Just because we’re heading back to VT doesn’t mean we can’t explore new places. However, with ski season (read: snow) on the horizon, we’re aware our schedule is no longer timeless. We opted to explore the Ohio River Valley. We’ve been to the source in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and to Paducah, Illinois near where it joins the Mississippi. From prior travels, we’ve learned that river valleys tend to have unique stories and a sense of inter-connectivity. And we’d get to see a slice of the other 4 states along the river: Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Our route through the Nebraska Sandhills left us perfectly aligned to explore southern Iowa and central Illinois, areas of the heartland we’d not yet seen. As we pored over Google maps looking for green splotches, we also noticed we were heading toward the Ohio River Valley, another gap in our travels.
After our sprint through the cold snap, we wanted a day off to chill, read, play music and hike (ok, walk) somewhere with a view. In Nebraska. We set a course for a green splotch called Pine Ridge.
Did we mention snow? We planned a quick truck maintenance and re-provisioning stop in Utah. While tucked into a Walmart with an award-winning view of the Utah mountains, we checked the weather forecast for routes east through the Rockies. Hmmm… The forecast was for snow and unusually cold temps for mid-October – nights in the teens – for the next 3 days.
From our point of view, our friends and family tour of the west was hugely fun! Since August 10, we’ve made 16 stops to visit friends and family (17 if we count seeing Dana and Muffin twice). It’s important for us to stay in touch. And it was outrageous to meet up with long lost cousins!
Ah, but the leaves are changing, the temps are dropping, and there’s snow on the higher ridges. That can only mean one thing… We’re onto the fourth portion of this year’s adventure – our re-positioning back to Vermont. There’ll be fewer destination stops. And we’ll be seeking out adventures along a more direct (our definition) route while keeping an eye out for early cold snaps and snowstorms.
The Great Basin is an area of the West that encompasses most of the state of Nevada (pronounce the first ‘a’ as in ‘dad’ to sound like you live there). The area is so named because a drop of rainwater anywhere within the Basin never makes it to any ocean – it’s either absorbed into the ground (in some cases via irrigation) or it evaporates. Pete and Sue suggested we drive across Nevada on Route 50, AKA America’s Loneliest Road, to get to see this interesting part of the country.
We didn’t know what to expect, however, ‘basin’ conjures up visions of a shallow bathroom sink. Um. Not quite…
As the summer and September end, we had our final visit in CA, after which we will be truly eastward bound. From Yosemite, we headed up to Tahoe City to visit my cousin Pinky and her husband Peter.
Yosemite has been on both of our bucket lists for a long time. We didn’t think our schedule would allow us to visit this year. However, our 2 loops through No Cal provided an interesting opportunity. To get from Grover Beach to Tahoe City, the shortest ‘no interstates’ route took us through Yosemite. And we could have 2 free days. As with most of the larger and more popular National Parks, campsites are are sold out months in advance. I checked for cancellations and found exactly one, in Yosemite Valley, for the days we’d be passing through. The universe spoke. I snagged the reservation.
I was 6 years old when my Uncle Rod and Aunt Olive up and moved to California with my cousins Rick and Priscille. Priscille was my idol at the time – she was my only girl cousin in our little home town in New Hampshire. And she was so cool – she was 11. I asked ‘Mom, where’s California?’ ‘It’s far’ she said.
Fast forward 35 years. My brother reports that he’s visited our 4 cousins in California. You know, Rod’s kids. Wait a minute…