Posted by: Michelle | January 5, 2012

Are We There Yet?


There is a reason why I like to fly. It’s not a car. Perhaps I’d be a bit more excited for a road trip if it wasn’t a road well-traveled. [Who am I kidding? Flying is the best!] No matter how you slice and dice it, the drive between Reno and Vancouver [the one in Washington – 598.9 miles] is icky. Yes, it is beautiful the first time, second time, maybe the third time but after a hundred times, it is rather monotonous and dull.

So once again, it is time to get in the car and head back to Reno. Because I’m the morning person, I take the first shift. We are in the car heading out the driveway at o’dark thirty, raring to go. At least I am. Let’s get this danger over with already. Wouldn’t think of starting the drive without caffeine; naturally the first stop was Starbucks [1.7 miles]. Soon enough, we were on the road heading south. It was dark, raining and apparently we weren’t the only ones with somewhere to go as there were a lot of other cars on the road despite the early hour.
You knew I’d have some observations, right?

If this is the first time you’ve read my blog, there is something you need to know. I’m not patient. Doesn’t make me a bad person; just an person who lacks understanding when I’m FOLLOWING AN IDIOT DRIVING IN THE LEFT LANE GOING UNDER THE SPEED LIMIT. Who out there would have patience for that? So don’t be so quick to judge, okay?

I just want someone, anyone, to tell me why people want to drive in the “fast” lane when they aren’t passing anyone and/or cruising along at or below the speed limit. Personally, I don’t like anyone riding in my trunk so I’m happy to let them get in front of me. Besides, I figure they can attract the attention of any cops in the area. I’m thinking this is Murphy at work here. Just when you get one to pull over another will ultimately take its spot so it’s a continuous battle of wills. My favorite is when someone lets a semi pull out in front of them on a hill. Nothing like dropping from 70 to 30 in a nano second; so great for achieving optimal gas mileage, NOT! This also makes it hard to use cruise control. Every time someone pulls out going slower than you, you have to tap on the brake and slow down.
Then there was the old man in the red car. At one point, he flies by on the right as if we were standing still. I didn’t even have him in line of sight so where he came from, I couldn’t even tell you. Then he slows down. Okay, what’s the deal here? I stay behind him for a bit but eventually go around him as he is now going the speed limit. A few miles later, hear he comes again. Then he slows down. Then he speeds up. Really? I’ve got cruise on so I know I’m driving consistently. He must have turned off somewhere in the Eugene area and I was happy to be rid of my shadow.
One thing we couldn’t complain about was the weather. Considering it was December, there was no snow. It rained most of the way home though with the sun playing hide and seek with the clouds in between the down pours. When the sun was out, the reflection on the wet asphalt was hurtful on the eyes. Too bad transition lens won’t go dark in a car. I definitely missed having sunglasses. But all I had to do was wait – sooner or later the skies would darken and the windshield wipers would burn extra calories keeping up. My left arm grew tired of working the wiper lever. Fast, slow, intermittent; it was a crap shoot. Even if it was a drizzle, the second you came up on someone you would be doused in water [semis being the worst – you could practically float off the water that came off the top of the trucks]. Hydroplaning is not fun and I don’t recommend it.

Kids zonked out on the way home

The kids don’t particularly like the drive either. Of course, we always remind them back when we were their age we didn’t have video players, handheld game systems or iPod Touches. In fact, the drive was quite miserable for me since I’ve suffered from motion sickness since I was a wee one. If the kids aren’t napping, they are playing something. We had to make do with whatever music my mother wanted to listen to on the 8-track player [Nat King Cole, The Kingston Trio, John Denver] or whatever my dad felt like talking about. Once we were older, we did have cassette players. Unfortunately, the batteries never lasted the entire trip and there was always the possibility of the tape being eaten. Remember winding the tape back with a pencil? I would have loved if I could read. But it was hard enough to keep my food down was usually a chore in itself.

After stopping for an early lunch in Yreka, I turned the driving over to my sister. Whilst she and Maddy were in the restroom, Jameson and I headed back to the car. I slid into the passenger seat and waited patiently. Time is ticking; I’m anxious to get back on the road. Every minute you spend stopping is one minute later to getting home. That is my logic. If I’m driving (or a passenger) you kinda have to live with it.

Hwy 89

As we turned off of 1-5 into the belly of the beast, also known as HWY 89, we all let out a long sigh. Even the kids hate this part of the drive. Almost immediately, we hit fog that grew thicker and thicker by the mile. For once, luck was on my side as I was not behind the wheel. As my sister muttered under her breath, I said a silent prayer hoping this was going to be a short-lived phenomena in an otherwise pretty uneventful trip. I could not imagine driving 50 MPH through the forest. The drive was long going 65 or 70. Anything under 60 would feel like an eternity. Trying to keep things lively, I turned around and told the kids the reason we were shrouded in fog was because Mt Shasta was on holiday. Every year, the mountain takes a breather between Christmas and New Year’s like the rest of us. For some reason, they didn’t buy it. Fortunately for us, it was only 15 miles or so when it cleared up and we were once again moving at a decent clip.

Then the evitable happens; you come upon a semi truck, camper, or a senior citizen [sorry, mom] driving as if they were in a great fog and had to proceed cautiously. Naturally, this happens when there is a double yellow line or cars coming the opposite direction. Then, when you think you can pass, you can’t. So you wait. And wait. And wait. And wait. Sometimes it can be as long as 20 minutes. The worst is when you encounter a line of cars and no one is willing to pass. This can mean the loss of an hour or more. But wait, what’s this? The car in front turns off on a side road. Wow, lucky! Then it happens again. And again. And again. Now I’m annoyed. When I drive, that NEVER happens. So now I have decided that Jeni will always have to drive. Apparently she doesn’t need to learn patience. I would learn patience if I had time. The lesson always comes when I’m in a hurry and can’t spare a minute to stop and appreciate the life lesson.

Around the Hat Creek area, we saw the most complete, vivid rainbow. It is a reminder of my grandma who passed away

Rainbow at Hat Creek, CA near Hwy 44

several years ago. The day she passed, a rainbow appeared and my family said that was her letting us know that she was in a better place. I cannot see a rainbow without thinking about her and how much I still miss her.

Now I’m really starting to get bored. To pass the time, I started shouting out the names of items we were passing; my own version of “slug bug.” It didn’t take long for the kids to catch on and we were all shouting out things. This was not an easy feat as you could not repeat, and it had to be outside the car [my game, my rules and yes, I did win]. There are only so many trees, rocks, signs so you had to really look for new items. When he happened upon a slow driver, I yelled “dumb ass” and the car erupted in laughter. We were starting to get silly and ready for a stop. Good thing Susanville was less than 5 miles away. As we came around the corner, we could see the valley and I was ready for my fix [Starbucks]. I was hoping to see my favorite barista, Tonya, who moved to Susanville several months ago. For once, I had luck on my side as she was working. I really miss seeing her when I walk into the South Meadows Starbucks and it was great to spend a few minutes catching up.

Moss, not money, DOES grow on trees!

The longest part of the drive is the 90 miles between Susanville and Reno. You are so close but have to contend with a two-lane highway with a lot of traffic. So it is another exercise in patience as you slow down and speed up time and time again. Ten hours after we pulled out of our parent’s driveway, we are back in Reno.
Needless to say, we survived the long journey. As with any travel, anytime you arrive at your destination unscaved you have little to complain about. I also learned something very important – moss DOES grow on trees. Huh? My very active brain was contemplating all that I needed to get done once I returned home. As it tends to do, it wanders and the most random things pop in it. As I was starring at the window, I remembered the old saying “moss doesn’t grow on trees.” This didn’t make much sense as we passed thee after tree covered in lime green moss. Unfortunately for me, I had to share that with her and she then informed me it is suppose to be “money doesn’t grow on trees.” I suppose that makes more sense… strange how you remember things sometimes. Hopefully it is not a sign of old age!

Guess it is time to get back to packing. That’s a whole other story that will come another day. But I will say that isn’t any more fun than driving. In fact, it’s a whole lot worse.

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