Getting to Lander

Another long post. Forgive me.

I saw an amusing (to me, anyway) billboard as I was driving near Greensboro NC on my way out of North Carolina. Now I wish I had stopped to take a picture of it because I assumed I could find it on the internet. Silly me thinks pictures of EVERYTHING can be found on the internet. Anyway, the sign featured “Safety Sam,” which my regular blog followers know is a recurring character here. Hopefully Safety Sam can stay where I keep him – in the trunk of the car.

For those of you who are interested, or perhaps are playing the johnboystravelblog Home game, putting push pins in your map of North America, I took I-40 west from Greensboro NC, through the mountains near Asheville, then continued through Tennessee to Nashville. I took a series of other roads northwest to Evansville, Indiana where I spent the first night.

Wednesday I drove just a little north of Evansville to get to I-64 which I took west through southern Indiana and Illinois to St. Louis. There I shifted to I-70, a decision I would soon regret, and took it west to Kansas City. I took the bypass around the east side of KC and I-29 northwest. I actually went 10 miles in to Iowa, turned left on smaller State Highway 2 and took it west to Lincoln, Nebraska where I picked up I-80. I continued west on 80 to little Elm Creek where I spent night two.

Thursday I was back on 80 while it was just getting light out and took it the rest of the way across Nebraska and about halfway across southern Wyoming to Rawlins where I then took Highway 287 northwest to Lander.


The weather was very agreeable – mostly cloudy the first two days with temps in the 70’s and VERY windy. I had the sunroof open most of the time but wore my full-rim hat because I know the ultraviolet rays can do a number on my bald spot even when it’s cloudy. It rained some as I left Evansville and I encountered patches of rain around Kansas City but other than that it was clear and dry. It was cooler when I left Elm Creek early Thursday but soon the sun came out and it was gorgeous (but still VERY windy). I had the sunroof open again and while I obviously continued to use my hat (and I looked sillier than normal because I had to keep the chin strap tightened up so it didn’t go flying out the sunroof like one of my favorite baseball caps did in Virginia once (I went back to retrieve it)) I should have put sunscreen on my arms as I was shocked to find that when I crossed in to Wyoming, in little Pine Bluffs (and I have an amusing JohnBoy story to tell about that), I was already up at 5,049 feet elevation. I was tricked into thinking the drive across Nebraska was straight and level but leave it to sneaky ol’ Nebraska to make it straight but with a subtle incline. Well, I guess sneaky ol’ Mother Nature did that…

Traffic was, by and large, agreeable as well. Clearly America is getting back on the road. Truck drivers were mostly well behaved. Most now have GPS trackers which can record their speed as well as location and most of the big trucking companies are getting big breaks on their insurance rates if they can show that the fleet isn’t exceeding the speed limit. That has made a noticeable change in their behavior in the past few years (ain’t technology great?). Of course there are still renegade owner-operators who don’t mind paying higher insurance rates.

I saw lots of chocolate brown “Maverick” trucking cabs hauling various cargos (I see them occasionally in the southeast or on my way to Pennsylvania but they are based in the Midwest and they have LOTS of trucks there). I also saw a bright red Benjamin Moore Paints truck drive halfway off the side of the highway near an exit ramp (which I thought it was taking). Both of those brought back vivid memories of my experience in Indiana back in August of 2016 (search “The Dreaded Interstate” on the Home page).

Cars and smaller trucks- well that’s a little different. Most were well behaved. Not as many as usual, probably, but still a fair number. Not as many vehicles hauling big campers and more SUV’s and conversion-van type panel trucks rigged for camping (which I have thought about but for now I still prefer the comfort of my Altima and the comradery of Airbnbs. (Some people prefer camaraderie but both are correct)). I took bypasses around most of the bigger cities (Nashville, St. Louis, Kansas City) and that is mostly where I found the kamikaze drivers, weaving it and out, looking at their phones or otherwise distracted – all while darting in and out of lanes at high speed. And the slowpokes, driving slow in the left lane while yapping on their phones.

I was surprised and pleased to see ALL the vehicles, trucks and cars alike, get in the right lane when approaching a one-lane construction zone – like 3 miles before we got to it! All of us were lined up like good little soldiers. No one zooming up the left lane to be first in line. I can’t say that I have EVER seen that!

And so far I’ve only been almost run into only three times (that I’m aware of, anyway). The first time was when I was out in Evansville looking for my elusive cream soda (look for the upcoming “Obsession” post). As I was turning in to a convenience store that was supposed to carry it I noticed emergency lights flashing further up the road. While I was in the store more emergency vehicles came screaming by with lights and sirens activated. Well, when I left to go back the way I had arrived (and thus putting the emergency scene behind me) I pulled out of the parking lot and stopped at the light which was red (smart move there JohnBoy). Well, the light turns green, I start to roll and then I hear a siren behind me. I instinctively stopped and then saw the police car, which was probably planning to turn in front of me before the light changed (he or she didn’t have the siren on until the last second or I would have known they were coming and would have stayed put) and the car made it’s turn behind me, probably not missing me by much because I hadn’t gone that far.

The second time was the next morning, still in Evansville. I was out looking for cream soda again (a future blog post) and missed a turn onto the entrance ramp of a city highway (helpful hint – when GPS tells you to turn right at the traffic light, do it. I overshot it, (I was seeing the light on the other side of the elevated highway, not my side), turned around and then was trying to turn left onto the entrance ramp I wanted to be on in the first place. Well, I inched out when the light turned green but had to wait for oncoming traffic to clear. When the light turned red I tried to finish my turn and almost got hit head-on by a fool trying to speed up (from a considerable distance) and run his red light (or maybe HE didn’t see the light that I didn’t see?).

The third time was yesterday in Wyoming. I just happened to look in my rear view mirror on the driver’s door and saw a black car approaching which had drifted from the passing lane back partway into my lane. If I hadn’t immediately moved right she would have sideswiped me (or worse).

Hopefully I can continue my travels and be fortunate enough to stay out of trouble…

You Have Arrived!….

… as my GPS likes to say.

I arrived in Lander, WY at 401pm local (Mountain) time on Thursday. 2,082 miles from Durham, which includes minor side trips like shopping, a longer than expected drive away from the highway for cheap gas near St. Louis, and a 16-mile “oops” when I missed my exit getting to Evansville and had to drive 8 miles to the next exit and make a U-turn (which my GPS loves to yell at me about). One of my Evansville Airbnb host family’s kids, 8-year old Sebastian, was amused when I told him that I had missed all my conversations with my GPS when I didn’t go anywhere during the pandemic. “You talk to your GPS?” he asked, quizzically. “Oh yes, sometimes we even have heated arguments,” I said, though with his young, impressionable mind I spared him the details of the words we (well, I) sometimes use.

After arrival I unpacked a few things from my car for my first night staying in my brother’s little rental house, and drove back into town to have dinner and a beer with my nephew Sam, who also lives in Lander and works for the same company as my brother.

And for trivial comparison purposes, that 2,082 mileage figure is just under the 2,172 miles I put on my car in all of 2020 due to the “stay at home” order (excluding a trip to Pennsylvania when my older brother was in the hospital).

I will add a post with photos later today, hopefully. When I looked in my “technology” satchel (various cables, chargers, and emergency power-packs for boosting my phone’s battery when it gets low) to get my FitBit cable out I discovered I actually bought an Apple-to-USB cable when I made my Amazon “new iPhone shopping spree” (Otterbox cover, screen protector, high-speed charging brick [gee, thanks Apple for including that with the damn phone. You provide a cable but nothing to plug it in with!], car charging plug, etc) so now all I need to do is figure out how to offload pictures from my phone to my laptop via iTunes (which I downloaded yesterday).

It is supposed to be rainy here the next few days so I will probably just rest up, get acclimated to the altitude (5,358 feet), unpack the car – which alone could take days!, and get back to a normal sleep routine before making trips out-and- about to explore the area. Based on my brother and sister-in-law’s Facebook posts there are lots of beautiful things just a short drive from here.

Let the 2021 adventure begin!