In the summer of 2013 (sounds like the opening to an epic fantasy novel), my sister and I made a road trip from our home state of Texas to Washington state and back. It was one of many dream road trips I’d been dying to take, and my sister is always down for travel and adventure, so we started devising a plan to trek across the country. We’ve spent hundreds (if not thousands) of hours in cars on road trips before. What could go wrong? Well, this four-part blog post will answer that question.
I should mention here that I have wanderlust. But a very specific brand of wanderlust. Traveling, taking road trips, getting out and adventuring—it thrills me to no end. However, my idea of traveling is a very laid back…lazy type of traveling. Riding in the car, seeing parts of the country I’ve never seen or haven’t seen in years, seeing national parks, national forests, national monuments, new cities, strolling leisurely here and there to take it all in, allowing what God created to instill a deep sense of awe—that’s what I’m all about. Oh, and food. I do like to try new food. And booze. But…I’m not hiking up some God forsaken mountain. I’m fat, it’s hot, I ain’t doing that. And truth be told, I smoke menthols from time to time, and walking up a mountain doesn’t align with that lifestyle choice. Now, if there’s a road up that mountain, count my tubbly, menthol smoking ass in for that adventure. Even if I do freak out a little bit when I look out the car window and see that I could plummet a million feet* to my death.
My sister, on the other hand, has the other kind of wanderlust. She’s short, skinny, takes care of herself, and acts like a rabbit on speed when she sees a sign announcing an uphill hike. Yeah. Makes you kinda want to punch her in the windpipe, right? Well, don’t. She may be an asshole, but she’s my sister. Not that I don’t admire that gung-ho, let’s explore this dark forest that’s haunted by ancient spirits can-do attitude…I just don’t feel like I need to be in a position where I have to attempt to run away from something deadly or chance rolling downhill like a very chubbly snowball.**
Anyhoozles, the plan we devised involved driving through Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, New Mexico, and then back to Texas. Two weeks seemed a respectable amount of time to complete this road trip, though in retrospect, maybe it wasn’t enough. However, we did see everything we wanted to, and one day ahead of schedule. But spending more time resting between drives might have made us happier. Of course, happiness and peace don’t tend to make good stories—and I wouldn’t have the material for this blog post. Just FYI – I cleared this blog post with my sister. That’s important information ’cause neither one of us comes out looking stellar in this story.
So, on day 1, I picked her up and we set out from our home in north-central Texas with Katie’s dog, my fur nephew, Cash, in tow. He’s not a good traveler. Keep that under your wig for future reference. Also, it is important to say here that my sister decided that the night before was a great night to pull an all-nighter. Not a wink of sleep did the lil’ turd get. Also, after she took a three-hour long nap for the first part of the trip through Texas and part of Oklahoma, she awoke. And in her post-slumber daze, she announced that Aunt Flo was coming to pay a visit soon. If you don’t know what I mean by that—try Urban Dictionary. So…this trip was off to a bloody great start. Pun intended. Oh, might I also mention that I was at the tail end of taking antibiotics for an abscessed tooth? The foreshadowing is delicious, is it not? Just sounds like a perfect shitstorm waiting to pour down on us…
Regardless of every sign that we should turn around, we drove over 600 miles the first day to Goodland, KS, taking in Monument Rocks on the way. Fortunately, we didn’t have any major problems the first day. And even though Cash paced relentless all over the back area of my Explorer (and for brief moments, Katie’s lap and floorboard), he enjoyed getting out to explore Monument Rocks.
We did a lot of driving on the first day and were a little worn out. A massive wind storm at Monument Rocks almost toppled my fat ass as well (no idea how Katie wasn’t blown away to Oz). Regardless, on day two we drove over 500 miles to Rock Springs, WY, checking out the Cache la Poudre River near Fort Collins, CO on the way. It was absolutely beautiful! Cool breeze, roaring water, beautiful sites—and other than risking Katie’s life to get a good picture***, everything was swell. Though people driving behind us along the river got tired of us stopping every two minutes to take pictures or videos.
After the Cache la Poudre River, we drove through Cheyenne, WY on our way to Rock Springs, WY since Katie had never been to Cheyenne. Unfortunately, it was a Sunday, and everything was closed. That’s not necessarily good when you’re starving and the only thing open is a sketchy Mexican Market where everything was self-serve out of stand-up coolers. We decided to risk starvation and eat when we got to our hotel in Rock Springs, WY. Thai food delivery was calling my name anyway, so not all was lost. We settled in for a nice night in a fairly sketchy hotel where you couldn’t close the drapes without blocking the A/C, so that was a nice touch.
Day three is where it became apparent that we had been overambitious in our planning. We had planned to drive a lot further, but after the first hour in the car, we decided we would stop in, check out, and stay in Salt Lake City, UT overnight. It was a mere 185 miles that we drove on day three. Definitely a lot less time than we had planned. The journal I kept at the time referenced the fact that it was so hot in Salt Lake City that we were “making butt gravy the whole time”—which is probably why all the traffic on highway 80 going into Salt Lake City got to see me change out of my jeans and into shorts on the side of the road…
Once we got into Salt Lake City, we found out that the reservations we had made for a TWO BEDROOM suite ended up being a TWO BED room. So, I had the fun task of walking down to the check-in desk and getting another room for us. I don’t know about y’all, but spending all day in a car with your sister and her dog does not make you want to spend all night in a room with her—that’s just asking for some WWE nonsense. Anyway, once we were settled, we checked out the town. We were worn out from our three days, 1300+ mile road trip, and just needed to stay in one location and relax. How do you do that? By drinking lots of Hefeweizen in the hotel restaurant, eating kolaches, eating yummy sandwiches from Pinon Bistro, getting bacon and potato pizza from Piehole Pizza, drinking a gallon sized Slurpee from 7-11, and then drinking more beer. And not trying to get myself in trouble, but a 32oz. beer may have been drank directly from a paper bag in a state park. Side note: who knew Salt Lake City, UT was such a beer town?? Pardon my bias, but I thought the Mormons would be having none of that shit. But God love ‘em, they like their beer.
The night ended with us going to our separate rooms as a storm rolled into town. I watched the rain from my balcony, looking out over the brightly lit, beautiful city. The storm was an omen I believe.
* I know that’s hyperbole…but it doesn’t feel like it when you’re staring down a mountain.
** Just imagine me rolling down a hill, rocks, moss, twigs, snow, dirt, all sticking to me, making the world’s largest rolling fatass.
*** At the time, asking my sister to climb across rocks to the middle of a white-water raging river seemed like a perfect photo opportunity and not dangerous at all.
P.S. Feel free to comment and berate me for endangering my sister and almost making Cash an orphan. Or just comment if you’ve been to any of these places and want to share your experiences.
Until next time…