Tuesday, September 4, 2012

That's It, California - I'm Gone


Not to disparage Nevada, but as I crested that final hill just before the Utah border, and saw the flooded salt flats spread out below me, shining blue and white, I almost cried at the beauty that alleviated the previous too-many hours of ugly boring landscape.

I'm glad now that I did the drive straight through on my first day. Long but worth it.

Random mental notes I took during my day's drive:

-- Stopped at Harrah's in Reno and ate at Hash House a Go Go, at Jeremy's recommendation. The name was, obviously, questionable, the decor not exactly what I expected (though it should have been what I expected of a casino restaurant), the food worth the stopover and the getting momentarily lost in the streets of Reno. I had the sage fried chicken, it surprised me. In a good way. 

-- Lost three dollars in the slots, and had absolutely no urge to continue in the hopes of contributing to the trip fund. I'm glad I'm not the addictive-gambling type. Maybe I'd have blown a bigger wad if I'd played the  blackjack tables, which might have triggered my competitive streak.

-- Nevada's rest stops had the most disgusting toilets of the three states I've visited so far on this trip. I actually squatted to pee for the first time ever, it was that gross. And the toilet had no seat, really, anyway. Ugh.

-- The girl working the drive-through window at the Elko Starbucks (exit 301 .. or 302? I forget) is very chatty. About herself. In the five minutes I had to wait at the window for my mocha frapp to be finished, I found out that she was born and raised in Houston, came to Elko to live with her mom (because why else would an 18-year-old move to Elko?) and was really, really excited about snow. Good for her.

-- About 20 percent of Nevada's stretch of I-80 seems to be going through a re-paving. I had to drive 55 mph through miles of orange "work areas" about a million times.

-- Something about Nevada made it really easy to drive 90 mph and still feel slow (when I wasn't in the work zone, of course - double fines!). (I accidentally hit 100 at one point when I wasn't looking.)  Utah, on the other hand, I cruised through at 75 (the legal speed limit) and felt like I was speeding. I often caught myself dropping down to 70.

-- This is the most landlocked I've ever been in my life.

It wasn't really until I drove into Utah that this felt like a true adventure. Maybe that's because I've been through that part of California, and have visited Nevada before -- though certainly I haven't been further east than Black Rock City.  But suddenly in Utah I felt that excitement that comes from being someplace new, from venturing into the unknown and feeling brave about it.

I pulled over at the first rest stop in Utah that I could, both because I needed to pee and also because I needed to give myself a chance to walk out on those salt flats. This was one of those few situations where I wish I had a companion with me on this road trip, but I made do as you can see in the attached photo. Note that, as I commented on Facebook, the picture doesn't do the flats justice as far as demonstrating their beauty or fullness of awe.

It was weird to drive away from that and watch the sunset in my rearview mirror instead of in my face. Weird, and liberating.

Tomorrow I explore SLC, and hopefully get down to the Lake, if possible, before heading to Jackson Hole and the Grand Tetons. It's probably about time for me to pass out, especially if I want to try to hit the pool in the morning for a quick swim - I'm feeling lumpy, need some exercise. I'll try to post again in the next 24 hours if I can find some Wi-fi to steal.

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