Sometimes Nature is Boring
(Originally posted March 14, 2013)
Our night in the historic Hotel Colorado was not restful. It was honestly one of the worst nights of sleep I think I’ve ever had, on a short list with the night before our May 2012 Disney World vacation. This time it wasn’t nerves or excitement keeping me awake. It was noise. The noise of the radiator.
Living in New York, I was no stranger to the concept of ssssssssssteam heat. In my six years of living in the city, I spent five of them with a steam radiator. They’re loud and clunky, but eventually you get used to the noise and it starts to blend into the background. But that was not the case with the one here. It would run for, say, an hour at a time and then turn off for fifteen minutes. Then it would start up again with cannon-like noises capable of disrupting any sleep. And it just kept going all night.
I fared worse than Tracy, who was able to sleep for probably 50-75% of the night. I was somewhere in the 25% range. When the alarm sounded, it was after I had finally gotten to sleep for a solid couple of hours, but I was far from rested.
Duffy fared quite a bit better, but he can sleep anywhere.
Here’s the blasted culprit. I’m convinced it was in leagues with the hotel ghosts.
We didn’t really allow ourselves time to dawdle after getting up. We had a very long day of driving ahead of us and it was time to hit the road. Throwing everything we had unpacked back together, we loaded up the car, fitting all the luggage puzzle pieces back into their exact spots. We checked out from the hotel and were on our way.
Our first stop was literally a block away. We popped into a gas station to pick up some breakfast and decided on a pack of oh-so-healthy Entenmann’s donuts. Mostly, however, we just needed some caffeine, and we had brought some bottled Frappucinos along, which did the trick quite nicely. We started looking human again. I tweeted:
Today’s journey will make yesterday seem like a cakewalk. 4 states, 9 hours, let’s do this!
Hitting the road on this cloudy gray morning meant getting back on I-70, the interstate that would comprise at least half the journey to California. It was chilly outside, but we knew it was the last morning we would see freezing temperatures in the foreseeable future, so we took solace knowing the temperatures would only go up as the journey went on.
We fired up Twilight and just kept trucking along. Colorado actually started getting much less mountainous than I was expecting as we headed toward the western border. It was much hillier than I’d ever known it got.
Tracy kept on driving like a trooper.
Then as we got close to the Utah border, you could see the types of mountain start to change. We went from the peaks of the Rockies to much more plateaued formations.
We also noticed the snow was starting to go away.
We stopped for our first tank of gas outside Grand Junction, and then we plowed on toward the border, and saw these signs on the side of the highway.
We had officially made it to our second state—Utah. The bulk of our day would be spent crossing the state, covering almost the entire east to west span of it.
Utah is an interesting state. I can’t pretend to know that much about it, though I have seen a few different parts of it. In eighth grade, my class went on a week-long camping trip to Moab. We went rafting and hiking and generally “bonded” in the great outdoors. The most lasting impression Moab made on me was with its red dirt. By the end of the week, every inch of my person as well as all the contents of the luggage I carried was caked in the red-orange sand of Moab. All these years later, I still associate that color with Utah. The whole Moab area was really beautiful though.
My other experience with Utah was when Tracy and I drove through on the way back from our road trip to Seattle in 2007. We stopped in Salt Lake City for the night and explored a little bit before leaving the next morning. I recall it being one of the more bizarre “big” cities I’ve been to, mostly because it just doesn’t quite fit. Somehow the city part just felt anachronistic, as though it was plopped in the middle of small-town Utah accidentally. It was a pleasant enough place to pass through, however, so overall my impressions of the state were relatively positive going into this drive.
We quickly discovered that not all of the state was pretty, however, as our entire morning took us through relatively flat desolate-looking landscapes.
So far, Utah is LAME!
We stopped for lunch in a town called Green River. “Town” is actually a bit of a misnomer as it was more of a ghost town. We had to drive all the way down the main street, passing by one abandoned building after another, until we got to a Subway sandwich shop attached to a gas station. The Subway was completely modern and normal despite the town feeling like something from a century ago. It was honestly a little disturbing. Luckily, our sandwich was good and filled us up for the next leg of the journey. Afterward, I tweeted:
We ate lunch in Green River, UT. Spoiler alert: There was no river and nothing was green.
We went back to driving. All of a sudden, we went from drab brown to some of the cool red rock formations I remembered from my previous experiences with Utah.
The rest of Utah was generally prettier than the first half, but we were ready for the state to be behind us.
We weren’t really expecting it, but suddenly we found ourselves amongst more mountains and snow! Would we need the chains on this leg of the journey??