The United States is a beautiful country. Then again, some parts of it are less beautiful than others.
Our supervisor asked had TexDoT raised the speed limit on the stretch of Interstate 10 west of San Antonio to El Paso? It seems Texas State Highway 130 east of Austin had jacked the speed limit up to 85. The speed limit on the stretch from El Paso to San Antonio is now “only” 80 MPH. Our supervisor said they should raise it to 100 MPH because it is a horrible piece of land to travel.
It is, too. When I lived in California, I made that drive from El Paso to San Antonio many times. It’s 560 miles. Cycle that through your brains, East Coasties. Richmond VA to Boston is about the same distance; I think something like 20 percent of the nation’s population lives in that stretch. Suffice it to say, the only “cities” between El Paso and San Antonio are a place called Fort Stockton, and another town near the confluence of I-10 and I-20 called Van Horn. The route is largely brush, then transitions to mountains, and then desert.
We then got into topper, for our nominees for Worst Stretches of Road in America. Any group of military guys, traveling salesmen or truckers can tell you about some of these exotic trips:
I-80 between Reno and Salt Lake City: I think this was my first true long distance drive, cause I was stationed in Central California and I had to go to Washington DC. I got stupid and had a big dinner. Then I took off across the moonscape of central Nevada. One of my favorite events ever happened here. I was at a rest area and I fell asleep in my car. Then I woke up. There was a dude standing in front of my car looking in at me like he was Charlie Manson. I started screaming, threw my car into reverse and peeled out of there. I got back out on the 80, next rest area 44 miles. I pulled into a hotel in Wendover, UT at 3 am.
I-40 between Oklahoma City and Flagstaff: 865 miles of nothingness. I know, there’s Albuquerque and Amarillo between them. Sorry, that’s not enough to get over the Bleakscape, especially between Tucumcari and Albuquerque. Plus I got a freaking ticket. Thank goodness I was slowing down.
Our supervisor threw in I-90 from the Washington State Line to Minneapolis. Good call. I had driven I-90 in South Dakota. Not exactly entertaining.
CA-58 and I-15, between Bakersfield and Las Vegas: Hell, just I-15 between Barstow and Vegas. Nothing to see here, especially in the most inhospitable desert in the United States. There’s a reason Fort Irwin is the Iraq of the US…literally.
I-65 from Mobile to Montgomery. I always dreaded that 170 mile stretch because its desolate swampland, but the reality is, if you like lush green scenery, that’s your road. Plus you can really go strong on it, it’s a well built road.
There are a lot of desolate roads in the US. A few I didn’t mention: I-20 west of Ft. Worth, I-10 from Las Cruces to Tuscon, I-80 from Cheyenne to Lincoln, I-80 from Salt Lake TO Cheyenne. I-5 north of Sacramento would fit the list, but the scenery super improves once you start seeing volcanoes.