The Voyage, Day Four

Where was I?

 

Oh yeah. Wednesday. Waking up–again–in Casper, WY. We’re tired of the city, we’re tired of not moving, and more importantly, we’re behind schedule.

 

We have to get into San Francisco by Thursday night because the Evernote Trunk Conference that Jenni’s a part of kicks off bright and early on Friday morning. And they’re paying for the hotel there. They’re the primary reason we’re doing this trip. To not get there on time would totally blow the whole trip. But San Francisco is about 20 hours away.

 

I was a little stressed.

 

But I had two plans, and a third presented itself midway through the day. Plan #1: When I woke up, I didn’t tell the family, but I had every intention of driving straight through for 15 hours to Reno so we’d get back on schedule. There was nothing sacred about the schedule except that we needed to get to San Francisco on time. That was the only immovable object on our whole trip. But a 15 hour day is long and tiring and hard.

 

Plan #2 was to break the 20 hours to San Francisco into two parts and drive about 10 hours each day. I didn’t like this plan, though it would work. But I didn’t like it because it meant we’d have to miss a couple of planned activities in the San Francisco area–visiting Lathrop, CA and driving into the city over the Golden Gate Bridge. Patrick really wanted to see Lathrop.

 

Jenni had e-mailed the Evernote folks telling them about the situation and letting them know we were running late. As it turned out, that was probably a mistake, but they e-mailed back saying that they could fly her to San Francisco from Salt Lake City if we wanted. But they were sure we couldn’t make those 20 hours in two days.

 

You underestimate us, grasshopper.

 

We were up and out of the hotel early–or early for us, by about 9. Casper faded quickly in the rear-view mirror and soon we were back on an interstate (I-80) heading toward Salt Lake City.

 

But then we really started getting into the mountains. Everything before had merely been hills. These were way up there, with truck lanes and everything. And then there was the part where you had to come back down to get into Salt Lake City. A long way down. And twisting. And turning.

 

Let me just say this now: all of us were impressed with how beautiful Utah was. We’ll encounter it again later on in the trip, and it was surprisingly spectacular. Wyoming was, frankly, pretty dumpy. Nevada, as it turned out, would be pretty boring, too. But Utah had so many different charms: here in the northern part of the state, there were heavily wooded mountains, with deep gorges between the mountains that in many cases were wide enough for the freeway.

 

And then we broke out of the mountains into the basin. The city itself was nothing special, really. But once you get west of the city, you encounter the lake. And then hours worth of salt flats.

 

The flats stretched all the way to Nevada, and it was funny how almost exactly at the border the flats ended and the desert began–or it did right after the little gambling town that had sprung up.

 

Yup. We stopped. Even took the kids into a casino–to eat. It was dinner time, I’d talked to everyone and they were all on board with the idea to press on to Reno. Even though it meant driving across two-thirds of Wyoming, all of Utah, and almost all of Nevada in one day.

But I think the casino was an eye-opener for the kids with the noise, more people not having any fun than those who were, the darkened, confusing interior, and, frankly, it being a place that really isn’t very kid-friendly.

 

We pressed on after dinner and made the mad dash across Nevada. I still had the option to stop halfway through if we needed, but I wasn’t tired and was set to just push on through.

 

Then we got rewarded with a spectacular sunset:

 

I don’t think we missed much, driving across northern Nevada in the dark. And then we finally hit Reno. It was just past midnight.

 

Reno is basically Vegas’ forgotten, dumpier little sister. And I do not mean that in a good way. And perhaps it had something to do with our hotel–the Sands Regency–which I thought was a good deal when I found it on Hotels.com for $40 a night. But the hotel was a complete disaster, with every last inch of it smelling like cigarettes covered with some sort of industrial odor-removing solvent. And the room was awful.

 

But it had beds, and at that point, we were back on schedule and happy to just sleep for a few hours and then head out in the morning to get to San Francisco. Because once we got there, we didn’t have to drive anywhere for over three days.

 

And, honestly, I was kind of excited that the next day, I’d actually be in California for the first time in my life. And I’d be showing it to my kids.

 

See you tomorrow.