Extreme Road Test - 2003 Hummer H2: Leg 2, Day 3
Mesquite, Nevada to Vail, Colorado
With a scant four hours and five minutes of motionless sleep, we awoke feeling slightly less drowsy and reluctantly ready to get an early jump on logging miles in the H2. After showering off the remnants of Death Valley desert scunge from our bodies, we made a beeline straight for our Eureka Hotel/Casino's all-you-can eat breakfast buffet. Nevada is known for its seriously inexpensive buffets stocked with loads of artery-clogging merriment and we were eager to get our $3.99's worth of grub.
Finding the buffet required an expedition across the casino floor, and along the way we noticed the lobby was littered with an assortment of still-drunk chain-smoking slot players who looked as if they hadn't moved since midnight. Luckily, we quickly spotted the glowing neon of the buffet sign and were able to set a direct course.
Kiwi went for a tried-and-true stick-to-the-ribs meal consisting of eggs and potatoes slathered with gravy, two bowls of Fruit Loops, all chased by a cup of tapioca pudding. Meanwhile, the obviously more health-conscious Stick-Boy scarfed on a bowl of fresh fruit followed by a cinnamon churro. While chowing we couldn't help but notice that we were (by far) the youngest humans in the place. In general, the buffet was choked with RV-driving retirees who appeared to be approximately 1430 years old, thus giving the ancient Bristlecone Pine forest in the nearby White Mountains a run for their title as the oldest living things on earth.
With stomachs stuffed and the H2's fuel tank topped, we set our sights on the splendor of Zion National Park. We weren't on the road very long before we drove into Arizona and soon thereafter crossed the state line into Utah. Approaching Springdale, Utah, we discovered that general vehicle travel was no longer allowed in Zion, as eco-friendly busses are now mandatory for interior travel. We opted to remain in our oh-so-thirsty fossil-burning H2 to drive on the scant few "legal" park roads, and then we made tracks for the spooky tunnel that leads to highway 89.
While passing through Glendale, Utah, Kiwi spied a classic car boneyard that required a stop. The proprietor, a logger named Bill Spencer, had a quite diverse collection of still restorable iron that had Kiwi reaching for his checkbook. A 1958 Pontiac Chieftain "Safari" wagon was top on Kiwi's must-have list, but he was also drooling over a 1963 Mercury Meteor S33 and a 1961 Chevy Nomad wagon.
The overly nice Bill, who we later learned was also the town mayor, offered up a plethora of H2 questions that had us reaching for the press book. We offered him a test drive in return for his honest impression, which he essentially summed up as, "Despite being a big 4x4, it drives as good as a Cadillac!"
We very much wanted to see Arches National Park near Moab, but after hours of driving we realized that we were still nowhere near the location. With the sun getting close to the horizon we knew we needed to make good time, and so the accelerator was freely exercised. As we approached Green River, our fuel tank and our stomachs were knocking empty, so we pulled in for a gas/food stop that rivaled a NASCAR pit stop.
We finally entered Arches National Park just as the sun was setting and charted a direct course for the famed Delicate Arch. As bad luck would have it, after 425 miles of spirited driving young Stick-Boy was busted by a park ranger just 250 yards before our destination: "45 in a 35" was the charge, and Brian was seriously bummed. Besides a few edgy-looking silhouette snapshots of the Arch, we were forced to view the splendorous beauty of the wind-blown oddity by eye-balling the image on the face of our "Golden Eagle" National Park pass.
Later, we left the park under cover of coal-black skies laced with occasional lightning strikes. The flashes kept our rattled nerves on edge as they seemed hauntingly similar to the pesky strobe-illuminated "photo enforced" intersections Big Brother uses in our hometown of Los Angeles. Each time another lightning flash occurred, we reduced the H2's speed a few notches, fearing that we'd be again seeing the "rollers" in our rearview mirror.
Once back out on highway 70 we would have been making decent time, save for the onslaught of road construction that always seemed to have us stuck behind a slow-moving big-rig. We had originally planned on sleeping in Denver, but based on the fact that our eyes looked as red as a Georgia road map, we opted to set the e-brake in Vail, Colorado. The Chateau of Vail provided our sleep chamber for the evening and despite its somewhat spooky innards and musty carpeting, we were simply happy to flop down for a few hours of hibernation.