What I’ve Learned (So Far)

I’ve been back in NorCal just under a week and it’s amazing how quickly I’ve gotten back into the swing of things here.  I had a fantastic weekend catching up with friends but the highlight of the weekend was definitely the Raiders comeback win on Sunday.  We had a big tailgate to kick off the day and kept it going in the MoHo after the game was over:

I drove down to Carmel-by-the-Sea on Monday and have spent the last few days unpacking the MoHo and taking it to an RV storage facility, organizing my things in the guest room, and I even had time to get a car because driving the MoHo just isn’t practical around these parts…  the Fiat Abarth is basically the antithesis of the Roadtrek, as you can see from the picture.  Cute, small, zippy – it corners way better too.

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But most importantly over the last few days, I’ve been thinking about the last five months on the road, the things I’ve learned and seen.  Starting with the latter, people constantly ask me about my favorite sites.  My top three are as follows:

  1. Niagara Falls (from the Canadian side)
  2. The Badlands in South Dakota
  3. Fall foliage /color change in New England

Special mention goes to Wall Drug (also in South Dakota) for the best advertising campaign

I’ve been collecting stickers of some of the places I’ve been for the MoHo fridge and here’s what it looks like so far…  My favorite stickers are from Stowe, VT and Shepherdstown, WV.  Special mention of the Mackinac Island bicycle sticker since I inadvertently threw out the one I bought (I was so pissed) – fortunately my friend April was heading there shortly after I saw her and she got me a replacement sticker. The fridge is getting full but still plenty of room for stickers from the remaining 17 states:

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What I’ve learned is that the people of this country are incredibly nice and extremely helpful.  At no point did I ever feel like I was in danger and all the sucky people I met were confined to Ketchum, ID so I got that out of way quickly.  While I was grateful to all my friends and family for putting me up along the way and showing me their respective towns, what made this trip truly special was all the new friends I made.  From the gang in Lemmon to Julie in Milwaukee to Anni in Champaign to Robby in Jefferson, I feel truly blessed that I live here in the US of A and I am hopeful that I have the same experience when I hit the southern states next spring.

Another thing I’ve learned is how little you actually need to live on.  A couple of pairs of jeans, a few sweaters and t-shirts, one pot, one knife and three spoons.  Okay – I had a little more than that in the MoHo but coming back to all my “stuff” – it’s a bit overwhelming.  Needless to say, I’m planning on giving away a lot of clothes…  On the flip side, I really am appreciating all the space and the ability to spin around with my arms out and not hit anything.  Also being able to take a long hot shower (or bath) anytime I want is priceless.

I meant to mention this earlier but I did read John Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley along the way and I enjoyed it immensely, laughing out loud several times at some of the similarities in our trips.  One main difference between our journeys is that Steinbeck carried a fully-stocked bar with him – I carried a juice maker.  For those of you who haven’t read it, I highly recommend it (even if you haven’t traveled by MoHo).

I’ve learned that I really need to teach Juno how to drive.  It’s hard being the only one behind the wheel and while he’s done a great job with security, he needs to pull his weight a bit more.  Good news is I’ve started his lessons and he’s taken to driving like a duck to water:

Finally, I’ve learned that despite quitting my old life of expensive mortgages and high-stress jobs, I am still the same person.  I thought that this trip would give me a chance to slow down and relax.  Nope.  Not even close.  I’ve applied the same Type-A, overachiever behaviors to this trip just as I have to everything else in my life.  That’s why you rarely read about me taking a day off.  Lots to see and do and I felt it was my obligation to see and do as much as possible. But I think this is a good thing – I am who I am.  I’ll sleep when I’m dead.

Alrightythen… the Raiders are playing the Chiefs so time for me to sign off and watch the game.  Happy holidays and I’ll see you all in the spring!

 

 

 

 

Right back where I started from

Yep, around 12:15pm yesterday afternoon, I arrived back in Oakland.  Driving nearly 3,000 in eight days seems kind of insane when looking back on it, but I do feel a sense of accomplishment (along with total exhaustion).

Here’s a recap of my final two days on the road…

I woke up on Thursday and after checking the weather for the millionth time and seeing that snow was forecasted for SLC, I opted to take I-70 to Hwy 50 across Nevada.  The first thing I noticed when I got on the freeway was a “No services for the next 103 mile” sign.  Right.  So I got off the freeway and filled up the tank. This was a sign of things to come…

For those of you not familiar with Hwy 50, it was dubbed “The Loneliest Road in America” by Life magazine in July 1986.  They weren’t kidding.  Hwy 50 is a one-lane highway (which I love) where there is literally nothing between towns.  And the average distance between towns like Ely, Eureka, Austin, etc is between 50-70 miles.  I would drive for ages before I’d see anyone pass me.  Most of the traffic was heading east – I counted less than 10 cars heading in my direction over the course of 9+ hours.  For real.  But here’s the good news – while there aren’t any roadside attractions, there is scenery.  The red rocks in western Utah that made me want to pull over and go hiking every ten minutes.  The majesty of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada mountains.  Lots of deer sightings.  I even spotted a couple of little rainbows late in the afternoon which made me sublimely happy – my reward for a long day’s drive. I did hit a little snow heading over one pass in the morning but it was only for about 10-15 minutes and I stayed in the tracks of a pick-up truck in front of me.  I was just in awe of all the beauty surrounding me.  I was also thankful for being inside my warm MoHo since it was in the teens and 20’s the entire day.  So cold…

I had planned on staying in Middlegate, NV that night but since I had good weather, coupled with gaining an hour crossing from mountain to pacific time zone, I decided to press on and I stopped in Fallon, NV instead. A mere 60 miles from Reno and a few miles beyond to the border.

Friday morning I awoke at 4:45am and shortly thereafter, some idiot decided to start up his truck and leave it idling in the parking lot for a good 30 minutes.  Yeah, I was awake and not going to be able to fall back asleep.  Juno was up too so we did a short stroll in 23 degree darkness.  By 7:45am, we were on the road on a perfect bluebird day with not a single cloud in the sky. With only 4 1/2 hours of driving, I will admit that I was anxious to get going.  By 9am, I was back in California and as I meandered down the mountain, I watched the temperature rise.  By the time I got back to Oakland, it was 65 degrees.  Can I get a couple of Hallelujahs?!?!

I’m spending the weekend here in Oakland and will be heading down to Carmel-by-the-Sea on Monday.  Last night I met up with some friends at Kingfish and Juno got the chance to try out my friend John’s sidecar…  Maybe we’ll switch it up for part two of the roadtrip and go by motorcycle instead???

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As far as my iPod playlist for the last two days, I didn’t have one.  I realized that I only listened to music when there was nothing of interest to look at. Driving across Utah and Nevada had so much scenery that I didn’t need music to keep me entertained.

I’m going to do a final post in a couple of days – a recap if you will.  And then it’ll be radio silence until I set out again in the spring.  31 states down, 17 to go…

Final cross-country route:  NY, NJ, PA, OH, IN, IL, IA, NE, CO, UT, NV, CA