Wyoming to California

Sunday, July 5, 2018

We started the morning still debating how to end the trip. We had been thinking of adding the Grand Canyon before ending the trip – it’s not exactly on the way to the Bay Area, but we’d been meaning to take the kids there at some point. The other main option we considered was to drive fairly directly, stopping in Reno for the night, and getting home Monday afternoon.  With our goal of getting home by Wednesday, either option would have been fine.  After discussing it as a family, we decided we were ready to go home.  It has been a wonderful many months, but everyone is ready to go back to something a little more normal.

The drive through Wyoming, Idaho, and Nevada was fairly uneventful. After driving the short mountain passes between Wyoming and Idaho, much of the rest was vast stretches of scrub brush.  As we got into Nevada, many of the mountains were obscured by all the smoke from the California fires.  There is the big fire raging in Redding, but we suspected that most of the smoke was probably coming from the Yosemite area.  It is sad that Yosemite is currently closed due to the fires, but we felt fortunate that wasn’t on our itinerary.

We stopped in Twin Falls, Idaho for lunch, made a couple of coffee stops – we are getting a bit tired of driving, and made it to Reno around 7:00.  The kids love staying at Circus Circus, so we got a room there and found a restaurant inside the casino for dinner.  Since it was the last night of our travels, I opted for steak and lobster.  It wasn’t Maine quality, but was still tasty enough to make me happy.

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After dinner, we gave the kids a few dollars to play arcade games.  They ended up winning a super cute stuffed puppy, and a much less cute pink panda.  We also had the opportunity to talk to them about how we load up our cards with a set amount of money and when we don’t win everything we want, we stop when the money runs out.

Monday, July 6, 2018

We were a bit tired and slept in more than in some previous days. Also, we had more time, since the remaining drive to the Bay Area was only about 4 hours.  There were a few options in the casino for breakfast, but we didn’t find anything that was both quick and what we were in the mood for, so we hopped into the car.  A few miles away we stopped briefly by McDonalds and got back on the road.

Getting into the mountains, we had talked about stopping around Lake Tahoe, either to go hiking to a waterfall (e.g. Shirley Lake Trail in Squaw Valley), or to stop by one of the beaches. But as we looked out at the smoky haze covering the mountains, we decided that the air quality was probably mediocre at best for hiking and that the Tahoe wasn’t at its scenic optimum. So, we decided to skip it and make the kids happy by getting home faster.

One difference that’s striking in California is that the roads (e.g. I-80) are significantly busier than most of the rest of the trip. Even in late morning or early afternoon, the roadways are very full.  Compared with driving through South Dakota or Nevada, where driving the vast straight stretches can be done with cruise control, the California driving is both slower and requires more effort.

Our trip from New Hampshire to California totaled 3,930 miles, 385 miles longer than the road trip that started our summer adventures.  For just the summer portion of our trip, we covered 4 continents and 10 countries.  If you count the last 12 months, we got all 6 inhabitable continents and 18 countries!

It was a lot of fun to be away, but it is also nice to be home.  I think our house missed us.  Now we need to spend some time getting the kids ready for school to start and seriously thinking about what to do next.

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