Return to VA: Part 2

I left Rawlins, WY bright and early. The drivers of the pickup trucks that had parked around me were early birds! They were already gone long before sunrise. I was certain that I-80 would be endless miles of boredom; that’s what I was hoping for, at least. There are a lot of mountain passes and opportunities to find closed gates if unexpected snow came. I didn’t see anything in the forecast, but that didn’t preclude the possibility of a mountain pass being closed. Other than avoiding snow and ice, my only priority on this day was to get more “Been There” mugs for my wife.

There aren’t many Starbucks along I-80 in Wyoming. Laramie looked to be my first option. SUCCESS! From there, I dipped into Colorado with my sole mission being… you guess it… another “Been There” mug. Fort Collins had the closest Starbucks along an otherwise direct route east. I entered Colorado via Hwy 287. It was scenic and with little traffic. It was the first state that I entered with a sign at the border which stated that masks were required in all public areas. “Hmmm, even outdoors?” As I entered Fort Collins, a seemingly busy place, I didn’t spot anyone outside that might signal to me the social climate regarding masks. I did spot a few folks wearing masks while driving alone in their cars. But that’s not my thing. I wore a mask into Starbucks, bought my stuff, and left. I still had plenty of fuel, food, and water. So, I had no need to find out how serious the state was about it… unless I was stopped by police for not wearing a mask in my car. 😀

I drove along Hwy 14 and was surprised at how much farmland I saw. I never associated Colorado with farms. It seems ignorant, but it’s simply not a part of their image. I think most people imagine snow, mountains, skiing, and ranching with the state; not farms. But there they were, lots and lots of fields being prepared for this years planting. I didn’t take any photos… they’d be quite boring. I took just one photo in Colorado… and it doesn’t look very “Colorado” at all… 😉

My goal was to reach North Platte, NE. I got there ahead of schedule, so, I continued to Kearney. I grabbed a “Been There” mug in North Platte. That’s three mugs in one day, perhaps a record, but who cares? 😉 I stopped in Kearney around 4pm after 500 miles of driving. It was nice to get settled early. I like to park where I can see the car from my hotel room. That wasn’t an option there, but I did find tandem parking spots. So, that was good. I decided to visit a burger place next door, “Angus Burgers & Shakes.” I looked over the menu and ONE thing jumped out at me. Remember my craving for good country-fried steak? Well, check out this country-fried steak burger! It was messy, but delicious. If it had stopped my heart that night, it would have been worth it!  😀

The next morning, I came out to my car and saw that a Mk7 Golf had parked next to me. It had snow tires mounted and all-seasons on a hitch carrier. The low clearance of this rack reminded me of why I chose a rack with about three inches of rise out of the hitch. My very first hitch rack was like this one. I used it on my Mk3 Jetta on a cross-country transfer. It dragged on nearly every driveway or uneven intersection. I had to carry extra carriage bolts since they inevitably got ground away. This carrier’s bolt looked good. Perhaps the shorter overhang of the Golf make it less likely to drag… maybe.

My goal was to stop near Kansas City to meet someone. But I almost forgot a stop. I wanted to see if I could get a “Been There” mug from Iowa. The closest opportunity was in Creston. I set my navi for a detour. I left the interstate and drove along back-country roads. This detour was certainly costing me time. So, I didn’t make any stops for photos. I was enjoying the drive, blissfully unaware that I was about to hear, “DING!” What? DOH! Low fuel? How did I let this happen?! And guess what? I had dumped my extra fuel into the tank in California because I was certain that these stretches of road were all behind me. Usually, this chime would be accompanied by a note telling me that I had 50-ish miles left on my tank. That’s usually enough. But, with the trailer in tow, that number was just 35 miles. Guess how far the closest fuel station in any direction was? THIRTY-FIVE MILES, which happened to be near my destination. Would I make it? I knocked 5-mph from my cruising speed to conserve fuel. My range counter reached zero about five miles outside of town. I stopped at a station with “Premium” unleaded… sort of…

I was stumped! I don’t know anything about how ethanol fuels rate on the anti-knock index. I opted to put just one gallon of the 87 AKI, which was labeled “Premium,” and then found a top tier station on the other end of town. I found the Starbucks, but it was inside a grocery store. UGH! Those don’t usually have merchandise. But I lucked out. Although this Starbucks was just a kiosk, it had a full staff and lots of merchandise racks. I got the Iowa “Been There” mug and detoured to Kansas City. Oddly enough, now that I had detoured to IA, the trip back to KC was a detour since it was out of my direct path toward home. But the KC visit was special…

I had sent one of my ham radios to a gentleman near KC to replace a failing display. He installed a new LCD and did a check-up of the radio. When it came back to Virginia, I saw a piece of fuzz on the display and tried to wipe it away. “Crap!” The fuzz was INSIDE. I attempted to disassemble and clean it, but got only so far before deciding that I’d rather just get him to do it. Apparently, a single strand from his Q-Tip got left behind when he cleaned the new display. I could have mailed the display back, but why not just visit him along my journey. He was open to it and was glad to help. He’s a retired engineer who works out of his basement shop “just to stay out of trouble,” he said. Here’s his shop, with plenty of work to keep him busy.

Here is my ham radio setup, if you haven’t seen it before. I recently tried a different mounting location, but didn’t like it. So far, this has been the most functional place to mount everything, other than the fact that my vent is blocked. I didn’t talk on the radios on this trip. I monitored 146.52 MHz (national calling frequency), CB channel 19 (receive-only), and scanned the FRS/GMRS band. I didn’t hear much, which was okay. I was content to listen to music and podcasts. Click here to learn more about my ham radio setup. I continued to Columbia, MO. It was a long 450-mile day; so, no more photos. Next, I will visit a fellow YouTuber who some of you may recognize. Until then…

Back on Eastern Time,


About Scott

I grew up near Houston, TX and served in the U. S. Coast Guard for over 30 years. I have an electronics background and continue to work in the electronics engineering field. I taught myself the basics about automotive systems as well as how to perform some of my own maintenance (cars and bicycles). I became involved with Amateur Radio and computers in 1995. The explosion of technology has made my job and several of my hobbies quite interesting. My hobbies include Volkswagens, bicycling, photography, electronics, amateur radio, web management, and reptiles. Visit my websites to learn more.
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