Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Good buy O'Canada

Road trip, Toronto to Berkeley
In September I moved to California. I jumped in my Jetta and drove west for six days.

Day 1
I drove alone for the first day. It was sad leaving Alex and my family behind, and the long drive and new beginnings weighed heavily on me. Also, Michigan drivers are ass holes. That is the only notable memory from my first day other than sadness. Fortunately I had company after my first day, and the road trip vibes picked way up. I picked up my friend Charlotte outside of Chicago and she did the rest of the trip with me.

Charlotte and I did our PhD's together at Queen's in Kingston, Ontario. Now we are both postdocs in the states. Living the dream, paying off debts while making marginally more money and working harder than ever.

Day 2
Day two. Somewhere in Iowa

On day two Charlotte and I drove from Chicago to Lincoln Nebraska. Beside some torrential down pouring of rain, the drive was uneventful. We stopped in some little town along the way and I bought a taco. Fact: not all mexican food in the US is good. That burrito was terrible. (I've had much better since moving to Cali). Lincoln is a very nice city. We had a quick stay left early the next morning.

Day 3
More beautiful scenery.
amazing view from my car in Iowa...or Nebraska
The third day was reasonably short. Also the time change was in our favour, we traveled back an hour in time and made it to Denver CO around 5pm. My friend Danny made some recommendation as to where to go in Denver. We were not let down. Here we are at Work & Class. It was fantastic. Not overly priced and everything, drinks, service and of course food, were really great.
Charlotte (copilot) enjoying a Chai Beer. I always seem to have to best beer in Colorado!  

Day 4
After a night at a sketchy AirBnB we went to Source for coffee and pastries. Its another great Denver spot.

After Denver we took a detour through the mountains. Finally it was becoming scenic and a bit more interesting. We drove through the mountains, literally. I was also able to test my cars performance in high altitude. It was not a very impressive performance, and now I know.
Colorado, somewhere
Leaving Denver CO and driving west. 
We decided to stop for lunch in Glenwood, where an "adventure park" has been built on top of a mountain. From the highway (much farther down) you can see a swing from the park swinging right over the edge of the mountain. No thanks! not for this gal. I felt uncomfortable enough on the gondola ride up.

Finally after a long day we made it into Utah and to Salt Lake City. Colorado and Utah are very beautiful states with constantly changing landscapes. I plan to go back.

In Salt Lake City we stayed at another AirBnB. This one was better than the Denver spot, but also unique in its own way. Its called the cock house, and is not as sexy as it sounds. Its was no chip and dales, it was a small unit inside of a chicken coop. No regrets though.
Charlotte trying to hide her excitement
the host was great and recommended a terrific thai place near by. I had never been to SLC and was blow away by the mormon... uh... headquarters? I had never seen anything like that before.

Day 5
We woke up, ate some funky chicken eggs and started the drive through the salt flat. We were interested in swimming in the Salt Lake. We wanted to float along the surface of the buoyant lake. Well, let me tell you, once you get a close look at the lake, any thought of swimming in it quickly fades. Smells like farts, the water is full of sea monkeys (brine shrimp) and the beach has a thick layer of flies.
Salt Lake
Soon after the Salt Lake, are the salt flats. Puddles along side the road look like they are covered in ice, but its all salt. It was really quite the site.
Charmander on the Salt flats, Utah
We tried going to the actual Bonneville  raceway, but that costs money. So we just tuned into the raceway radio station and went to a near by dinner.
Bonneville Salt Flats
Then onto Nevada. Its too bad Nevada came after Colorado and Utah. It has the geographic excitement of Iowa. Okay, maybe it was a little more lumpy in parts. It was hot and I was scared of running our of gas.
Nevada (probably)
Once we got through Reno, we were nearing the mountains and things got really pretty again, and we got exited about seeing trees for the first time in about a day.
Excited to see mountains and trees again. Note that I am actually looking at the road because I am a fantastic driver. 
Our final destination for the night was South Lake Tahoe, California. We stayed at a resort and swam in the heated pool and gazed at the starts. It was a great night. It was cold though! By far the coldest we had been since day one.

Day 6
Lake Tahoe, CA
Day six the reality of my new life set in. It was a short 3-4 hour drive from Lake Tahoe, through Napa and then onto Berkeley.
Large pinecone
A few hours later we were in Berkeley, were you don't have to wait very long before you see your next camper van... or homeless person.

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