We made it!!! I had a good feeling that we would make it when we woke up in Battle Mountain to see about a 12 hour duration for our drive home. Of course, we are in an RV, so you spend about 25% more time than the map would tell you. Depending on road and wind conditions, I was most comfortable pushing Harvee at about 65 miles per hour, no more. The speed limit in Nevada and Utah is 80. So do the math… Also, there are stops, there is road construction… We tend to drive pretty leisurely, and when we stop, we typically do so for at least 30 minutes.
We got up pretty early and hit the road. We were happy to see that nobody had molested Harvee parked on the main road in front of the hotel. The Big Chief Hotel was top notch, I’d have to say. We have a pretty hard rule against hotels with outdoor hallways, and this one had that, but it turned out to be a very nice and reasonably priced hotel, and the staff was very, very good!
Then, we headed east. Going east in this country is good in some ways, the main one being because the wind is typically at your back. The poor mileage I was getting on the trip OUT to the west coast was returned to me on the way BACK, where we got around 11 Miles per Gallon!!!
We sailed through Nevada pretty easily. The roads were flat and not rough, and the wind was not very strong. We got into Utah and Mountain Time Zone at about 11:00, or noon I suppose, where we were presented with the Bonneville Salt Flats. I don’t know much about them other than they set land speed records there, but they were pretty cool to look at. It was basic desert landscape, but with salt! It made for some interesting optical effects. It was completely flat, so it sort of looked like water. Off in the distance there were these rock formations that looked like they were floating as you could see their reflections and the heat coming off the ground sort of blurred thte edges. Pretty neat. Of course there was one part where it smelled just like the Mud Volcano and Mireille and I commented on how we were going to have nightmares!
Utah is surprisingly short for a western state. I suppose we did it at its narrowist point, but still, at only 180 miles or so, it was pretty non-eventful. It also marked our ninth state that we had traveled through on this vacation. I find that pretty damn impressive, particularly since they are states out west!!! I mean, the folks on the east coast can probably visit 9 states in about 3 hours, but not so much in the west! Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, and Colorado.
When we made it to Wyoming, it seemed “easy” to make it the rest of the way home since we had made that trip one other time. I think I had forgotten how damn long it is, though, as it is 8 hours from SLC to Denver when driving 80 miles per hour. It was predictably slower in Harvee. And there was wind! At first there was a strong wind that we didn’t even notice, though I saw the miles per gallon indicator climb slowly. When we stopped to rest at one point, we were surprised at how strong the wind was. No issue - it’s helping us!!! But then it turned… There was about a 3 hour stretch where the wind switched to a south wind, and that’s when things got tense. As I sit here and type today, my forearms are still sore. I feel like I have RSI but didn’t get it from doing the thing I do all day every day for my job, type. Wyoming is also plagued with LOTS of construction, taking the freeway down to 1 lane in either direction. Normally that’s not a big deal, but in Harvee with wind, it was tense.
The kids kept asking us if and when we were going to make it home - they really didn’t want to spend another night in Harvee or in a hotel. Jenny was weakly advocating to stop one more time and make the final push in the morning, seeing that I was getting pretty jumpy and watching the sun dip low in the sky. Quinton, however, made the following appropriate comment to me: “Dad, you’re planning on driving straight through, right? Because you’re not a quitter!” Dammit, I hate when my kids throw evidence of being raised by me back in my face!!!
We stopped one final time in Rawlins, WY. The wind was still blowing us around on the road pretty badly, but we stopped, grabbed some Lunchables and made some sandwiches and ate in the WalMart parking lot, and collected ourselves. I filled Harvee for the last time and headed back on the road.
At 12:45 AM on Day 20 of the trip, we parked Harvee in front of our current home, grabbed a few things, then went inside to sleep in our own beds for the first time in three weeks!
There will be only one more entry for this epic, and that will come sometime in the next week. For now, we are all clean, rested, safe, and happy to be home. It was a great trip, but like all great trips, the best part is coming home at the end of it!