Out of the West

Marcia and I made it back to Des Moines tonight, after a long slog 10-hour final day of driving, which began in Laramie, Wyoming. We racked up 4,083 total miles on the trip, which was 18 days long. An average of ~265 per day, every day, oof!! More importantly, I made a playlist of 1,500 songs for the trip, and we spun 1,228 of them in the car along the way. I kind of feel bad for the 272 songs that the iTunes randomizer didn’t queue up for us, sitting in the machine all those days and all those miles, but never getting their moment in the singalong sun. (I don’t feel bad enough for them to keep driving, though). While our 2020 travel map does not look as robust as we planned and expected it to be, given all of the trips we had to cancel due to the plague season, we’ve still covered a good bit of ground (and air, back when that was safe) since we welcomed in the year in Albuquerque, as per below:

We quite enjoyed the couple of days we spent in Laramie. We’d picked it primarily as a reasonable mid-point between Logan and Des Moines, but found it to be an attractive and interesting small city, with good parks and trails (urban and rural), an interesting downtown with good (carry-out) dining options, and a truly lovely campus for the University of Wyoming students and faculty. A pleasant surprise. I’d be happy to stop there again. Definitely the nicest bit of Wyoming that we visited this trip, though we are also fond of the Northwestern corner where the Tetons and Jackson and Yellowstone snuggle up against our former Idaho home, even if we didn’t get up that far this time around.

Fun Fact: Interstate 80 features more road miles in Nebraska than in any other state on its coast-to-coast course, and we drove every single one of them today. Next time we head west, we’re going to drop down to the I-70 corridor across Kansas instead. It’ll still be a slog, but psychologically it’s easier to do a drive where you don’t have to watch the mile markers go from 0 to 455 on the same highway in the same state. Somewhere around the middle of our Nebraska endurance event this afternoon, we also crossed from the refreshing dry mountain climate region into the disgustingly humid Midwestern miasma. There was a stiff wind out of the south most of the drive, bringing up the heat and the dank, and making it hard to relax much while trucks were wobbling all over the highway at 80+ miles per hour.

We then did our obligatory daily walk after we got home tonight, and I swear I sweated more over that one hour than I had on any full day while we were out west, even though we walked longer and steeper tracks there than we ever can here at home. Among numerous other factors, that climate difference makes us feel good about our plan to move Westward later this year. I’m past the point in my life where I want to have a gentle glow or glossy sheen on my skin. I’m ready to be a scaly reptile, all the time. It also feels odd and off to return home to Des Moines and not see Katelin and John here soon after our arrival. The neighborhood feels emptier without them nearby. It will be nice to be closer to them in 2021, if not as close as we’ve been for the past 18 months, e.g. right across the street!

I shared some snaps of this trip along the way in prior blog posts, here, here, and here. I have now uploaded those samples and others like them to my usual Flickr Gallery summarizing the images of our trip. You can see them all by clicking the image of the lovely bog-front quaking aspens below, taken in the Happy Jack Recreational Area, just east of Laramie, right near I-80’s highest point. It was essentially a nine-hour roll downhill from there to home. We can’t wait to climb back up those slopes sometime sooner rather than later!

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