The Longest Day: UT to NV

Campground in Salt Lake CityAs we fell asleep last night listening to the train horns blaring not-too-distantly, I wondered just how noisy this campground was going to be. Very noisy, as it turned out. The trains stopped sometime in the middle of the night, giving way to trucks, dogs, traffic in general… finally it was the flocks of birds chattering away in the tree just above our tent that made me give up on sleep around 6:30 this morning.

I was also ready to get up to take a shower, since we hadn’t showered since Sunday. (Too much information?) The campgrounds we stayed at in the national parks didn’t have showers directly at them, and when there were showers nearby there was a charge to use them. We did get clean-ish, though, at the Boiling River and in Jackson Lake. But we were definitely due for showers.

So it was worth sacrificing some sleep to get up early and enjoy a nice warm shower. Dave was still sleeping when I got out (how he could sleep through the din, I don’t know), so I kept myself busy with various things until he got up. We did our usual routine of taking down the tent and then left our campsite without a single shred of sadness, since this had been the worst campsite we’d had so far.

We had some uploading to do, so we stopped by the campground office to use their one computer to locate a Starbucks. Our next planned stop was Provo, home of Brigham Young University. I went to starbucks.com to see how many Starbucks there are in Provo. Can you guess? There are zero. What kind of college town doesn’t have a Starbucks?!? The answer: a college town where the majority of the students aren’t allowed to drink caffeine.

Luckily there was a T-Mobile Hotspot in a Borders near the university, so I wrote down the address and we headed south to Provo. When we got there we drove around BYU for a bit , then parked and walked around for a few minutes.

Dave at BYUBYU is like a state school, as far as its size, layout, and general architectural mix. But it’s obvious that it has a good amount of money (unlike most state schools). I was very impressed with their landscaping, and their newer buildings were really nice. We saw a few of the students walkign to class or studying outside and – as expected – they all seemed like nice wholesome kids. No piercings, interesting hair colors, or bare midriff like you’d see at a California State University…

We left the BYU campus and found Borders, and ended up staying there for three hours – we had a lot of photos to upload! It was a longer stop than anticipated, but it was a good stop. We got a lot done and it was also very relaxing to sit in a bookstore cafe and drink coffee.

By the time we left Borders it was about 1:45 pm, and we still needed to try to make it to the middle of Nevada. Crazy! But we needed to eat lunch, so we aimed to fulfill our mission to eat at Sonic.

Sonic in ProvoI feel like I should explain the whole Sonic thing. (Dairy Queen should be self-explanatory, for those who have been there.) While living in Boston, Dave and I would often see TV commercials for Sonic (a fast-food drive-in / drive-thru burger place) and wonder where the nearest Sonic actually was, since we’d never seen one in New England. But we figured there must be one nearby, or they wouldn’t show the commercials. One night, when we saw a commercial for a particularly tantalizing ice cream drink at Sonic, we pondered a quick late-night trip to Sonic. Until we checked the website to find out where the nearest store actually was. It turned out the nearest Sonic to Watertown MA was nine hours away in Richmond, Virginia. No trip to Sonic that night! But instead we figured out where on our road trip we were likely to find one, and there seemed to be quite a few in Utah.

So we went the Sonic in Provo, and for reasons I’m too frustrated to detail, it took us an hour to get out of there with our order. The food wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t worth that kind of wait and hassle. By the time we got it (and we got it to go, so we could hit the road) and started eating, it wasn’t really hot anymore. So much for our Sonic experience.

After spending WAY too much time in Provo, Utah, we finally got on I-15 south for a few miles, then got off on Route 6 heading west. Finally we were on our way to Nevada – at about 3 o’clock in the afternoon.

In our original itinerary, we were aiming for someplace in the middle of Nevada. If we were camping, we would have had quite a few options. But at this point in out trip we were very tired of sleeping restlessly on the ground and were craving a nice, clean, soft bed. So we decided to get as close to California as possible and get a motel room.

Utah desertWe started driving west through the middle of Utah, on Route 6 which eventually became Route 50 (which for some reason isn’t considered an interstate even though it goes across the entire country). We were astounded at how much nothigness there was. For 9 hours across Utah and Nevada, we traversed a seemingly endless sequence of mountain ranges, separated from each other by miles and miles of desert. It got to the point when we were thrilled to see a car coming the other direction, or a horse standing in the middle of the sage. Every couple of hours we got to slow down for five minutes to go through a town – what a thrill!

This gives you a sense of how our drive went this evening. From Provo to Carson City, we drove for 9 hours straight without stopping except for bathroom breaks or to switch drivers. Once the sun went down, there was even less scenery – just the lights from the oncoming cars, which you could see from miles away. It got scary toward the end, actually, when we drove for about 30 minutes through a dust storm in the dark, when we couldn’t see anything but the road just around us.

I don’t remember at what point we decided we could make it all the way to Carson City (probably about the same time I pointed out to Dave that it would be an hour earlier as soon as we crossed into Nevada). It seemed slightly crazy at the time, quite crazy when we were driving through the middle of Nevada in the dark, and not crazy at all when we made it to Carson City and checked into the Best Western. It’s not the fanciest hotel we’ve ever stayed in, but after living in a tent for four nights, it seems very swanky.

Now I must go and enjoy sleeping on a mattress for the first time since Saturday night. Tomorrow: California, here we come!

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