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Roadtrip San Francisco to Zion, Utah and back, 43 mpg

Roadtrip San Francisco to Zion,
Utah and back, 1400 miles, 43 mpg

Last week (Feb 6-10, 2006) I drove 700 miles from San Francisco to
St. George, Utah.  Here I am in my new Toyota Prius with "Hybrid Synergy Drive."
  My bike fit in the back of the Prius without even taking a wheel off. 
By driving I saved the cost and hassle of boxing my bike for the airplane gorillas.

Where is St. George, Utah?
Why did I go there?  For three days of amazing bike rides,
see my other photo blog "Sleep, eat, ride, then repeat"

Meanwhile, here is the Mojave Desert, close to the town of "California City" 
(where do they come up with these names?). 

Here is the artful concrete work by Caltrans in the 60's at the Mojave rest stop.

Geography lesson: The Mojave is a large, high desert (about 2000-3000' elevation)
 East and North of Los Angeles and extending into Nevada.  Can you name the other
two great California deserts? They are the Colorado (down by San Diego and extending
into Arizona and Mexico) and the "Great Basin" which barely touches California along
the edge by Mono lake but which is one huge high desert covering much of 4-5 states
including big parts of Nevada, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, etc.

Botany lesson: Joshua trees, I learned from a faded sign in a Caltrans roadside
rest stop, are members of the Lily family.  They have shallow root systems optimized
to catch and store water from rare desert rainstorms.  The roots have many bulbs that
fill and swell with water during the rare (and often brief) rain storm.   I came up with
the name "plant camel of the Mojave" - pretty good name, eh?

Okay, I'm in Las Vegas now.  When I stopped for gas I found
I was in the dangerous part of town - the gas station has a
full time security guard.  I didn't know they had
dangerous parts of town in Las Vegas. 
Oh well, I really had to pee.


The only worthwhile thing I found in Las Vegas that night was a cheap and really delicious buffet meal in a Casino.  But you don't want to see a picture of my plate, so here's a picture of a slot machine.

Here is my Prius in Vegas at night. 
Pretty sleek looking.



Two hours later I arrived safely in St. George after about 12 hours on the road. 
The next morning I woke up to views like this.

And here is downtown St. George.   Growth has been explosive in recent
years.  85% of the population is Mormon.

At night we typically hung out in the bars.   Virgin, Utah was our
favorite local town.

This is what I came here for, for the full story of the 3 days of bike riding,
see my photo blog "Sleep, eat, ride, then repeat."  This particular
road goes down Snow Canyon State Park.  Notice the brand new
pavement and downhill.  Both are nice for bicyclists.  Parts of
Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid were shot here.

The Trip Home

After three days of riding it was time to drive home.  One block into the
700 mile drive I couldn't reside stopping to photo the best faux cactus
mail box I'd yet seen.   Bet the mailman wears gloves before delivering.

My brother Tom will appreciate this sign as his office is called "the bunker."

A highlight of the return trip was stopping in Las Vegas to visit my
cousin Mark for 1.5 hours of talking and catching up - it was too short! 
I had to get on the road again as I still had 9 more hours to go to San Francisco.

I liked the shoulders and shape of this Mojave mountain, very handsome. 
I-15 curves around its base.

 California, land of fruit and nuts and...    Bun Boy!   My favorite stop on
the drive home was in Baker, California.



Baker calls itself the "Gateway to Death Valley" but they are also proud owners of the 'world's tallest thermometer.'    (Hey, you have to do something to get the drivers on I-15 to stop for coffee and gas).  It was 72 degrees and a crisp desert wind was blowing from the North.
I'm kicking myself now that I actually didn't buy any alien fresh jerkey.  The alien was waving his hat, I felt rude not stopping.


As I descended the Tehachipi pass 4000' down into the great Central Valley,
I reflected on the mortality of mountains, all of which must someday become hills.

 Yes, my Prius delivered an average of 43 mpg across the whole trip. 
That was with average freeway speeds of about 75 mph.   If I'd
been willing to putz along at 55 mph on the freeway, my mileage
would have been more like 55-60mpg.

Total gas costs for the trip were under $80.  My cousin Mark says
driving one way in his H2 would have been at least $250.


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Creation date: Feb 11, 2006 12:29pm     Last modified date: Jul 1, 2008 8:41am   Last visit date: Nov 30, 2020 10:03am
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Mazen Salmann (mazensalmann)
It is a nice jobe & nice photos
Feb 13, 2009  ( 1 comment )  
Ted Everingham (pdfhome)
Nice desert pics and commentary...I'm down-unda in OZ and have shared some of the same  roadtrip wonders here deep into the outback in my younger days....Good for the soul.
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