It’s 2,849 miles from San Mateo to Manheim. That comes out to over 40 hours of driving, which really seems like a lot when many of those miles look exactly the same. We took I-80 through California, Nevada, Utah, Wyoming, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio and then split off on 76 to Pennsylvania. The trip was largely composed of boredom with brief bursts of utter confusion, frustration, or delight. The drive through California was lovely, especially when we got up into the Sierra Nevada mountains. Driving through the mountains felt like what you think driving is like when you’re a kid – lots of exaggerated steering wheel movements and dramatic brake and gas pedal action. We were amused to see the Donner Pass and discussed what we should have for lunch. We saw snow on the mountaintops, which I didn’t know existed in August.
And then suddenly we were at the Nevada state line, and ALL of the trees were gone. In an instant, the beautiful scenery vanished, and we were left with nothing but desert, small-time casinos and whorehouses. (Yes! Those are legal there apparently. No! I did not stop in to visit one.) At some point we stopped for gas and let the dog out of the car to stretch his legs. We poured him some water and he refused to drink it. Later he wouldn’t eat any food either. Evidently road trips traumatize dogs so much they decide to teach their people a lesson by starving themselves. That’ll teach us humans.
We made it through the Salt Flats in Utah before we became tired and loopy, so we thought we’d stop in Salt Lake City for the night. We went into a Petsmart to pick up some dog food but were startled to be greeted in the first aisle by a cross-eyed, morbidly obese toddler of indeterminate gender drooling and playing with dog toys on the floor with no parents around. Yikes. Then, looking around, we realized we had fallen into some sort of genetic abyss. There wasn’t a single healthy, normal looking person in the store. We tried to make a joke with the checker and she just stared mutely at us until we reminded her she was in the middle of ringing us up. Don’t get me wrong, I am sure this is not the norm for Salt Lake City. But it turned us off enough that we decided to drive for another hour before finding a hotel.
When we were in Illinois, another blue sedan with California plates blew past us and when Travis glanced over at the passenger, she hurriedly pulled her hood up over her face and slouched down into her seat. Then for the next 200 miles we had highway patrol officers pulling up next to us, giving us a good, hard look, and driving away. I know we weren’t speeding because we had cruise control on, but it made us awfully nervous. Were the folks in that other car fugitives? What was going on?
Indiana is all about boobs, explosives, and church. When you enter the state, there are billboards for fireworks warehouses (each claiming to be the world’s largest), topless bars, and luxury adult hotels as far as the eye can see and everyone is wearing a t-shirt with a Bible verse. I’m not sure how these thing relate, but there must be a connection I’m missing.
At the end of the trip, the dog drank water again and decided that being in the car is pretty fun after all. Strangely, this coincided with the scariest part of the trip for the humans: the Pennsylvania Turnpike, where you get run over if you’re not going at least 25 mph over the speed limit. Luckily, we made it safely to the faire and our cozy barn apartment.
Next time: turning a mold-infested, urine-scented, mysteriously sticky barn loft into a livable home!