The Move: Driving Day 5--NV to CA

We're here! We rolled into SoCal around 1 PM and I think everyone was ready to get out of the car. After some 32 hours of driving cross-country, we are just about through with long distance driving. We're not into the house just yet--the truck will be delivered on Monday, but we're close.

The drive out of Vegas was pretty much what I remembered. Once you leave the city, you're pretty much in desolate wasteland. Except of course, where they decided to build a casino--in the middle of the desert. Only in Nevada...

What do you expect in the middle of the desert? A casino and theme park, of course! What do you expect in the middle of the desert?A casino and theme park, of course!One thing I will say we were disappointed with is that there was no welcome to California sign as we drove into the state. Not a one. The best we could come up with was a California "Click it or Ticket" sign. Lame.

What, no sign? What, no sign?One thing I had forgotten about is just how expansive and desolate eastern CA is. It's really all about wide open spaces out there. There is a rugged beauty to the terrain. I'm not sure I'd want to live there, but I would love to photograph it at sunset (sunrise is just too early...).

Not a lot to distract you out here. Not a lot to distract you out here.Thankfully, it wasn't that hot in the desert. I've been across there when it's over 100, and the A/C has a hard time keeping up. In the middle of the Mohave, it was only 84, and there was nice breeze. It was quite comfortable when we stopped at a rest stop.

Finally, we made it over to where we're staying (Lake Forest). I was thankful we were heading west on the 91, as eastbound traffic was a mess. Once we hit the 241, it was smooth (if not expensive--it's a toll road) sailing. The costal mountains were in view and it was fantastic. This is the view I will come to really enjoy daily.

There are some big mountains right by the coast. There are some big mountains right by the coast.I stopped by the church and had a great chat with Jason, the student ministries director, and Ken, our communications director. Both are great guys who I'm looking forward to working with and getting to know. We then met at the new house to sign some paperwork and get the keys. Yes! We have a place to live. It's a bit smaller than our place in Minneapolis, but it will work fine. We met 2 of our neighbors who seemed very nice.

In fact, that's one thing I'm looking forward too--getting to know neighbors and seeing them more regularly. Since the complex has a pool and exercise room, I'm hoping we'll actually see that happen. The next step is to get our furniture moved in, buy a new couch and unpack. I have most of next week off to accomplish that. Then it's time to get to work.

Thanks for reading these little travel logs and for praying for us. There are a lot of things that could have gone wrong along the way, and none of them did. I'm most glad for that. At the end of the trip, we were all a bit saddle sore, but still speaking to each other--so we have that going for us, which is nice.

Soon I'll be back in the thick of things and writing up all things tech. I'm glad you were part of our journey!

Stats: Day 5

Total Miles: 261 (1942 Total)

Overall Average Speed: 60.3 MPH

Moving Average Speed: 68.3 MPH

Moving Time:  3:54 (28:26 Total)

I also did some MPG calculations in Vegas. Up to that point, my '99 Accord 4-cyl 5-speed was averaging 35.5 MPG. The '06 CR-V was getting just over 32. Not too shabby considering we were moving at nearly 70 MPH for 28 hours with the A/C on. We beat my estimates of gas mileage by 5 MPH for both cars. Sweet!

The Move: Drive Day 4--UT to NV

Finally, a short day in the car! I had planned the trip so that the long driving days were front-loaded. I figured, get the boring stuff out of the way, then we'd have time to see some sights out west. That kinda worked. What I didn't count on was how ready everyone would be to be out of the car. So instead of spending a few extra hours driving through Utah and seeing Bryce Canyon, we decided to head straight to Vegas and just chill at the hotel. I was kind of bummed, but the more I looked into Bryce, the more I wanted to spend a day there, not just a few hours.

We still saw some amazing scenery on the way to Vegas. Utah is still quite mountainous, and has a huge variety of mountains to look at. They range from grey, smooth mounds that look like you could scale them in a single bound, to tree-covered mountains that wouldn't be out of place in the Adirondacks of New York to rough red buttes. It was all quite stunning.

OK, so maybe not a single bound... OK, so maybe not a single bound...
This would fit right in in Colorado near Red Rocks. This would fit right in in Colorado near Red Rocks.Even though we were bucking a really strong headwind, we made good time. It was an interesting study of aerodynamic efficiency as well. I'm driving my '99 Honda Accord and my wife is driving the family truckster; a '06 Honda CR-V. I used less than half a tank coming out this way, she used almost a full one. In fact, when we got to Vegas, her gas light came on (which violates the rule of never letting the tank get below 1/2 in the desert, but that's another story).

One thing I didn't realize is that our trip would take us through 30 or so miles of Arizona. The scenery changed suddenly, and it was apparent we were not far from the Grand Canyon. I wish I wasn't driving, because I would have taken way more pictures than I did.

I was expecting "Welcome to Nevada." Who knew? I was expecting "Welcome to Nevada." Who knew?
Arizona has some stunning terrain. Arizona has some stunning terrain.We climbed up a pretty good hill; actually, we had been climbing slowly since we left Richfield, UT. Suddenly, we crested a pass (I think the elevation was 7800-something feet), and we started down. And down we went! From a high of almost 8000', we dropped to Las Vegas' 2000', and we did so in a hurry. It was a wild ride!

This image does not come close to doing the terrain justice. This image does not come close to doing the terrain justice.The rest of the trip was pretty remote. There are a few small cities between the NV state line and Vegas, but for the most part, it's 130 miles of desert. Make note of that if you come through this way. Stop in Mesquite if you're below 1/2 tank or need to use a bathroom. There's not much after that...don't ask me how I know.

Sadly, there was a giant RV blocking the Welcome to Nevada sign (seriously, didn't you know people would be taking pictures as they drove by?) So we got the next best thing. A casino sign. If you see casinos in the middle of the desert, you're in Nevada.

It's the best we could do. Welcome to gambling center, USA! It's the best we could do. Welcome to gambling center, USA!Once we made it through some particularly nasty traffic and construction around Vegas, we arrived at our hotel. After lunch and a dip in the pool, we headed up to the strip. Now, I was here back in 2003 and really enjoyed walking up and down the strip, going into the hotels, looking at the architecture, seeing what you can build when you have a steady stream of people giving you money 24/7. We had a great time. Not so anymore.

They've torn down a bunch of hotels and a major section of the strip is under construction. You walk under construction barriers, stepping over garbage and trying to dodge the hundreds (literally--hundreds!) of people wearing "Girls, Girls, Girls" t-shirts handing out cards for prostitutes. Vans and posters with nearly naked women abound inviting everyone to see the latest strip show. The place is filthy; in more ways that one. I was really disappointed. And because of high winds, the roller coaster at NY, NY wasn't running, nor were the fountains at Bellagio. So we really struck out. I liked Vegas a lot better when they were going for the "bring the whole family," concept.

Tomorrow, we'll finally reach our destination. It should be a short ride, only some 250 miles. Our truck of belongings is already there, so we will be unpacking on Monday. Really looking forward to getting settled in the new place!

Stats: (I'll put them up for day 3 as well, since I forgot earlier)

Day 3: CO to UT

Miles Driven: 478 (1388 total)

Overall Average Speed: 65.6 MPH

Moving Average Speed: 68.7 MPH

Time: 8:24 ( 21:10 total)

Moving Time:  7:40 (20:42 total)

 

Day 4: UT to NV

Miles Driven: 293 (1681 total)

Overall Average Speed: 65.3 MPH

Moving Average Speed: 68.5 MPH

Time: 4:34 ( 25:44 total)

Moving Time: 4:10 (24:32 total)

The Move: Drive Day 3--CO to UT

Today we made it into Utah. The landscape is simply stunning. In fact we had great scenery all day.

Out of Denver, we climed over 5,000 feet to Vail Pass. Then we headed back down. And down. And down. In fact, we went down so much that I got 37 MPG that leg!

I have a bunch of pictures to post, but sadly a storm has knocked out Internet at the hotel and I won't be able to upload them. Tomorrow, we'll be in Vegas, so I suspect I'll have Internet.

We're also planning on driving through Bryce Canyon on the way, so look for some amazing scenery there as well.

Sorry for the brief post. I'm writing this on the iPhone and have no 3G network so I'm not even sure it will post. More tomorrow!

UPDATE: The inter-web has been restored! I won't bore you with any more details, but here are some of the better pictures I took yesterday on the drive.

The climb up and out of Denver. We went from 5200' to over 10,000'! The climb up and out of Denver. We went from 5200' to over 10,000'!
There was some amazing scenery right next the highway. There was some amazing scenery right next the highway.
More great views. Love the red rocks. More great views. Love the red rocks.
Apparently, they ran out of creative names for places in CO. Apparently, they ran out of creative names for places in CO.
Once we got further west, the whole landscape changed. Once we got further west, the whole landscape changed.
Gone were the pointy mountains. They were replaced with buttes. Still very cool. Gone were the pointy mountains. They were replaced with buttes. Still very cool.
Finally, we made it to Utah. Not sure who the motorcyclist is... Finally, we made it to Utah. Not sure who the motorcyclist is...
Things got pretty sparse in Utah. Things got pretty sparse in Utah.
You may have seen news reports of the big storm that went through Denver? We were skirting it all day yesterday. You may have seen news reports of the big storm that went through Denver? We were skirting it all day yesterday.
I'm always amazed at rock formations out west. I'm always amazed at rock formations out west.

The Move: Drive Day 2--NE to CO

Today we saw the Rockies. That was cool. Actually, still is; we're staying in a hotel not far from them right now. We left Lincoln this morning with cool temperatures and the sun at our back. We drove straight west for a long, long time. Nebraska, as it turns out, is a long, long state. Still, traffic was light, and we made good time. There's really no reason to speed when the speed limit is 75.

Nebraska is actually much more scenic than I expected it to be. Lots of rolling hills, trees and of course, corn. Lots of corn.

It's so, western scenery-looking! It's so, western scenery-looking!Traffic was moving along very well all day, with minimal construction. Someone, however, had a very bad day. Not sure exactly what happened, but somehow, I'm pretty sure this is not how the camper looked when they pulled it off the lot...

This can't be good... This can't be good...Since we were heading west, and I knew we were rapidly exhausting opportunities to stop at a Cabela's, I talked the family into stopping at the original one in Kearney. Honestly, it wasn't as cool as the new ones they've been building (eg. the one in Dundee, MI). Still, I found some cool Teva sandals in the bargain cave for $20, so it was totally worth it. And they have a cool sculpture out front.


Cabela's in Kearney, NE. Cabela's in Kearney, NE.Soon we found ourselves crossing into Colorado. OK, it wasn't soon. It was near the end of the drive. But we did learn that Colorado is the "Colorful state." Which I will admit is a better slogan than Nebraska's. Through the haze, we could begin to make out the Rocky mountains. They're just big and amazing no matter what.

Welcome to Colorful Colorado! Welcome to Colorful Colorado!Colorado has one of the coolest rest stops/visitor centers I've seen, complete with a cool bronze sculpture of some big birds.

Taken with the iPhone 3Gs. Picture quality is quite impressive. Taken with the iPhone 3Gs. Picture quality is quite impressive.Once we made it to Denver, we spied a restaurant we haven't eaten at in a long time; Joe's Crab Shack. I normally avoid chains, but Joe's is one that I don't mind hitting. The food was good, the service great and I really enjoyed embarrassing my teenage daughters by busting a few moves in the booth to the great music. Think Albert in the movie Hitch. Oh yeah...

Oh, and we all got a laugh when Katie dropped her glass of water off the edge of the table. Our waiter custom fabricated a "spill-proof glass" for her so it wouldn't happen again. Great job!

Katies Safety Cup Katie's Safety CupAnd of course, there are those Rocky Mountain sunsets. Really, how do you mess this up? What a great display of God's creation!

How beautiful is that? How beautiful is that?Tomorrow we'll drive through those mountains and end up in a small town in Utah. Looking forward to the drive and spending some time in Bryce Canyon!

Stats for Tuesday's Drive:

Miles driven: 487 (914 total)

Average Speed: 70 MPH (for entire trip)

Overall Average Speed: 67.2 MPH (for entire trip)

Drive Time: 7:24 (13:16 for entire trip)