For those of you have been following the saga of my recent move from the suburbs of Minneapolis to the sunny shores of California, I thought I’d share some of what we saw along the way.
The afternoon of Good Friday, after the movers had finished loading the van, we packed our trusty Honda Pilot and set off on the first leg of our journey, driving to Sioux Falls, SD. Unfortunately, either OG had misread the mileage or Google maps lied, but the trip turned out to be an hour and a half longer than anticipated. The motel room was sweltering, and between the heat and our fatigue, neither of us slept more than a couple of hours. Not an auspicious start. Fortunately, we had a very well-protected breakfast the next morning next to three of Sioux Falls’ Finest at the Denny’s at the Flying J truck stop.
About an hour out of Sioux Falls, we drove into the thickest fog I have ever seen—the kind of fog that causes hundred-car pile-ups. Even OG was moved to caution, and his usual response to poor road visibility is to blast through it at the highest possible speed (in hopes of getting out faster?). I’ve always assumed it to be a guy thing—an INSANE guy thing. At any rate, several hours later, we reached Rapid City in time for a short trip to Mt. Rushmore. Since it was early spring and the day before Easter, we nearly had the place to ourselves except for a few groups of Indian tourists. The sun came out just long enough for OG to snap this picture before we were hit by a wild burst of heavy snow mixed with rain. Thankfully, it stopped by the time we reached our motel in town.
Bright and early the next day, Easter Sunday, we headed for Laramie, WY. The landscape was eerily boring, if that’s possible. However, we were passed on a back country highway by a convoy of six black Porsche Panameras with dark tinted windows and CB radio antennas, all with Georgia plates, traveling at a high rate of speed. I know there’s a story there, but I have no idea what it was. Wyoming rest stops were a real eye-opener for this city girl. The first one didn’t have flush toilets and smelled worse than the latrines at summer camp. Here I am, standing beside it. Don’t I look thrilled?
The second, in the thriving metropolis of Lusk, was buried under a mountain of enormous tumbleweeds. Chicago pales in comparison when it comes to wind velocity. We couldn’t reach Laramie soon enough but were surprised by its small size and lack of amenities considering it is home to the University of Wyoming.
The following day driving across southern Wyoming was dreadful. Enough said. Apparently I am not a high plains kind of girl. As soon as we crossed the Utah line, the scenery changed dramatically. The mountains were gorgeous, although the drive down into Salt Lake City raised every hair on my body. If you’ve never done it, imagine a Formula One car race downhill through the Alps. Yikes.
Sadly, I had the same impression of Nevada that I did of Wyoming. It’s not for me. Vast open spaces of nothingness make me tired and antsy. We spent the night in Reno in an airport motel about ten feet from a teeming interstate. Funny, that detail was not omitted from the hotel’s website. By this time, we were nearly dead on our feet and couldn’t wait to get to California.
The next day was our last. The first part of the drive took us through the Sierra Nevada Mountains, which were spectacular, even swathed in fog. We stopped at the Donner Memorial, but were disappointed to find the museum closed. However, we did spy this miraculous
I won’t dwell on the rest of the drive. The freeway traffic from Sacramento to Carmel was typically brutal, and we were (physically and mentally) running on fumes—particularly OG, who had driven the entire trip. It was a blessing to reach Carmel, and by the next day we were able to appreciate it.