I moved this past July. Earlier in the month, I had the worst plane travel experience ever. Here we talk about the wild ride I embarked on with a friend to cross the country from the beautiful bay area of California to the super friendly area of Windsor, Ontario, Canada. Not sure what I did? Stop reading now, go to maps.google.com and figure it out yourself.
The trip started the faithful morning of Saturday July 27th. Now in natural PuckPuck style, there’s no way we are doing this in a direct straight line route… that would be too easy. I had to criss-cross the sites, see everything, and make my truck pay dearly for the miles I was about to put it through. We were going from the San Francisco Bay Area to Windsor. A quick look of any map will tell you I-80 to the Chicago area, get on I-94 and cross the border in Detroit and boom you are there. Yeah fucking right! That way is for pansies.
Joining me for the ride was the delightful Leigh Anne. Yes she’s a girl, in fact she’s my wife’s best friend, and yes she sat next to me for 5 entire days, even slept in the same room with me. But alas she wasn’t interested in what I had to offer, so no “whoopie” was performed.
The trip started by waking up with a nasty hang-over, about an hour late. Good way to start if you ask me. So next let’s get driving, by going west (see: the wrong way) on I-580, across the bay bridge, through San Francisco, and north over the most pictured bridge in the world, the Golden Gate. So at this point, I have made negative progress. My destination was east, and here I am about 60 miles west of my departure.
Straight to Napa we go. Not because we wanted wine. I have a friend whom lives there, and agreed to let me park my U-Haul trailer there while I continued on the next leg of my journey. Huh?!?! leave the trailer behind?!?!
The next leg of the journey was the redwood forest. I wanted to drive through a tree, and on my last day possible I was going to fucking do it. Willits, California. The Gateway to the redwood forest. The land of rednecks, and cops whom pull me over. Cue the music getting stopped at a party with a scratch. Yes I got pulled over just a few hours into our trip.
Back to the trip in a paragraph. About 6 weeks prior the stickers on my vehicle plates were due, but in the wonderfully expensive state of California, the DMV wouldn’t allow me to renew for just a month. Since registration fees for our vehicles were about $1000 together I said: “fuck it, I’ll take the risk”. Fast forward to about 2 weeks before the trip, where I’m in Los Angeles at a company event, losing my mind, money and driver’s license in a bar.
Back to the trip, where this cop was following me with lights blasting for at least 5 minutes, unbeknownst to me. You see the SUV is full of stuff, so the rear-view mirror is essentially blocked and useless. If it weren’t for Leigh Anne spilling pop all over her lap, and noticing the cop in the side mirror as she was scrambling from keeping the cool liquid out of her crotch, I wouldn’t of pulled over.
He walks over, and says he’s pulling me over because my front windows are tinted. Wait a second here. I lived in California for 2.5 years, never had a problem, and on the day I’m leaving you tell me my car is illegal? WTF?!?! Okay, now comes the fun stuff (think 2 paragraphs back). I hand over my registration, insurance, and an expired California driver’s license. He leaves returns, makes a few comments about my vehicle, and the amazing odor it was emitting. Leaves, comes back, reminds me I don’t have a license, my plates are expired, my vehicle window tint is illegal, the odor emitting from my car is also sketchy, then he proceeds to hand me back my stuff, slaps the roof my the SUV and says: “Have a nice day!”
“Have a nice day!”
Umm excuse me while I attempt to un-pucker my ass cheeks. Did he just really tell me to have a nice day, instead of throwing the fucking book and pedestal at me? Did that really happen?
An hour later I drove through that tree, and an hour later back through Willits, where my butt cheeks puckered again. I didn’t think I could hold my breath that long. It felt like hours.
We get back to Sonoma county, on our way to Napa where I stop for gas. That day, was some kind of racing event at Infineon raceway. Lots of cool looking cars at the gas station. My SUV, has the fuel tank on the right side of the vehicle. I fill it up, checking out the cars, wishing I could enjoy some of the weed that the driver just finished (or maybe still was) smoking. Check the oil, go in the gas station for a restroom break, back to the truck, start it up, put it in drive and leave. About 3 feet later I hear a big crash and bang. Stop real quick, and look back to a hole in my window, noticing the gas pump was still in the SUV. YES!! I was that guy. You know the one that they have pictures of at gas stations for driving away with the gas pump still in the vehicle.
I’m not even 12 hours into my trip, and I managed to get pulled over, and destroy the right rear window on my SUV. Fucking Lovely! This trip is going to be a blast. Luckily I didn’t break the actual gas pump. Unluckily, my window is smashed, and I don’t have an actual house or time to fix it.
MacGyver time. I’m moving, so I have boxes, scissors and packing tape. I also have a really cool looking brown non-see through window.
Get to Napa, get my trailer, and finally I can start heading east. About 12 hours after it started, I finally started to make positive progress towards on my trip. Stopped at a Michael’s along the way to buy black cardboard so my non-see through window could at least be the same color as my SUV. Just beyond Sacramento, still in California, we take a hotel and call it a day. Drink some Jameson, get a little drunk go to bed, and get ready for another day.
Woo hoo new day, new tank full of gas (this time leaving gas pump at the station), and off we go. First stop, Lake Tahoe. Now on this trip, I had a requirement for the passenger. You have to tea-bag Lake Tahoe. Only problem is Leigh Anne isn’t exactly equipped for tea-bagging. So I grabbed a couple of tea bags (the kind you drink with hot water), gave her a belt and some tape, had her strap it around her waist, and get going. As she walked into the ice cold lake, she proudly dipped her bags, for a fine photo opp.
Climb the mountain go back down the other side, stop midway down because I can smell burning brakes, and we decide being able to stop is important when hauling a trailer. Get down the Sierras, and welcome to the wasteland, also known as Nevada. Straight roads, boring sights, red dirt, boring sights, bright sun, boring sights, and like 5 cars on a major highway. Did I mention this part was boring?
A few hours and firework purchase later we get to Utah. Next stop the Bonneville Speedway at the Salt Flats. All I can say is no picture does this place justice. All you can see is white, then it’s like the earth just falls off and there’s nothing. We get on the main access road, and all I can see is well… nothing but white. Stop, get golf clubs out.. FORE!!!! Now in a few years if you hear about a car at the salt flats that rolled and crashed because it hit a golf ball… I didn’t do it. Seriously this place was very very cool, and I would love to return with more time to just drive around and be in a salty place.
Back on I-80 we go, towards the great Salt Lake City. As we approach the city, we can see the great salt lake out in the distance to our left. This is where Utah just went from “meh” to “the most eerie place on earth”. Rising from the lake we can see a cloud. Nothing too abnormal, this is what happens in the world. Sun heats water, water evaporates, forms a cloud, and clouds rain water back to earth. But this cloud was a cloud from the salt lake… the EVIL salt lake.
As we continued to drive on I-80, the cloud started to float over the highway. And this is when lightning started to flash. Then a rainbow formed, but this rainbow was in front of lots of lightning, and a cloud getting darker by the second. As we drove under the rainbow, like it was a gateway, the cloud came down on us. It was raining from above, left, right, heck even the road was bubbling up water from the cracks. There was water coming from everywhere. I can only explain it like this: “I was driving in the fucking salt lake on I-80″. Sun is shining, lighting glistening, thunder cracking, rainbows glowing, even the fucking birds were flying… in the middle of a storm. It was like an episode from the twilight zone, and we were the main characters.
We finally break through this storm, and approach the last mountain range before Salt Lake City. Stop for gas (again doing good for not leaving with the pump in the truck), and go around this last mountain range. This is where I finally understood what rainbows are for.
We have been lied to. All this time, rainbows are synonymous with happiness, butterflies, pretty. Well fuck that shit. I have pictures to prove, that rainbows are actually the gateway to hell. There, forming end to end, I seen the biggest rainbow I have ever seen. And just beyond it, the darkest, scariest, lighting filled cloud I never wanted to see. The rainbow was the gateway to death and I wasn’t going to be a part of it… so we turned left and drove north on I-15.
Enter Idaho. About 2 miles in, darkness fell, look up and stars. Stars everywhere. Stop get out (next to a corn field of course), and just amaze in a sight I have never seen before. The night sky is something that you only see in pictures from the best photographers. It was gorgeous. The milky way was there in full glory. Simply amazing. But this stop has to be short, cause it’s late and we are still an hour (or more) away from Idaho Falls where our hotel was.
As we are driving, yet another storm is brewing. You hear about blue, red and green lighting. You think people are hallucinating. Maybe we were, maybe we shouldn’t of eaten those mushrooms for dinner, but man, there was some pretty cool, all colors in the (death) rainbow, lighting going off.
Get to our hotel, which felt like was in the middle of the ghetto. Easily the worst hotel I have stayed in (besides that place you could rent by the hour). The next morning when I awoke, I seen a man wearing his underwear standing on his front porch, with a woman popping a zit off his back. Yup! Made me want bacon and eggs.
Back on the road. Yellowknife park here we come. Now I planned this road trip. Somehow I missed the fact that we were going to drive through Montana (even if it was only for like 10 miles). Anyhow seen a really quaint town that belonged in the movies at the gateway to the park.
Get in the park, drive straight towards old faithful. We got lucky. We pulled up, walked over to the geyser, where a crowd was gathered, Overhead someone saying “its time”, so we quickly found the best view angle, pulled out our cameras, watched the eruption, and 5 minutes after arriving we were on our way out of there.
Yellowstone park is beautiful. Gorgeous scenery everywhere. One point we seen this pond with orange water in it (likely some sulfur reaction from all the seismic activity). Hey lets check it out. Pull over, get out and got for a trail walk. Take some pictures, relax for a few minutes, head back and… well… I lost my key to the SUV. FUCK!!!!
We’re in the middle of nowhere, no cell reception, windows are rolled down, sunroof open, and no fucking keys!!! I keep my key chain to a minimal. Meaning all that I lost was the actual key and key fob. Nothing else. Nothing really shinny that would reflect light, just a black key, and black key fob… lost in the middle of nowhere, in Yellowstone park. DOUBLE FUCK!!! After having what I can only assume is 3 consecutive heart attacks, Leigh Anne finds it and we can breath a sigh of relief.
As soon as we left the park, heart still beating a thousand beats a minute, we see a local watering hole. Time to stop, breath, and do what anyone would do in this situation. Whiskey on the rocks please! A little bit of food to wash that down, nerves back to normal, lets continue to drive.
At this point we “thought” we were done mountain driving, and La Bamba (I named my SUV) would be fine. I also thought my truck was legal in California 2 days prior. You see the road I planned to drive on, also happened to be the Big Horn Pass.
Big Horn pass, was an awesome super duper narrow, twisted, falling rocks everywhere road. Eventually we get to 9000 feet, and start the eventual descent back to reality. Lots of cool wildlife, finally got to see a moose, as well as other creatures that I would rather keep my distance from.
Clear the pass, get on I-90. One would think I-90 in the middle of summer would be a well travelled, major interstate in the United States. One would also be wrong. I have never seen a road darker, and more desolate (remember we were in Idaho the night before). We could drive for miles over miles without seeing a single car or light. We pulled over at this “pull off parking” area. It’s like an off-ramp, short parking area, on-ramp. No building, just a spot to stop and park, and maybe take a nap. And this is where we notice the VW micro bus with a peace sign. The same one we seen the day before just outside the salt flats in Utah on I-80. Just now we are far more east, and a few hours north.
Get to Cedar Rapids Iowa for the night. Got to bed (after a few drinks of course), and wake up to go see a bunch of faces carved into the side of a mountain. On our way there, that VW micro bus was also coming along as well. Took some pictures, and back to the road we go.
Ok, now we are exhausted, and if you made it this far in reading, you should be as well. At this point, excitement is a store called Wall Drug, and this weird artsy thing we seen in the middle of a corn field. I had visions of really bad horror movies.
Did you know that after 180 something you’ll likely just lose count of what you were doing (counting corn fields). After a long boring corn field filled day of driving, we arrive at Des Moines to spend the night.
Finally the home stretch. I’ve done most of this part of the drive many times before. Across the top of the Mississippi, and 4 hours into the day of driving I was back in familiar territory of the Chicago area. We drive through the windy city, around lake Michigan, and set our sights on Detroit.
Around 9:30pm at night, we arrived in Canuck territory, without even having to declare that trailer full of goods I was hauling (yes Canada customs is super strict). Maybe the border agent was too busy thinking that her igloo was melting, and how she would care for her pet beaver. or maybe she just looked at me and thought I already had enough excitement for a while. Either case, she couldn’t be bothered to ask what I was doing, or why I had a dual axle U-haul trailer behind me.Side Note: Unfortunately for me, since I didn’t get pulled into secondary inspection at customs, I never got to properly import my vehicle, and had to deal with incompetent customs officers whom screwed up my paperwork 2X before I could legally import my Canadian vehicle, back into Canada. When we returned the second time to get the paperwork straightened out, the customs officer insisted she did it right, and even brought her supervisor over to explain it to us. Supervisor looked at what we were trying to do, looked at the customs officer and said, you need to do it the way they (my wife and I) are describing, not the way you previously did.
We arrived, celebrated that we just did an awesome road trip, and made it to our destination with the truck (mostly) in one piece, and our bodies intact… although I’m pretty confident my mind is still somewhere in Wyoming.