Hello with a brief update from Fresno, a giant shrug of a city near some incredibly gorgeous spots that you’ll hear more about next week in a post recapping our two weeks here.
Today, I’m putting up a short bonus post with a heads-up on our route over the next few weeks and months. I mentioned briefly last week that we’ve begun the Great Swing Back East, and that is, in fact, the case. You’ve got questions? We’ve got answers.
You’re Skipping The Pacific Northwest? What’s Wrong With You?
How much time do you have? In all seriousness, Oregon, Washington, and the Pacific Northwest will, unfortunately, have to wait for a trip of their own. The reason for this is twofold.
First, the inescapable realities of tourist season. We’ve been lucky enough to travel mostly through the winter and early spring so far. Even though we’ve stuck to mostly warmer climates, we were able to get some relatively amazing deals on Airbnbs simply because fewer people travel in the winter. We also tended to book further in advance earlier in the trip, as opposed to the relatively fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants method since leaving Santa Fe.
The upshot of all this is by the time we knew when we wanted to head to the PNW, most of the affordable options had long been booked. Even the moderately unaffordable options, those that we might be able to stretch to pay for, weren’t available. Morgan makes a good salary, and I have a decent chunk of savings supplemented by a crappy income, but even so, we don’t want to cruise back into Florida with single digits in our bank accounts.
The other problem is that California is just too fucking big, if you’ll pardon my language. It’s just too big! North to south, the state is more than 700 miles long. It’s taken me roughly seven-plus hours of driving north just to get to the center of the state. Even from here in Fresno, it’s another seven hours to the Oregon border and about half that again to Portland, our likeliest stop. Then, we’d have to drive those 750 miles back south eventually. All in all, this would add, conservatively, a month to six weeks of additional time to our trip.
Morgan certainly felt it first and much more acutely, but even I’m beginning to feel the impact of more than half-year on the road. Even in the most optimistic cases, we planned to do this for a year, a point that’s now just four months or so away. With our travel limitations, it’ll likely take us at least one of those months just to cross back to the east coast. As much as we’d both like to explore the Pacific Northwest, we felt it would end up feeling rushed, and certainly result in a much-abbreviated trip back.
If not the PNW, Where Are You Heading?
This was a fairly vexing problem for a while! Our choices are essentially south or east – basically, through Nevada. The meaning of this post’s title should now be evident to anyone who’s ever looked at a map or road atlas of that state.
Those heading through the Silver State have essentially two options, over or under. This is thanks to the whopping 80% of the state owned by the federal government that remains relatively inaccessible to people, including the famous Area 51. As you can see, Fresno is roughly in the middle of these two options.
If you go through the northern part of the state, you’ll either take the famously boring Interstate 80 or the famously empty US Route 50, better known as “The Loneliest Road in America.” Even after crossing these 400 or so miles of desert and mountains, you’re still more than 100 miles from the nearest city. For reasons varied and sundry, this was not a remotely attractive option.
So the south it was, and lo and behold, a direct shot through Nevada’s main attraction and one of our most-anticipated stops – Las Vegas. Yes, just a few months after New Orleans nearly killed us and we briefly began to melt in the deserts of Arizona, we’re going to do roughly the same things again, except at the same time. We’ll be here from May 29-June 12th.
Vegas is Pretty Cool! Can I Come Visit?
Hell yeah, you can! We’d love to party with our friends, family, acquaintances, or wealthy benefactors both here and at any other stop along our route. We’ll be doing plenty of partying and gambling, but there’s also a lot of great hiking, museums, and road trips around the area. If all goes well, we’ll see Area 51 and Death Valley within just days.
Where To After Vegas?
For the first time in a while, we’ve got a few destinations booked in a row!
Salt Lake City, UT – June 12th – June 19th
This is another stop that’s equal parts necessity and interest. We’ll spend a week soaking in Mormon culture, the Great Salt Lake, and the awesome mountain towns to the east. It was also one of the few stops that made sense unless we wanted to retrace our steps through northern Arizona or northern New Mexico. Yes, we’re going north once again, but that makes sense as we both wanted to visit…
Cheyenne, WY – June 19th – July 3rd
Two weeks back in cowboy country! This is one destination we’ve been excited about for a while. I expect we’ll be doing plenty of exploring of Wyoming generally, along with a trip here or there into northern Colorado. However, we won’t need to spend too much time in Colorado, because…
Colorado Springs, CO – July 3rd – July 17th
It’s our next stop! Colorado Springs is a nice, centrally located base for checking out Colorado, with Denver only about an hour north and the Rocky Mountains just to the west. It’s reasonably likely to be our last stop in the West, with the Great Plains and Mississippi River looming as our likely destinations from here.
It should be noted that, until a few days ago, this stop was Rapid City, South Dakota, instead. I had gotten myself surprisingly psyched up to visit South Dakota – Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, Deadwood! But alas, we waited a few days too long and our spots were booked up before we committed. Now, I’m not quite sure what to do with this enthusiasm for the Dakotas.
All in all, our pace back east will certainly be a bit more rapid than our pace out west. I’m not sure whether we’ll get to enjoy another month-long stay at any point, but time will tell. This trip has both played out much as I expected and also been fairly unpredictable, so we’ll see what our reverse journey will treat us to. In any case, it is going to take quite a while for my brain to realize we should be getting on eastbound roads after five straight months of hurtling westward. I’m relieved to have a good idea of what our next seven weeks will look like – and it gets easier and easier to draw a route toward the finish line with each stop.
I’ll be back early next week with a real post on our goings-on here in our final weeks in California, so stay tuned and thanks as always for reading.
Nick and Morgan