Thursday, July 09, 2009

The Road

First a quick note--we have a table! Last night, my roommate and I put together the Ikea table and we also have chairs now, too, so no more having to stand up or sit on the floor to eat! Portland is feeling more like a home than it did on Sunday. (It didn't feel like NOT a home--just not like home yet.)

Anyway. I recently completed my second cross-country road trip (and I realize that technically, I drove across the United States twice during the last trip--there and back--so this would be my third time crossing the continent) and I think it is something worth writing about. First, here's a little summary; for record-keeping purposes I want to keep track of all the places we stopped, stayed, ate, sight-saw.

Day One: We left my parents' house in New Jersey around 11AM and took Mohawk-Andover Road to 206S to I-80W. We drove across Pennsylvania and Ohio, and around sunset, crossed into Indiana, which was my first new state. We actually made it to our ambitious goal of South Bend, IN, and spent the night there.

Day Two: We finished driving across Indiana and said goodbye to the Eastern Time Zone. We got to Illinois (my second new state), had lunch at a Flying-J in Lasalle, and moved on to Iowa. This was a new state for both of us, and we were strangely excited about Iowa, so it deserves a whole post of its own. We almost made it to the Nebraska border, but opted to stay about 60 miles east of Omaha in a town called Walnut, IA. It was all you'd expect from a town called Walnut (aside from lacking actual walnuts AND a Wal-mart.)

Day Three: In the morning, we crossed the Missouri River and into Omaha, Nebraska--my fourth new state. We were also excited about Nebraska. This did not last long. Nebraska took all day. Around 11AM, we stopped in Minden to see Pioneer Village. And then we drove, and drove, and drove, crossed into the Mountain Time Zone, diverted from I-80 onto I-76 a little west of Ogalalla, and a few minutes later, were in Colorado. (Colorful Colorado, as the sign told me.) We got to Denver as the daylight was fading and spent the night at a Comfort Inn.

Day Four: We did not cover many miles, as we had a lot of sightseeing to do. We saw some stuff in Denver (more on that later) and then hit the road for Rocky Mountain National Park. On the way, we stopped for lunch in Boulder. I think it was around 3PM when we got to Rocky Mountain National Park. We didn't have time to explore too much of the park, but we saw enough to be happy. And we bought souvenirs. Then we continued on I-25 N to Wyoming. We drove through Cheyenne and stopped for dinner in Laramie. This had been our goal for the evening, but as the sun was only just setting as we were paying our check, we decided to keep going on. Forgetting how vast and empty Wyoming is. At 11PM, exhausted, we arrived at a Comfort Inn in Rawlins (or something like that--I'm actually blanking on the name) which was one of the only places with hotels for miles, and they were all nearly full as a result, and they could charge a lot of money for those last two beds in town. (But the hotel was much nicer than any other we had stayed in so far.)

Day Five: We left Rawlins early and continued west on I-80 to Rock Springs, where we wandered around some stores. We stopped at a rest area in Evanston (more on that later) for lunch and wildlife viewing, near the Utah border. We said a sad goodbye to Wyoming. Then we crossed into Utah and were much sadder. I liked Southern Utah when I was there last year. I did not like the part of Utah through which I-80 and I-84 run. It was ugly and crowded, at least to me. But it was over relatively quickly and we were soon in Idaho. We stopped to see Shoshone Falls in Twin Falls and then--at this point kind of possessed with the desire to get to Portland (or at least I was)--kept driving to Boise. We walked around a bit and had dinner at Gernika, a Basque pub, in Boise. (More on that later.) We then kept driving and finally stopped for the evening just over the state line in Ontario, OR.

Day Six: We ate breakfast at a nice place in Ontario (more on that later.) We then headed west on I-84, crossing into the Pacific Time Zone, and by mid-afternoon, arrived in Portland, OR. And then we went to Vancouver, WA, to get my key. And then we went back to Portland. Before dinnertime, I was home! Then we went to Carl's Jr.

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