US Road Trip Travelog: 4th April 2005

Today's route is fairly straightforward - drive north of Prove on Highway 189 for a while then turn east for the 450 or so miles to Denver on Highway 40. That sounds easy enough ...

Highway 189 north of Provo
Highway 189 north of Provo.

I know I've set a long drive for the day, but I really couldn't see any other way to break it up that would make sense. Highway 189 north of Provo winds through the mountains and often has views of lakes off to one side. Up along here is Sundance, the film institute founded by Robert Redford and famous for its festival. I wonder if any aspiring directors would be interested in a film about a road trip around the US in a Buick ... no, thought not. (In case you haven't guessed by now, I'm trying to find ways of making money from this so I can stay on the road a bit longer.) Anyway, Sundance is in a lovely location and I can see why he chose it.

Highway 40 along the tops
Highway 40 along the tops.

Once out of the valleys, Highway 40 is straight and clear and fast. Without many towns to go through we make good time. There are Police patrol cars around but oncoming drivers flash their lights so I know when to return to somewhere near the 65 MPH limit.

Of all the places I've driven in the US, this one reminds me most of the moors around where I live in the UK. The big difference is that there's a damn sight more of it.

Steamboat Springs
Steamboat Springs, Colorado. I think. To be honest I can't remember which town this is, but you get the idea.

Once into Colorado - Hooray, made it out of Utah at long last! - the view is pretty much the same until the town of Craig. I don't know why, but that seems like an odd name for a town to me. Having already passed through Dinosaur and Lay maybe it's not so weird. Still can't compete with Pie Town in New Mexico though.

Beyond Craig and we're into the Rocky Mountains. The roads here are steep and, with the high altitude, the Riviera is well down on power. It was tuned perfectly for L.A., but this is 10,000 or more feet up and there just isn't enough oxygen for the carburetor so we take it fairly easy. An expert motorist would know how to re-tune his car for the mountains but there isn't one on board so we'll just have to make do.

Highway 40 on the way down to Denver
Highway 40 on the way down to Denver.

The last part of Highway 40 before joining the I-70 into Denver is a long series of switchbacks first up and then down the sides of the mountains. We encountered some snow showers earlier but they're heavier here and that, along with the loose grit on the surface in places, means that it's better just to be sensible and not try to push things. Given the Riviera's asthmatic state, that's probably as well. Sometimes I really do feel a bit sorry for the old girl.

Driving into Denver
Driving into Denver.

For some reason I can't quite fathom I've decided to stay in downtown Denver tonight. I think it may have something to do with the fact that this could be the last big city I'll see for a while. I'm on the 11th floor of the Holiday Inn, and the view makes a nice change from all those ground-level motels.

Whilst in St. George and trying to find another radiator I was put in contact (through the Riviera Owners Association) with Chris Wolfe, who lives in Denver. We had a good chat on the phone then and I call him to see if I can stop by where he works tomorrow to say hello in person. To my surprise - it's fairly late on a Monday evening - he say's he'll come by the motel for a drink instead.

First off, of course, the car has to get a look over. I'm pleased to say that the verdict is favourable - if you've been reading this since the beginning you'll know that I used more luck than judgment when buying it.

After that we have good long chat about all things automotive. Chris wrote of the few books about Rivieras - now sadly out of print, and going for big money on eBay or Amazon - but knows much more than just that about cars (including English ones), custom cars and car styling. I hope he gets round to writing another book as I can't afford the original and if a new one is half as informed and interesting as his conversation it'll be a great read. It was nice of him to make the effort to meet up with me as well.

US Road Trip Travelog: 5th April 2005 >