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2 week road trip - part 1 (Heading to California)
Time to find out if we like each other
This summer was to be my summer, I was going to start riding with my husband in his truck. I’ve spent my entire adult life raising children and the last one was graduating in June. He has about 10 more years before he can even think of retiring. Since he has been doing this for 20 years, seeing the United States, I wanted to do the same. But before I could contemplate riding with him permanently, I had to find out if we could be in closed spaces together for any length of time. I decided to take a trial run in April, I planned for at least 2 weeks out. If I drove him too nuts I had the measures in place to ride a bus back.
Having been married for 25 years, of those 25 years not spending 24 hours side by side together in any one period of time for more than 20 years, I wasn’t sure if we even liked one another! I planned on keeping my cell phone handy should he by chance leave me behind at a truck stop. I’m sure it would be embarrassing to get dumped by your hubby at any point on a trip. We would be spending our time together 24 hours a day (less potty time) for the next two weeks, maybe you could see my concern.
He was offered a run to California and asked if I wanted to go, “Heck yeah!” I’d never been farther West than Nebraska, so of course I wanted to see California. Maybe I’d get to see the Pacific Ocean. We live in Michigan and the place we were heading to was Red Bluff, CA. I looked it up on the map, Northern California. Well no Ocean but I was sure I’d see other stuff. I really was looking forward to seeing all the wild life that he has told me about, seeing through the years.
Show and tell time!Click thumbnail to view full-size
We headed out April 2nd at around 5 am for our trip, I was pretty darned excited. It had been 4 years since I’d went anywhere. When a truck driver takes his vacation, the last thing he wants to do is drive, you stay at home and make repairs, or just relax. They have enough of the road and driving every day of the week. Our first stop was just over the border in Burns Harbor, Indiana for fuel and coffee. Being a company man he has certain areas that he has to use for fuel. The various Pilot Truck Stops across the country would become our home away from home for the next couple of weeks. They consistently have the absolute BEST coffee you can find on the road.
It was daylight so I could see things, on our way toward Chicago, IL on I-80 is a rather large hole that Limestone is mined from. Even in a truck you can’t see the bottom as you go over, the road goes over the entire mine separating it‘s sides.
Chicago is a bustling City, with traffic beyond anything that most people can imagine. The traffic for the city starts about 30 miles or so before the actual City, we weren’t going anywhere near Chicago, yet we got to see the traffic for it. It seems as though every time I have traveled with him there is construction going on somewhere near Chicago, this time was no different. There are certain lanes that a truck can’t go in, that are referred to as the ‘high dollar’ lane. They are called this because if a Big Truck is ‘caught’ in this lane the fines start at $275.00. It should be enough to deter most truck drivers, but every now and then you get someone who is in a hurry, the CB radio will go wild with other drivers informing them of wrong doing. I got so busy watching the happenings of the traffic that I forgot to ‘look’ at the buildings from the distance. The bumper to bumper traffic at all hours is just amazing.
By the time we go through Joliet, IL the traffic had calmed down considerably and I could enjoy the sites. Our travels would take us on I-80 all the way thru to California. Somewhere in Iowa along the road I could have sworn I saw a dead Buffalo on the side of the road, it came up so fast I couldn’t get my camera out. Darn. Might have been a cow.
We had left on a beautiful day but it quickly turned into a rain storm, so the sights would just have to wait for me to see. It rained so hard I couldn’t see anything but the tail lights in front of me. Just as quickly it stopped as well.
My daughter has traveled with my husband on these roads before and seems to find the road through Iowa a bit boring, but I found it fascinating. As you travel through Iowa you will see wind farms over miles and miles of land. There wind mills are extremely large and seem to be working quite well! I want one in my back yard!
Our first break was somewhere around Lincoln, NE where we stopped to sleep. After his 10 hour break we got up and took our showers. I got a picture with Dino the dinosaur because the Pilot was at a Sinclair station. Haven’t seen one of those in years! The temperature was dropping, good thing I brought my coat! When we’d left home it was around 60 degrees, here it was in the upper 30’s. The next thing I seen was a HUGE building, I was amazed. It was Cabela’s World Headquarters. I scrambled to get a picture, the best I got was the side of the tower, well it would have to do.
As we got closer to Wyoming, the snow started appearing. I’m glad I packed well, this trip was presenting a challenge for clothes! We got hit by a blizzard just past Cheyenne, WY and the roads were quite slippery. I snugged up my seatbelt and held on for dear life! We stopped for coffee at an out of the way truck stop where they had the neatest things. I got some snacks to munch on and took a couple pictures of Jackalopes that were hanging on the walls. For those of you who have never heard of a Jackalope, it’s a mythical creature of a cross between a Jack rabbit and an Antelope. Very interesting indeed.
As we headed back on to the road we heard on the CB radio of a accident ahead. Of course I had my camera at the ready, wouldn’t want to miss this! As we neared the accident site I had to laugh. There was a boat in the middle of the road with no trailer. I wondered how they were gonna go fishing, there was no water in sight. A little further ahead there was another accident, this one not so funny. 5 Big Trucks had gotten a hold of some ice and it wouldn’t let them go. The last truck was carrying a load of Vlasic pickles, boy would Suzanne be upset about that! (She’s my pickle lover) No one was hurt, but there sure was a mess!
Somewhere along the way I did get to see some wild horses and some antelope. They blended in so well with their surroundings that I only seen them as we were passing, so I couldn’t get any pictures.
Our next stop was somewhere between Rawlins, WY and Evanston, WY. We would have to stay here for 34 hours. We had to do this so we could be moving once we reached California on Monday morning. In the truck driving world you are only allowed so many hours to drive per day, and so many hours per week. Once you have reached 70 hours for a week you have to do what is called a re-start. You take off 34 hours and your 70 starts over again. Due to the lack of parking in most places, a truck driver has to stop where parking is available.
There was a nice selection of trinkets in the Pilot to purchase as souvenirs, so I did. Family and friends wouldn’t take it too kindly if I came back empty handed! The restaurant in the Truck Stop had a buffet, so we decided to splurge and have dinner. If I said the food was good I’d be lying, and I try not to lie. Once you got beyond the taste, it was filling.
We sat in the truck watching the world go by for our 34 hours, going in every now and then to get more coffee. No wonder my husband is getting tired of trucking! He has the inside of his truck to keep him company, and his TV of course. Since the reception of the TV waves has been interrupted, due to ‘National Security’ (not sure how that comes into effect) he might get 1 local channel, IF he is lucky. Having 34 hours off can get you caught up in the movies that you've been missing, right?
By the time our 34 hours were up it was 'blizzarding' yet again. So we headed off into the blinding snow to get through Utah. I was going to finally get to see Salt Lake City! Well, I would see the lights anyway, since it was pitch dark. I have to admit, the lights were very beautiful at night. We stopped at a Pilot to get coffee so I could at least say that I was in Salt Lake City. As usual the coffee was excellent!
Along the way I was viewing the awesomeness of the mountains. If weather would have permitted flies, I would have caught a few with my mouth. The grandeur of these mountains is something to behold, mere words cannot explain the view. You would get past 1 mountain only to await the next one. The sky is just absolutely huge ‘out west’.
It was almost time to take our next 10 hour break so we came upon Winnemucca, NV, the first thing I seen was the beautiful snow covered hill, we managed to park directly across from it so I could just gaze at it’s beauty. We laid down for a while to sleep, I had a nap so I really wasn’t tired. When I felt that all I was doing was disturbing my hubby I decided to take my book and find a quiet spot to read. I watched the sun slowly melt the snow on the Hill and could finally see the big W that was on the side of it.
After several hours my hubby awoke, for a while we just sat and watched the hill in front of us. Next thing I knew we were being pelted with hail! And I thought weather in Michigan was strange. All of a sudden we spotted two ‘dots’ that were moving. They were bears! We watched them for more than an hour, frolicking over the hillside. I tried getting a good picture, but my camera just wouldn’t zoom in that far.
We decided to go to the local Walmart to get a few things, we had to be careful when parking because Big Trucks aren’t allowed. So we parked as far away as we could in the hopes we didn’t get a ticket. After we made our purchases, we headed back to the truck stop to sit a little while longer. I went in again to the truck stop and found a place to gamble. Having only been to 1 casino before this was exciting for me! I won! Well it was only $2.50, but I still won.
We headed out again once the 10 hours were up, our next stop would be California! Well of course we would have to make a few pit stops along the way, before arriving. Since I was the co-pilot it would be up to me to traverse the roads to out destination. We would head by Reno and go North into California. Getting to Red Bluff was not going to be easy since there were no major roads getting there from where we were. A truck driver gets paid by the miles (zip code to zip code) so back tracking not only takes time (of which they have precious few hours per day) but they don’t get paid those extra miles.
We made 1 stop so I could feel an actual ‘tumble weed’, I had seen them for miles and just wanted to touch one. It doesn’t take much to make me happy! Their much pickier than I expected and stuck all over me. We seen one ‘Ghost’ town, well sort of, it was pretty dead and it used to be a town. That qualifies right?
Another cool little tidbit of information. Along I-80 there is a long stretch of road between Winnemucca and Reno with a lot of nothingness, yet if you look closely you will see scattered on both sides of the road where visitors have stopped to ‘write’ their names with rocks from the dry lake bed. As we passed through Sparks, Nevada I did manage to see some goats on the top of some rock formations next to the expressway but it was getting dark and I couldn’t get a good picture.
California - I am here!
Finally we hit the California border! We were stopped by a border patrol person and our cargo was checked. We asked about the route were taking, if it was acceptable for Big Trucks to go on, he said “Well, if YOU want to, go ahead, most drivers go up and around, but there is nothing stopping you.” Sounded ominous, but hey, we were on an adventure! After about an hour or so into California, we finally hit MY town, 'Susanville'. My hubby stopped so I could get a picture of my sign. They obviously knew I was coming and erected a sign in my honor! Go me!
Thank goodness it was dark outside, because the road we were on was meant for trucks no longer than 35 feet, we were 72 feet long, more than twice the recommended length. We were in Lassen Volcanic National Forrest! Signs all around for wild animals, I was in hopes that I would see a bear. We were going up, up, up into these mountains, the elevation was getting toward 5000 feet. It has snowed earlier so the road was icy and snow covered. There were hair pin turns on this road. Not curves mind you, angled turns. My seat belt was as tight as it could be, and I think I made finger impressions on the handle. At some points as we were turning I could no longer see the road, just a dark abyss. The snow was as high as the windows on this road, and I had to pee. Oh boy. My husband found a spot to pull over so I could go potty. The snow was so deep, there was no way I was going to traipse in that, so I stood on the side steps and hung my butt out. As I am doing this, for fun, my hubby decided start making wild animal sounds. All it would take is one quick bound over a snow bank from one of those 'beasties', seeing my big, shiny white butt and I was a goner!
parts 2 and 3
- 2 week road trip - part 3
For those of you who have just tuned in. This is part 3 of my trip to Califronia (and back) 2 week road trip - part 2 For those of you who are just starting this story, in order to understand you might...
- 2 week road trip - part 2
For those of you who are just starting this story, in order to understand you might want to start at the beginning. The bad part about going up a mountain is having to come down again. The roads snow...