The Long Road Trip Part I: Intro To Driving

This blog post is the first in four parts.  The first part covers the preparation for the trip and the drive to Carson City, NV as well as the short stay in NV.  The second part will include the drive from Carson City to Berkeley, CA, San Fransisco, Santa Rosa, Philo, and Ukiah, CA for the weekend of my cousin’s wedding and the several days after that.  The third post will contain the trip from Philo, CA to Newport, OR, Seaside, OR and then to Kalama, WA.  The fourth post will contain information about the stay in Kalama with my in-laws and the drive home to Aurora, CO.

It is important that you get a general sense for the magnitude of this drive.  This road trip was over 3000 miles in length and included about 5 full days of driving.  In short it was long [you have no idea how thrilled I am to write things like that].

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Two days before we headed out Jessica and the family (to a lesser degree) worked hard on cleaning the house. This way we could find all the things we needed to find for packing and come home to a clean house. After you’ve been traveling a clean house is a blessing to come home to. The Wednesday before we headed out she packed (again with minor help from the family). But that night my body decided to revolt and I found myself throwing up until about 1:00AM in the morning. We had planned to leave at 3:00AM, so this was put off and we decided to let me sleep and see how I felt in the morning. At 6:00AM we got up, packed the car up with all of the luggage, toys, food, and family cramming into our trusty Honda CRV and headed out. Our plan, as the map shows, was to traverse the Rocky mountains, the state of Utah and almost all of Northern Nevada. In one day. Myself and the girls had never done this and Jessica hadn’t done it since she was much younger.

Day One: The Drive Across the Western US
The morning we took off was getting to be around rush hour traffic time so we took a slightly windy route out of the Denver metro area and began the ascent into the Rockies. In the Rockies there is a section where there are often buffalo which we got to see in the daylight since we hadn’t left at 3:00AM. About 30 minutes later we saw Big Horn Sheep. Which was quite exciting as we’d never seen them in the wild despite having seen them at the Denver zoo many times.

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We followed US Highway 70 all the way across the Rockies and on the downward descent into the high plains of Colorado and Utah we found ourselves in gorgeous surroundings that I’m sure blew travelers away when they were traversing them in covered wagons and on foot. We were glad to be in our car moving about 60MPH or so. We want to go back to Hanging Lake and check it out more closely. The gorges in that part of the Rockies are a must see. Once we came out into the alluvial fans of the Western slopes of the Rockies we were definitely in the desert. There was green next to the river where things could grow, but shortly out of the river’s reach the ground was bare and easy to see. The reds of iron in the dirt made for pretty stripes on various geological features and we were able to admire the western side of Colorado.

Utah, on the other hand, was barren, and though it had the reds of the iron in the dirt and rocks, it felt unkept. The Mormons must have really questions Brigham Young’s leadership when he brought them into the state because I don’t think they’ve updated any of the roadway signs since then: nobody’s wanted to go back to those parts of Utah by foot, horse or car 🙂 We stopped before Salina and ate peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and then kept our move west. There were some beautiful red canyons, that I’m sure had we stopped would have looked like the Grand Canyon, but we only saw them in the distance. The clock was ticking and we were behind due to my sickness the previous day. Once we passed the midway mark of Salina the road got rather long and the towns were fewer and fewer. There was a 104 mile stretch between the last town and the border of Nevada where Baker, NV breaks the monotony and offers gas, a hotel, restrooms, and of course slot machines and a bar. All in one building.

Salt Flats

We headed to Ely for dinner where we ate at the Golden Arches because we were nervous about the other choices we could find. Scary people live or travel through Ely. By scary I mean men who have their fashion choices firmly planted in the 80’s. Not because Paris Hilton is bringing the 80’s back, but because they never left. We used our cell phones a bit as reception throughout the Rockies and all of Utah had been very, very sparse. Then we headed further west on the last stretch of this long journey. 6 hours (or less if you drive faster) of almost nothing but hills in northern Nevada. We reached our host and hostess’ house in Carson City around 11:15PM. Hyped on caffeine and the girls awake from having gotten a rest in before our arrival we stayed up past midnight catching up on about a decade of not having seen one another.

Day Two: Brennan’s Birthday

Brennan Smiles

My nephew Brennan turned 9 that Friday so we went over to his other grandparents’ house and spent the day with my brother’s family and his in-laws. The kids swam in their pool most of the day and I did my best to get sun burned. Great fellowship was had as we’ve known that family since I was in Jr. High and I can honestly say my brother married his 6th grade sweetheart. He will probably kill me for being so honest. Carson City has changed a lot since I grew up there and moved away in the latter part of last decade, but its still the same: I know because the next morning on the way out of town the woman working the register at the AM/PM gas station was the same gal who worked there when I was a teen.


More to come…