Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Road Trip 2018: Days 9 and 10--The Sierras and Provo

"Dinner" Party Plaque
Basically, we're driving back to Grand Junction. These places weren't "destinations" and I didn't meet-up with any friends in Nevada or Utah. Apologies in advance for not having any of that kind of excitement in this post. I haven't been on I-80 going out of California in decades, and I don't think I want to do it again any time soon because coming down the Sierras was exciting and not in the best way. It's a steep grade. However, I did drive over Donner Pass and managed to snag a picture of it from the rest stop parking lot. All of my horror fan friends were just delighted. It's so good to know that I've been hanging out with the right people, and yes, plenty of cannibalism jokes were made yesterday and spilled over into today. I do have a sick sense of humor, but in fairness, we started out in Winnemucca, NV today and drove to Provo, UT. That stretch of I-80 is so boring, it's ridiculous.


I was expecting to absolutely hate Winnemucca, NV, but it appears to be a popular stop on I-80 (as popular as anything is along there) and it is home to The Martin Hotel. We didn't stay there because you can't, it's actually a restaurant that serves Basque food family style. The Martin is on the National Register of Historic Places and it used to be a rooming house for cattle ranchers; kind of horrifying considering that the Basque are traditionally sheepherders, but I guess that works somehow.

Basque food isn't something I have previous experience with and I'm sure what we experienced isn't all there is to be said for it, but at the Martin, the easiest way for me to describe it is somewhere between a steakhouse and Amish food. Each entree comes with sides for the whole table. (By the whole table, I mean everyone who is sitting at your table even if they aren't "with" your party.) We started with a salad dressed in a simple but delicious vinegarette that we topped with hot Basque beans. Sides included homemade red skinned mashed potatoes, hominy with chorizo, corn cobettes, and minestrone. I ordered a steak and mom had the chicken marsala. Other options included liver and onions, pork chops, lamb (shocking, I know), fried prawns---you get the idea.
The Town House Motel makes their own keys
Two people in the dining room were celebrating birthdays, and one of the waitresses emerged from the kitchen with a cowbell to call the room to attention in order to serenade the birthday people.

After all that eating, we walked back to the Town House Motel in downtown Winnemucca and passed-out.


Utah is not one of my favorite places, and in general, I don't want to get any closer to Brigham Young University than I need to. So, I wasn't that enthusiastic about getting on the road today. Had I known what to expect of that stretch of I-80, I would have been even less enthusiastic.

My primary form of entertainment today was trying to figure out how Battle Mountain managed to dub itself "Gateway to the Outback" or "Basecamp to Nevada's Outback." I doublechecked this with a friend: most of Nevada looks exactly the same. I have no idea what they're talking about. We did keep seeing carcasses of mystery mammals at the side of the road--they kind of looked like giant prairie dogs, so maybe the wildlife in that area is more exotic than I previously realized, but as far as the scenery goes? Meh.

I-80 parallels the California Trail for quite a bit of the way. (If it does the whole way, apologies. We switched over to I-15 to get to Provo and while I'm intrigued about learning more, I'm not doing it tonight. Please forgive any cluelessness.) Several rest areas have interpretive signs with maps that kept confusing my mom. She kept insisting that my navigation was going to land us in Wyoming instead of Provo. 

"Where do we turn?" she kept asking.


Aside from the "outback" and the California Trail, there's not much else that we encountered that's worth mentioning. According to my mom, the Great Salt Lake is kind of interesting, but we didn't have time to stop there.

The Home Stretch

Tomorrow, we will be on the home stretch to Grand Junction. I'm sure my dad will be relieved to have help dealing with my rambunctious pooch, Ernie. He has been sending my mom daily updates. The current thinking seems to be that even though he wanted to train Ernie, the training may be going the other way. Ernie's like that.

Last year, I took a road trip from Cranford, New Jersey to Denver, Colorado, but it wasn't a vacation. It was more like, my life just imploded and I needed to run away as fast and as far as I could. While those stretches of I-80 over the past couple of days have been boring, especially compared to the bustle of San Francisco, they gave me some time for reflection. Fortunately, that time for reflection came on a good mental health day. I haven't been having many of those lately, and I'm grateful when I have them.

I'm still far from where I want to be. I'm not back on my feet financially. I still have manuscripts I need to finish and edit, and my personal life isn't where I would like it to be, but I no longer have people in it who make me feel more alone. That's a big and important change. I've learned a lot about various relationships I've been in, and I've seen what a lot of my friends have been going through (or are going through) and I'll just leave it at: I'd rather be where I am and be honest about it than continue being a slowly boiled frog.