Road Trip to San Diego
Before leaving for San Diego, my Silver Ring Splints finally arrived at my Occupational Therapist's office! They're so wonderful :D :D :D It's kind of like having a hug on your hand.
Before leaving, I also made sure to take more pictures of my cats (as if I didn't have enough of them...I'll just share a couple :)
I safely arrived in San Diego last week :) But let me back up a little bit and tell you about the journey (I'll keep it short...ish)
Friday August 11th
I worked until about 915pm afterwards, I quickly finished packing up my car (food, clothes, cooler, etc). I said goodbye to my mom and gave my kittens a solid amount of wet food (had to spoil them a little bit because I was leaving). I hugged them tight and got ready to head out the door. (My mom is taking care of them while I'm gone).
I left my hometown around 10pm and picked up my friend in Milwaukee. We got on the road and things were off to a smooth start. The plan was to drive to somewhere near Lincoln, Nebraska and stop for the night (or when I started to feel tired). Along the entire trip, we stopped about every 150-200 miles for bathroom breaks, gas, and to stretch our legs. I made sure to stock up on Starbucks energy drinks for the drive.
Planned route (thanks to GPS) Wisconsin, Illinois to cross it's northwest corner, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, and the Nevada (Las Vegas). I would finish up the remaining 5 hours from Las Vegas to San Diego on my own.
Friday Night/Saturday Morning
For the short bit we were driving through Illinois, it was not a good time to be driving. We saw at least 5 different drunk drivers. I safely and quickly passed them. Saw the aftermath of an accident just outside of a construction zone. Paid a toll and got out of Illinois.
Nebraska is the most boring state to drive across BUT their drivers really respect the "only use the left lane for passing" rule. They pass quickly and return to the right lane. Nothing much to note about Nebraska, other than the speed limit being 75mph, which helped it go by a little faster. We did keep passing Swift company semis. My friend and I came to the conclusion we were passing the same semi every time haha.
Saturday August 12th (Afternoon)
I ended up not feeling tired so we pushed through (to what should have been our 2nd stop) Boulder, Colorado. We stopped there so my friend could visit his family he hadn't seen in quite some time (not sure how long it had been). We were incredibly thankful to be sleeping in beds! You don't realize how much you appreciate stretching out until you've spent about 17 and a half hours in a car.
Well, I got a little sleep. I fell asleep for about an hour and my friend's regular alarm (he didn't mean for it to be set) woke me up. We decided to grab some pizza from the place right by our hotel. Again, I tried to sleep that night...not much luck, I think I got about 6 hours before being woken up by another alarm because it was still stuck in Central time (an hour ahead of Colorado time). I hopped in the shower and got ready for the day. Thank goodness for the free breakfast at the hotel :) A nice hot meal and COFFEE! :D
Sunday August 13th
After we checked out the of the hotel we did the following:
- Lunch with my friend's family and we had a great time :)
- We went to the house where he grew up and took some pictures.
- Since we were in Colorado, I insisted we go to a dispensary just to check it out. It was pretty cool and way different than how that's dealt with in Wisconsin. We didn't buy anything but the guy behind the counter was super friendly and informative.
- We tried to find CBD oil (without THC because it's good for chronic pain) but we didn't have any luck. The guy from the dispensary said we should be able to find it at most local grocery stores, well, we only went to one of the places he suggested and zero luck there.
Sunday Aug 13th (Afternoon) - Colorado
We decided to get back on the road and heading towards Las Vegas. Game plan: drive about 8 hours and stop for the night (somewhere along the western edge of Utah). At this point, my body is doing pretty well - A little bit sore from sitting so much, my hips are a little angry, and my shoulders are tense from holding the steering wheel.
I drove through the mountains of Colorado in the day time and it was BEAUTIFUL! But also kind of terrifying (because you want to look at the beauty... but you can't because of all the curves in the road). It was my first time ever driving through the mountains. A 6% grade is no joke. Speed limit ranged from 55-70ish depending on how crazy the curves were. My friend took pictures and videos for me to see later.
-Little example of how a 6% grade went in my stick shift Mazda 6 speed.
- I was going 65mph with my car in 5th gear (down shifted to give my brakes a rest) and I continued to gain speed, within about 15 seconds, I was going over 75mph. I down shifted for 4th gear and the rate that the speed went up (after I slowed to 65 again) was slower, but still increased by about 5mph.
I was very thankful for two things during my first time driving through mountains - 1st that it was daytime and 2nd that I have a stick shift car to down shift in.
- I quickly learned what the "climbing lane" was for <-- slow semis that were having a hard time climbing the mountain. And saw several of the emergency exit ramps for runaway semis (luckily none of them were used during my trip)
*We continued to pass the same Swift semi (we're assuming). We started to wave at the driver as we passed by. I couldn't see in the cab to know if it was the same truck. But hey, it was entertaining to think it was the same driver :)
Everything had been completely smooth sailing...until we got to Utah. It was still day time, bright sun, beautiful scenery, and a speed limit of 80mph (I was going 85, the standard 5 over).
Then, out of nowhere, I ran something over. My friend and I were both watching the road at the same time - and neither of us saw it or know what it was. I felt it go under my driver side front tire and watched some sort of large black rubbery looking thing go flying in my side view mirror. I made the assumption that it was some tire tread from a semi (sounds logical, right?).
I freaked out!! I was going 85mph and hit something. My car was still running just fine but I was worried about what my car looked like underneath or if something happened to my tire. And the next exit was at least 2 miles away and marked with "No Services" - meaning NO gas station, no food, no hotels, nothing. Just desert and an empty weird looking road. We pulled off and found one area that was wide enough for me to check my car...but there was a smaller sized suburban sitting there. Not moving. 1 person inside. It was so creepy! I checked my car and the only thing I found was some chipped paint on the underside of my fender (not noticeable unless you're looking under the car), my tire was intact, and there wasn't anything else noticeably damaged. We got back on the road and stopped a few more times in Utah. Each town seemed stranger than the next.
*We were still passing "the same" SWIFT truck every few hours
Late Sunday Night
We decided to continue on past our destination of the western side of Utah - Las Vegas was only about another 5 hours from where we were. The lane lines were all really well marked and have reflective markers every few feet, super handy! Wisconsin really needs to invest in them.
Going through the mountains of Utah at night, not fun. A lot of curves, steep grades (mostly 6% grade). I was finally getting the hang of downshifting to go downhill as well as to gain enough speed to go up a mountain. So weird to be in 4th gear and going 65mph in order to go up a mountain. Blew my mind (normally, in Wisconsin, anything over 60mph and I'm in 6th gear). I decided to stick behind a slower moving pickup truck through the mountains because it was dark and I made the assumption he would know the roads better than me (Utah plates). I followed him for about 80 miles. Utah was NOT a fun state!! So far, hit something & scary pitch black mountains...and then, I almost hit a bunny. ALMOST. Phew.
Next, near the edge of Utah, construction for about 25 miles. They decided to put the through lane of traffic straddling the shoulder and the far right lane. Which meant...straddling rumble strips. For 25 miles. 6 inches to the left - construction barrels...and couldn't go further to the right because the shoulder wasn't a full shoulder. Welcome to my nightmare. Night time driving, rough rumble strips, and having to very very carefully not hit rumble strips or construction barrels.
I was incredibly thankful when that was over. I screamed with joy! My friend wasn't quite as excited as I was. My shoulders and hands were tense from maintaining my lane position for that long.
So we were counting the miles down to the border... of what we thought was going to be Nevada... we were both shocked to find that we'd be crossing through about 30 miles of Arizona to get to Nevada. Again, more mountains at night. But not nearly as many curves as Utah and the awesome reflectors on the road continued. Super easy to know where I should and shouldn't be.
Monday August 14th
We finally made it to our destination state!! It was only about another 130ish miles to Las Vegas. I was so incredibly happy to see we when it dropped below 100 miles!
As we approached Vegas (about 2am Pacific time) , the sky began to light up. As we got to the crest of the final mountain before Vegas - it was amazing to see all the lights just over the hill. I began to smile like a little kid :)
We rolled into vegas around 230am and pulled up to our hotel ... but our reservation began later that day. Check in time was technically 3pm. They said it would be about another $75 to get the room 12 hours early (we paid about $80 for the next 2 nights combined - I was not having it). Thought about grabbing another room, the cheap hotels were all booked for the night. I was tired. We were going to sleep in the Walmart parking lot in the car... then my friend decided we would grab the hotel room early and say screw it. So we did. We piled our things in the room and slept. Finally a good night of sleep :D
My body was so tense and tired from the drive through Utah. I was thankful once again to be in a bed and able to sleep.
While in Vegas we did the following
- Caught up on sleep
- Checked out Fremont street during the day & at night for the light show
- Grabbed coffee
- Ate at Nacho Daddy on taco Tuesday
- Checked out the Strip during the day & night time
- Had coffee (Douwe Egberts...so good!) at Johnny Rockets(my friend ate there but I'm a vegetarian)
- Went to 2 gay bars
Wednesday August 16th
- Checked out of the hotel & loaded up the car
- Dropped my friend off at the airport
- I got back on the road solo to San Diego
- I passed the Swift truck once more while leaving Las Vegas haha
I turned on the app Glympse so my mom and the friend I was staying with in San Diego would know where I was at. I stopped quite a few places along the route because I wanted to make sure my tank was full of gas (in case something were to happen) and I was drinking my energy drinks a little too fast ...
More mountains. More shifting. And then boring boring boring long stretches of road. One thing I learned about California drivers, do NOT follow them closely. I normally keep a distance of about 2 car lengths when following another car. Well, we were driving along through the western side of California (nothing to see, 2 lanes, 75mph speed limit) bright clear sunny day... and for NO reason the guy ahead of me - SLAMS on his brakes. We went from going 75mph to 40mph. There was no accident, no one in front of him, nothing to see (we were in the desert). I slowed down in time but sheeesh there was no reason for that.
- And I've found, during my short period of time driving in California, this is not a unique experience. So many drivers randomly just decide to slam on their brakes for absolutely no reason. Now I keep wayyyy behind California drivers.
The rest of the drive...there wasn't much more that happened, other than hitting my first bit of traffic. During my entire trip (from Wisconsin to San Diego), the only traffic was in California...for about 45 minutes total. I safely arrived at my friend's place and we proceeded to hang out and relax by his apartment complex pool. I met a few of his friends and it was nice to be able to relax :)
I'll update later with my "happenings" while I'm in California. I feel like this post is long enough for now haha. So much for a 'short' update. But it was a week's worth of travels. I think I've sat in this coffee shop for long enough. They probably want their table back haha.
Thanks for reading :) I'll post more later. **Feel free to leave a comment or send me an email EDSZebraPOTS@gmail.com**