Before we go much further, I feel obligated to state what is likely already obvious: I’m not all about that #InstaLife. All accompanying photography was snapped with little regard for composition, typically while stretching out from 4-6 hours of driving, and/or having just slept in the back of an SUV for a while.
Anyway, back to the action. When we last left our intrepid heros, we’d just gotten on the road from ModelOp PNW in Medford, Oregon. (Actually, quick aside: we actually started the adventure how we always do for a road trip: at In-N-Out Burger. Yes, they’ve gotten this far North!)
After a quick jaunt down I-5, a friendly hello from a member of the local constabulary (remember, kids! Use a low gear on a 6% downgrade!), and a bit of night driving through what is, in the daytime, a very beautiful stretch of the Shasta-Trinity, Lassen, Plumas, and Tahoe National Forests)… First stop: Reno!
I’d like to give a shout out to the fine people at the 2nd Street Reno Walmart, who keep a well-maintained parking lot, with enough grass for the four-legged member of our merry band to do her business The dog in the Reno parking lot), and whose built-in McDonalds serves a reasonably-priced, and oddly-satisfying-while-on-the-road strawberry smoothie. Once fueled up, both automotively and organically, we hit the road again for the proverbial “meat and potatoes” portion of the trip: I-80.
For anyone who is at this point scrolling madly to find the comment section or my twitter handle (@4thGearGreg by the way) and preparing to unleash a blistering defense of the Cowboy State, let me be clear: I’m not talking about Yellowstone, or Jackson, or the Tetons. I’m talking about holy-crap-they-closed-the-interstate-again-because-it’s-snowing-sideways-at-60-MPH-and-it’s-May-why-do-I-keep-doing-this-to-myself Wyoming. Otherwise known as the stretch of southern Wyoming through which interstate 80 runs. Okay. We’re not actually even there yet. Where was I?
Right! I-80. So, after blithely ignoring the genuine beauty of northwestern Nevada while attempting to enter the zen-like mindset needed to traverse 1,825 miles of the same interstate without going completely mad, we began our grand Eastward migration. After a few hours of beautiful blue skies, snowcapped mountains, and a boatload of sagebrush, we needed a fuel stop. While we were there, the ModelOp Golden Ale was curious about some of the local wildlife:
After a lot more sagebrush (seriously, if you’ve never driven through the high desert… look, there’s just a lot of sagebrush), a bunch of salt, a lot of fun signs about not going to sleep while looking at nothing but salt, and a really weird-looking concrete tree (feel free to google “Tree of Utah” if you’re interested), we needed to make another fuel stop. At least this time we managed to get a better view for our intrepid 12 ouncer:
So, full of fuel, and low on sleep, we were ready to pick up our fourth passenger: a 5-gallon keg of homebrew I lovingly nicknamed Cornelius…
…. But that will have to wait for installment #3.
Thanks for following along!
Jim and I separately brewed the same recipe, based on one Jim has been making for a while (he’s very old; don’t make fun of him for this. He hates it when I do that.), and although it might be spoiling a bit of the ending, it turned out excellently.
So, Cornelius in hand (fine; vehicle. You’re so pedantic sometimes, you know that?), we continued our wayward journey across the aforementioned windswept wasteland of autumnal Wyoming. In case anyone is skeptical of just how windswept things where, I managed to (from the passenger’s seat – safety first) catch a snapshot of a helpful highway sign. So, yeah. Windy.
Now. This is the point at which, for those of you following along on your 2018 Rand McNally Road Atlas (I’m not going to fork over that $14.95 every year, people. Come on.), the rest of the journey starts looking very… we’re gonna go with similar. Yes, I’m sure there are many important and very true differences between Nebraska, Iowa, and Western Illinois. Please keep these to yourself. Or don’t, I suppose. I mean, I’m always up for having a heated discussion about the finer points of the Midwest. Usually over beer. (And he brings it back around!). For the purposes of this blog post, however, the focus is on the things that are the same about Nebraska, Iowa, and Western Illinois. Which is, essentially, everything except which Big 10 football team your neighbor won’t stop talking about all year.
At this point, imagine a montage of billboards advertising corn dogs and truck stops (Iowa 80: I’m looking at you) while something from Johnny Cougar plays in the background. Or maybe Bob Seeger. Yeah, let’s go with Seeger. Great. Now I have that super-80’s wailing saxophone intro in my head. You know the one.