I love road tripping. Long hours in the car. Crazy terrain. Unpredictable weather. Completely abnormal sleeping patterns. Less than ideal meal choices. Sign. Me. Up. Seriously — nothing beats finagling a full-size pillow into a comfortable position while ‘sitting’ in the passenger seat.
A couple weeks ago, Derek and I made a somewhat impromptu decision to road trip. Our two summertime vacations were quickly consolidated to a single much-needed escaped without much planning. No planning would be more honest. There was no plan. We packed the car and left home with only one detail for certain — we were going to see Portland. Oregon. And sasquatch.
Our midnight departure turned to 2 a.m. as the prepped and ready Derek got some pre-trip sleep. Meanwhile, I destroyed my entire closet trying to pack 6 days of clothing for the unknown into one mid-sized city bag. I succeeded.*
On the road, we cruised through western Kansas in the dark of the early morning. Having seen it many times over, this was a sacrifice I was happy to make it. It turns out “not everything is flat in Kansas” is a straight up lie.
The lunch hour landed us in Boulder, Colorado, for a quick sandwich at Snarf’s (not recommended) and an even more quick escape from the confines of the car. Only 9 hours in, we had to pause and question the sanity of a 26-hour drive (by Google’s measurement).
We were ever so lucky to discover a fun festival on Boulder’s Pearl Street and ducked between street vendors, kids dancing in fountains, dozens of local musicians and one truly insane balancing dude. It seemed as though our plan without a plan was going to go pretty well. We watched the craziest performer test fate on some chairs piled high above shoppers. Then dove back into the car to get back to the drive.
At some point, we hit Wyoming.
Truer words never spoken. In fact, we quickly understood the state’s tagline “forever west” — justifying that it felt like forever just driving through it.
Dipping south to head toward Salt Lake City, the Utah terrain more than made up for the previous hours of boredom and the welcome sign stating “life elevated” seemed like a pretty solid slam to its northern neighbor. We found an amazing rest stop with a gorgeous look out and managed a fast hike on our sleepy legs for a chance to see the sun settling over some stunning red rocks. A train chugged through at just the right moment for a picture worthy of painting and, again, it felt like luck was just going to be on our side.
Creeping in on dark and our 19th hour on the road, I woke up just in time for Derek to pitch his dinner idea: In-and-Out Burger. I’d never had it and wasn’t convinced that fast-food burgers weren’t anything worth stopping for when there are so many amazing diners and dives just minutes from the highway. “You have to order from the secret menu,” he informed me, which prompted 45 minutes of research on the In-and-Out Burger secret menu, ways to order and terms to use. After so much effort, we simply had to go.
I ordered the #2. Nothing crazy. No secret code words. Just the #2.
Derek, on the other hand, had a Double-Double Animal Style and fries, also well done and Animal Style. Then he passed out in the passenger seat while I drove us into the night.
We woke up around 6 a.m. in a run down gas station just 5 minutes out of Oregon. Apparently, my 3 a.m. self knew to save every minute of Oregon driving for daylight as it would prove to be the most gorgeous part of the trip. Armed with a package of baby wipes, we freshened up in the car. I trotted into the station with my toothbrush in tow. Once I chose a hat from our collection of 5 (which just seemed a little nuts for 2 people on a week-long trip), we cruised back onto Highway 84 for our final jog into the city of weird.
* I packed 3 bags.