february 19, 2005
afternoon in denver, marathon drive to california

Today I slept in until about 11:30am. I had already missed several hours of the convention, but at this point I really didn't care after what I had gone through the night before. So I just decided to forgo the convention altogether and continue with my plans to head out to California. Before doing so, I decided to take advantage of the sunny skies and 60 degree weather to walk around downtown Denver. Being that it was the day before the NBA All-Star game, the area near the Pepsi Center was crawling with scalpers selling tickets. One particular scalper was very aggressive in trying to get people's attention, purposely riding his bike in the path of oncoming traffic as well as badgering customers trying to enjoy lunch at an outdoor cafe. Here are some pictures I got from around the area that afternoon....

Coors Field, home of the Colorado Rockies
The Pepsi Center, home of the Denver Nuggets and the 2005 NBA All-Star Game (which took place the next day).
Invesco Field, home of the Denver Broncos.
A look at the Denver skyline from the northwest

At 2pm, I left Denver to begin the long drive out west. Although skies were sunny and temperatures near 60F in Denver, conditions drastically changed once I reached the Eisenhower Tunnel at the 11,000 foot elevation. Moderate to heavy snow showers were common after I got west of the tunnel, with several inches of fresh snow covering the roadway in areas. This made travel a bit tough at times, but since I kept my speed down I didn't have much trouble driving through it. The snow changed to more of a rain/snow mix below 7000 feet, and all rain below 5500 feet. A scary moment occurred later on in eastern Utah though, when I suddenly hit a narrow swath of hail covering the road, and nearly slid off the road. This was a bit of a surprise since there wasn't any lightning. Most of the drive through Utah was through scattered rain showers, which turned to snow above the 5500 foot elevation.

The plan was to stop for the night in Las Vegas. I had never visited Las Vegas before, and was amazed at all of the bright lights (especially the huge beam shooting up from the Luxor Pyramid). Unfortunately all the hotels here were booked, so I kept heading south on I-15 to search for another hotel. I then went to Baker CA, home of the world's biggest thermometer, to search for a hotel, but all of the hotels here were booked as well. Seeing that I was 6 hours from Turlock and not really that tired, and I decided to keep on going. I got back to Turlock at 8:30am on the 20th.

Starting mileage: 80531
Ending mileage: 81787

Click on map for larger version (2512x995)

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