Sunday, July 22, 2007

This Is The Place

I always think I will have time to record my trips; I bring the laptop along, and then I barely have time to do anything except check email. (and occasionally reply)

This time I must have been completely nuts to think that somehow, with a 13 hour drive each way, five days of 8 hour classes for the workshop I was attending (the one that made me so much smarter now than I was 2 weeks ago), homework each night, and doling out attention to the two children who are not at all used to me being gone for 8 hours each day, that I would have time to actually write anything at all!
(joke's on me. ha!ha! i need a hug)

Which is why it took me two weeks to photoblog my trip.

So, we headed east, leaving the beloved left coast behind, with each child set up in their cushy Eurovan-Airlines personal video world. The adult passenger has to take on job of 'flight attendant', so sometimes driving is easier!

We headed out on a hot day, but the drive through Nevada was like traveling directly through the eye of hell's own inferno. Literally.

Turns out, a large percentage of the state was on fire.

The town we had originally pointed to on the map and assumed would be a good place as any to stay was waaay too smoky, and too much on fire to even consider that, so we piled back into the car and continued east on Hwy 80. I made many snarky comments about the whole damn state being full of smoke, and if you have ever tried to find a hotel room in Reno with young, non-smoking children, then you know exactly what I mean.

We drove through yet more fires, fires on either side of the road, and we noticed little more west-bound traffic than the fire and ranger trucks. Finally, (and I do say that with a tired sigh, because Nevada is a long-ass state - way longer than it appears on the map, I might say - and bit of wasteland in my humble opinion) when we reached the next town that actually had hotels in it, we started looking for a room. I may as well have been pregnant and traveling atop a donkey for all the luck that we had at the first five hotels.
"'Ummm, is there some convention going on here in booming Elko, or what?" I asked the fifth innkeeper at 12:30am.
"Nope," he replied,"There is a fire west of here. Route 80 is closed, so everyone is stuck here."
Turns out we were one the last eastbound cars allowed through, which is a damn good thing, since we couldn't stay in the town on fire, and it was a long way back to Reno.
We did finally find a motel room, and even though we (all four of us) had to share the one bed left in the town of Elko, it wasn't that smoky, and we were really tired...and everything was fine until the next morning when I watched some grown woman at the breakfast buffet ignore the spoon and stick her bare hand in the bowl of shredded cheese and scoop out a handful for her omelet and I felt a bit sick and needed to get in the car and drive away from that state as soon as possible.
On our way to the edge of the state, I swear I saw a casino billboard that offered 2-for-1 showers to truckers, but dh wouldn't turn around so I couldn't record it. harumph.
I did, however, see this sign in the ladies' room of a Burger King (in the town that was on fire) and it cracked me up. I know for a fact that this sign was not posted in the mens' room as well.

I look like that because I was completely uprepared and had no make up on me at all.

I am not accustomed to eating much fast food, and with the only other options out there being casino buffets, it quickly began to feel like I was in my own personal version of Fast Food Nation! And more on fast food in Nevada? For some reason, the fact that I can get fuel, roast beef sandwiches AND play poker and blackjack all in the same building, isn't as appealing to me as it should be. I do find it amusing, however.

Oh, Wendover Will...This tall guy will greet you if you make it through the entire state of Nevada:

And finally. leaving that sinful state behind, we crossed over to our destination state:

Can you see it? It's the one on the map to the right of Nevada. Our destination? The great Land of Zion.

Utah is very concerned for it's drivers:

Did you know that in Utah, there is an entire desert (no, a different one, not the same on that we just drove through, aka Nevada) made out of salt? Really. White as snow.
Of course you did.
Smells like the ocean. But stranger. And no trees as far as the eye can see. Except this one:

Wow, that's a good question. It just so happened that there was a course I needed to take, and the closest offering to CA was UT. It was a bit of music boot camp, as I crammed more than 2 years of curriculum into a week's worth of training. I feel smarter, but my brain still hurts.
Basically, it was a training and certification to teach introductory group keyboard to 5 to 9 year olds.
Go, me.
It is a great program, as it combines the children's need to move with a wholistic music experience that then naturally transfers over to ear training, keyboard playing, and eventually, music literacy. But did I mention that my brain hurts?

I wondered if I would stand out in this city of Saints...but I needn't have wondered much - as it was my own constant mutterings of, "Jesuschrist it's HOT HERE!!!" that gave me away. That, or our measly two children.
It was hot. It was about 105 degrees that entire week. And do you know what 'dry heat' means? It means that along with it being so hot you can barely breathe, you get the added benefit of all your skin flaking off in a daily mass exodus from your body.

Dh shredded the itinerary of awesome parks I had prepared for him and the children in favor of suffering a few hours at the hotel pool every day, then heading for Park City and the likes in desperate attempts to cool down. I spent most of my hours in a cooled and windowless basement room, singing, dancing, playing piano, and learning stuff.
I would go on and on about how clean and lovely the great city of Salt Lake was, and what I saw really was very clean, but truthfully, I only saw small pieces of the city, and those I don't remember much - because, in between the air conditioned class room, the air conditioned hotel room, the air conditioned family-friendly restaurants, and the air conditioned car rides, my brain was being fried very slowly but very steadily. And I was always am usually a heat lover.

So, on the way home from Utah, I felt a bit sad that we were so close to mountains and I had never set foot in any of them. We didn't have to be anywhere for a few days, so we took a left in Reno and headed down our favorite highway to our favorite mountains.

We camped in the van at my favorite hot springs (no, no way am I linking that), and then we decided that one night of camping with our extremely loud night gargoyle child was quite enough.
We took a lovely day hike at Rock Creek with the kids at high elevation.
Well, it was lovely until Bubbles had a fit because the wrong person (the one without breasts) was carrying him in the backpack and made himself throw-up. But because we were at elevation, I wasn't convinced it was just a temper tantrum puke, so we headed back down at my insistence. He was fine. Just pissed. And we all smelled slightly like milk-vomit. So we were slightly pissed as well.
Happy to get to a hotel after that, we headed back to Mammoth Lakes, cleaned up, swam in the pool and ate pizza and drank delicious IPA (no, the kids had margaritas), and prepared an itinerary for the drive home the next day First, more swimming at the well-heated pool. Then, lunch at our favorite mobil station (the eastern Sierra's worst-kept secret), and a final Yosemite romp in Tuolumne Meadows and Olmsted Point before we would draw straws to see who had to drive the rest of the way home.
We did make it home, but just barely. Ohgod the trip cost us a new transmission. But that's another post.

For now, I would much rather dwell on these memories:

Supergirl, trying to pose while keeping Bubbles from going over the edge of the dome.

Ferocious Yosemite bear sighting. You've been warned.

Supergirl and Half Dome in the alpenglow. How the hell did she get so cute?


nailgirl said...

Great story and great pics.

Jennie-Lynn said...

Hugs to you sis-in-law! What a great adventure!

Daisy said...

What a great adventure! I love the picture of the have-it-all in one stop Fast Food place.