Saturday, June 18, 2016

Road Trip 2016

Here I go again! Go sportik go!

17 days ago, my job was eliminated at Findly, leaving me jobless (or, as the kids are calling it, "funemployed"). Though I am half-heartedly searching for a new job, the opportunity presented itself to get my travel on. So, here I sit, at the C Punch Inn & Casino in Lovelock, Nevada.

The idea to drive around the US is not a new one to me. I was actually planning on this very thing when I returned from Europe last year, but the desire to keep traveling was not in me. So, I settled in the bay area in July 2015, got a job in August, a kick ass girlfriend in December and found myself unemployed as of June 1st, 2016.

My gut reaction was to find work immediately, so I met with recruiters and lined up a few job interviews right away. My girlfriend, Krista, and I went to Lake Tahoe for a long weekend and I found myself overwhelmed at the idea of interviewing on the following Tuesday. I cancelled the interviews, while still in the Tahoe area, and relaxed. I am in a good place to take a little time off and decided not to pressure myself into working right away.

We decided on a whim to go to Virginia City, Nevada, drive around Lake Tahoe and back down to the bay area. I'm not sure when it happened, but somewhere in there I talked to Krista about my desire to drive around the US. Her response was, "Do it!' And Road Trip 2016 was born!

In 2002, I drove from NJ to CA via the southern states, and as a kid my folks drove us from Sacramento to Cleveland (again via a southern route). Rather than see all that again, by driving entirely AROUND the US, my goal is to see new things. Northern things. States and sites I've never been to. But more than that, I want the freedom to do nothing. Or do everything. I have no set agenda, no set route, no idea where I'll go tomorrow. I'd like to see Yellowstone. I'd like to see Mount Rushmore. But if I find myself in a sleepy town, next to a river, in the middle of Idaho...I might just stay there for a week, turn around and come home. The beauty of this trip is that it is wide open.

So, today, I woke up, made crepes, had breakfast with Krista, packed the car and, all by myself, started driving northish. The day unfolded from there...and this is how it went.

At 10am, I opened Google Maps and set the destination as Mount Rushmore, just to give me a starting direction. The gist was to get on 80 East for a LONG TIME. I noticed that after about 4 hours, I would be passing through Reno, so I decided to stop in on some friends. Karen and Ralph Benson. After enjoying a coffee with Karen in her backyard, she gave me an idea to drive by the Tesla Industrial Complex and maybe see some wild mustangs on the way.

Reno sure has some pretty spots

On the way to Tesla...Electric City THIS WAY

My words to the guard were, "I think I need to turn around"
Wild horse...not that exciting.
I saw one horse hanging out by himself and a few on a hill, but they were really just chillin'. When I got to the Tesla facility, there was a guard gate and signs saying "Employees only" so I didn't get to see much. But it was a nice little detour.

After this, I turned off Google Maps and decided to go where the wind took me. And boy, did the wind try to take me. I found myself on a stretch of 80 East where (for 17 miles) gusty winds were warned. I felt like I was fighting the wheel to stay in my lane and couldn't imagine being on a motorcycle or one of the truckers on the road! The view was incredible. If these aren't salt flats, I don't know what they are, but I felt like I was on another planet.

I passed a sign around 4:30/5pm that said "next service" (meaning gas, food, lodging) in 59 miles. It was at this point I decided to look for a hotel online, which landed me in Lovelock at the C Punch. Just in time for dinner.

Now that I'm settled in my room, which feels very clean and nice (even though I did just find a small bug crawling on me), I have time to reflect.

It's wonderful to settle back into the swing of traveling. The routines I developed over my two months in Europe are coming back to me.

I remember that I need to take notes while driving (voice recorded, of course), because though the road provides a great opportunity to think and come up with great ideas, it's also an eraser of thoughts. It can clear the mind, fill it up and clear it again. I don't want to get to the next hotel, having had a million amazing thoughts on route, only to find myself brain dead, unable to remember a single one. NOTES! Take 'em!

Food is fuel for the body. It is so easy to get into the groove of driving, driving, driving but if I don't stop for food my energy drops and that is not pleasant. Must have food and water regularly to keep the spirits and focus up.

There is no stretch of boring highway that Rock and Roll can't get you through!

I'm going to wrap up today's blog by addressing the question I have been asked most often thus far. Why are you going this alone?

1) I like it. As you know from my travels in 2015, I do not have a problem being on my own. It provides the ultimate freedom of choice. I can go where I want, eat where I want, when I want, etc. I am not afraid of it. And I make smart choices. I drive during the day and am in my hotel before nightfall. I don't take risks that could put me in harm's way. I stay in contact with loved ones, so they know where I am, etc.

2) Because Krista and I have the same feeling about travel and adventure (LOVE IT) we've used up or pre-booked all of her vacation time at work. It would be better if she could join me on this trip. I would love to share the adventure with her, but it's not feasible at this time.

3) My friends have jobs and pets or kids...responsibilities I do not have.

And with that...I'm off to unwind with some TV and/or sleep. Until tomorrow...

Which way will I go?