Who likes road trips? Americans like road trips. Comes right after baseball and apple pie. No self-respecting Parisian would hop into a car to drive to London for a night of revelry, but anyone who has lived in California for a while has made that ill-planned Vegas trip. It’s like a right of passage. An expression of our freedom; a little adventure.
Well, this time it wasn’t Vegas, but a bit more far flung. We were originally going to drive to Denver to drop off our cats with Jen’s sister, but when her mom was nice enough to offer to house them in San Diego, we decided just to road trip for fun. This is Jennifer’s husband Kevin, by the way. I’m giving her the day off.
We started off driving from San Diego to Oakland to stay with Jen’s half-sister. I’d never been to Oakland, but Lake Merritt was surprisingly picturesque. Technically a tidal lagoon, it was designated in 1870 as America’s first wildlife refuge. There’s a nice walking path around the lake where we spied gulls, coots, ducks, and some cool looking herons.
The next day we ventured into San Francisco so Jen could renew her Swiss passport. On the off chance we have money left after touring Asia, we might try to head over to Europe and look for jobs. She was roundly chastised at the embassy for not registering her American husband of 6 years with them, and they almost refused to renew her passport. She had to assure them she would send in my paperwork ASAP, including a copy of my birth certificate certified within the last 6 months. Boy those Swiss are sticklers for the the rules!
We spent that night at her aunt and uncle’s where we found out her aunt still keeps in touch with the family she stayed with in India as a foreign exchange student 50 years ago. We’ll definitely look them up when we get to India. Always look up local contacts when travelling; they always have the best skinny on the local scene. It doesn’t matter if the connection is tenuous, I’ve found that most people are happy to help out a stranger in a strange land. And trust me, no land is stranger than India!
After SF, we drove to Lake Tahoe for the night. Tahoe was as beautiful as ever – did you know that it’s the 2nd deepest lake in America at 1645 ft and comes right after Crater Lake? Pretty cool huh?! We just love that fresh, clean, crisp alpine air. We stayed at the south shore for the first time, and it is definitely more “rustic” than the north shore. Case in point, our hotel room cost $29. Still, great place to walk around the shore and enjoy the nature.
Once back on the road we stopped by Virginia City, a boom town created when silver was found there in 1859. It is actually the birthplace of Mark Twain, as that is where Samuel Clemens first used the pen name as a reporter for the local paper. Clemens, actually born in my native Missouri, fled from Virginia city to avoid a duel with an editor at a different newspaper who was upset with Clemens’ reporting. Anyway, it’s a cool old west town worth visiting for the ambience. I stopped into a gem store and couldn’t resist buying a trilobite fossil for $6. This marine arthropod lived on Earth 500 million years ago, and now he gets to road trip across the US with me. Win-win.
Next we drove down US Route 50 through Nevada, self-described as America’s loneliest road. It is pretty cool to see the road stretch out forever in front of you without another car in sight for miles. It’s nice to enjoy the solitude after city life. Unexpectedly refreshing to be alone.
Eventually we made it to Arches National Park in Utah. That’s one of those must-see parks in Utah, along with Zion and Bryce Canyon National Parks. It’s well worth a road trip just for those three parks. We settled for just Arches on this trip but seeing delicate arch never gets old. I can’t wait to turn 62 – seniors get a lifetime National Parks pass for just $10. Retirement can’t come soon enough for this work-adverse traveler.
The next day we pulled into Denver to stay at Jen’s sister’s to cat sit while she traveled on business. It was a funny sight to see a marijuana store right next to Costco. It’s hard to say legalizing it is a bad idea when it contributed an economic impact of $2.4 billion and 18,000 jobs to Colorado in 2015. And that doesn’t even count the money saved from not locking up all the people using a completely natural product that is waaaay better for you than alcohol. Hopefully the federal government will one day see the light.
We were going to go straight to St. Louis next to see the family, but a good friend of ours offered the use of her family’s “cottage” on the shore of Lake Michigan in Door County. We stopped along the way in Nebraska to break up the drive and stayed in some guy’s tool shed that we found on AirBNB. He threw a mattress in there and the bathroom was in a broken down trailer out back, but for $10 it was just what the budget ordered. Especially when the gorgeous lake house was ours to use the rest of the week for practically free. It’s good to have generous friends! We had perfect fall weather and fiery foliage the whole freakin’ time.
On to St. Louis to see my family and friends for Thankstober. I’m trying to make that a new thing for our family. Why fight the crowds to travel to St. Louis when the weather stinks in November (when you can save money) and enjoy the beautiful fall weather in October. I’m sick of society telling me when I have to travel. Next I’ll find a Christmas alternative. Springstmas, perhaps? I’ll have to work on that. Anyway, back through Denver on our way to San Diego where we’ll prepare for our Asia tour. We leave November 12 for Hong Kong, the beginning of a 6-12 month trip. Stick with us to see where we go! Sorry about the ramble, I’ll try to work on being more succinct.