Miles traveled today: 554.9
Total miles traveled: 4890.0
We’re Not In Kansas Anymore. Wait, We Never Were…
If I had to pick a theme for this trip, it would be Crazy Weather. True, I had a four-day stretch where there was nothing but sunshine – but the other days more than made up for that. When I settled into my room in Sidney, Nebraska last night and discovered there was a Tornado Watch posted, I was surprised because the sky didn’t look very threatening at all. But then the clouds began to thicken, and the radar showed a line of severe thunderstorms bearing down on me. Sidney appeared to be exactly in the bulls-eye. My friend Steven, both an avid ghost hunter and storm chaser (the guy knows how to multitask!) kept me up to the minute with what was going on. Literally. He was following along from home, and even though he was more than 1000 miles away I think he was even more excited than I was! Fortunately, even though funnel clouds had been spotted with this cell, there was no tornado activity – just a whole lot of lightning, thunder, rain and wind. I took some video, and Steven extracted the best frame (and added a little shameless plug for his photography business, as well).
After 30 minutes the storm passed and the skies cleared. When I hit the road this morning, there was nothing but sunshine; you’d never know such an intense storm rolled through less than nine hours earlier. Such is life in this part of the country. I think I’m all done with the bad weather for the rest of my trip, but we’ll just see what Mother Nature has to say about that.
Crossing the Continental Divide. Twice.
I wanted to reward myself with one nice sit-down breakfast on this trip, so this morning I stopped at the Perkins across from my motel in Sidney. I like that most of my motels have offered free breakfasts, but the choices are slim and they all start to taste the same after awhile, so I enjoyed my eggs, bacon, biscuits and breakfast potatoes today. I had one of those perky older waitresses that calls everybody “hon.” I was feeling special for about two minutes, until I heard her call the old guy in the booth next to me “hon,” as well. Is that a prerequisite for working at a Perkins or Denny’s? Just curious. After breakfast, I hit the highway – it was shortly after 7:30 AM. Nine days ago, I spent about twenty minutes driving through Wyoming. Today, I was there for more like six hours. The flat prairie soon gave way to mountains – boy, was I glad to see those! – and then, desert. That surprised me…I didn’t know there was a desert in Wyoming. It all looked pretty arid and desolate. At one point I crossed the Continental Divide, and chastised myself for not being quick enough with my camera to snap a picture of the sign. Then, about thirty minutes later, I crossed the Continental Divide again. Not sure how that happened, but I again chastised myself, because I was no quicker on the draw the second time around.
My poor car did not appreciate today’s drive. Most of the time we were climbing steadily but gradually, and it protested over the long uphill grades. One sign I passed indicated the elevation was more than 8000 feet, remarkable considering I wasn’t even crossing a mountain at the time. I guess that’s why they call it the “high plains.” After my car continued to struggle, I hit upon the idea of switching into a lower gear on those long uphill climbs, and that did the trick. Duh! I’m not used to having to do any work driving an automatic. I also had to fill up for gas three times today; I’ve never had to stop more than twice before. I’m sure it was a combination of the steep roads and gusty winds.
Finally, mercifully, the road began descending, and soon I was in Utah.
Multiple Wives Are All The Rage
Most of the time, crossing into a new state yields no discernible difference. Indiana looks remarkably like Illinois, Ohio looks remarkably like Indiana, etc. But the moment I passed the Utah border, the landscape changed. The high desert of Wyoming gave way to steeper, greener mountains and canyons in Utah. I passed through the Wasatch Front mountain range, their peaks still dusted with snow, and gasped out loud, the scenery was so beautiful. Utah – at least this portion – is gorgeous! It’s also hot as blazes. The temperature when I arrived in Ogden was 99 degrees. Ouch.
My theory about motels seems to be proving true. The bigger the town, the crappier the budget motels are. The Super 8 I checked into is rather dingy on the inside, and my room has a funny smell. But…BUT…the view from my room is incredible, and makes up for it!
When I was in Rapid City over a week ago (!), I purchased a bottle of Cruzan rum so I could enjoy an occasional rum and Coke when settling into my room for the evening. After a long day of driving, it really hits the spot. But because I’m in Utah, I felt funny just carrying the bottle into the room, so I actually took pains to hide it in one of my bags. Sheesh. It’s not like people don’t drink in Utah! Still, I felt odd about it. Funny thing is, nobody would have batted an eye if I’d brought two women back to my room, I’ll bet. Multiple wives are all the rage here.
OK, I’ll knock it off with the Utah stereotypes.
By the way, I have gotten devoured by mosquitoes on this trip. I count a dozen bites on my left leg alone! There are more on my right leg, my arms, even my neck. They were attacking me like crazy the two nights I was standing outside watching the fireflies. They itch like mad, but the experience was totally worth it anyway.
Tomorrow I plan to stop in Boise, about five hours away, and spend my last evening on the road there. I’m looking forward to experiencing the 4th of July in a new city I’ve never been to. One reader commented that they’re sorry I won’t be home for the 4th, but I’m not. Had I arrived in the evening as originally planned, I would have been too tired to do anything but crash. This way, I’ll get to explore a new town and see how they celebrate the 4th. Considering it’ll be my last day before returning home, I should go out with a bang!