Monday, July 30, 2012

The Road to Denver

Dear Reader,

I always wanted to do a job in Colorado, but in my twelve years in the business the opportunity has never come up, that was until June of 2012.  A good client of mine asked me if I was interested in doing a job in Denver for a motorcycle company.  I said “yes”, I worked with the client the year before and I had a great time.

It was late afternoon on June first, as I drove up the Baker pass on the way to Denver, Colorado.  I did not want to over-heat my engine, it 107 degrees in the shade, so I slowed down to 35.  As I cruised up the grade I passed many pick-up trucks towing trailers on the side of the road, drivers who pushed their trucks too hard up the unforgivable Interstate 15.  When I made to Primm, Nevada I called it a night, time to cash in the chips and get some much-needed rest, tomorrow I planned on driving twelve to fourteen hours. 

At Whiskey Petes in Primm, if you show them your commercial license you get the special CDL rate $22.00 plus tax on weeknights and $40.00 on weekends.  The rooms are not fancy, the Hotel has not been updated in years, but for the price it beats a Motel 6 any day.  The other plus, there is a casino with slots and gaming tables, a McDonalds, a 24-hour restaurant, gift shop and other amenities.  You can take a monorail to Buffalo Bills, the Fashion Outlet, great restaurants for almost any taste and of course two more casinos.  I was at Whiskey Petes for one reason a good night sleep, away from truck stops with trucks idling their engines all night long.

The next morning I was on the road by six, I still had about 650 miles to go and the climb up the great Colorado Rockies.  I decided to stop in Mesquite, Nevada for breakfast at one of the casinos.  Mesquite is the last town on Interstate 15 in Nevada, the gateway to the north end of the Grand Canyon.  My wife Lecia Battle-Green convinced me to play the “Sizzling 7’s”, I’m glad I did, I won $300 for my effort. 

As I snaked my way out of Nevada, for a few miles I found myself in Northern Arizona, then I was in the State of Utah.  I took Interstate 70 east and drove up the pass; I descended into the valley forty-five minutes later and found myself surrounded by some of the greatest geological wonders like sandstone monoliths, fissures that look like Islands, ancient volcanoes.  The landscape was sparse of vegetation, except for some varieties cactus plants.  I wish I had the time to pull over and take some pictures of the scenery; unfortunately I was on a tight schedule.  I was on a half of tank of fuel, so I pulled into the Flying J in Richfield, Utah.  My motor home was getting almost ten miles to the gallon, not bad for a vehicle that weighed over 34,000 pounds.  I was driving my RV at a constant 60 miles per hour, except when I was navigating the passes; the passes slowed me down to 35 miles per hour. 

It was late afternoon, and I was hungry, I had been driving now for over twelve hours, I was deep in the Rockies, Vail pass and a 178 miles to Denver was in front of me.  I decided to have some barbecue ribs at Rib City Grill in Fruita, Colorado.  I ate a half of racks of St. Louis pork ribs, fries and baked beans, it was the best meal I had in a long time.  There was a rest stop around the corner next to a lake, it was time to sleep there for the night, it was tranquil except for the idling truck engines all night and the roar of interstate 70 in the background.  I was tired, my options were limited, and legally I could not drive because I reached the twelve-hour mark on my logbook. 

I woke up the next morning at 5:30, so I thought, I forgot that I was on Mountain Time; it was actually 6:30.  I scrambled to my feet and I was on the road in fifteen minutes.  I was now deep in the Rockies, I had several passes to climb including Vail Pass located in Central Colorado on I-70, when I reached the summit I was at the 10,622 elevation.  This pass took all 950 pounds of torque from my 8.3 Cummins engine; I took it easy and rode up the pass at 35 miles an hour.  This was the first time I drove my motor home at this elevation, I was not sure how the RV would handle the thin air.  Before I left LA, I had my mechanic do a pre-trip for me and made sure all my fluids were at the correct levels, checked my air pressure in all six tires and inspect my hoses and belts.  This is something anyone who is about to embark on a long trip should do; it does not hurt to carry an extra serpentine belt, motor oil, coolant and ATF fluid and basic tools.  This is the Rockies, weather can change for the worse, and so I bought a set of chains for my rear tires.  Fortunately I did not need those chains on this trip.

I was now chugging up another pass, I was approaching the continental divide, the Eisenhower Tunnel, and this time the elevation was going to be 11,158 feet.  Once I reached this crest it will be all-downhill to Denver, or almost all downhill, there are a couple of minor passes.  It was around eight-thirty in the morning, I could see the tunnel a few miles ahead, my engine was roaring like a tiger with plenty of power to spare.  I slowed down and engaged the exhaust brake; I did not want to heat up my brakes going down the pass. The view was amazing, I could see Denver to the South/East, and it was clear and crisp outside.  I was surrounded by every size big rig, because I was over 10,000 pounds, the state of Colorado said I had to drive thirty-five miles an hour.  In principal that was a good law, when you are driving a vehicle with manual transmission you can better control your downhill and uphill speed.  With automatic transmission, even with a “Mode System”, that allows you to manually control your gears and an exhaust brake; you are still dealing with physics. I kept my RV as close to thirty-five as possible without fading my brakes, when I reached the bottom of the mountain I exhaled. 

I drove to the Flying J in Aurora, fuel up, dumped my holding tanks, top off my water tank and had my RV washed.  I was ahead of schedule, which is the way I liked it, I don’t like showing up late for a job.  I checked into my hotel and informed my client I had arrived, I was happy to relax in a comfortable room and take a nice bath. 

In my upcoming blogs I plan on writing about specific places we filmed at, I hope you enjoyed my trip.  This was unusual trip for me because I mainly do jobs on the West Coast, however I am always opened to an adventure, if you need a motor home and an experience driver who is willing to go the extra mile literally, I am your man.  Call me Mike Green 818 317 7099 or you can call one of the convenient numbers below.

818 317 7099 LA/Palm Springs/San Diego
415 730 7127 San Francisco/Nevada
541 619 3934 Portland/Arizona/Colorado
206 777 5192 Seattle/Idaho/Canada
323 927 1546 Fax

Denver, CO

Near the Eisenhower Tunnel, CO

Vail Pass, CO

Rib City Grill in Fruita, CO

Rest Stop in Fruita, CO

Interstate 70 somewhere in Utah

Interstate 15 passing Las Vegas

Monorail at Whiskey Petes, Primm, Nevada

Buffalo Bills-Primm, NV

Whiskey Petes-Primm, NV