We made it!!!
Excuse me, but I’m half in the bag here…visits to the White branch of the Smith family at Donner always involves generous cocktails, wine with dinner, and, if you’re really lucky, Brandy Alexanders for dessert. So I’ll do my best with this….
We did the drive out of Salt Lake City today. Not much to say about the launch, except that my Find-A-Starbucks app failed me for the first time…the little coffee cup on the GPS map kept receding as I approached on foot, with the folks waiting for me to come back before they headed out…so I had to abandon the hunt after about 5 blocks (that was supposed to be a block and a half). Nice little brisk morning constitutional, though, with the snowcapped mountains of Park City ahead of me.
We picked up a tank of gas and a pseudo-Starbucks stop at a Hyatt…which is where the gas station man said there was a Starbucks, but when I got there, it was just “We brew Starbucks coffee.” The desk receptionist did her best to come up with a mocha for me that I ended up regretting, both for the lackluster taste and the wearing-out I got from my mother for delaying our departure for Reno.
Out we headed into the Salt Flats. They’re salty. And flat. Very, very flat. They were cool in a couple places, where the mountains in the distance reflected in the glass-like surface of the Great Salt Lake, but other than that, it was a long, straight road paralleling a railroad track and a defunct power line.
After we left the Salt Flats, nothing much changed except the salt (?). It was alternately flat and rolling, always with spectacular mountain ranges on the horizon…some snowy, some rocky…they were amazing. And other than that, there isn’t a whole lot to say about the drive. We stopped in Elko for lunch at the Cimmaron Family Restaurant, which was pretty much the day’s excitement (other than a “rest stop” which was basically a glorified port-a-potty in a wooden lean-to, which I had to check out and declare its unsuitability as a throne for the Queen). We saw lots and lots of trains (forgot to mention them yesterday…they’re ever-present), and several exits off the highway that led to NOWHERE (Pequod? Exit 156? Where is it?). No wildlife to speak of today…a few cows (and no more than a few), but also two clear rodeo arenas. Passed the Bonneville Speedway on the Flats, but I never saw anything identifiable, just the sign. Entrance into Nevada was a relief…later, entrance into Washoe County (my folks’ new home county) was exciting…and by the time we had a visual on Reno, it felt like we’d been on the road for…well, five days.
We got into Reno…sailed up the hillside to Somersett…made it to the house…and walked in to the same smell I’ve smelled since I was 8…new house. =) Brand-new carpeting…newly patched walls…beautiful job done by my aunt’s cleaning crew (she’s a ski-rental realtor and has some serious hookups for this sort of situation)…unloaded the pickup and the Acura and the cats…started trying to load our paltry cooler load into the giant sub-zero fridge…set up the cats in the laundry room…and I wandered through the house trying to get my bearings and keep from getting lost. We tried to get houseplants out of the way for the movers (who are now coming Friday instead of Thursday…bummer)…and the folks took a slug of Crown Royal left on the bar by my aunt to celebrate their arrival (see FB for the shot). =)
About an hour after arrival, Marbles wandered to the center of the great room, tipped over onto her roly-poly little side, and rolled on the carpet. Mark of approval. They’re home. No more trips in the bed of the pickup truck (poor babies, the sedative hasn’t touched them since Day 2). Their HCB is even in with them now (HCB = Heated Cat Bed…a 30-year-old plug-in hot pad in a wicker basket…they’re incapable of living without it), so now they KNOW they’re done being on the road.
A rainstorm showed up outta nowhere as we were sorting through the things we’d unloaded into the house…and as we left, the sun came out and gave us a full-on, half-circle rainbow. My folks arrive at their retirement and get a RAINBOW in the sky. Message from God? I think it’s clear this is where they’re supposed to be. As my mom puts it, “We’ve arrived.” Yeah, Mom…61 years you’ve been waiting for this day. =)
We got done at the house and headed up the mountain (sans cats) into California (14th state for this trip, in case anyone’s counting) to my aunt’s house for an awesome pork roast dinner and LOTS OF BOOZE (mentioned above). And here I am. On a laptop that still won’t pick up the Wi-Fi, and is now down to 15% of its power. So I better close. We’re here.
Tomorrow (I hope) is a massive spending spree for them. They sold (and gave to my brother) lots of furniture, a washer/dryer, their TV, etc…and with the household shipment delayed a day, hopefully they’ll take care of a lot of that stuff tomorrow. I’m hoping a lot of it happens while I’m still here. If I don’t have thousands of dollars to spend setting up a brand-new house, I’d like to be as close as possible to people who ARE doing just that…maybe I can catch some of the high. ;) Also on tomorrow’s docket: GO TO THE GYM WITH MY AUNT. That’ll be fun after all the rum, wine, and brandy tonight….
So that’s the saga. We made it. 2,824 miles. 5 days. I didn’t kill my mother. She didn’t kill my father. He didn’t kill either of us. He drove the entire way. The cats survived. The plants survived. There was Crown Royal at the end of their (literal) rainbow. And we had family, a DVR’ed Talladega race, and a home-cooked meal waiting for us.