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Igor's Odyssey

Mr. Igor asked:

> Since I have been everywhere on the East Coast (from Maine to Florida) and
> get to see California on a regular basis (mom in LA and friends in Mountain
> View), I have finally decided to check out the Pacific NW. Especially because
> I will be buying a house this summer and before I spend the dough, I want to
> make sure that I would still like to live in Philly after I get to see
> Seattle (he-he-he).

Igor - don't extend the lease on your house BEFORE you see the Pacific 
Northwest. I'm not still in Texas by choice........

> The route from Chicago to Seattle and back is unclear. Since we have listers
> scattered pretty much all over the country, I would like to kindly ask the
> inhabitants of adjacent states to advise me on the following:
> 1. What are the best points of interest along the way? A Mount Roshmore(sp?)
> park with the heads of US presidents, carved in a rock, is an absolute *must
> see* for us.

Igor - one problem with a northwrn route is that there are HUGE 
expanses of plains.  Anyone who has ever driven from east to west 
thru Montana or southern Wyoming can tell you.  And during the winter, 
most of Yellowstone is closed, and the mountains are tough.

I would incline toward a route thru SD and checking out Mount 
Rushmore while you're at it; that takes you to the Wyoming border; if 
the words are OK, I would suggest the northern route thru WYO, but 
rather than turning north into Montana, consider going across 
Southern Idaho and up thru Oregon on I-84.  THAT would take you to 
the Columbia river gorge.  DO go all the way west to Astoria, OR and 
check the mouth of the Columbia and the Astoria Tower, on the highest 
hill in town.  Then you can do a coast run up to Seattle, and therer 
are lovely towns and campgrounds all the way.  SUPER!!

Alternative - north into Montana, then across I-90 and Snoqualmie 
pass to Seattle.  Towns like Spokane and the tiny North Bend (great 
bakery), with Ellensburg and the spectacular Columbia crosing at 
Vantage while you're there.

Email me for suggestions - tho the Seattle contingent will vote 
loudly, I'm sure.

> 2. What are the best places to stay and eat for a couple, who cannot even
> pronounce "junk food" without getting sick.
> 3. How adventures am I by planning such a trip on an '89 vintage Audi?
> Granted, it's a bullet-proof 200 in a top notch health, which never breaks
> down on me, but still???

You know better than anyone.  Outside major cities, the best you can 
hope for is VW mechanics......
> 4. Who and where are reliable Audi shops along the way, should I discover
> that I was full of sh*t in o3 in 3000 mi away from home.
> 5. How much snow am I likely to encounter along the way? The reason I ask is
> I have to choose the rubber for such a trip. I have:
> a) Z-rated Dunlop SP8000 with 5.2mm sentre groove depth in the front and
> 4.8mm in the rear. Ain't worth sh*t in snow.
> b) H-rated snow Nokia NRW with 7.4mm sentre groove depth in the front and
> 6.4mm in the rear. Clearly not the best choice for a prolonged asphalt
> cruising.

Igor - I would suggest some D60A2s, since they are not expensive and 
have an aggressive tread.

> Given the fact that this 10000mi trip will destroy either set of tyres, I
> have to make a decision. I'd personally prefere to finish the Dunlops, come
> back on the 2nd of January, put Nokias on and enjoy the rest of the winter on
> excellent snow tyres. I was thinking about getting the new SP8000s this
> coming Spring anyway (aaah, new Dunlops for the new Q-club track events -
> can't wait!).
> The other option would be to finish Nokias and to start the Winter on a well
> worn set of snow tyres and later to start the warm season on a well worn set
> of tarmac tyres. Kinda dumb.
> Do you think I can get away with driving on those sleek Dunlops through
> Dakotas, Utah and Montana in December?

Sing along:  "Fairy tales can come true, it can happen to you..."

> 6. Do you think some/any/all of the parks are closed for a Winter 
> season? Can I contact them somehow?

Most in the high country are closed.  Check web sites for the park 
service nd I bet you can find out.  The main entrances to Yellowstone 
are probably open.  DON'T MISS Jackson, Hole, WY - it's touristy but 
beautiful!!!  Expect 6-8 foot snowbanks on all sides going into that 

> 7. What is *a must see* in Seattle? Where a modest couple can stay, where to
> eat? If at least 1/2 of what people tell me about that city turns out to be
> true, I might seriously consider moving there.

I will just mention a trip up in the space Needle and dinner at 
Ivar's as MUSTS.  (Space Needle food is mediocre - don't eat there.)  
The Seattle folks can fill in.......

> 8. I am thinking about borrowing my buddy's laptop for the trip. Can I
> maintain a link to you, guys, from, say, the hotels along the way?

Easily. I do this all the time while I travel.  Just figure out how 
to use the modem and sort out the software before you leave.  If you 
use a calling card, make sure you know how to set up the dialing 
strings properly, it's doable but a PITA.  If you use PC Anywhere, I 
can help...
> 9. And finally: would anyone along the way be interested in getting together
> for a cup of espresso or a martini?

Wayull, podner, if y'all get lost and find yo'sef in Texas.......
Al Powell, Ph.D.                 Voice:  409/845-2807
107 Reed McDonald Bldg.          Fax:    409/862-1202
College Station, TX 77843      

"Some people can tell what time it is by looking at the
sun...but I have never been able to see the numbers."
             [From 5th/6th grade essays....]