Saturday, June 12, 2010

Day -1: To the Horizon by Mike G

States driven through: Nebraska, Colorado (whoops!), Wyoming, Utah, and Nevada (half)
Driving time: ~16 hr

Where to start when talking about yesterday?  During the day, each driver ended up doing 4-6 hr chunks of driving- Jesse, German, and Pacella.  Jesse had some pretty boring driving through west Nebraska, accidentally going through Colorado because we missed an exit, and then half of Wyoming.  The terrain was progressively more interesting, then there was Wyoming.  If there’s going to be lots of slowly rolling hills, that’s fine if there is agriculture to observe.  But, my word Wyoming you are flat, dry, and continuous (at least along I-80).  There was some nice elevation changes, with us getting to ~9000 ft.  And I guess the people were friendly enough, although they should have given Pacella some advice on not toasting his Chicken Salad sub at Subway, and the girl behind us who just ordered a piece of flat bread- that’s a bit weird.  Ladies, if you are interested in losing weight eat a well-balanced diet and exercise, don’t just eat scant quantities of nutrition lacking substances.  Anything else on Jesse’s leg?  I read some papers on nano-zero valent iron (NZVI) which will likely be something I work with at Lehigh- I’m so pumped for grad school!  Pacella slept in the morning- he’s doing that right now too, he’s prob got like a +2 in sleeping in cars in the morning.
Then I got in to drive somewhere after Subway.  My goodness was Wyoming boring, luckily I had two chapters of a book on tape from PJ O’Rourke called Driving Like Crazy, on some of his ridiculous driving episodes- those were pretty interesting.  I learned that a ’56 Chevy is not reliable 20 years after purchase, unlike common perception amongst others, and that motorcycles might be one of the most phallic symbols of manliness.  But I will desperately need more books on tape, so if you could pleas go to your local library, rip some books on tape, and send me the links for the files and they will be on my ipod like white on rice!  I don’t care what you send me, choose something you like!  The same goes with music.  After the trip I will delete, it’ll be like I checked it out and then renewed the item!  Right?

In the middle of the elevation changes of Wyoming, it started to rain.  It started to spit, it began to rain, and then it started to hale.  No worries, the Subaru is an all-wheel drive champ..  But when I can barely see the front edge of the hood of my own car, let alone the car’s who don’t turn their lights on with their wipers, things get exciting!  This lasted for what felt too long at 60 mph with cars ahead and behind you going the same speeds (or at least that’s what you pray.  I slowed down at one point, realized I shouldn’t, and sped up.  Thankfully I found a pair of tail lights to get behind and follow out of the horrible.  In the end everyone was still intact and I was happy.  The pounds of dead bugs on the hood and grill were washed away! Sadly, there was a casualty: the large BAAM! sticker on the passenger side lost a bit of its’ corner.  It was debated whether or not the windshield was cracked but upon checking the outside we realized it was bird poop or ice that fused to our window!  Continuing through Wyoming, there were many road horizons to pass over where you are then met with another road horizon.  This repeats, many times.  To encourage the driver or cyclist you can tell them:
Passenger: To the horizon!
Driver: Bring me that horizon.
Passenger: Aye, aye Captain!

This helps immensely?
I continued until “Little America” and a gas stop immediately after.  Little America had random signs at least 290 miles along I-80 before arriving.  I guess the place felt suburban enough, the urinals and water seemed adequate?  Laying on the grass, it was found to be well manicured and soft, although likely covered in dog pee.  There was a friendly lady from CA who had a small American Eskimo dog named Rocky (?).  He was fluffy and she seemed nice enough.  At the next gas station I was a bit confused as to the happs.  I went inside to pay and the family that ran the place was sitting at a booth eating lunch, I started at them confused, they laughed, and told me I could pay at the pump.  Well, of course!  That’s why there’re credit card machines at the pumps.  Then Pacella takes over driving.

Northern Utah is beautiful.  Just, wow.  It reminded of Sedona but green and wet, or maybe Scotland, or the Lord of the Rings/Jurassic Park.  Whatever, the place was, it was wonderful.  Sadly we didn’t have time to stop anywhere because we were late for arriving at our host in Elko, NV, apparently they indicated 8:30PM (their time-pacific time) via couchsurfing.  Salt Lake City seemed alright, there were cool ski towns to the east.  But Salt Lake, oh my!  That lake is beautiful and large.  We went to the marina and got same pics/vids while it was misting.  And I took a leak in the marshes.  The temperature was ~50F and that was a slight surprise.  We eventually got to Bonneville Salt Flats as the sun was setting over the mountains, gourgeous.  Sadly the video’s a bit shaky here because it was 56F with 20+ mph winds, but it ‘s still lovely.  Imagine, what you think the arctic looks like?  Okay, now make that flat with some dark mountains to the northwest and you have the salt flats.  It’s very hard-packed and as sticky as asphalt.  Crossing the border of Nevada leads brings the onslaught of neon lights and casinos, quickly followed by pitch black scruff-covered land.  Pacella gpt us to Elko and then to Spring Creek.  Along the way we saw signs informing us “Prison Area.  Hitchhiking Prohibited.” Nevada is classy. 
Leaving the main streets of Elko, we head out to the hills of Spring Creek.  Our host lived out on a dirt road where we maxed at 15 mph at night, so that our weighed down work horse with minimal travel would be happy.  Through two cattle gates designed to keep the cows in and out, we arrive at our desert mansion.  We call and wake up our hosts, find our places to sleep, gawk around the house, and sleep.  Jesse gets a queen bed, Mike gets a 3 section couch, I take a monster bean bag named “Love Sac” and switch to a love seat midway through the night.  Upon waking up at 6am to use the bathrooms we are wide-awake because of the magnificent view of the Ruby Mountains (11,500 ft at the highest) and nearby recreational reservoir.  We break out the oatmeal and scrounge some bowels from their house, sit down, and eventually our hosts wake up and we get a chance to talk.  They are warm, interesting people.

We got a rundown on their self-designed, self-built, energy efficient house.  They had evacuated tubes on the roof for hot water generation that would then heat the floors via a heat exchanger with propylene glycol-water blend and hot water streams- Pacella and I geeked a bit when hearing about the heat exchangers.  The excess heat is removed via natural convection with copper water pipes below the porch overhang.  We will be staying with their son in Carson City, NV.  Thankfully they reminded me because currently I had someone else (maybe?) written down as our host.  We eventually headed out around 8:45AM for our last day of driving!!

Tonight we should enjoy biking around San Fran like nuts, get some sweet climbs and descents.  We’ll see how my knees and left shoulders (knotted wreck) will be this trip.  I’m praying that once regular working out, plus some yoga, pushups, and abs starts for the first time in forever my body will become happy again.  I hate getting so out of the shape it makes me feel like crap physically and psychologically/emotionally.  I can definitely understand why exercise is recommended to those in depression.

So, all you lazy butts!  Get up, go outside, sweat, jump, make music, dance, play team sports, and get the endorphins pumpingJ

1 comment:

  1. Mike, I did get up! I went out and rode my bike around town before dinner. I was feeling tired and antsy, so I followed your advice, and I feel better.