1300 Miles

Thirteen hundred miles at an average of 65 miles per hour takes 20 hours.  Then add an extra hour because from Grand Junction, CO to Milwaukee, WI, we will pass through a time zone.  That would mean arriving 21 hours after departing.  And lucky for us, it takes slightly less, but not by much.  The time is filled with books on tape, music, podcasts, discussions of grand plans for our apartment in Boston, and some sleep (but not by the driver of course).

colorado rockies

We tap the Rockies, enjoy Nebraska and Iowa from the highway, and then almost get to Chicago when we head North to Milwaukee to meet up with Becky.  This is the same Becky that we traveled with in Sicily about a month ago.  We stay with Becky’s friend’s friend just outside Milwaukee.  We arrive late, but have the whole next day to recover starting immediately with pancakes and coffee in the morning.  We then head into the city of Milwaukee, enjoy a couple beers at Lakeshore brewery, followed up by a walk along the lake, and eventually end back at the house for swimming pool games.  Today is another great break from the other part of this adventure, which takes place mostly on the open road.

the house outside Milwaukee

Naturally Unnatural

The best national parks are those that seem naturally unnatural like Arches National Park in Utah.  And because today’s drive was a manageable six hours in the car, there is some time to explore Arches on the way to Grand Junction, Colorado.  Its sandstone arches and other fantastically unusual geographic formations that cover the Moab Desert are breathtaking.  We start our park exploration in the comfort of the Prius and are therefore oblivious to the rising temperatures outside.  At a temperature over 100 degrees, we step out of the car and quickly decide that the heat is not horrible, it being a dry heat.  About five minutes later, we change our minds.  It’s hot outside!  We take a hike to have an upclose view of a famous arch, and while walking in sandals, we start to feel that we are not entirely prepared for this adventure.  As we see others in their high-top hiking boots, we comment that the sand feels a little warm on our toes.  Nonetheless, we make it to the arch and back, grabbing a couple photos in the process.

Arches national park


In Grand Junction, we crash with my Aunt- and Uncle-In-Law in their place that overlooks the Colorado National Monument, which in the morning provides a tranquil and beautiful start to the day.

colorado national monument

Red, White, Blue, and Double-Yellow Lines

The road from Rome to Deer Valley is short in time, but not in distance–especially when covering most of California in the process.  My yet to be named Prius is waiting at home in La Canada, CA nine-ten-eleven, and although it has been driven in my absence, the odometer reads only a couple hundred miles more than it did 5 months ago.  Little does the unsuspecting Prius realize that it will gain almost 5,000 miles in the next couple weeks.

After unpacking, packing, online tutorials for school, a fabulous family reunion in Santa Barbara, and two days of friends in the Bay Area, I pick up Gabe in Redwood City, and we set Park City, Utah into the GPS.  In the ten days that I was “home” in California before setting off across the country, I had no time to experience jet lag, culture shock, or sleeping in.

Deer Valley, UT

That said, before I know it, Gabe and I are enjoying our last In-n-Out Burger for a while when we pass through Reno, and it is more accurate if I pluralize “burgers.”  For lunch, we share a regular fries and animals-style fries, which I devour along with a cheeseburger, an animal-style double-double, and a Coke.  In between long stretches of open road filled with good tunes including a tractor playlist, “This American Life”, and in depth discussions about the wikipedia article on Mormonism, we make a couple more bio-breaks to refill the Prius and empty our bladders before eventually arriving in Park City.  Staying with a friend from university, we wake up the next morning to a beautiful day.  Our friend has to go to work in the morning, but her two roommates are gearing up for a hike and we invite ourselves to tag along.  We quickly realize that we should have waited for them to fully gear up so that the spandex, hardcore shoes, and camelbaks could have provided us a hint of what we were about to do.  Hiking up and around Deer Valley to about 10,000 feet, we learn a lesson about lung capacity while we enjoy the stunning views that surround us.

After a full recovery day in Park City of hiking, eating, cooking, and exploring Main Street, we leave for the very reasonable drive to Grand Junction, Colorado.  I am not sure if the hardest activity of the day in Park City was the hike or kneading the homemade pasta dough, but whichever the case, we had a fun-filled stay in Utah.