home, but decided not to when he found out it’s a felony to take them across state lines. We also passed pretty close to Chicago, but not close enough to see it. Interstates 80 and 90 are actually duplexed between Gary and Cleveland.
It got dark and boring in Illinois, but I had to get a shot of the Mississippi River as we crossed into Iowa (state 28) just south of Davenport. We called it a night soon after that.
We woke up hot and sweaty at a rest area near Victor and couldn’t wait to get back on the road and in some AC.
True to form, Iowa was mostly flat and mostly farms. I was surprised by how humid it was though.
We passed at least 9000 Outdoor World/Bass Pro Shops along the way. These stores are huge. They have boats for sale inside them.
The Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines is pretty cool. It was completed in 1886.
With a population of 203,433, Des Moines is one of the largest cities on the plains, and a major center for the insurance industry.
Another one of these…they’re everywhere.
Across the Missouri River from Iowa lies Omaha, the biggest city in Nebraska (state 29 and the last new one for this trip). Omaha is about twice as populous as Des Moines, and is home to Warren Buffet’s notorious Berkshire Hathaway.
I remember my high school history teacher, Mr. Hanna, mentioning that the pioneers in Nebraska joked that the Platte River was “a mile wide and an inch deep.” I can see why. What a pain this river must have been to cross with a bunch of wagons, oxen, and horses.
There’s a lot of weird and cool stuff along the freeway in Nebraska. Like jets…
…gorillas in front of a restaurant called King Kong…
…and a tyrannosaurus rex.
We passed a Stryker, presumably on its way to the Heartland Museum of Military Vehicles. Around this time Geoff and the Kados passed us. I couldn’t take any photos because I was distracted by Geoff calling me and telling me they were passing us. Thanks, jerk.
I think Nate Deck would be happy in Nebraska. There’s corn as far as the eye can see!
Matt checked out the truck and trailer to make sure everything was still cool. It was.
Long sections of I-80 in the plains were under construction. They were taking it all the way down to the dirt and pouring all new concrete. I wish they’d do that in California.
In far western Nebraska we saw the first significant hills and the fist coniferous trees.
We also saw what seemed like thousands of NASCAR rigs on their way from Sonoma to Kentucky. Each car had at least one full size semi associated with it, but some, like Dale Jr., had as many as three. The series itself had so many I lost count. Speed had a lot of their own as well, including one flatbed trailer with nothing but satellite dishes on it.
We stopped for a break in eastern Wyoming. I’ve been to Yellowstone a bunch of times so Wyoming wasn’t a new state, but I’d never been to this part of it.
There were some spectacularly weird clouds that evening. I’d seen some weird summer weather in Montana and Wyoming before, but these clouds looked almost fake.
When you’re driving west, sunsets take longer…
…and you get to enjoy them over varied landscapes and cloud covers.
We stopped in Wamsutter to refuel and check on the engine. Everything was okay, and we decided to call it a night.
I woke up early to shoot the sunrise and I found a deer outside. It was hard to move around it to get a good angle without scaring it out into traffic. I eventually scared it on purpose once no cars were coming.
Western Wyoming’s rocky hills were a welcome change after the monotony of the plains. I-80 goes through a gap in the Rocky Mountains, so it still could have been more exciting. Where the freeway crosses the Continental Divide, there’s nothing more than a slight rise in the terrain. Every time I’d crossed the Divide before it’s been a rugged mountain pass. Weird.
It must get windy because of the gap in the mountains. All the air just rushes through.
We found what might be the best or worst store in the world. Liquor and Fireworks…what else do you need for a good time?
I really wanted to stop and spend a day rock climbing. Matt would have been down to camp and fish if we weren’t on such a tight schedule.
We crossed into Utah and came to Park City, which was really built up for the 2002 Winter Olympics. Ken Block lives in Park City. I wonder if he saw us drive by.
We kept going, and down through the canyon we came to Salt Lake City. This was previously the furthest east I’d been on I-80, so I’m glad to have shattered that with this trip. At 189,899 people, SLC is not that populous on its own, but the metro area has over 2 million inhabitants, making it one of the biggest urban areas in the mountains.
It is of course named for the Great Salt Lake, which is salty because the water keeps evaporating and leaving the salt behind.
Out toward Bonneville, there’s this weird sculpture called Metaphor: The Tree of Utah. Built by Swedish artist Karl Momen in the mid 1980s, it’s been confusing travelers ever since.
The salt flats used to be underwater. Now they’re a race track.
Northern Nevada is super boring, but I was still excited because the next state was California.
Reno signals drivers that they’re almost to the border.
Just across the border, you start climbing into the Sierra Nevada. I-80 goes over Donner Pass. Yes, named after the cannibalistic Donner Party of 1846.
I swear 1/3 of I-80 between the Atlantic and Pacific was under construction. Yes, a full thousand miles of cones.
I waved my hand mysteriously and said, “These are the signs I’m looking for.” We were almost home!
Crossing over the Carquinez Straight brings you officially into the Bay Area. Contra Costa County has a bunch of oil refineries. Shell, Chevorn, Tesoro, and Texaco operate major refineries here.
And just like that our cross country road trip was at an end. From New York to San Francisco is a hell of a drive! Maybe I’ll do the drive out to Atlanta next year. We’ll see.