A few years back I spent a several weeks working in Moorhead, Minn., and as things go in the interstate twin cities of Fargo, ND and Moorhead, my budget-priced hotel was across the Red River in Fargo. Wandering around one Sunday afternoon, I headed west to where Fargo runs out and Interstate 94 makes one of its infrequent turns before heading west across the prairie.

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Mariner on the road.
Mariner on the road.

Mercury might be gone, but for awhile it sold an upscale version of the hybrid Ford Escape, the Mariner. Back in 2006, I took one on the rugged mountains separating the coast from southern Riverside County.

Clean Climbing takes drivers on a ridge with spectacular views east and west, down some twisting, rocky and rutty roads, and talks about the unique experience of crawling down a hill with no engine.

This area is at the top of the Ortega Highway, the east-west twisty route from San Juan Capistrano to Lake Elsinore. Too much traffic for most, but get off the road and it’s one of those wonderful Southern California wilderness areas. Enjoy Clean Climbing.

After a decent night’s sleep, those of us on the Coast Starlight today awoke to blue skies as we looped around Mt. Shasta. The big rock is covered with snow and glistened in the morning sun. I popped into the dining car to enjoy an early breakfast.

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