After boasting about my supreme knowledge of Sacramento hotels, picked a rather seedy one. They don’t even give you a coffeemaker unless you ASK for one at the desk. Excuse me? Out of here in a few minutes and on up to Pomo Tierre in very southern Humboldt County, on the heavenly Hwy 128 from Cloverdale to the sea. PT is a communal apple farm (their Gravenstein apple juice is the BEST). (Hey, I have a car, I could take some south!) Founded in 1969 and very well thought out. Happy folks. Good folks. I have spent a lot of renewing time there and purposely saved this visit for the end of this phase of the Journey. Which it is. I’m back in CA and my days of ceaseless driving are over for the moment. I will keep at this journal, but signing off for a couple of days. I want to thank you, my small audience of goodwill, for listening to these rambles, joys, complaints, etc. Knowing you’re there has helped me so very much.
Bonneville Salt Flats
After complaining about having to drive through the salt flats — they did THIS. Whoa. Beauty everywhere.
Woke up extra early. According to @CHP-Truckee there aren’t any restrictions over the Donner pass right now, and since my friend in Reno is not going to be around this weekend, just going to push on to Sacramento. Haven’t been there since I retired! I certainly know the hotels. I have been thinking a lot about the end of the Journey in this phase. When you’re driving, mono-tasked, like this, you aren’t that productive, physically — all you can do to eat clean (shout out to Bella’s Restaurant and Expresso Wells, NV), and hit the fitness room. Mentally, it’s different. A limitless, restless landscape. It’s definitely what I needed when I left. Now, I feel ready to be grounded again. At least sequentially grounded.
Puzzling things about hotels: why do the nicest have no microwaves and no kleenex? Why don’t the glass plates in microwaves ever fit right? Why do certain lamps/outlets just not work? Why is this always the one on the desk? Why are fans So Noisy? Has anyone else draped towels over these unbelievably numerous and bright time/indichator lights? (I am a person trying to sleep, not a plane coming in for a landing!) And who the hell designs some of these shower spigots?
I started my list of “Things I Will Not Miss”. This is going to be very helpful.
I may have gotten through my 4000 track playlist — or pushed something wrong. And all my passwords reset. I think I may have entered an alternate track, ala “Life After Life”. So WOULD I? Go back and do it right if I could? I’d be giving up stuff too.
Salt Lake City Museum of Natural History
I’ve been amazed how the color palette changes with the State Line. Into Utah, and here come the red tones in the earth. I have never set foot in Salt Lake City before, and got a lucky break when my hotel deal app turned up the Marriott adjacent to the university campus, right down the hill from the Museum of Natural History, which I’d decided to visit. A gorgeous building, celebrating the geological layers of the surrounding cliffs. A stunning view, also, of the city below–with a winter storm coming in. Cool dinosaurs too! And an informative exhibit about the Vikings. If it’s not too cold this AM, I’d like to go to the arboretum before taking off for Nevada. I’ve been dodging the snow since Yellowstone, and Donner pass might still be a problem, but I’m watching the status.
It was a tremendous relief to walk into that museum and see student and faculty types and others who might not automatically roll their eyes at CA plates. Not that anyone was the slightest bit rude to me in flyover country. But there is the holding of breath. One of the absolute wickedest things that is happening in this wicked era is a denigration of education. Yesterday, at that sad Kmart in Rock Springs, I found socks and a warm shirt (I think I can prick off the “Margaritaville” stitching (LOL)) and told the cashier I was sorry the store was closing. “It’ll be empty for years now,” she said grimly. So do you stay and rot in Rock Springs because some clown fears that you’ll be converted to “liberal” if you learn anything about the world?
Wind River Gorge
The campground where I ended up (was it Tuesday?) was off the grid, about 30 miles from the East Entrance to Yellowstone. Which was, when I got up there, closed due to snow. There was only supposed to be an inch, but they’d obviously got more than that. There were glorious hints of beauty to be found beyond, but that will have to wait for another trip. (I DID see a buffalo!) Reluctantly, I turned around and headed south to Rock Springs. I remember the lauded short story cycle of that name by Richard Ford. The people of Wyoming in general look more lean and wizened than other Americans. There is also an intoxicating emptiness, which I am sure also exists in Alaska. You do feel it. I am not sure I could make it here, but I’ve enjoyed my trip through this yellow, light brown and green land. And, says Idyll, the eternal Pollyanna, if I’d gotten through the gate I wouldn’t have seen the Wind River, which was just lovely.
“Life after Life” is going well — a bit bleak. That generation that lived through both World wars really did see hell on earth. My media schedule is an hour or so of music to get underway, then literature, then podcasts to keep me going in the afternoon.
I have a short day to Salt Lake City today, and I think I need to get an oil change and have the tires checked. There is, sadly, no Target here, but I might be able to get a serious sweatshirt (I’ve been wearing all my thin layers) at the going-out-of-business Kmart.
Today, I get back to Utah then, and soon California, where memories and comfort and (some) anguish loom. I am getting into negative mental tracks again about the ex. Rounds of “I can’t believe he did that to me.” that I try like hell to get past. Mile after mile. Seeing friends who have known us throughout our marriage will be tough. But also healing. Changing the dressing on the wound. If I was back home, I’d be going to my dentist appointment that I made 6 months ago, never dreaming.
This has been a long siege of one-hotel-night-stands though, and they do get grueling. I will be at the apple farm Sunday. So ready to get off the road.
“Almost dead” is an exaggeration, but the allergy thing morphed into something wicked like the flu and I limped into Deadwood for sure. Then spent the afternoon and all night in bed. Also the fire alarm went off TWICE. This is a casino. Staying here for the (cheap) nice rooms, but otherwise — it’s a casino. When I checked in, the woman asked me what brought me to Deadwood. “A fan of the show,” I said. “Are you an anthropologist?” she asked me, which, in my delirium struck me as funny.
I’m feeling 90% recovered this morning. The Black Hills are lovely. I have a black hills gold ring from my mom that’s very dear to me. The change in scenery was especially welcome after driving through the flat, yellow prairies all day. I would have gone to a couple museums here had I been well yesterday. I will just visit the Mt Moriah cemetery on my way out of town (where Wild Bill, Calamity Jane and Seth Bullock are buried) and then off to an AirBNB cabin on the outskirts of Yosemite, where it is supposed to get a little snow tonight. I am a little anxious about this, but the Subaru will do fine. Snow! It was 75 degrees yesterday.
Started “Life after Life” (Atkinson) on tape yesterday. So many people have said they enjoyed it.
Allergies and a cranky laptop plagued me today. I also wanted to get on the road early and do a longer day of driving to get back on my westward schedule. So catch up here:
Grand Hotel, Mackinaw
I loved Mackinaw Island. Always interesting to be in a car-free environment. (Lots of horses and bikes.) I easily exceeded my 10K steps walking up to the Grand Hotel, which looks amazing as you’re coming in on the ferry. The cupola room has a full view of the lake.
Then a half day trip around the top of Michigan to Green Bay, the lake on my left for hours, with many beautiful homes. I set out from Green Bay this morning, and tonight I’m in Sioux Falls, SD. Eastern/Central Wisconsin is lovely, slowly morphing into flat corn fields. My northern midwest journey begins. I think my marathon driving today will mean I won’t have to drive another whole day.
I am moving faster than my travel planning. Cramming today for Deadwood, SD tomorrow. (I’ve watched the TV series through twice. Would not miss.) Not a bit interested in Rushmore, but I’ve never seen Yellowstone. However, I’ll be back this way next year for my nephew’s wedding in Montana, so perhaps I can get by with a drive-through this time.
Meanwhile, I am a drippy mess. I should probably go out for some meds or at least some whiskey.
I finished “Big Little Lies” today on tape. She made me laugh frequently, despite some very serious themes. I’ll miss the reader a lot: Caroline Lee. SO much work breaking in a new book…
I take my whiny self off to bed soon.
I’m weird about writing. I have to be alone. And here I am with this view. Sublime. Since I last posted I’ve had some incredible soul time – with my friend Jilly in Erie, and with my beloved cousin Paul and his family in Ann Arbor. Much to unpack. Paul and I stayed up late looking at family slides. The formidable aunties, their neutered husbands, the pre-Raphaelite beauty of my late cousin Wendy, Paul’s sister. I was born in Ann Arbor and it’s a super civilized place. I should really see if I could hack the winter, which, they say, is not what it was. Hmm…
This morning, I am in St. Ignace, just north of the Mackinack Bridge in the upper peninsula of Michigan. There is a truck convention, whatever that is, and about 100 super shiny cabs took over the main drag yesterday evening. Much burliness in the breakfast room this morning.
Off to the island (Grand Hotel – Somewhere in Time) and then I REALLY MUST HEAD WEST. I hope to make Green Bay tonight:
I am mostly in a great frame of mind. My life has such simple goals and routines. I feel healthy. Underneath, there are deep thoughts moving like large fish. I have a good vantage point for watching myself change. However, the thought of being home is a great pleasure. A lot will hit me there emotionally, I know. I had a dream about it last night. But to see the pups, see what the garden has done. Yes, that will be nice.
Again and again I am astonished by the beauty I find everywhere in this country. After hearing it my head for days, the old Simon and Garfunkel song came up in the shuffle yesterday: “They’ve all come to look for America.”