Sunday, June 9, 2019

Across the Country in Three Days

(Drive to Salt Lake City)

Carson and I packed up from Reno, then drove to the Salt Lake Airport and flew to Virginia very early the next morning.

(yep, we drove that thing about 2600 miles)

We arrived at noon, took Lyft to Home Depot where we had a Penske truck waiting for us.  We needed about an 18' truck.  So we reserved the next largest size, a 22' diesel truck.  On arrival, we found they had a 26' truck for us.  It was huge!  Of course, they parked it in the Home Depot parking lot, but cars had parked all around it.  Just leaving the parking lot was a huge challenge.  With Carson guiding me, we made an 8 point turn to barely get out of the parking spot.  I immediately realized that driving this monstrous truck across the country was going to be a challenge.

We headed to our storage unit in Manassas.  Our things had been in there for nearly six months while we explored Costa Rica and much of the US (and even a little bit of Canada).  As we pulled up to the storage unit, we realized that we didn't have the code to the gate or to the building and the office was closed (despite it being normal hours when they should have been opened).  It had been months since we used it, so it took a few guesses before it came back to us.

After 5-6 hours of exhausting work, we had the truck loaded.  Since it was bigger than we had expected, we had initially packed things too high.  So we repacked sections lower and more spread out so that they wouldn't fall or shift while we drove.  It wasn't until we were mostly packed that we realized that we had packed a box full of moving blankets somewhere buried deep in the truck...  We were way too tired to find it, so we did without.

As we finished up and got some dinner, we started to look for a hotel on my phone.  Frustration and desperation quickly set it.  We were exhausted from a very early flight across the country, and lots of moving and packing heavy boxes.  Yet there were no hotels available within a couple of hours (at least, no hotels that were less than $200 / night).  There was a 100k person motorcycle rally in town and endless tourists going to DC for Memorial Day weekend.  We also realized that a lot of hotels don't have enough parking for a huge truck.

In desperation, and despite our exhaustion, we decided to head down the road, hoping to find something on the way.  An hour later, we arrived in Front Royal, VA and saw a Super 8.  It didn't have a vacancy sign, but it did have enough parking for our truck.  So we pulled in.  From the parking lot, I checked their website, which said that the didn't have any available rooms.  I went to the front desk anyways and asked, finding that they had one 'unadvertised' room available, which we gladly booked.

The awoke refreshed and ready for the day.  We hoped to get to Illinois, but didn't really know what to expect driving this huge, fully loaded, truck that definitely couldn't go the speed limit on the hilly terrain.

Despite the reassurances from the Penske company that their trucks are full when you pick them up, the DEF tank was nearly on empty.  We stumbled our way through the truck stop menus, just to find that the pumps were broken (it turned out that it wasn't just my inexperience).  We found a mix of friendly helpful truckers and annoyed truckers -- who were dealing with the broken pumps too.  But in the end, we were able to fill up the DEF tank.  The auto-shutoff didn't work on the pump, so DEF poured out of the tank and some splashed onto my legs, which after about an hour started to sting.  So we had to stop at the next truck stop and wash up.

(not a pretty sight, but you can see our snack filled truck)

We made it into While Sulfur Springs, West Virginia for lunch.  For several years, I had wanted to visit this town to see the Greenbrier -- the no longer secret, no longer used, hotel / emergency bunker for Congress.  At lunch, the people were so friendly, I loved their accents, and many of them were discussing religion.  It was refreshing to be around people who believed and were comfortable talking about it.

(we bought some snacks at the Dollar General, then lunch at Wendy's)

(the West Virginia Capitol was under construction)

We continued through Kentucky, ate dinner in Frankfort, the capital.

We then proceeded to Indiana where we stayed the night.

We had to scout out each restaurant and hotel ahead of time to see if there was actually enough parking for us.  Most places along the interstates did, but some of the state routes were a little tougher.

From Indiana, we went through Illinois and Missouri.  Illinois didn't have a welcome sign?!?  Kind of strange.  We found Missouri to have the worst traffic of anywhere on our drive.  We then stayed the night in Kansas.  There were strong winds in Kansas, which were a little scary in a large truck.  We found out the next day that there had been a tornado in the same area, shortly after we drove through.

(Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge)

(Gateway Arch, St Louis, MS)

(a little tourist gift shop.  we walked through then headed back on the road)

(Kansas State Capitol building)

(one of the incessant hilly roads through Kansas)

From Kansas, we entered Colorado.

We discovered Denver's traffic.

Despite it being late May, it was snowing.  The steep hills definitely slowed us down, but the mountains were beautiful and we even saw big horn sheep and a bear from the road.

(this bear was rooting around about 100' from the side of the interstate)

(is the place named 'No Name', or is it just unnamed?)

(our Dodge pickup was originally owned by someone in Rifle, CO)

Grand Junction was a nice town.  We thought it's fractional street names were interesting:

(artistic sculptures in Grand Junction, CO)

We drove a long day to end in Salina, UT for the night.  We discovered that Salina was home to a WWII POW camp where one of the US soldiers opened fire and killed many of the Germans held there.  Not the best thing for your town to be known for...

Days in advanced, we had scheduled the walkthrough of the house, estimating how long the drive would take.  Despite the daily rain, tornados, and snow, we arrived 30 minutes ahead of our estimated time for the 2300 mile drive.

We unloaded and drove several more hours to return the truck to Salt Lake City the next day, then drove several more hours in our pickup truck from the airport to our new home.

It was so nice to be done driving!

Thank you Carson for taking all of this pictures on our drive.

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