If only it were possible to write a blog post while actually driving the van. I’d have all kinds of stories to tell; about the coyote I spotted in the Nevada mountains, about interesting rock formations in Utah, about regrets and memories and serendipitous songs, about plans for the future… hours and hours worth of thinking and observing, some of it interesting, most of it not.
But unfortunately, in the moments when I can actually sit down at the computer, I’m thoroughly uninspired and would rather be doing other things, like sleeping or researching my next stop or appreciating my current stop.
But the quick story goes like this: last week was all trying not to stress about whether I’d be ready in time, worrying about what might go wrong, ruminating about imagined future conversations, and mostly reading compulsively to avoid doing all of the above. On Monday, however, I finally headed off. I’d already done my research so I knew roughly where I was going to stop for the night, at the Humboldt water management area in Nevada.
When I got there, though, I zoomed right on by. I was making great time. It should have been obvious before I started that traveling without a dog would mean fewer stops and shorter stops, but that actually hadn’t occurred to me. Hey, traveling without a dog means fewer stops and shorter stops, surprise! Instead I stopped about an hour later at a WMA in Winnemuca. It was a nice place but surprisingly crowded for a Monday afternoon in early June, and I would up without a real site, mostly just parked on the edge of the road.
Because of that I got on the road very early on Tuesday morning, and again, pretty much zoomed along. My plan was to stop in Utah, and I’d picked a couple options, depending on timing and how my day was going. I passed the first one around noon, when it felt much too early to stop, and the second around 2, when it was way too hot to stop. Instead I wound up at the Flaming Gorge National Recreation Area in Wyoming.
It was a gorgeous place and Wednesday started out as a beautiful day. I took a nice walk down to the river, then seriously considered hanging out at the campsite until noon (check-out time). But the temperatures were rising and I hadn’t found a site with any shade, so I decided to get on my way.
My original plan had me getting to Saratoga, Wyoming on Wednesday evening, then spending Thursday as a slow driving/small adventure day, specifically visiting the hot springs in Saratoga, then going to Rocky Mountain National Park. The great time I’d made meant that I could make that the Wednesday plan, more or less, then spend Thursday maybe exploring Denver?
There was only one issue with that revised plan: the weather. Going to a hot spring when the temperatures were already in the 80s didn’t seem that appealing. Plus, the wind was picking up as I drove. The day was bright and sunny but I could feel the van getting pushed around and see the dust in the air. I stopped at a rest stop to see what was going on, and there were wind advisories — up to 40MPH — throughout Wyoming. Time to go to Colorado? Um, nope. Temperatures were going to be in the high 90s in Denver on Thursday! I ate my lunch, read a book, texted the BBE, thought for a while, and then texted him again and told him to cancel his plane ticket. I couldn’t see hanging out in hot windy places for two days waiting for him to arrive when I could just keep driving.
And then I kept driving. I wasn’t crazily ambitious — Google maps suggests that it was about a 350 mile day — but I made it across the Wyoming border and stopped at a lovely little campground in Nebraska. It’s a donation site (when you register, a sign suggests $5 – 10) and there aren’t any real amenities, as far as I can tell, but when I got here yesterday, lots of people were playing in the water. It’s very green and pretty, so I found myself a quiet water view site and settled down.
“Quiet” was not accurate, however. The reviews warned about the train noises and they weren’t kidding. The campground is right next to the train tracks and it is impressively loud when a train comes through. The sort of loud where it feels like you can actually feel the vibrations in the air as a physical sensation, not just a sound. When I settled in last night, I thought that if the weather was nice, I might stay a second day, but after listening to the trains all night, I know that would be pointless: there’s no point in taking a rest day at a place where you can’t rest. But I’ve got roughly 1500 miles to go by Monday, which is entirely feasible, if not much fun.
Today’s goal: to get all the way through Nebraska and make it into Iowa. And somewhere along the way to stop and get a salad. I’ve been eating my road trip food exclusively — beef jerky, dried mango, hard-boiled eggs, cheese and crackers, yogurt, granola and fruit — and I’m feeling really ready for some vegetables. I couldn’t quite bring myself to have a gas station salad yesterday, but maybe today I’m feeling that desperate. Or maybe today I’ll find someplace fun to eat. I guess I’ll find out when I stop writing and start driving.