Heading West — Day Five

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Last Long Leg
Written @ 08:35 MST | Saturday 15-Jul-06 | Salt Lake City, UT

This morning after the usual breakfast and loading of the car and checking out and making the dog mad that we’re back in the car for another long day, we went to the Beehive Sinclair station, where gas was $2.77. As I was filling up, a car drove up behind me. The man got out and said, “Wow, you’re a long way from home! Where in Michigan are you from?”

I said, “Ann Arbor.”

He said, “We’re from Tecumseh.”

We talked about what a long way it was and how he didn’t like to drive it now that they had small kids. He was Michigan real friendly, not Michigan standoffish friendly. And friends, there IS a difference.

We’re now on I-80 skirting the south end of the Great Salt Lake and the north end of Deseret Peak and the Oquirrh Mountains. The part we’ve been dreading is coming up: 500 miles of nothing all the way to Reno. It’s 100 miles to the border, then 400 to Reno. A very long day. But we gain an hour at the border. We left the hotel at 08:17, or 07:17 Pacific time, and it’s nine hours, so we should be in the hotel around 16:30 or 17:00.

We did this route eastbound to Denver in February of 1998. The desert and lake were frozen white and it was beautiful. After we arrived at the Days Inn in Salt Lake and got the dog settled, a huge snowfall came and buried us under 17 inches of the white stuff. Today, we’re doing everything opposite; it’s July, it’ll be 100+ degrees today, the desert is baking and yellow, Salt Lake has fires and green trees and we’re westbound back to the East Bay instead of eastbound out of it.

The landscape is gorgeous and I still admit that I’m a southwestern desert boy. Utah is a beautiful state, in spite of the religious insanity here. If it weren’t for said insanity, I could probably live here happily. Maybe even happier in the southeastern corner of the state, around Moab, towards Colorado and New Mexico and Arizona. That is truly gorgeous country.

We just entered Skull Valley west of Salt Lake, 70 miles from the border. The temperature was 84 when we entered it and Jeepy says it jumped up to 92 as we started crossing the valley floor. When we went over the Cedar Mountains pass and into the Salt Lake Desert, the temp fell back to 89.

Next up: Bonneville Salt Flats and the Nevada border and Pacific time.

Worn Out
Written @ 13:46 PST | Saturday 15-Jul-06 | Humboldt, NV

We’re getting pretty tired of this road and this endless drive. We’re still about 125 miles from the hotel, so in about two hours, we should be done with all of the nastiness of the drive. But we’re pretty road weary and this last hundred miles will drag on.

We stopped at a rest area south of Winnemucca and walked the dog. He wasn’t all that thrilled about getting out in the 99-degree heat, but he did it anyway. He’s had some Arby’s curly fries and a nice long walk in a nice grassy park at Elko and he’s pretty road-weary and worn out too. But the good news is that he gets to see Unca Frankie finally tomorrow afternoon.

I dropped the key in the rest area while walking to the restroom, and Unca David said a nice Mexican man picked up and gave it to him, but not before hitting the panic button and causing the Jeep horn and lights to go off. I didn’t even know it had fallen out of my pocket.

We’re going to make another pit stop at Lovelock. We just saw the first mileage sign for Sacramento: 258 miles away, which means we’re about 300 miles from Brentwood. Yay.

But we’re stopping in Reno, because 518 miles is far enough for us and the dog. We’ll get some rest, then it’s off to Sacramento tomorrow morning. We have to pick up a small U-Haul trailer in East Sacramento so we can take Unca Frankie and our Ikea shopping trip haul back to Brentwood. Unca Frankie arrives at the Sacramento station on Amtrak at 17:47 tomorrow. We can’t wait to see him. The dog will be very surprised and happy.

I’ve done lots of planning, getting some procedures and discipline plans and the syllabus and homework policies, etc., down on paper, ready to go. I imagine I’ll need the two teacher work days to organize, clean and decorate the classroom, so the more of this other stuff as I can do in the next week, the better. So, I’ll get back to it.

Almost Done
Written @ 20:35 PST | Saturday 15-Jul-06 | Reno, NV

We’re in Reno. Which is not a garden spot, let me tell you. It seems crowded and slightly ridiculous and scruffy. But it’s home for the night and we’re very happy to get off the road.

After our pitstop in Lovelock, there was some frustration with a long stretch of construction. The last 80 miles or so was kind of agony. But it was finally over.

As a matter of fact, most of the trip is over; there’s only about 194 miles left, about three hours of driving time.

Tomorrow, we go to Sacramento and meet Unca Frankie. Monday, we shop at Ikea and go home to Brentwood to the new house. Can’t wait.

For now, I’m going to Flickr today’s pictures and go to bed.

Night, y’all.