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So that's the map of day 1. 638.4 miles in total, working my way south and east to Kingman, Arizona. For those of you in the Northeast, that's like driving from Boston to Washington, D.C., turning around, and driving back to New York.
A couple of scary moments on the way to the Arizona border. As I was driving through Fresno on 99, some genius decided to toss a bunch of cans in the road. I wasn't able to avoid the first one, running my left front tire right over it. Nothing popped or swerved or deflated, though, so on we went southward. Then, as I hit the ramp from 99 to 58, a squirrel chose that moment to run across the road in front of me. Now I've spent a lot of time on the archery range in San Diego, and had many opportunities to hunt rabbits. On the Golden Gate Park range in San Francisco, there have been a few chances to take out some of the local cats. Never tried it, though. So today, I see the little creature run out, and hit the panic button. But this squirrel's timing was spectacular. He ran out in front of my car, stopped IN BETWEEN my tires, and then, in my mirror, I saw him run the rest of the way across the road, narrowly avoiding the tires of the big rig that was following me.
As I was driving down 58, I took a little detour to see the Tehachapi Loop, a feet of engineering that allowed trains to cross the Tehachapi Pass (elevation 3,793 feet). The loop is a circle of tracks that crosses itself such that a 4,000 foot long train will cross over itself by 77 feet, over a tunnel below. The road itself winds its way above 58, starting southeast of Keene, California, and runs into Tehachapi itself. Pictures below are of the historical marker above the Loop and the Loop itself, a bench perched on the edge of a cliff overlooking the valley below, a flag painted onto a rock across from the bench, and two houses, one also sitting on the edge of a cliff. The detour is about 4 extra miles, and I don't know how much in elevation. But with no time schedule to keep, was absolutely worth it.
After winding through Tehachapi, I continued moving east on 58, then a short run north on I-15, and then split off onto I-40. And apparently, I'm starting a tradition of being pulled over on the first day of my road trips. When I drove from San Diego to Boston, about 10 minutes shy of the Arizona border, I was pulled over for speeding. Today, I had a nice little chat with an officer of the San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department. As I was driving up to the 15/40 split (where the speed limit is 70), I was driving just shy of 60. The reason was because I was following a big truck and did not want to go around him, since the split was coming up, and I didn't want to miss it. I was also being tailed by a guy, and so naturally I slowed down a little bit. So I take the turn onto 40, and as I get onto the road, I pick up my directions to check the mileage to Needles, California (that's just a border town, not any actual destination on this trip, for those of you who were wondering). I saw that I had passed a Sheriff's SUV, but didn't really think twice about it since I wasn't speeding. And then behind me, I see him following me with lights flashing. I pull over to the side of the road, and up walks the officer. Apparently, when I checked the mileage chart (while also looking at the traffic because I don't really want to die on this trip), he was concerned that I was "driving distracted." At that interchange, he has seen drivers reading books, working on laptops, and doing god only knows what else. He was nice enough to give me some friendly advice (especially since, as he said himself, I wasn't doing anything that he could actually cite me for), but warned me that an officer not as nice as him might have given me a ticket for felony stupidity (again, his words, not mine). If someone with Westlaw access could do me a favor and tell me what it takes for "felony stupidity," I'd really appreciate it.
After a stop in Ludlow for some food, fuel, and water, I kept on going across the desert as the sun went down behind me. Sharp mountain peaks turned orange, with purple shadows creeping across their faces. The sun became a wide orange swath of sky in my mirror, and the road ahead of me got darker and darker. I drove quickly across Needles (again, that's just a border town), and finally crossed the Colorado River into Arizona. My original plan was to get off of 40 and start taking 66 until I found a place to stop for the night. That didn't happen. Since it was completely dark, and I was ready to get out of the car for the night, I decided to stay on 40 until I got to Kingman, about 66 miles up the road (a seemingly appropriate number) at the Arizona speed limit of 75. About 5 miles shy of Kingman, I ran into another chance to get on 66, however, and this time I took it, driving the last stretch on the Mother Road (per Michael Wallis' title) into Kingman, where I've stopped here at the Arizona Inn for the night.
Mileage rates for the day (up through Ludlow, since I can't check the rest until I fill up tomorrow): 30.09 miles/gallon.
And finally, some pictures from the Tehachapi loop road.