Driving to California turned out to be much more pleasant than I anticipated. This was due to planning rather than luck, we attempted to reduce the use of rest stops as much as possible in favor of truck stops. These it turned out to be really interesting and entertaining, rather than depressing and uncomfortable.
I did most of the driving on the way to California. Not because I don’t trust anyone else to drive, it’s just that I can’t stand to be a passenger. It’s a control thing.
First state to cross is Wyoming. I really like Wyoming, it is exactly as advertised. If you want to be a cowboy or just see real cowboys they are in Wyoming. The only thing I don’t like about Wyoming is the wind, ironic really. They also have some of the best truck stops around. Clean and well managed, with an amazing array of things for sale, Little America is by far the most entertaining. While we were there two busloads of Mormons were shopping in the store. They were kind of odd but friendly, they looked like they were trying to dress like the Amish but bought their cloths at a thrift store. No one tried to convert me. It was probably for the best.
Utah is easy and a relative short drive from Wyoming to Nevada. The scenery is really beautiful until you get down to Salt Lake City. Then it just gets worse until you cross the border into Nevada. Oh and please would someone take down the billboards that claim that the world will end on 5/21/2011, I counted seven during my drive in Utah alone.
Next is Nevada. I have to say that I like Northern Nevada. I don’t know why, but it seems to me to represent the only place in America that is post-apocalyptic all the time. I like that kind of consistency; nothing seems to change in Northern Nevada. Sure Reno grows and grows, but the rest of Nevada looks to be waiting for “A boy and his Dog 2”, or “Tremors 8”, or a US version of “Mad Max”. I also like a state where the contrasts are clear. In Wendover there is a line drawn across Main Street. One side (east bound) Utah the other is (west bound) Nevada. The east is boring, and there are no liquor stores. The west side of the line is full of casinos, liquor stores, and noise. In the local grocery store you can buy liquor, bullets, and play a slot machine, while you kid rides a rocket for a nickel. What a deal.
We did stop at one rest stop in Nevada. I couldn’t help it, it was the only place around for miles and we needed a bathroom break badly. I snapped a few photos that I thought were rather telling…
I love this photo. It seems to say “welcome to Nevada, do not enter, go back, wrong way”
And this one…
As far as I can tell, pets can go anywhere they please. What are they going to make a mess on the lawn? There is no lawn. Not for hundreds of miles in any direction.
Oh, and the only thing I enjoyed about the casinos in Nevada was the fact that I could smoke indoors. The slot machines seemed to be creative and even a bit devious, but I couldn’t bring myself to play more than a few dollars before wondering if the whole thing is a put on. Everyone must know that your chances of winning are about the same as finding a gold watch at the bottom of a rest stop toilet, but they play anyway. I was downstairs in the casino at seven in the morning lugging my bags to the car and saw no less than a dozen people playing slots and drinking a beer. It made wonder if this was the start of their day or the end of the previous one. How can you tell?
Driving into California is always an adventure. The Sierras are quite beautiful, the hills dangerous, the road rough, and the drivers are all fucking nuts. My knuckles were white and tingly in the first few miles, once we hit Nevada City my arms were shaking from stress. I guess I am just a wimp. The only way to maintain traffic flow was to drive ten to fifteen miles per hour over the speed limit while going down a seven percent grade with a fuel truck on my ass.
Welcome to California.