Day 4: Las Vegas to Salt Lake City
No foolin’. We were given a map during bagel/coffee hour that included over 450 miles to drive, a Flickr photo stop (more on this later) and a car wash being given by a local high school. It’s been a while since I’ve driven that long in a single day, but I was ready! So were the other **200** MINIs that we had collected so far. All leaving from the past/hopefully future home of A MINI Vacation in Vegas; Palace Station.
One thing most of us learned on this day. There is a reason why there is still a lot of road work going on in Nevada, Arizon, Utah and Colorado. These states have troopers. Lots of them. And they aren’t afraid of giving out ‘motoring awards’ to those drivers travelling at speeds more than 4mph over the limit. I’m proud to say that I was not one of the award receivers because I had a feeling. That, and I was driving a MINI that kinda drew attention to itself.
4 hours in, we come to our first stop, and that is of a lighthouse. Picture grabbed, we also decided it was a good time for lunch before heading over to the local high school for a charity car wash.
Once that was done, north was the direction and we drove on! The views were amazing, made even more amazing by the fact that every time I looked into the rear view mirror there were about a dozen MINIs following me. It was this day that something else happened too. With every mile I drove closer to Denver, I became more and more enamored with this little car I was driving and the roads we were on and the company I was lucky enough to keep. It’s hard to put into words, but it was during the drive to Salt Lake City this event became life changing.
One other thing about this section of our drive. There were 2 spots, approximately 20 miles in length, where we actually got to drive _legally_ at 80MPH! Should you ever get the chance, I highly recommend it!
Finally, at about 6PM MST, I pulled into MINI of Murray. Not quite the same sized turnout we experienced at the other stops, but many were still driving or completely wiped out by the drive and checked in to the hotel for the night.
Tonight was also laundry night for me. And, my luck lead me to the laundramat right next to Crown Burger. If you are ever in Salt Lake City, go there, order a double crown, dial 9-1-1 on your cellphone and enjoy. Make sure you have someone with that can press the green button for when the stroke kicks in tho. A Double Crown Burger is a double cheeseburger with grilled onions and topped with a HUGE pile of pastrami. Oh. Em. Gee. It was awesome!
Day 5: Salt Lake City to Grand Junction
After yesterday’s monster drive, today’s 410 mile drive was a pittance in comparision. And today was the day we were to drive on the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Funny thing that. You see, I couldn’t get a definitive time for the morning, so I made a **very** uneducated guess. Turns out, myself and the 6-8 MINIs that were with me would have been 15 minutes late to the drive. Oops. So we pulled off the highway, had a discussion and I made an executive decision that saved 30 gallons of fuel, over 600 miles driven and 15 man hours. Bonus is we all got to have a truck stop breakfast instead and look like complete dorks in the process.
(Of course, this photo was taken with an iPhone 4, but you probably guessed that).
After breakfast we motored back thru the road-constuction clogged freeways of Salt Lake City and Provo before we were able to jump onto Highway 6 that would lead us back over the mountain to I-70. It was a great drive and it could have been even greater except on this particular stretch of road I counted, and I’m not kidding, 15 Utah State Troopers! Talk about a buzz kill.
A bit more than half-way over the mountain was our Flickr Stop for the day in Helper, Utah. There, at the public library, was this fellow.
That’s Big Jim. He holds a pick and probably was the one responsible to carving out the canyons that contain Highway 6 and the towns of Helper and Price. This was a fun stop that included the hunt for Mr. Jim, pop-rocks and our friend Jim Petersen getting the James May treatment when his trailer hitch broke.
Continuing on, we get to what I can only describe as one of the most desolate roads I have ever driven on. Leaving the mountains, Highway 6 turns into a very straight, very boring, 2 lane stretch of roads that felt like it went on for days. Of course it didn’t, only a few hours. Luckily, MINIUSA knew this and set us up with a free Soda at a place called Papa Joes on I-70.
Soda’s and beef jerky consumed, our convoy jumped back up onto I-70 and we were in Grand Junction in short order! Being the first to arrive, we got an extra hour or two to relax, charge gear and sit around and meet new friends. Oh, and catch an epic lightening storm!
After that, it was dinner in a local Brew Pub, followed by a Gellato stop, again sponsored by MINI USA, and a night cap. A great night capping off a great day of driving and having fun with friends!