Day 15: RB and the Need for Speed

Map of day fifteen travel

Interstate 80 runs from San Francisco to Teaneck, New Jersey.  This highway will be very prominent in my now two-day dash to get home.

The short drive from Carson City to Reno brought me to a casino in town. I’m not a gambler–I hate to lose and can think of fewer, more ridiculous ways to lose money than sticking it into a slot machine. However, in honor of my mother, I walked into Atlantis with a $20 bill and my car keys, figuring it would take me about 30 minutes to lose it in the quarter slots. To say I didn’t know what I was doing would be an understatement. With three presses of a button, my money was gone!! The customer service person explained that the button I was pressing was the max bet, so I was wagering $6.00 on every push!

No, I didn’t get more money. As I said, I hate to lose.

Anyway, I was finally on I-80 headed east. It was a long stretch between exits, with little to see except the changing rock formations. I took pictures of a few of them.

We reached Wendover, which straddles the border between Nevada and Utah. I barely saw the line in the street in time to get a picture.

IMG_1022Now, the reason I was interested in this little town is its proximity to the Bonneville Salt Flats. I had wanted to see the salt flats last year when my mother and I did our tour of the southwestern U. S., but we needed to be in Vegas by a deadline.  This time, I was determined not to miss this second chance.

From my entry point, a paved roadway took us approximately five miles to the sign that marked the beginning of the Bonneville Speedway, the site of numerous land speed records.  The weather was glorious, in the low 80s with no sign of rain.  I suddenly got an idea.  Wouldn’t this be an excellent opportunity to let RB loose?  Well,…

Back on I-80, I drove until late (or early, depending on point-of-view), crossing into Wyoming.  I got something to eat and stopped at a truck stop.  Slept for a few hours.  Still more than 1,000 miles to go and one day left to do it.


loudmusicMusic for the Trip

This was a solid day of driving, covering over 700 miles.  Plenty of time to get through the U-Z part of the playlist.  Remember, though, that the player I use for the SD card started with the J’s, so I still have a large portion of the playlist to work through.

Speaking of which, the A’s included performers ABBA, Aerosmith, Al Green, Al Jarreau, Alanis Morrisette, Alicia Keys, The Animals, Anita Baker, and the incomparable Aretha Franklin.


Day 14: Yosemite Sa… Randye

Map of day 14 travel

While my vacation time was fast drawing to an end, I still made time to visit Yosemite National Park.

I chose a route that took us through Modesto and the Napa Valley area.  The prominence of vineyards I passed in this famous wine region weren’t surprising to me, but the significant presence of almond tree groves was.

There was a museum in Modesto I’d hoped to visit, but just as the unplanned nature of my journey sometimes meant I arrived at a site too late to be able to do more than capture a few shots, it also occasionally caused me to arrive too early.  In this case, I felt it was necessary to be at Yosemite by the museum’s scheduled noon opening time.

The drive into the Sierra Nevada Mountains had both eye-catching scenery plus attention-demanding twists and turns in the road. Upon reaching Yosemite, I followed my established pattern of stopping first at the visitors center near the entry gate to get advice from the rangers on duty. I also bought a walking stick medallion that commemorates the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s establishment of the park to add to the others I’d purchased at the earlier national parks visited on this trip.

Beautiful hardly seems to begin to describe the park and its centerpiece, El Capitan. I took over 150 shots while driving or taking the shuttle from point to point.  The shuttle driver suggested I drive up to Glacier Point, the highest point in the park that can be reached by car.  She said it was a bit of a drive, but worth it.  If anything, she understated her case.  The panoramic views were breathtakingly lovely. For most of my time in the park, the weather was ideal; however a storm brewed late into the afternoon, and I was unwilling to be so exposed to the lightning that flashed too nearby for comfort.

Walking back to RB, I had my only encounter with wildlife at the park, with a small animal that looked like a squirrel.   Considering my last up-close-and-personal meeting was with a bison at Yellowstone, I didn’t mind this at all.

All too soon, I had to backtrack out of the park and begin driving towards my next planned stop in Reno, Nevada.  I made it as far as Carson City when I decided it was not safe to continue driving.  I got a room for the night because I knew that–if I would any reasonable chance to be back in Iowa on time–it would be my last chance to sleep in a bed until I reached home.

loudmusicMusic for the Trip

The “The” groups continued to dominate the playlist, but their music was now peppered with songs by Three Dog Night, Tina Turner and Tracy Chapman.

Towards the late afternoon, the last file of the playlist, U-Z, started, featuring musicians U2, Usher, War, Whitney Houston, Will Smith, Willie Nelson, and Wilson Picket.