We finally made it to Vermont! Our sprint across the country took only nine days of driving: three from Salt Lake City to Lincoln (where we paused for a quick weekend breather), and then another six from Lincoln to Burlington, VT. Our route took us through Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Canada(!), and New York.
We probably could have shaved a few days off if we needed to, but it was much more comfortable for us to wake up late, drive a few hours, have a long lunch and read a little, exhaust Koa at a rest stop, drive a few more hours, pull off and see something interesting, drive a few more hours, find a place to stay for the night, and settle in for dinner and a few episodes of our favorite show(s) before bed. This schedule allowed us to make progress, but at a relatively sustainable pace.
UTAH STATE FAIR
We were eager to leave Boise and head to Salt Lake City because 1.) we were tired of Idaho, 2.) we really wanted to get moving so we can make it to the east coast by early October, and 3.) the Utah State Fair was taking place in SLC and we wanted to catch the end of it! For some reason we had built up in our minds that a state fair somewhere in the midwest would be drastically different – and more “country” perhaps – than the fairs we’ve been to in Oregon and Orange County. Apparently, though, that isn’t really the case…
We planned to explore for a couple hours but quickly found ourselves, bored, wandering the arts and crafts exhibits looking at statues of cows carved from butter. It had all the trappings of your normal fair — awful food, a ferris wheel, charming livestock, pig races — but nothing too spectacular beyond that.
On our way to Salt Lake City we saw a sign for Shoshone Falls on the Snake River; we were about ready for a break anyways, so we got off the highway and took the short detour.
All we knew about the Snake River came from the role it played in the old-skool Oregon Trail game that every kid our age played in the 4th grade. That impressive educational source taught us that while fording the Snake River is necessary, it’s also one of the more dangerous parts of the journey West. One is likely to lose at least a few oxen and some bullets, if not a relative or two (and if the river doesn’t getcha, dysentery certainly will!). The crossing was such a harrowing experience that I’d usually go out and shoot a couple thousand pounds of meat to feel better… of which I’d only be able to carry home about thirty. No wonder there aren’t any bison left!
Anyway, certain we’d find at least some broken wagon axles, we stopped at a vista point overlooking the river as it winds around a golf course perched on the edge of the canyon.
Despite Seattle’s notoriously cold and rainy reputation, the day we’d set aside to foray into the city turned out to be 80 degrees with clear blue skies.
Looking like the tourists we are with our camera at the ready, our first stop was Pike Market. I have a soft spot for fairs and festivals and farmer’s markets… basically anything with tents or booths draws me in. Kali never fails to tease me for this, but there is something so whimsical about looking at hand-crafted wares and sampling homemade goodies or fresh produce! Pike Market is like the grandparent of farmer’s markets, so it was an obvious destination.
We wandered and people-watched, ate a delicious turkish gyro, and then followed our noses to the most delightful pastry shop with a line out the door. The very first Starbucks ever was just down the street, so of course we grabbed a white mocha to complement our cinnamon pastry. The coffee shop was insanely overcrowded (sheesh, it’s like everyone else had the same idea we did!) and the coffee tasted like….. well, Starbucks. Nothing novel, just chocolately goodness.
We’ve been eagerly anticipating the Lady Gaga concert for months now, and the Tacoma Dome conveniently has a parking lot where RVs can stay overnight – with hookups! We were the only RV in the lot (I guess Gaga isn’t very popular with the typical RV crowd?), so the local security used it as their staging ground. We arrived early, spent the day relaxing and working, and walked over to the concert just before it started.
I imagine everyone has heard of Lady Gaga, but she’s most famous for the outlandish costumes she wears on a daily basis. She is a freak and openly embraces it, and she calls her fans “little monsters” and encourages them to love themselves and be true to their creativity. Anyhow, her fans have a tendency to dress crazily or mimic some of her most memorable outfits when they attend her concerts, so we were looking forward to the people watching almost as much as the opportunity to “just dance”… it lived up to expectations (but we weren’t allowed to bring our camera inside so our photojournalism of the event is unfortunately a bit limited).
Our trek up the coast to San Francisco was remarkably uneventful for it being our first long driving in Mayhem (and first time towing a vehicle). We’ve driven up I-5 to Northern California (and up to OR) a number of times, so we thought we’d be creative and take the coastal highways for a more scenic route (and also, to be honest, because they seemed less overwhelming than busy freeway traffic).
What we weren’t expecting, though, was that Highway 1 pretty much becomes the main street for all the small beach communities up through LA! We meandered through Laguna Beach, Newport Beach, and Long Beach on a sunny and lazy Sunday morning, which provided us with beautiful views of the ocean and flocks of beach-goers. While fun, it took about four and a half hours to reach LA, so we recalculated our plans and settled on Highway 101: more scenic (and novel) than I-5, but hopefully more speedy than 1.
This was our first time making navigation decisions on the fly, and already Google Maps on our iPhones has proven invaluable – we can easily track routes, see which roads are snarled with traffic (I’m looking at you, LA county), and estimate times quickly. What it doesn’t do, however, is provide any indication of elevation. We took a detour through Los Padres National Forest to avoid stand-still traffic, and soon found ourselves face to face with towering mountains lined with cliffs… deadly cliffs. Crawling at 30 miles an hour with dozens of cars lined up behind us, Kali tried not to get too close to the edge while taking advantage of every turn-out possible. Needless to say, it was a harrowing experience.
After spending the last week packing Mayhem, giving away things on craigslist (hint: list it for free and 20 people will call before you can leave the room; list it for a fair and reasonable price and you’ll hear nothing but crickets chirping for days) and furiously cleaning our apartment, we turned in our keys and waved goodbye to our homey beach pad.
The plan was to have Kali drive Mayhem to the dealer while I followed behind in our Matrix to help provide a buffer when switching lanes. In most places drivers are kind enough to move the hell out of the way if a big rig puts on their blinker, but in San Diego everyone takes that as a cue to speed up and pass… even if they’re quite a ways back. Anyhow, ranting aside, we were heading to the dealer to pick up the towing dolly we had shipped to their location so they could assemble it and then show us how to hook it up and use it.
We did it… we bought our new home! For the last few months we’ve been wandering around RV dealerships and trying to decide which floor plan and basic features we wanted, and it’s all finally come to fruition.[..]