Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Aiming for Arizona

San Francisco across the Bay, cloaked in a fog bank.
October 11, 2015

As they say, all good things must come to an end, so we spent Sunday morning finishing laundry, packing our suitcases, and stowing the leftover food in the ice chest before loading up the car and checking out of our resort at noon. The kids were all looking forward to getting home by now, but for once I wished for another carefree week. I'm sure part of the reason was because I wasn't prepared for the 14 hours behind the wheel that lay ahead.

You know, I don't recall ever wishing I hadn't taken so many pictures, but I've definitely wished I'd captured moments on film that I'd missed. Our return trip was one of those times. If I hadn't been driving, I'd have kept my camera at the ready, but the only other shutterbug in our family is Dylan, who was dozing in the backseat (and had his camera inconveniently stowed away).

On our return road, we once again crossed the Richmond-San Rafael Bridge toward Oakland, traveling south this time, and there were some magnificent views of the San Francisco Bay from that part of the bridge. I hadn't realized the bridge was two-tiered, with northbound traffic above and southbound traffic below. It hadn't even occurred to me to wonder where the southbound traffic had disappeared to when we traveled north! But the lower tier had the best views of the water, and we missed those shots.

However, as we drove across under a clear blue sky, we could see San Francisco across the bay, shrouded in a layer of fog pierced only by the tallest buildings. For that, Sarah grabbed my camera and captured the shot above. It was so funny to see such different weather patterns so close together.

Dylan relaxes at a rest stop near Coalinga, California.

It was, indeed, a very long drive from Windsor to our home in Arizona. I decided it would be wiser to spend the night somewhere along the way rather than driving through the night, so I reserved two rooms in the small Colorado River town of Needles, California, about 10 highway-miles from the California-Arizona border.

We drove like mad throughout the day on Sunday, making as few stops as possible, yet we seemed to fall further and further behind our anticipated travel time. Gas stops and bathroom breaks were necessary every 2-3 hours. We paused at a rest stop near Coalinga to have lunch (we'd purchased deli meats and cheese and assembled our own deli sandwiches), but what we'll remember most about that stop was the plague of biting flies that attacked us throughout lunch!

Jack-in-the-Box in Barstow, California.

It was actually about 4:30 when we stopped for lunch (having had a big, late breakfast of eggs, bacon, and English muffins before leaving the resort), so we weren't hungry for dinner until we reached Barstow around 9:00 that evening. After filling the tank, we drove around until we found a fast food place that sounded good (I do love the tacos at Jack-in-the-Box, or Jack-in-the-Crack, as Mark calls it).

While we ate, I called our motel to inform them of our late arrival (I'd originally hoped to get there by 10 or 11 p.m.) and make sure they were holding our rooms. Then we climbed back into the car for the final leg of the day's journey, joking that the car's interior seemed to shrink a little each time we stopped.

We'd been on the road for 11 hours by the time we reached our first destination.
Notice the train in the background. We heard those trains all night long.

We finally reached Needles just after 11:30 p.m., after almost eleven and a half hours on the road. The rooms were tiny, the bathrooms were tinier, and the beds were hard as a rock, but it felt wonderful to stretch out and close my eyes. Dylan was taking his chaperoning duties quite seriously. He was the first one into our room, and he quickly came back out stating, "Mom, there's only one bed! Dad will have to sleep with Sarah and Chris!" When I said they also had only one bed, he told me firmly, "You can't sleep in the same bed!" I had to assure him that Mark would be on the floor with a blanket and pillows before he relented.

Our motel on Historic Route 66 in Needles.

We didn't set any alarms, but we woke up at 7:00 on Monday morning. We'd slept in our clothes and hadn't bothered to unpack the car, so all we needed was a good place to eat breakfast. I wanted something hearty like biscuits and gravy. Chris went online on his cell phone and found us a really amazing place called Wagon Wheel Restaurant, just a block from our motel, so we checked out at 7:45 and went down the street to eat.

Where we breakfasted on the last day of our journey.

Turns out, this was a restaurant with history and a sense of fun. The food was delicious, and they told us it was a favorite stop for truckers from all over the United States.

"Warning! Baby Rattlers!" said the sign over the barrel.
We approached the protective netting with caution.
At the bottom of the barrel? A selection of baby rattles!

I was too busy eating to take pictures of the yummy food.
Sarah and Chris leave our table after we finished breakfast.

The restaurant's gift shop was filled with memorabilia.

We left Needles around 8:30 and soon crossed over the Colorado River and back into Arizona. After two more fueling stops, we finally pulled into the driveway of our house at 2:00 in the afternoon. It really was good to be home.

Dylan cleans the windshield at our first truck stop on Monday.

I know I skipped a whole bunch of events from our trip and went straight to blogging about out return trip, but I promise to go back and tell about our experiences at Alcatraz Island, Fisherman's Wharf, the northern coast of California, and Armstrong Redwoods Reserve, among other sights. But those are stories to be shared another day...

No comments: