The Interstate Highway System is an amazing thing! Of course, it takes a 9 hour drive on a road other than the Interstate to really drive that fact home.
Today we gave in and pulled up stakes, one day early, and started the 23+ hour trip home. We have allotted three days (well, two and a half) to get home, but we’ll see. The trip today started going back where we came from on Highway 199, with all the tight turns and incline changes that it entails. It was everything I remembered from a few days earlier!!! I again judiciously utilized the turnouts. It took us about 2 hours and 15 minutes to travel the 85 miles from Crescent City to Grants Pass. We figured that would be the worst conditions of the trip! Well, we hoped…
In order to get to Interstate 80, we had to travel across eastern Oregon on state highways, or we could go all the way down to Reno via the Interstate. Being efficiency conscious, I opted to go east in Oregon rather than add many miles to the trip and have to drive through Reno.
We got about 20 miles on Interstate 5 to Medford before we were directed by our map to turn east. About 30 miles into that trip we hit Klamath Falls where I decided to stop for food and gas.
Lunch was an interesting adventure in and of itself. All of the fast food restaurants we have eaten at on this trip have really struggled to get back to pre-COVID form. We aimed for a Jack in the Box since it had a big parking lot, but were quickly turned away because the restaurant just closed down due to lack of workers… They said they were going to open up at 2:00 if we wanted to wait, but it was 1:30 - surely we could do better! So we went to the Taco Bell next door so we didn’t have to move Harvee. The staff was pleasant enough, but it took 30 minutes before we got our food - not a particularly difficult order. In that time, about 7 other people came in and ordered - one of which was quite a bit more interesting than the others. Walking in from an old pickup truck with a camper on the back, hand painted star on the door, and no windshield (that’s not a type-o, there was no windshield in this vehicle), this barely dressed young woman sauntered in much like the prostitutes of Grand Theft Auto walk along the street. I have no idea what might have been wrong with her leg - her heels seemed even, and she didn’t look to have a leg injury. I guess it gave me something to do while I waited the 30 minutes for my food.
Greasy tacos in our belly’s and a full tank of gas in Harvee (dispensed by the fine gas attendant at Chevron), we headed back on the open road. Little did we know that it was likely the last signs of civilization we would see for the rest of the day! OK, I’m exaggerating a little, but there was a 150 mile stretch where we saw maybe three cars and didn’t see a house or a town. There were several instances where I was concerned what would happen if something went wrong with Harvee… There was no cell phone coverage, and would be none for dozens of miles, and no towns, and few people traveling that stretch! Luckily Harvee operated like a champ!!! Not that the road didn’t throw plenty at us!!! There were plenty of windy parts, mountain climbs, mountain descents, etc. At one point, once we had emerged from the never ending windy canyon, we had a straight, gently downward road that seemed to go on for miles. Ahead of us, probably 15 miles off, Quinton and I could see a, I guess I don’t know what to call it - big hill, I guess? It looked like the hills you see in New Mexico as you are heading towards Arizona. There was a diagonal line going up that hill that I feared might be the road, but hoped against hope that it was not. Quinton and I even joked about it. “What if that was the road?” “There’s no way…” Well, it was. 8% grade and went on for probably 2 miles or so, it was by far the whitest my knuckles have been on this trip so far, possibly the whitest they’ve been in years!!!
At some point during the journey, Quinton had the idea of playing the alphabet game. You know, the one where you try to find all of the letters of the alphabet on road signs or license plates. It was actually a great game, since there were hardly any signs and we met so few vehicles! It took us nearly 3 hours to complete the game, which really helped to pass the time.
Eventually we made it to Winnemucca, NV which is on Interstate 80, around 7:30 in the evening. This was our target for the day, but we wanted to first get a decent sit-down meal. That turned out to be impossible since none of the restaurants have opened their dining rooms yet!!! So instead we got McDonalds and ate at their picnic tables on their patio while we tried to find a place to stay. I know - we have an RV - why would we stay somewhere? Well, we’ve been in Harvee for 17 days, and it’s HOT in Nevada. Also, the rest stops in Nevada are not nice… Nothing has quite stood up to the ones we drove past in Wyoming, anyway. So we searched around for about 15 minutes trying to find a room, only to find that there were no rooms available in Winnemucca. At one point Jenny asked if there was something going on in town that night, to which they responded that it is always like this. Winnemucca just happens to be the town where everybody breaks down, either mechanically or physically, on their way to wherever they are going, so the hotel rooms are constantly booked!
We managed to find a room at the Big Chief Motel in Battle Mountain, NV, about an hour drive from Winnemucca - in the right direction! And that’s where we are right now. Real beds, good air conditioning, and the room doesn’t smell bad at all!!! Tomorrow we continue East - perhaps completing our trip, perhaps not.