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Beartooth Highway - 2011 Trip - Day 16

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Start Location: Gretna, NE
Ending Location: Laramie, WY
Miles Today: 529
Trip Miles: 3404
States Visited: 10
Provinces Visited: 0
Low Temp: 61.5° F
High Temp: 86.4° F
Min Elevation: 1080'
Max Elevation: 8679'

Route Map:


We learned several things about Nebraska today.  It's very long, it's very flat, and there are lots of cows and even more corn.  Interestingly, although the state appears to be very flat, we climbed very slowly all day.  You can see from the chart that we started out around 1500' and slowly climbed to about 5500' at the state line.  Then, when we entered Wyoming, we continued to climb all the way to just short of 8700' before returning to around 7000' in Laramie.  The temperature was pretty moderate all day as well.  We started out in the low 60's, climbed to the mid 80's, and then returned to the low 60's.

We really dodged the bullet with respect to rain today.  We were into and out of rain at least 4 different times but none of the times did the rain last more than a minute and we never had to stop for rain gear.  It looks like our luck may end tomorrow.  After looking at the coming weather in Billings, MT and Ogden, UT, we decided to continue west to Utah and then northwest through Idaho, Oregon, and eventually Washington.  Unfortunately the weather forecast is for cold temperatures throughout Wyoming tomorrow with a high probability of rain.  We will probably be cold until tomorrow afternoon in Utah.  We'll start out with our heated vests in the morning and probably put on our rain gear even if it's not raining just for warmth.

Although the camera is still broken, Linda got a few interesting shots today.  It works better if it can find something to focus on.  It seems to be worse when trying to take scenery shots - oh well.

Since the mileage on our motorcycle is directly related to the speed we travel, we thought we would do a little trial today.  Normally we get 42-44 MPG traveling at 60 MPH but that can drop to 33-35 MPG at 75 MPH.  Since the speed limit was 75 all the way through Nebraska, and we would not be going up and down mountains, we would hold the speed at 75 and check our mileage.  We had three fill-ups today and we got 36.3, 34.6, and 31.2 MPG respectively on each tank.  This is an average of 33.85 which fits in with our previous experience.  We don't really understand the difference though.  Our first thought was that the first tank was at 1500' to 3000', the second tank was at 3000' to 4500', and the third tank was at 4500' to 5500' and this would explain the difference.  Unfortunately everything I have read claims that, although an engine loses power at higher altitudes, the mileage shouldn't be affected.  I'll have to think about this for a while.  The reason all this matters is that we have a 6.3 gallon tank and like to fill up when we get down to about 1.0 to 1.3 gallons left.  That means we can go better than 200 miles at 60 MPH but only about 165 miles at 75 MPH.  This can be important when you are in an area where gas stations can be 50 to 75 miles apart.  We have come very close to running out several times and it's no fun.

Tomorrow will be interesting.