So, off we set at four o’clock in the afternoon to try to get to Grand Junction as the first leg of our trek to California. We would have liked to have driven further, but we got off to a late start, and there is a 100-mile stretch without services not long after Grand Junction, so this seemed like the logical place to stop for the night despite the fact that it would mean a very long day to reach Long Beach on Wednesday.
We had considered taking the southern route through New Mexico and Arizona so that we didn’t need to drive through the mountains, but decided against it because it was actually about three hours longer. In addition, the mountains were actually relatively clear for this time of year.
Since we had Rebbe with us, we didn’t really want to stop at a restaurant and leave him in the car, so we stopped for a quick KFC dinner in Frisco (the cole slaw really hit the spot) and drove on. We stopped for the night at an Econolodge in Grand Junction. There wasn’t really anything remarkable about the trip so far. Even though we only drove for about 4 hours, it was a pretty long day, since we’d been up packing and organizing since 7:00 AM.
On the other hand, Wednesday was a ridiculously long day. We got up and had the hotel-supplied breakfast, which at least included hard-boiled eggs and the ubiquitous make-it-yourself waffles (commonly found at US hotels since they are an easy way for hotels to make punters think they are getting some great value). We were on the road by 8:00 AM, though we stopped briefly at a supermarket to get some supplies so we could eat on the road and have snacks, since it gets really boring being in the car for that long.
I am not sure I can say there were any highlights to our drive. The only pretty part is really the first part of eastern Utah, which has some cool rock formations. We didn’t stop for these given that we’ve driven through them before together, and we needed to drive for at least 13 hours to reach our destination on Wednesday. Which also meant not taking the time to stop in Las Vegas! Based on the picture below, which is of the Stratosphere, really, there was nothing to see.
There were two stretches of dense fog, both of which were while I was driving shortly after we passed Las Vegas and drove into California. They were punctuated by a period of heavy rain that was also not so pleasant. On the up-side, it really does seem like Angie and I take rain with us wherever we go, and southern California could really use the moisture, though preferably not all at once. I really can’t say how long I drove on this leg but it was probably at least three hours and took us as far as Victorville. It was really hard work because of the weather, but I had already extracted an agreement from Angie that she would not stay on the phone with her friend Cece if the weather was really dire and I needed her support for managing the temperature controls or providing additional visual support. Angie needed to talk to Cece about her upcoming presentation at the conference to which we were driving and this was her only chance to do so. It sounded like a long but productive call. She also settled some arrangements with Cece over our visit to see her in Santa Barbara after the weekend.
The weather had eased for a while when we reached Victorville and I really needed to stop driving. We pulled into an Outback Steakhouse. I haven’t eaten at an Outback in several years, and I’m not sure I need to do so for several more. It was not as good as I remember it (good being a relative term). The blooming onion was disappointing to me, and salty. The rib eye was thin and not as flavorful as I expected. Maybe I’ve been spoiled by eating in real steakhouses and higher end restaurants, and even by my own cooking, but this was seriously meh. On the other hand, I was refueled enough to get us to our destination, and that was what counted.
Angie took over the wheel, and I’m sad to say that the weather was less kind to her than it had been to me, though at least she had no fog on her leg of the trip. However, visibility from the rain was probably almost as poor and somehow she made it to our hotel. We probably went on 7 different freeways from Victorville, and so we were challenged to make sure we were in the correct lanes for the transfers, especially since some were on the left.
We were relieved to be able to check in and get into our room for the night, since Angie had a very busy few days coming up.