(Update: 3/19/2013: Hey! Someone went and likes this post so I added a lot more links and worked on the SEO – so lets hope more people like it!!)
I love road trips. I believe I owe all credit for that to my Mom (not “mother”, not “mommy”… Mom – with a capital M). Growing up on a hobby farm, we didn’t really go on vacations because we had to have someone to feed the animals at night. Road trips it was. These trips were often last-minute, spur-of-the-moment jaunts to here, there or anywhere – as long as we would be home at night to feed all the hungry mouths. The importance of why I bring this up is, I was instilled with sense of enjoying the journey to get somewhere, not the focus on the destination itself. I’ll have to talk about childhood road trips another time.
This road trip began early the morning of the 20th. It was a gorgeous Mojave morning, complete with the neighborhood pigeons cooing from the tops of the roofs of the surrounding houses. These same pigeons avoid sitting on my Brother in law’s (BIL) roof, as he propels tennis balls at them; they are learning, though they do slip up once in a while. We had a wake-up announcement from the top of the staircase at 5 AM from BIL, and got on to our semi-hurried packing, cooking, eating and artfully arranging of luggage into the back of BILs Nissan Versa.
I volunteered for the first shift of driving – this was by design. I am a morning person, after 15 minutes, and I prefer driving while the sun is up. I’m one of those nearly perpetually happy people. The kind of person that greets people with a hearty, “Good MORNING!” I realize, and have been told, that this is annoying – it makes me want to do it even more.
The Versa we were driving, BILs normal commuting vehicle, is a stick/manual. I haven’t had a manual transmission vehicle for a long time. I love manual transmission vehicles, you actually feel like you’re DOING something, rather than just sitting there, along for the ride. This is another topic for another day. I mentally psyched myself up for the drive. I didn’t want to look foolish and hoped that I hadn’t forgotten all of the essentials of driving a stick. Thankfully, I hadn’t and after 10 minutes of getting used to the car, had my confidence once again restored in my ability to drive a manual transmission.
Due to lack of sleep and months of being unable to flood my veins with the sweet nectar that is caffeinated coffee, I found, with the help of BIL, a lovely little drive-thru (or walk up) coffee joint, Sister Sister Coffee House, in Rosamond, CA. I purchased the largest peppermint mocha (non-fat, no whip) they had, after being called “Hun”, and the wonderful staff made the sweet elixir that I craved. They apparently do some sort of frequent buyer program and asked for my phone number, to which I politely responded I was just passing through. That warranted a friendly inquisition of who, what and where, as they were mixing up my mocha, and I responded.
I bid them a friendly adieu, and climbed back into the driver’s seat and we were off across the Mojave. So there begins the road trip, seeing lots of “nothing” that I hadn’t seen before. I enjoy “nothing”. “Nothing” is interesting, it’s intriguing to see the daily lives that happen anywhere other than home. This should not be misinterpreted that I do not like the daily life of home. I do. Home is very interesting, but sometimes, or often, you just have to shake it up with seeing the “nothing” somewhere else.
We crossed California on the east side of the Sierra Nevadas, the dry side, and saw much “nothing”. I enjoyed it, as I knew I would, of course, my being in the driver’s seat meant that I would not be seeing as much “nothing” as the passengers, in this case Mr. Muse and his brother. I’m sure that anywhere you drive/travel, there are people who live there who forget to enjoy the beauty of the area. Perhaps it was even the reason they moved to a location. Seeing the same thing day after day can numb you to its presence. The environment surrounding you becomes merely a oft-seen backdrop as you pitter-patter your way through life. STOP IT! There is so much you’re missing.
Okay, off of my soapbox for now. The colors of the rocks, greys and tans and reds were gorgeous. The snow that was still hanging on at the tops of 10,000′ mountains, causing stripes of green to color the sides and valleys between them. The transformation of the mountains from bare rock to mountains with trees, some with the top and bottom of the treeline visible was magnificent. And then there was… Nevada.
Nevada has a different look about it. We traveled across the center of Nevada until we reached Tonopah, NV to make the turn north. This was where I moved to the Navigator’s seat and this was a much more interesting turn. Who knew that Northern Nevada was drastically different in landscape than Southern Nevada? Okay, granted, there are many people out there who know this – I did not. Grasslands as far as the eye could see, herds of horses and cattle grazing in what had all the appearance of dead pastures. Ravens and hawks perched on cross members of utility poles, hiding behind the main structure to block the seemingly ever-present wind. Neighboring posts housed newly constructed or completely demolished nests of the raptors and ravens.
A wide valley was populated with three dust devils, and more were forming. I snapped some photos and enjoyed watching them travel across the valley floor. I kept my eyes open for interesting sights on the drive, including animal crossing signs, domestic and native. There were three spots that I didn’t have the camera ready: a tree in the middle of nowhere, decorated like a Christmas Tree; a rock outcropping that had a large pink stuff rabbit and a dressed up teddy bear; and lastly, a tree decorated with baseball caps of all colors.
We arrived at the Bonneville Salt Flats about 5 PM, and at the first rest stop, once into Utah, we stopped and enjoyed the view of the flats. I was armed with my new camera, and Mr. Muse had his, so we had numerous pictures being taken. After our brief stay at the rest stop, it was off to Salt Lake City, UT. I’d never been to SLC, so it was good to see the Wasatch Mountains fast approaching. The salt flats and marshes were full of shorebirds, including large flocks of American Avocets. BIL was driving, and when he was behind the wheel, it was more about the destination, not the journey – I couldn’t get a good shot of the birds. Disappointing, but I did get to see them.
We decided to find dinner first, and being a big fan of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, I’d already selected a place to eat in SLC, The Blue Plate. Watching the clip on Triple D had me salivating over their food. I was not disappointed. The guys seemed to enjoy their meals as well. The place is loaded with postcards hanging from strings across the ceiling. There is a bar that has a feel of an old-timey Soda Fountain and the fact that the building itself appears to be an old service garage added to the atmosphere. We shut the diner down and set off to find a room for the night. We attempted the first Holiday Inn Express (’cause they bake cookies at night… okay, their rooms are clean too) we came to, which was booked, and then we attempted the Hampton Inn next door (also booked). Rather than drive all over SLC, I had DH pull into a Barnes & Noble parking lot across the street so I could pull up the internet on my nook. Hotels.com reveled rooms north of SLC in Ogden, so it was off to Ogden, around the city, and to the Holiday Inn we found online. We arrived, crashed and got some much-needed sleep.