Sunday, January 3, 2010

Go West

Here's a quick version of all the excitement from our cross country road trip, Dec 26th - 29th, 2009.

Day 1
We set out from Concord, MA the morning after Christmas after some repacking to fit presents, pictures and snowshoes.  Hearing about the storm and state of emergency that'd been declared in the midwest after an incredible snowstorm we were a bit worried but undeterred. Through Massachusetts, New York and Northern Pennsylvania were all relatively uneventful.  Moving through Ohio things began to get more exciting. There were overturned cars littering the sides of the highway and the median all the way across the midwest for the next few days. Although the days were bright and clear, mounds of snow that looked like dunes because of the high winds framed the road. After our first full day we arrived in Sandusky, Ohio.

Overnight in Sandusky, Ohio
We were reassured by the elderly couple in front of us in line that we were, in fact, at the cheapest place to stay in Sandusky (Motel 6 of course).  We drove up the road to an Italian restaurant dedicated to Frank Sinatra and got to listen to a group of young men next to us, discussing their holidays, their wives and why married men should have unlimited access to prescription drugs. Funny for sure, and a good introduction to the small town we were headed towards.

Day 2
We started out bright and early, and after a roadside breakfast (courtesy of Bronco) we got to driving.  We passed "The Biggest Truck Stop in the World", along with more and more overturned cars and jackknifed tractor trailers.  Alternating between radio and CDs, we managed to entertain ourselves quite well. That evening, determined to find a hotel with a gym, we scoured rest stops for coupon books, crossing our fingers.

Overnight on the Iowa Nebraska border
We ended up at a Best Western in a town full of casinos on the Iowa Nebraska border. As I went out in search of dinner I blindly put my faith in the GPS and ended up lost, in the middle of a neighborhood and past the industrial park that flanked the city. When I finally made my way back to the urban area I found casino after casino, a Hooters, a Ruby Tuesdays and several bars with no windows, but no grocery store and nowhere that looked promising for dinner. I pulled up to a gas station, and as a man in full camo, a hunting vest and a black hat/face cover combo came out, I was sure the place had just been robbed. Luckily I was wrong and managed to find dinner and made my way back to the hotel. 

Day 3
The next morning I went to the front desk for the key to the gym. After the young woman at the front desk gave it to me and I headed to the gym, I had to go back to the front desk because the door that led to the door I had the key to was locked. As she explained that the building manager had the key, but he was at home because he got stuck in the hotel on Christmas and that even if she called him he might not answer, I began to suspect I wouldn't be getting in. I asked if anyone else had a key. She explained that the maid did, but that although she had a key she didn't know how to open the door. The young woman I was speaking to did know how to open the door, but couldn't leave the front desk to do so. Shaking my head and tired of walking up and down long halls, I joined Doug at breakfast, excited to find that biscuits and homemade gravy in a crock-pot were standard fare.

The day only got more exciting from there. We crossed the immense state of Nebraska, full of snow and overturned cars, as well as beautiful flat farms as far as the eye could see. There were lots of cows at first and as we crossed Nebraska and into Wyoming we even saw some live coyotes (as opposed to the ones that had been hit by cars that littered the road).  We stopped for lunch at {someone's} Big Game restaurant, after it had been advertised on billboards for 150 miles. Walking in to a stuffed polar bear stepping on a stuffed baby seal, we knew we were in the right place. With animal heads and camo as far as the eye could see, we ate an absolutely delicious lunch, including some awesome cowboy baked beans and sweet potato casserole.

Overnight in Rawlins, Wyoming
As the night closed in on us with another amazing sunset and finally some mountains, along with single digit temperatures, we realized that we'd gotten farther than expected and could get to Truckee, CA by about 6pm the next day, rather than spending another two days driving as expected.

We stopped in Rawlins, Wyoming, unwisely ignoring the oil refinery and funny smell as we rolled into town. We drove past the chain hotels, hoping for something great, and found the Sunset Motel. Advertising a phone and cable tv in the rooms, we knew we'd found the place. It was actually quite reminiscent of the Sunset Motel we stayed in in White Sand, NM last March.  It was the first time we got to our motel early, so we decided to explore downtown Rawlins (a place where the entire town literally smelled). Our first stop, Tico's Bar and Restaurant was incredible. Exciting facial hair and mullets galore, smoking indoors, and PBR on tap were all around.  We left there and headed down the street to somewhere that reminded me of the atmosphere at Vortex in Atlanta. Nice beer and friendly people, but we decided to have dinner at an old home that had been turned into a restaurant up the street. There were about 5 tables, one waiter and "the only salad bar in Rawlins". The food was fantastic and it was a great last dinner on the road.

Day 4
We left the Sunset Motel at 7 the next morning, hopeful that we'd get a great view of the rest of Wyoming, Nevada and maybe even going into Truckee in daylight. Sadly it was cloudy and even bombing snow at some points, so we'll just have to go back to get a full view of the salt flats and everything between Salt Lake City and Reno.  After narrowly missing being sideswiped by a car during the snowstorm in Salt Lake and white knuckles on the wheel, we finally made it through. In honor of reaching the land of delicious cheap Mexican food we had exactly that for lunch. We reached Reno after nightfall, but after our roommate warned us it'd take weeks to get the stripper dust and desperation out of our clothes, we sped on to Truckee, knowing we'd be back soon as Reno is the closest city to us.  We arrived and we greeted by 3 great roommates, an incredible house and even homemade lasagna for dinner.

We've settled in, set up and stored lots of stuff over the garage, decided what hills to buy passes to, gone snowshoeing and scoped out places to ride that are off the map and totally untouched.  It has snowed almost every day since our arrival, but also gets up into the 30s or 40s during the day so you don't freeze. Pretty incredible. Now we're just waiting for Monday, when we start to ride, and visitors of course!

Happy New Year and here's to new adventures in 2010

Also, if you'd like to see some pictures (lots of which were taken by me!) check out Doug's blog, my favorite is the one of the truck.