I’m already losing track of the days. I have to keep referring to my phone to tell me the date. It has also been my only source of navigation thus far. I’ll often look at my road atlas to get an overview of routes and things along the way, but as far as getting from point A to point B, Google Maps has been my navigator.
I remember going on road trips in RVs with my dad when I was younger, and all we used for navigation were paper road maps. We had regional maps and detailed city maps of places we would stay and visit. We wrote down our route step by step. On occasion, as we approached a junction, the signs wouldn’t match up with our notes so my dad would ask me hastily, Which way? If I didn’t know the answer, I’d fumble with the map and just let him pick whatever direction he decided to steer in, and then figure out after the fact whether he steered correctly or not. Sometimes he did, sometimes we’d have to find the next exit and make a U-turn. Thanks to technology, I’ve been able to avoid many wrong turns on this trip.
Two days and nearly 700 miles later, I have landed myself in Provo, Utah. On Saturday, I drove east on Hwy 20 from Bend to Boise. The highway was lightly sprinkled with “towns” which were usually just a building or two alongside the road with a pump station – one even had a café! If it were not for the people travelling along this road, it would be hard to imagine why they would even exist. Juntura, on the other hand was bustling with cowboys. I think every cowboy within a 50-mile radius was in Juntura for some kind of rodeo event going on. After Juntura, there were a few steep hills I had to climb. Awhile back, my brother, David, told me climbing hills and mountain passes were going to be a slow go with this rig. He was right. I’m not looking forward to my first mountain pass.
The landscape between Eastern Oregon and Idaho was breathtaking. I can’t even begin to describe what I saw and, sadly, don’t have any pictures of it. Once I got onto I-84 in Idaho and I saw that the speed limit was 80mph, 70mph for trucks, I nearly shit my pants. There had been a few times I had gotten ‘ol Betty up to 65mph, but it wasn’t intentional. So, I reluctantly pushed her to 65mph, and when I felt brave, got her up to 70mph, but it wasn’t for long. Something just didn’t seem safe about driving the motorhome at those speeds, especially when there were “Game Crossing” signs every few miles and the most roadkill I’d ever seen in my life.
As far as stopping for the night on Saturday, I didn’t actually have a particular place in mind. I thought I’d check out one of the rest stops along the freeway. At some point while I was driving through the city area with four or five lanes of traffic and cars going 70-80mph, I saw something white flying outside my window in my peripheral. I looked over and the rubber lining on the coach had come out of the trim. Great. I look over again and I watch, inch by inch, as more of the lining came loose. So, now I’m driving down a busy freeway and have about four feet of rubber stripping flailing in the wind. I had to drive a few more miles before I found a suitable exit to take. As I was exiting the freeway, I could see a huge empty parking lot to the right which was a perfect place to pull over and figure out how to fix the rubber strip. Once I got off, I took a right which also happened to be where the hospital was. So, I followed the signs to the hospital and found a huge, mostly empty lot and pulled in there. Fortunately, getting the rubber lining back in place was easy. At that point, the thought of getting back on the road and driving for another who knows how many miles before the next rest stop was unappealing. I thought this was as good a place as any. So, I leveled out the RV with a few blocks of wood and set up camp for the night. For the next few hours, I was waiting for security to come knocking on my door telling me to leave. But they never came. In the morning, I saw a fellow RVer had set up camp in the next lot over, not too far from me.
The views from Boise to Salt Lake City were spectacular, as well. I drove through tall, steep rolling green hills occupied by happy cows, and I could see mountains far off in the distance. Driving into Salt Lake City, on the other hand, was a chaotic nightmare. There was construction going on just about everywhere. I am still shocked I didn’t get smooshed between a concrete barrier and a semi-truck that passed me as I white-knuckled through an s-curve. And to top it all off, my lane was uneven. Half of the lane was inches higher than the other! Before I left home, Mike said something to the effect that I’ll be a pro at driving this RV by the time I’m done with this trip. I’d like to think I’ve reached pro status.
The mountain range along Salt Lake City and Provo is stunning. It reminds me of parts of Vancouver B.C. along the Sea to Sky Highway where you’re driving along and you have a body of water on one side and towering mountains on the other that are, literally, right there. Some of the peaks here have remnants of snow, far less than usual, I’m sure. It would be amazing to see this place in the winter!
I picked Utah Lake State Park to set up camp for a couple nights. The sun was blaring when I arrived and I was exhausted from the long drive so I hunkered down in my air-conditioned mobile home for a few hours until it was cool enough to venture outside. I saw the sun was setting behind some mountains beyond Utah Lake so I grabbed my camera. I didn’t get 10 feet from my RV before I heard a peculiar humming noise. At the same time, a few bugs came flying at me. I swatted them away. I continued to search for the source of the humming and finally found it – there were countless swarms of bugs flying in the air all throughout the park. The swarms were huge! Rogue bugs kept coming at me but didn’t seem to be causing any harm so I decided to brave the bugs and made my way over to the lake, careful not to walk into a swarm. In the morning, I happened to look up at the ceiling of my RV which was now covered in bugs. I was relieved I had brought along with me a little handheld vacuum. So, I did a little morning vacuuming.
Though I will miss the views, I’m ready to leave the bugs behind. Next stop: Zion National Park.