Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spring Trip 2016 - Part 8: WESTWARD TO BAKER CITY!


5.8.16 Sunday
Sylva, NC to Columbus, IN
432 miles

            Well, today rather shifted in nature around 10am.  Rick was checking the weather forecast again for the next few days, especially in regard to a massive storm system that is brewing over the middle of the country.  The lead point of the storm (dark red on the storm chart) was set to strike tomorrow evening right at the point of Kentucky and our reserved campsite!  So….we discuss the option of leaving a day early and heading north to try and outrun the storm, or at least just get wet on the northern edge rather than encounter hail and tornado warnings in the middle! 
Ohio River bridge at Louisville
     Decision made, especially since nothing is really set in terms of any meals or get togethers with family.  We pack up in record time, check out by 11, having left a message for the campground manager as to why we had left.  Hoping for a refund, but we might be eating that night’s costs. 
            Randy, Patty, and Mom came by just as we were getting ready to leave.  So we drove up to the hotel, parked the trailer and hopped in with them for the trip back up to the cabin.  Randy had called Rob and he said to come up because they had plenty of food in leftovers from Friday night!  So….we got a chance to say goodbye to everyone except Matt and Kristen.  Randy and Patty were taking off for Atlanta and their flight home, Kurt and Megan driving back to Pittsburgh today (Kurt has to work tomorrow). 
            We altered our intended route to travel north into Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa before hitting I-80 and the long haul across Nebraska! 
            So….we left at 12:30pm and pulled into Woods n Waters Kampground about 40 miles south of Indianapolis, Indiana at 8pm!  Rick did most of the 430 miles, but I drove from Knoxville, TN to London, KY!  We encountered a lot of hills, green trees and construction.  More flatlands once in northern Kentucky and Indiana!  Gas prices are climbing – trip home will not be as cheap as the trip east!  Chatted with Luke for awhile around Louisville, KY and then with Jed after we arrived at the campground. 
            I had a call from Paula at Fort Tatham right before we arrived at the campground, advising that she had just given us a credit for tonight on our card.  Hurray!  Now we will only have to ‘eat’ the cost of our reservation Monday night at the COE park.  At least it was only $15. 
            We crossed the Ohio River north of Louisville.  The bridge is beautiful.  I can honestly say the rest of the drive was fairly uneventful!!  Guess that’s the way we would like it for the next 2000 miles!! 

5.9.16  Monday
Columbus, IN to Waukee, IA
545 miles
       Whew!  That was a day’s travel!  We went further than planned because we drove right through the front just at our stopping point!  On the phone with the boys to read weather radar for us to tell us if we were going to come out of it!  Rick just kept plowing through and fortunately, it wasn’t the softball size hail they go in Nebraska, nor the few tornados that spun off later in the evening! 
            We put all our eggs into a campground just west of Des Moines, largely because I couldn’t get on the internet on the phone to check out a couple of others.  So…it is very nice but we ended up paying a pretty price of $40!!  For a ‘less than 12 hour’ stay! 
            We cruised during the morning up through Indianapolis (ok, missed one freeway exit, so had to take a longer way closer to town instead of the whole bypass!), traded drivers and gassed up.  Seems like we stopped for gas a lot, but often just to top off from the halfway mark.  We gained an hour entering Illinois which
helped us make an 11:30 lunch date just east of Peoria with CHRPA friends Walter and Lorene Good.  They were so surprised and pleased to get my email asking to meet for lunch!!  We spent an hour and half eating and visiting and catching up.  They had moved, but just 30 miles or so to the north, so were actually closer to I-74 than before!  !  They have moved to a Mennonite retirement community, and a little closer to their four kids.  Solid rock people and Walter was still wearing his sweater vest.

            After lunch?  We pass Peoria and then I drive us into Iowa.  Iowa is a wider state than we thought – 300 miles!! 
            We have definitely moved from the rolling tree-covered hills of the Appalachians to the flat fertile soils of the mid-west!  Also had a good tail wind at times today which meant we moved right along!  However, the interstate is one construction site after another, however!!  UGH! 

Tuesday, May 10
Waukee, IA to Sidney, NE
513 miles
            Well, I think the horses are RACING to the barn, because we logged another 500+ mile day today.  Of course, it again helped that we changed to another time zone again, so picked up another hour of driving time.  But we stopped today around 5pm which was MUCH earlier than the last two nights! 
  We had a bit of a scare during the night when we woke up and I checked the radar again.  A good band of green and yellow heading our way.  Mostly worried about hail, but Rick went out and unplugged the trailer just to be sure.  Went back to sleep.  I did hear a pretty good rain fall for a short while, but that was it.  The thunder never got too close.  It was foggy at first leaving Waukee, but soon we drove out into blue skies! 
            Our hundred miles to Nebraska were marked with bluffs and wind turbines!  We passed two large turbine farms.  Rather ironic to see the power farms sitting in the middle of the agricultural farms – double use for the land! 
            We pass over the Missouri River at Council Bluffs and enter Nebraska and the half million large town of Omaha.  BIG.  We stop at a rest area just on the other side of Omaha and I take over driving for an hour or so….or until we need gas again! 
     Nebraska is 445 miles wide to drive across.  We didn’t make it all the way today, although we considered it!  (Adding on the 117 miles in Iowa killed that idea!)  I told Rick that if he had to drive I-80 in Nebraska, he could at least thank God for blue skies and a pretty day!  We stopped at rest areas with neat sculptures celebrating the Centenniel, plus we passed under the I-80 Platte River ARCH, a tourist boondoogle that went bankrupt but is still open and run by the city of Kearney.  We saw corn fields and cattle.  We saw fields waterlogged from recent rains and storms.   We stopped at a rest area near Grand Island to grab a bite to eat. 

            It looked like a big storm was due to hit Sidney right about 5pm, so we decided to go ahead an stop and get a place snuggled in next to some ‘big boys’.  But the rain never came and we got a fiery sunset instead.  The clouds were there, but the rain didn’t fall.  NOT disappointed!  We saw enough pictures on the news tonight of tornados in Oklahoma, Kentucky, and across the mid-west states….just where we had come from!  Agh! 
            We are camped at Cabela’s RV Park, a 70 site lot sitting right next to the huge Cabela’s store in Sidney, NE.  We are 55 miles from the Wyoming border.  Our goal tomorrow?  Salt Lake basin!  Baker City by Thursday evening! 

5.11.16 Wednesday
Sidney, NE to Brigham City, UT
553 miles

            Our longest day of driving yet and we didn’t even get the advantage of an added hour!  But a good day, albeit long.  We pulled out of Sidney just before 8 in clear blue skies with the temps in the 40’s.  It got down into the 30’s last night and we were grateful to have pulled back out the heater since the lightweight sleeping bag is on the bed.
  We are greeted with a good head wind that is our ‘friend’ for the next 250 miles!!  It meant we stopped for gas in every major Wyoming town (Cheyenne, Laramie, Rawlins, Rock Springs, and Evanston!)  I drove the stretches from Laramie to Rawlins and Rock Springs to Evanston.  Thankfully, as we turned southwest at Rawlins, the wind abated abit and the poor Honda didn’t have to work quite so hard!
Rock formations bet Cheyenne and Laramie
            We stopped in Rawlins at 1pm to grab a bite to eat at Denny’s.  A good break. Even better that Rick found a Spenser Audio Book to purchase.  We'll listen and then donate to library. 
Some beautiful Wyoming clouds
    We haven’t driven this stretch of I-80 for some time.  I had forgotten about the rock outcroppings that line the freeway between Cheyenne and Laramie, the statue of Lincoln at the top of the pass (elevation 8640’), the vast stretches of rolling hills with snowcapped peaks in the distance.  I don’t think we have ever driven it in the spring when patches of snow still line the roadway in places.  It was beautiful. 
            We passed huge windfarms – harnessing for power that terrific wind that constantly blows!  Dropping down into the Green River area between Rock Springs and Evanston is like entering red rock canyon country with unique formations and rock sculptures. 
Wind farms
            But by far the most beautiful portion of the trip was from Evanston down to Brigham City.  The hills were lush green, it was mostly downhill, and the Wasatch Mountains were gorgeous reflecting the afternoon sun. 
Tiny town in the green
 hills of Utah
  I called ahead to the Golden Spike RV Park from the canyon and we secured a spot for the night.  Probably good I called as we would still be driving otherwise.  She was filling up! 
            Another cool night with lows in the 30’s, but due to heat up tomorrow! 

THURSDAY, 5.12.16
Brigham City to Baker City and HOME!!!
409 miles
Click HERE for all photos from trip home

            Ah, there’s no place like home!  No smell like when you walk into your cool, clean house and know you are back at HOME!  But first, we had the shortest of our five days to travel! 
            We took the opportunity with full hook-ups to clean the sinks, tubs, and toilet as we won’t have water when we park.  Rick emptied all the holding tanks.  By 8 we were ready to roll and the office was open so I could pay our bill for the night.  Brigham City is far enough north of the Salt Lake center that traffic isn’t bad in the
morning, especially heading north! 
            Rick drove to the Sweetzer Pass rest area, and I took the wheel for the next 100 miles to Jerome where we gassed up.  We noted that the distant hills didn’t seem to have as much snow as usual for this time of year.   On through southern Idaho, listening to the end of our audio Spencer book.  That purchase sure helped the miles pass by the last two days! 
Sweetzer Pass area
            We welcomed the Oregon sign at the Snake River crossing!  The last state of our ten state journey home!  And then a quick stop at Walmart for a Subway sandwich and a few groceries to restock the fridge at home.  Perhaps it was the Walmart stop we were going to make last Sunday and never did? 
            Hills down near Ontario looked dry for May, but greened up as we neared Baker City.  As always, the sight of the Elkhorn Mountains as you crest Pleasant Valley hill is the most welcome of views! 
Most welcome of sights!
     Luke had the car moved and the gates open when we rolled into the driveway at 3:15, having gained another hour during the last leg from Ontario.  Welcome back to Pacific Time Zone! 
            Quick hugs with Luke before he was off to tennis practice.  He returned later with a pizza and we enjoyed an evening together.  Zach E came over with thank you gifts for Rick and I, as he stayed in the house for three weeks while we were gone.  By 9:30 we were fading, having unloaded most of the trailer plus the cumulative effects of five days of straight driving.  

TRIP WRAP UP AND SUMMARY.....Just for the record!

Mileage Facts -
TRIP HOME MILES (all trailer): 2454

Expenses Roundup -

Route Maps - 

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