Saturday, August 18, 2012

Vacation 2012: From Yreka to Eureka or 1,374 miles (Part I)

At the beginning of August, I had a quick project in the Northwestern corner of California. A quick project, and a capstone to several weeks of running around the country for work I decided to tack on a few days of much-needed vacation.

While I was out that way I wanted to travel a bit North and visit my grandmother who, by virtue of being a off the beaten path, I've seen rarely. And Rachel joined me for the trip; her first time in Nevada, California, or Oregon.

And in the space of a little bit less than a week we covered a significant chunk of the Western United States. How significant? The state of Ohio has a border length of 970 miles, give or take. When I returned the rental car to Hertz we had added 1,374 miles to the odometer, the equivalent of driving about one and a half times around the perimeter of Ohio.

En Route: Solo Monday
The trip started oddly -- always one to maximize my Elite Qualifying Miles and even more so to see a new airport, I threw a stop at Washington Dulles in the mix (Cleveland-Washington-Houston-Sacramento) because it added a whopping $2 to the fare (yes, two dollars) and got me an extra 1.5 EQS and 750 EQM.

IAD is, I believe the words I used, "Godforsaken hell hole". I have no inclination to return, lest I get hit by another bird flying through the terminal or have another part of the mens' room ceiling fall on me ... It makes Cleveland Hopkins look like a glistening ultra-modern travel mecca.

Fortunately, I was only on the ground for about 20 minutes before I continued on my way to a three-hour connection in Houston before finally arriving in Sacramento shortly after 7PM. Though the project in Susanville, I had decided to overnight in Reno -- almost three hours from Sacramento. Clearly I wasn't thinking (clearly) when I hatched this plan. But I set out on I80 towards Reno.

While Ohions know and love Interstate 80 as the Ohio Turnpike, I80 from Sacramento to Reno as it traverses the Sierra Nevadas is a far more rugged beast with steep mountain climbs, winding roads, and an existence as four narrow lanes for much of its existence. Including the infamous Donner Pass, where the Donner Party survived a brutal winter by resorting to cannibalism. In the summer I'm sure it would be a beautiful daytime drive, but at night -- and with road construction around every other corner, it was a little stressful.

I made it to Reno a little after 10pm Pacific (1am Eastern), checked into the hotel and promptly fell asleep.

Rachel Joins Me: Two for Tuesday
Here, we can see the stalked prey through the bushes.
When I woke up Tuesday morning, I hit the road for the 90 minute drive from Reno to Susanville up the US Highway 395. An easy drive on a 2-lane road with a 65 MPH speed limit, the only downside is being stuck behind the occasional semi or prison transport van. I hate passing into lanes for oncoming traffic, especially at those speeds.

I met with my client -- a client that I particularly enjoy working with -- got the project taken care of and after day's worth of work, I drove back down 395 and arrived at the Reno airport shortly after Rachel's flight... and promptly dragged her to her first In-N-Out Burger.

Though I had (jokingly) said that if she didn't like it, I might just have to bring her back to the airport, that warning turned out to be unnecessary as she declared it "Delicious".

Doing some other quick preparation for Wednesday's long drive north before retiring back to the Reno hotel for a good night's sleep.

Wide Open Road: Wednesday
Wednesday morning we started the trek North, and that will start our next post on the subject later this week.


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