So this is what we’re looking at. I don’t know about you but this sight makes my heart sink. This is the quickest path to home.
We want to be smart and safe. This was not an easy decision. In hindsight, we would have made some different decisions in the beginning of this pandemic but you don’t get that luxury. So here we sit staring at over 40 hours of straight driving plus gas and potty breaks. With municipalities all having varying degrees of stay-at-home/shelter-in-place orders, we did not want to get turned away. Where would we go then? So we decided we would go as far as we could before stopping at a hotel (to reduce contact with others) and would only stop for combined gas/potty breaks. We wanted to travel as safely and quickly as possible; protecting ourselves and others.
We were very upfront with the boys. This was going to stink! They would have to eat and possibly sleep in the car the next two days but I also wasn’t going to say anything about the amount of screen time they could have on the drive. I have to tell you, I have some good kids. They are by no means perfect; far from (aren’t we all), but they were so great about it. They said, “Ok lets do this!” They were such troopers. It would be another adventure. Could we do it or would we have to stop?
I sure hated leaving Oregon. We all liked Grants Pass. There was something homey about. The neighbor beside us, lamented that she didn’t even get to have us over for tea. How sweet. We didn’t get to go to Crater Lake, or Powell Books, or Cannon Beach, or Haystack Rock. None of it. Such a bummer but we did get to drive through some pretty parts of Oregon. Apparently, there’s no straight way to get out of Oregon. But the drive through the mountains and the snow was so pretty.
We made it to Nevada and I have to tell you there’s not much to see in the northern section of Nevada. The roads didn’t even have many road signs except to tell you there were no facilities for over 100 miles. We did, however, see wild burrows and lots of antelope. We drove through the Sheldon National Antelope Refuge, hence the antelope. It’s over 570 thousand acres.
By the time we made it close to Salt Lake City, the sun was starting to set. Highway 80 runs along the Bonneville Salt Flats. You may recognize that name but can’t quite place it. Well, Bonneville Salt Flats has been the place of many land speed records beginning as far back at 1935. The last one recorded there by an American on American soil was October 23, 1970.
It was past dinner time and bedtime but as we were tying to minimize stops, so we waited until we needed gas to stop.
In Salt Lake, after some drive-tru Taco Bell that the kids ate in the car while Dad filled up the tank, the boys brushed their teeth (yep in the car) and went to sleep. They never complained the whole day. Trevor drove all night across the southern length of Wyoming. I have not idea how he did it. I kept asking if he wanted to swap out driving but he said he was good. I tried to get some sleep in case he got tired; that way I would be rested and ready to take over. It was fitful sleep, more like a series of catnaps but it was better than nothing. Trev just powered through. I’m sure a 5-hour energy was taken at some point. The bottom photo is actually of them taking a nap the next morning. We had to stop for gas around 5am outside of Cheyenne so the boys were up early; hence the nap later that morning.
It was different driving this time. Usually, if we saw a billboard for something cool we would pull over and check it out. Not this time. Most stuff was closed and we had too much driving to do to stop even if we found something open. We had to be careful because rest stops in some areas were also closed. Back across the Missouri River we went. Interestingly enough, Trevor recognized a stretch of road right where we crossed the river. Right before the river, was the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center we visited last summer when we had to detour off this road due to flooding. How cool, is that? We saw the Arch again as we drove back through Saint Louis. And then it was night. North of Nashville, the struggle was real. This was the hardest part of the drive – from about 1:30am to 5am when we got home. The first night we had plenty of energy, the second night was proving to be more of a challenge. We only made one nonessential stop to make sure we were alert and ready to finish the trip. But we stopped at a gas station in Chattanooga, woke the kids to potty, washed our faces, and topped off the tank.
Finally we made it home to Georgia. I have no idea how Trevor drove that whole way. In all it took us 42 hours to get home. Don’t ask me how he did it.
Since we drove through 10 states (granted even though we only made a few stops), we decided it would be prudent to stay at home for two weeks to self-quarantine. We grabbed groceries in Oregon before we left, because we knew we didn’t have anything at the house and we were told by friends the Georgia grocery stores were looking pretty thin.
It is bittersweet. I am extremely grateful for home, for safe travels, health, etc. But honestly, my heart hurts. I so wanted to finish the trip. We only had eight states left and plenty of time to do it. I long to be back out on the road exploring this great country with my hubby and kids. I’m a task master. I like to complete things. I feel like we failed. We didn’t get all 50. Even though, we said we would get back out on the road if the travel restrictions are lifted, it feels like quitting. So we sit and wait.
Only time will tell if we will be able to finish the trip. If we do, wonderful. If we don’t, we still had an amazing time. It is time with my family that I will be able to look back on and be proud we were together. I don’t want to live a life of regret or, more tragically, a life of I wish I would haves. I hope this is an attitude I can keep when it comes to my family- the I’m glad I dids. Because here’s the thing, it doesn’t have to be a year long road-trip. It can be everyday, intentionally focused on what matters the most in life, Faith, Family, and Friends.