Thursday, November 5, 2015

Day 63: America's Loneliest Highway to SLC

this photo and the one below were only taken about an hour apart...
hello elevation. and mountains, they never get old.

After a interesting and beautiful first four hours of driving America's Lonliest Highway and then dark, long and fairly miserable (after dark), I found my way to Utah. Eight hours straight. Since I have a much more lax schedule - or lack there of, aside from my mom flying into San Francisco for a couple of days at the start of December - I planned to split up the drive across Utah into two parts. Unfortunately, that plan was quickly foiled as I soon realized that America's Loneliest Highway is not a hyperbole. I passed two small towns, lots of mountains and a sparse amount of cars. So finding a place to park my car and sleep was near impossible. I looked at hotel prices, but they were hovering around $60 which is out of a vaga price range.

This is where I began to really kick myself for not having waited six more months (as I had considered prior to leaving) and beginning this journey in the spring. It was getting cold - and fast - it even snowed in Reno (which lead to be being kicked out of an apartment while avoiding a snowstorm in mountain passes). This was bullshit considering 1. it never snows in Reno and 2. I left the east in an effort to avoid winter and instead drove into an early one (while I check weather on the east for comparison purposes only to see it's 75 and sunny every time). The time if year also meant that I know had until about 5pm to drive in actual daylight and, to boot, all of the campsites were closed. I was going to have to start getting crafty with where I would sleep. However, I haven't figured that part out yet, which meant I was on a dark and shitty 8 hour drive in the middle of the world's most boring night-time highway.

But I digress. As a bonus on my sweet then sour drive, I did almost score free gas. Somewhere along the way someone had prepaid and the lady put it on the wrong pump. I debated with my conscious on telling them and then figured I'd just pump real slowly and if they didn't figure it out by the time that I left that I was going to take my free $25 worth of gas and drive away with it - the universe provides, right? Just as I started the car to pull away, a cold, concerned looking girl came out. Blast. I totally good I have driven away with it but I decided being a fugative on the run was probably not worth the free gas. After paying in cash for what I'd already tried to pay for in credit card and pumped, I was back on my way.

I had a night, again, straddling a border of two states a couple of hours later and holed up in the cheapest hotel I could find, having given up on finding a place to park after passing a rest stop along the lonely ass highway the guy in Virginia City told me to drive. Admittedly, it was a beautiful, beautiful drive but I could only enjoy it in the light for half of the trip because after I picked up my car in the garage in Reno earlier in the day, I had to go back after realizing they rotated the damn tires after specifically asking them not to. These tires are a proverbial thorn in my side. (I also learned my back tires are nearly bald and unlikely to last past another 5,000 miles. Well...too bad. I'm broke.)

I woke up, exited my hotel late - considering night time just got turned an hour earlier this past Sunda - drove through the Salt Desert flats and headed into Salt Lake City. My thing to do now when heading into new cities is drive around and get a general feel. I noticed four things: 1. For a group of Mormons, they have an awful lot of coffee shops, 2. Vintage stores!, 3. It's a very clean city and 4. Except for the one location (Rio something, I think) where they seem to shove all of their vagrants and homeless. An interesting concept, really, to push all of their folks into one spot.

In my scouting drive, I spotted a coffee shop that was next to two vintage shops. I decided, since I had no idea what to do with myself, that I would grab caffeine and peruse old clothes that my boobs, undoubtedly, could not fit into. You could tell exactly what clothes were owned by Mormons - collars halfway up the neck; patches of unmatched material sewn into store bought dresses. It was in one of these two shops that I met Kristen. She worked at the shop where I spent an hour trying to convince myself that I could not afford the world's most amazing coat. It was $88, but it was getting damned cold out and I had packed as if I was going to avoid a harsh winter entirely. It was then, after standing there, interviewing her about the city for a while, wearing the coat, that I realized that I could not leave without it. So, I reasoned that credit card rewards money isn't really money and it was getting mighty cold out and bought myself a sweet-ass coat. This is my new favorite purchase on the trip. Sorry, Dave.

Alright, coat required, questions answer - and neatly because Kristen has conveniently lived all over the west coast into Montana so had opinions and suggestions about everything. It was time to figure out my next move. I walked a back to the free parking down the road.

I admit, I got a hotel - and for the next day too. I figured it evened out from having had the last six nights free in Reno. It was a sweet pad outside SLC. Nabbed some food at Smith's - AKA Mormon Kroger - a Redbox movie and settled in for the night. I made some chicken in the bathroom - because while I may spring for a hotel in the colder, wetter portion of the trip (while campsites are closed for the season), I am in no way now fancy. But the fresh veggies and movie and bed were a treat. I was officially happy to be out of Nevada and on my own again.

is this even sanitary? i don't know.

but yum. fancy toilet salad.

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