A lovely cool mountain morning, brisk even. I feel a wee bit guilty after our luxurious night. Corky told me it was tough having to wake every couple hours to re-inflate the air mattress over in the room that was supposed to be for us.
We headed out on I-80 eastbound toward Cheyenne today. John Classen laid us a clever, beautiful, and challenging course that jumped on and off the interstate as needed, but put us on the old Lincoln Highway when practical, and led us to some breathtaking heights (well, those cars that could make it there – we had a lot of attrition today).
The first part of the day ran through a middling high pass at 6800 feet, passing among rolling hills and table lands. We half expected to see Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner (By the way, what’s the difference between a beautiful Butte and some messed-up mesa, anyway? – gotta look that up).
We had some trouble holding speed for the calibration run. Our noble Swede, Sven the Skveelar (aka 1965 Volvo 122s) has ‘adequate’ power at sea level, but not so much up here where the air is clear but thin.
We had a rest stop along the interstate, but unlucky timing. Several busloads of Hutterites on Tour unloaded just as we arrived. The restroom lines were longer than our time allowed. Press on regardless!
We passed our first tunnel on this Race, as we chased a canyon near Green River. Green River is a railroad town, with a big Union Pacific yard where freight consists are made and broken for the long haul up the grade to cross these mountains. I still love trains. the rails and ballasts out here are so well maintained they look like model sets!
Along the way, we would periodically pass a little brick building with no windows. We saw a few yesterday and several more today, about every 30-40 miles, it seemed. I have no idea what they are, but they’re all identical.
Sven, our urgently acquired Volvo was completely solid today. We blew out the cooling system last night, clearing a huge amount of rust and whatever from inside, so it ran cooler today. It’s a joy to drive, actually – Ethan says it’s the most tolerant carbureted car he’s ever driven. It starts EVERY time, on the key. Confidentially (just between you and me) – I don’t know if the speedster, even with a sound engine, would have done as well. I’ve certainly made a list of upgrades and changes it will get.
As we climbed the front range of the Rockies, we saw snow fences everywhere. In winter this country must be rough, indeed.
We didn’t see many spectators along the way. Of course, none in the open range, but it occurs to us that there have been fewer in the towns, too, and we wondered why. As we rolled through Laramie, we saw some, but still not many (weirdly, next to the town of Saratoga, and both in Albany County – did folks from our hometowns in New York settle this area?).
Our route through the Rockies revealed towers of smoke from a wild fire burning to the East, and wound up a ten-mile grade into Medicine Bow National Forest and over the Snowy Range Pass, cresting at 10,847 feet, where the air pressure is just under 0.7 bar (almost 1/3 less than at sea level). Tough on the cars, that had to pull the long hill with only about 1/2 normal power because of the thin air. But, Holy Backcountry Beauty, Batman! Rarely have we seen such majestic mountains. We both wanted to get out and hike! But we made do with a brief snowball fight. It was sad to see that the pine forests are about 2/3 killed by the pine bark beetles.
Sven at the Summit
Back down the far side, we followed the Little Laramie River, flushed with continuing snowmelt, cascading down to the lowlands. The road led into a broad, green valley, with marvelous stone formations punctuating the lushness. Really, like a model train layout, even to wild antelope playing (do I hear a song?). Last, a blast down I-80 to Cheyenne, Wyoming.
Our reception in Cheyenne (6062 feet high) was the best yet! A lovely setting by the old depot and a beautiful room in the historic downtown Plains hotel. The central skylight in the lobby is a work of art, with the sun and planets (including little Pluto) there and Western themed details all around.
A full night’s sleep tonight: NOTHING needs attention mechanically.
Oh, I forgot: we scored pretty well today (for us). First leg was 11 seconds off – another hold-fifty run that’s tough with Sven’s little motor. Other legs were better: we scored 1 to 6 seconds – still no ace, though. Total for today was 29 seconds – good for us, just mediocre amongst this group!
Get up tomorrow, kick it again! jc
PS: I’ve started a side project – I’m making up a poster of all the “Faces” of the cars to roll into a single poster like this one I made in an earlier year:
Passed on roadside today (the elevtion adn long grades are tough on old cars):
Ford Model A sedan
and others I’ve forgotten. We’ve dropped from our initial 120 cars to just 101 through today.