55 hours of actual driving.
4 children five and under.
Here we go!
We set out in a southernly manner, heading through a good chunk of Idaho in the process. There are some pretty spots in Idaho and some really interesting rock formations (What’s Up Doc anyone?). I haven’t much to share about the long driving days, because, you know, they were long. And full of roads. Most of my inland pictures happened out the car window while traveling upwards of 70 mph.
We spent the first night in Winnemucca, NV. We’ve stayed there before, but this time we ran into a little trouble. Namely, the hotel we had reservations at was full up by the time we got there. By some fluke they had us arriving/ checking out a day earlier, and at 10:00 pm with hungry, exhausted, and grumpy children that’s all manner of Not Good. A little drama and a phone call later we found another place to stay, and so far far too late we all finally bedded down for the night.
What can I say about Nevada? I’m afraid not much. It is, on the whole, desolate country. We traveled a desolate road that stretched on for desolate miles and we went hours without seeing another car. Or birds. Or anything for that matter save some sand dunes and the tumbleweeds. Quite by accident I discovered I could work on hand projects while on the straighter stretches, so I was able to pass a lot of the time on my knitting.
We had some excitement when we passed an Army munitions disposal area. There were road signs out warning of blasting and flaggers and “20 minute delay” and such. We passed the flagger in his truck with his feet propped up on the dash, so we looked about curiously and carried on. A couple miles later we passed the actual Army area, although we couldn’t really see anything beyond the entrance. Another couple miles later there was another flagger and more road signs for the opposite side of the road, and 30 miles after that we stopped in a little wide spot for water.
Who knows how long they had been blasting, but over the next 2 minutes we heard 4 explosions that cause the ground to shake a little. A large cloud formed behind us, and our first comment was, “If it sounds and feels like this 30 miles away, can you imagine being only 2 miles away?”
As exciting as it sounded, I’m kinda glad we missed it. The kids would’ve all freaked out.
The rest of the day saw us into California, where we quite happily discovered no border patrol and therefore didn’t have to declare any of the “hazardous” fruit we carried with us (For those unaware, on most of the main roads into CA there are border checks and they confiscate fresh fruit as part of some “plant disease control” nonsense. I will not bore you with a rant on the subject.) Our destination that night was Rosemead, and I am So Happy the Dearliest was driving! Los Angeles drivers make San Francisco drivers look tame.
All I can say is I’m really glad I had the foresight to pack a couple summer dresses for the girls, because LA was in the 90s! My grandfather’s birthday party was a lovely affair held at a yacht club. (Note: I have never been in a yacht club before. It looked scary expensive.) I haven’t seen Grandpa S since LK was a wee toddler, and it was wonderful to chat with him again. There is a lot of my extended family in the LA area, and it was fun meeting the newer members! The kids were thrilled to meet their second cousins and spent most of the party running around with them. The charming little TR smiled and worked the room for 4 solid hours! Apparently the child thrives on social interaction.
We remained in LA for the one day. The next morning we packed up again to journey north to my CA hometown. We traversed through Hollywood (but didn’t see the sign on the hill) then left the LA area behind us. Hwy 101 was our friend for a long while, then we decided to cut over to historic Hwy 1 for a little coastal driving between Morrow Bay and Carmel. It was gorgeous weather and the wind stayed down for the most part, so we enjoyed the winding road and the view.
You know you’re getting to northern CA when you see less of palm trees and more of savannah. We reached our destination that evening and enjoyed some visiting with my mom while the kids ran off some energy. My dad, alas, unexpectedly needed to stay in LA a little longer, so we missed more visiting time with him.
The next two days we ran around Sonoma County visiting friends and family, including some long-time friends that I haven’t seen in over 7 years. I have missed them! TeaHens had us over for dinner and blew me away with a formal high tea. She made everything (starting 3 days in advance), and I couldn’t believe how much work she went to for us! I’m kicking myself for not getting a picture of the table. It was gorgeous. Also, the food was many levels of yummy.
The next day we headed out to the coast for lunch (my favorite pesto! yay!), fed a bunch of seagulls, and visited one of the very first beaches the Dearliest and I explored together. There’s a little cave in an outcropping that we sat under to watch a sunset (back in the courting days), but I didn’t get a picture of it then. I made a point to get several this time! I was amused to learn that LK observed my actions and asked the Dearliest why I was taking so many pictures of a rock.
We spent some time at Grandma R and Aunt K’s house, where we fed the ducks and picked apples and tomatoes. That evening saw us at my favorite Thai restaurant with some of the local family and another dear friend who I haven’t seen since my wedding. We had a mini birthday party for Squeaky and stayed chatting entirely too late but it was good company and good conversation and so easy to lose track of time!
Our next day of driving wasn’t quite so long and deliberately so. With only 5 hours to go we felt we could take a little more leisurely pace. We passed Mt. Shasta (which has snow on it year-round) and stopped for the night in Yreka. Drama ensued there involving the hotel, but it still irks the Dearliest to think about it so I won’t recount it here for his sake. 😉 Alas, this is also the night I started to feel sick, and I’m afraid I don’t remember much of the night and the next day’s drive.
We remained in Oregon the next night, staying with family and recharging. The last day I still wasn’t feeling well (but much better than I had been), and so we cancelled a couple plans in favor of driving straight home. We headed east through Washington and took a route we’ve not taken before. I enjoyed seeing the Tri Cities area, but I have to admit that I’m happy to be back in the country on my mountainside.