Saturday, September 20, 2008

Interesting Interstate 15

Today we’re writing about Interesting Interstate 15, but before we do ---

On our way to
I-15, we followed
I-84 out of southern Idaho, right past this big prairie fire. Idaho provides a cell phone number (#FIRE) to report wildfires, so we did. We also took a couple of photos for the record.

Now about Interesting Interstate 15. I-15 is a so-called modern highway extending from the Canadian border north of Shelby, Montana, all the way to San Diego, California, a distance of 1,435 miles. There are portions of I-15 that are even pleasant to drive, most of the way through Montana, for example.

But let that highway get anywhere near a major metropolis (which it seems to delight in finding), and you’ll curse the day you learned to drive. We just came down through the Salt Lake City area on I-15 (and it’s “quieter” loop I-215) and we were cursing. There’s a lot of highway construction going on in that area, which means losing lanes every once in a while, narrow lanes, switched lanes, and, as often as not, irregular paving The locals all know this, and they are accustomed to it, so they drive like bats out of hell, while the truckers don’t care, they just have to get to their destinations.

Suzy does all the driving of the motorhome while I’m the navigator. Part of my job is to watch for merging situations and advise Suzy if the oncoming traffic will drive like idiots and try to dash in ahead of us, or be reasonable and match their speed to the traffic and merge gently, preferably behind us. At one point, where we had narrowed to two lanes with orange barrels crowding in on our side, I checked the merging lane. To my wonderment and panic, I saw a freight train that appeared to be barreling down the on-ramp! It was actually a few yards the other side of the on-ramp, but my brain didn’t register that immediately and I let out a yelp. Suzy did a masterful job of retaining control of herself and the motorhome while I was yelping.

About a quarter mile further on, Suzy was having to fight an uneven pavement which kept pushing us into the next lanes where the trucks were barreling at breakneck speed. At that moment, my friend the train engineer decided to blast his horn! Suzy’s only comment, once she caught her breath, was to say, “I think I’ve just wet my pants.” (A later inspection proved she hadn’t!)

It was only when we passed Provo, Utah, that things eased up enough that we felt comfortable again. The devil take I-15!

The very best thing about I-15, at least in this northern area, is US Highway 89. US 89 sort of meanders around the countryside roughly along the same path as I-15. It is one lane or two lanes each way most of the time, and it visits the little towns and takes us where we really would rather go anyway. US 89 starts at the Canadian border, wanders down past Glacier National Park, through White Sulfur Springs, to Livingston, then marrvels its way through Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks before cutting through a corner of Idaho on its way to Utah.

We grabbed onto US 89 near Spanish Fork, Utah, and are currently cruising south to Arizona. Just a little beyond our present location, I-15 and US 89 go their separate ways, I-15 to Las Vegas and California, US 89 down through the red rock areas of southern Utah, between Bryce Canyon and Zion National Parks, over to Lake Powell, then brushing by the Grand Canyon.

In Arizona, US 89 continues south to Flagstaff where it meets I-40 (the modern version of the old Route 66) and finally gives way to I-17, after 1,310 miles of meandering. Some day we’d love to drive that full 1,310 miles in one journey, revisiting so many places we’ve been before.

While we’re on US 89, we’re able to pull over and take some pictures of Utah’s version of fall color. In a month of so, those red leaves will start to get their first kiss of snow. These few nights we are at Mt. Pleasant, UT, at an elevation of 6800 feet. We’re actually a few miles out of town, a hundred years or so away from railroad trains, trucks on the Interstate, or jets screaming overhead.

We are near Harward’s farm stand where, for $7.50 we bought fresh corn and Utah-grown apples, pears, peaches and tomatoes. We were told to fill a basket to overflowing (with the fruit and the tomatoes), so we did. Then they encouraged us to add “his and hers” huge apples as a bonus.

This mural is on the side of the Skyline Pharmacy, where we found another story to tell, but we won’t tell it here.

Will we miss this place? Yes, but next we’re going to Circleville, UT, then to Kanab before getting back to Arizona at Page / Lake Powell.
This is the life we lead, the life we love … Our Life on Wheels


  1. If the leaves are already turning in Utah the snow can't be far off. Glad you guys are heading south, to warmer southeast AZ. Enjoyed your vivid description of driving acumen. There are indeed many Interstates crowded with inconsiderate drivers, oblivious to the laws of physics until the day Newton's Laws catch them off guard. But then again, traveling has its rewards . . . like the bountiful fresh fruit Suzy so carefully cradled in her basket.

  2. Yikes! I hate scary driving situations...I get extremely nervous on uneven roads with a lot of construction, and the train would have caused me to Yelp! as well, Papa!

    Glad you guys are heading south before the weather really turns! Be safe, you two!

  3. Hi Jerry & Suzy,

    Thanks for your comments on our Blog. Mike is always excited to read your comments and know that you are faithful readers.

    You do a great job on your blog. The pictures are superb.

    Looks like it is time to head south. Safe Travels.

    Pat (and Mike)


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