Sunday, July 15, 2012

Day Four: Laramie WY->Avoca IA

 Started out the day in Laramie – I debated whether or not to visit the fence where Matthew Shepard was found, but in the end decided I didn’t have the stomach for it.
I continued to stay off the main roads as much as possible, seeing some awesome high country in Wyoming before crossing over to Nebraska at Torrington.
Nebraska started out blistering hot and only got worse.  I followed route 30, which runs near route 80 most of the time, and is roughly where the Oregon Trail was. It also runs parallel to a set of railroad tracks that were the busiest I’ve seen.

Every day, 52 trains of at least 100 cars packed with coal come down out of the mountains, and 52 empty trains return there to pick up more. I waved to one of the conductors, and to my surprise and delight, he tooted the horn in return.

Route 30 through Nebraska is, I have to say, the most depressing thing I’ve seen in a while. I’ve always been fascinated with urban decay, but seeing one small town after another devastated was tough to take. Main streets without a single open shop. Many towns consisting of a huge set of grain elevators and a few shacks crowded nearby on barely paved streets.

By the time we got to Grand Isle, I had to try something else, so I got on the main road and sped along through Lincoln and Omaha, landing in Iowa after nightfall.

I try to hit the welcome center at each state border, but often I cross on a minor road, so I’ve only hit a few so far: Colorado, Wyoming, and Iowa. It’s actually surprisingly nice to be welcomed to each state by smiling people, and I like to collect maps from each state and mark out my route to help me remember what I saw and experienced.

Tuna has been quite the trooper, hardly complaining at all after the first day. Her arthritis has been acting up a bit, but not too badly. We’re still titrating the rymadil to figure out the minimal effective dosage.

Day Three: Nephi UT-> Laramie, WY

Blue Mountain, Eastern Utah

Blue Mountain, East Utah

Northwest Colorado

Northwest Colorado

Northwest Colorado

Rabbit Ears Pass, North Colorado

Day Two: Reno NV->Nephi UT

 Started out East from Reno, headed into big sky country, absolutely gorgeous long views.

These two are from the middle of Nevada somewhere...

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Day One: San Francisco->Berkeley->Sacramento->Reno

Today was the first day of our trip back East. I packed last night, and then piled everything into the truck this morning. Got a happy surprise from my pal Duncan who was in the Bay Area, we got together for lunch with his brother and step-dad in Berkeley, my first burger of the day.

Itching to hit the road, we set off for Sacramento, and met up with Daniel for my second burger of the day. Both were delicious (well all three if you count Daniel). Sacramento was brutally hot for my taste, and so I was eager to get up into the Sierras to find some cool weather.

The road was steep for my truck, and we spent a lot of time in third gear, with the hazards blinking. Finally crested at Donner's Pass. The memorial plaque there was pretty vague about what went down with the Donner Party, but it was chilling to be reminded of it all.

The Sierras did bring cooler temperatures, but a forest fire in the area filled the entire region with some pretty noxious fine particulate matter, and I am afraid I'll have a rough night sleeping with the scent hanging in the air tonight. Alas, I didn't really get to see the Sierras because we hit the foothills at sunset and it was too dark to make anything out.

Finally pulled in to the Motel 6 in Reno - here's the view of the casinos from my window. I have to say I'm none too impressed with Nevada so far. Prominent billboards advertising DUI defense attorneys, bankruptcy, etc. For a liberty-loving state, seems like there's a lot of lawyers involved.

Eager to see what tomorrow brings. I've seen northern Nevada from planes, and on Google Earth - the terrain looks really strange, so I'm looking forward to getting a closer perspective.