We slept in until 10:30 am to recover from the exhausting drive. The goal
today was to GO SOUTH. This sentiment was partly driven by the weather,
which was cold, rainy, and cloudy. Then it was back to the winding
freeway, which finally became a 4-lane divided highway about 20 miles
further east. Another 40 miles further east we got into Calgary
and we had to grope our way through the suburbs to Highway 2 southbound
(the concept of inter-city freeways with simple interchanges has not
caught on in Canada). Along the way I stopped at a pharmacy to pick up
3 boxes of Canadian over-the-counter Claritin for me and my grandmother,
a necessary trip to circumvent the warped American medical system,
and we then grabbed some lunch at Taco Bell and McDonald's.
South of the city Highway 2 was in much better shape, though it narrowed
to 2-lane traffic here and there. The road also had the annoying habit of
leading directly into each city rather than around it; this proved to
be a nightmare in Lethbridge, which was a labyrinth of avenues, turns,
and congested traffic just to leave town on Highway 4 for the U.S. We
were getting more and more eager to leave Canada, especially due to the
speed limits which seemed to be geared toward student drivers (we found
some sections of straight, empty, divided freeway near Lethbridge posted
at only 80 km/h, 50 mph).
We made it to the U.S. border at 4:15 pm. I declared the 12 bottles of
beer I had bought in Alaska, which wasn't a problem, and the lady checked
our drivers' licenses against a computer (presumably to make sure we weren't
Vietnam draft dodgers). We then continued south on I-15 through an annoying,
continuous rain, compounded by blinding torrents of road spray being
whipped up by several tractor-trailer trucks.
As we travelled south to Great Falls, Montana, the rain begain
letting up. We went east from Great Falls and through Harlowtown
and arrived in Billings, MT. It was 10 pm, and we decided to get
dinner at the very same Applebees that we dined at driving up.
Once again, the service was mediocre, but the food was good,
confirming my earlier rating.
From there we decided to push as far as we could, all the way to
Texas if possible. Darkness had fallen, and Shannon drove about
150 miles, all the way to Kaycee, Wyoming. We switched there
and I drove, passing Casper at 3 am. Even at 4 am daylight was
starting to break, and at 5 am I stopped at Chugwater for a much
needed nap. An hour later, revived with energy, we continued south,
stopping at Cheyenne for gas, and into Colorado.
Passing through Fort Collins at 6:30 am, dozens of reckless drivers
entered the freeway southbound, turning I-25 into an all-out road war.
We saw a couple of near wrecks and lots of aggressive driving.
Where on earth were the Colorado state troopers?
Deciding not to approach what would be a traffic nightmare in
Denver, I left I-25 on Highway 52 eastbound and took us through
Ft Lupton and Prospect Valley then south on Highway 79 to Bennett.
From there Shannon took over and we got on I-70 to Limon.
The road signs in Limon were frustrating -- to get on U.S. 287, the
signs had us get off then drive through downtown Limon, only to
reintersect the freeway again east of town before going south!!!
Talk about trying to feed the local businesses! Through the late
morning hours and with it getting hot outside we made it to
Lamar, CO, where we got lunch at McDonalds, then continued south,
braving the incredible construction nightmare near Springfield.
Interestingly enough the AM radio information station for the
construction zone had not updated its recording since we had
originally passed through.
Through the afternoon we made it to Boise City, OK, then Stinett, TX,
and Amarillo, TX (taking Loop 322, a great choice for avoiding the
city). Then we proceeded down U.S. 287 for the final stretch to
Dallas. We stopped at the Dairy Queen at Clarendon, TX, only to
see a sign on the door that said "No ice cream or soda available"!
We left and stopped at the Memphis, TX DQ for our snack, then pushed
onward to Quanah, TX, where I took over, and then to Decatur, TX,
where Shannon took over around dark. We headed east on U.S. 380
to Decatur, then down I-35 to Lewisville, where we got a quick
dinner at Taco Cabana. Then we navigated the freeways of Dallas,
seeing what was absolutely the most dangerous traffic we had ever
seen in our life -- agressive driving, road rage, and reckless
maneuvers. As expected, Dallas police cars were nowhere to be found.
We finally made it back at 10:30 pm, ending our great trip!
Miles travelled: 1988