Friday, April 25, 2008

Travelling America's backroads. (Originally posted on MySpace on Tuesday, August 16, 2005)

Poor Becca. She's not used to a 15 hour car drive. To me it's old hat. I've been making the long and horrible trip up to Idaho since BEFORE I could drive.

I told her the horror stories of riding the GREYHOUND to Boise. Imagine this are a 13 year old boy in charge of getting yourself and your two YOUNGER brothers (11 and 8 respectively) safely to a destination 20 hours away. I never had a straight shot there...usually I would get stuck in some GOD awful town for HOURs. One time Raleigh and I found a syringe that looked to be filled with blood and piss in the bathroom at the Sacramento bus terminal...a place so disgustingly scary that I shudder even now to think of it. Or there was the time when we got on the bus and mom told us we'd be in Idaho by 7. It wasn't until we were pulling out of winnemucca at 3 AM and the bus driver said it'd be ten hours until we got to Salt Lake City that I realised something was HORRIBLY wrong...well we did get there by 7...7PM almost 36 hours later. Oh and one day of that 36 hours was my brother raleigh's BIRTHDAY!!! can you imagine spending your 11th or 12th birthday on a FUCKING greyhoud bus to Idaho...well I don't have to imagine it...i saw it first hand, and it sucked.

Anyway...The drive up to idaho was about 15 and a half hours in the Integra. I bought a new stereo so Becca wouldn't have to rely on the horrible tape deck / CD adapter that I'd been using for so long. but still by about hour 13 she was clawing at the windows and swearing at me.

Because of this we decided to take a shorter rout home. We had gone up through Sacramento and then over to Reno on the 80...but that was pretty far out of our way. Looking at my handy Rand McNally road atlas I decided that if we cut down US highway 395 we could save as much as three hours. On the map it looked great. But like most shortcuts...this one wasn't so short of a cut.

What I hadn't realised was that the 395 runs DIRECTLY through several towns on the way out of Nevada...and by running through I mean it. There are stop lights...traffic...the whole bit. On the map it looked like we'd be doing 80 miles an hour on a stretch of sweet divided Nevada Highway goodness. In reality it was like taking surface roads for sixty miles...and it took us about three hours to get into California. And it wasn't until about two hours into California that we got onto anything resembling the 395 I was used to on my way to Tonapah.

The upshot of this was that we saw some AMAZING scenery. I have always been down on California as being the kind of place where people "camp" by taking an off ramp off the freeway and parking at the "campsite" and sleeping in cabins right next to a four star resturant / lodge. But this was an area I'd never scene before...the estern edge of the sierra's and the sequoias. It was AWESOME. So beautiful. The highlights were Topaz lake right on the Nevada / California Border. This nice little town with a great big lake. So cool. Then up into the mountains and this little clutch of small towns with these old fifties style motels where each room is a little cottage. The other hightlight was coming over the hill towards Mono lake. We'd been on this awful winding rain soaked hill pass and then we came out over this huge grade and could see for like thirty miles into the distance and Mono lake was just breath taking.

The whole drive is beautiful. There are a lot of cool old abandoned hotels, cafe's and gas stations that must be from teh early 20th century...lots of potential horror movie / photo shoo locations. If you ever get the chance drive the 395 from LA to Reno. It takes about as long as taking the five through sacramento...but the scenery is way more amazing.

I can't imagine it in the winter must be about 300 miles of snowy death. But a nice summertime drive for sure.

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