Road Trip!

Set out runnin’ but I take my time, a friend of the devil is a friend of mine…

I’m not sure why long road trips immediately put me in the mood for some Grateful Dead, but this one in particular took us through Reno, NV, and so this song has basically been stuck in my head for three days. Given that it IS a Dead song, my brain DJ has almost gotten to the last verse, after which it will hopefully fade to a different song. Maybe Touch of Grey…

On Route 80, heading east, climbing past the scrub into the pines. Ladybug said, Mommy! I want to build a snowman! Not today, Ladybug, we got places to be. On the other hand, Rick Keller would be quite a home running those elevations.

This trip started as a vague idea about buying a camper and another vague idea about going to visit family in Salt Lake City, UT. We’d been talking about both of these ideas for over a year, so when a confluence of events made it an ideal time to visit (my nephews’ day care shut down for a week, and my sister-in-law took off work, and we found an excellent deal on a Jayco travel trailer), the way east was clear.

I’ve started off many a road trip on Route 80–but from the other direction. Driving from New Jersey, I’ve traveled to and through Pennsylvania, Ohio, Minnesota, Wisconsin, all starting off with hopping on Route 80 West. There was a weird moment of dissonance when we drove past Sacramento and found ourselves on Route 80 East. And later, instead of heading in the heavily populated areas of eastern NJ, and spotting the towers and tunnels of NYC, we found vista after vista, the Donner Lake, signs for the Emigrant Trail, and finally, the sign welcoming us to Nevada. Which, after 17 years of dating/marriage to a native Las Vegas resident, I know how to pronounce correctly. Which I don’t–on purpose. Cuz I love him.

Welcome to Winnemucca, NV! We stopped by this city that seemed like one of those places you find in movies, where the entire place fell into a time warp in the 1980s and you’ll never be seen from again. But in a really cool and picturesque way.

The Brune Coombs Traveling Circus and Menagerie, complete with dogs, kids, and two undercaffeinated adults pulled into Winnemucca, NV, around six at night. While my spouse went for a run, I popped open my tablet to get some MFA coursework complete because of course I waited until the last minute. I wrote two short assignments for my business course, and then finished and roughly revised the next sequence in my thesis novel. I thought I’d done a pretty good job of catching the most egregious errors–until I turned it in and realized there was a bunch of stuff I didn’t catch. Oh well, that’s what critiquing is for!

It was also a beautiful night, with an almost-full moon that would have had Rick Keller jumping out of his skin. Since I am not a werewolf, I succumbed to sleep and headed to bed.

The next day, we finished driving across Nevada, the terrain getting flatter and flatter, the sky getting bigger and bigger.

The road leading us through the desert, wide open under a sky containing all the weather at once.

As we drove, I worked on a knitting project while Rob audiobooked one of the Game of Thrones novels. I cannot stand listening to audiobooks or podcasts–for some reason my attention wanders and I can’t concentrate. So I spent most of the trip thinking about various things. I wrote down a few ideas for a song/poem I’m working on, and a couple of ideas for the next part of Winter Run. And, of course, what the heck I was going to write on my MFA scene.

Next exit, Devils Gate? Let’s not go there, what do you say … I’ve seen that movie before.

I’m writing this blog post sitting at a sturdy plastic picnic table at a KOA just inside the Salt Lake City limits. The family is off walking the dog as I finish up my coursework for one of my classes this week. The weather can’t be beat–not sure what the temperature is, except for the fact that at nine in the morning, it’s perfect. Across from our “campsite” (RV parking space), there is a pool and a jungle gym just perfect for an adventurous two- and four-year-old. Although this area is pretty built up, I can just catch a glimpse of snow-covered peaks in the distance behind the concrete bricks of a neighboring building.

Yesterday, we went to see the dinosaurs at the Natural History Museum of Utah. Today, we’ll hit up a local RV store to get one or two items we’ve realized would make our lives easier, and then head over to spend more time with family. Along the way, I’ll get a few more words added to the Winter Run word count. The time on the road gave my brain a bit of a creative jolt, showing me the wide open spaces a lone wolf could run, the light that a full moon casts over deserts when there are no electric lights to compete for attention. In the meantime, it’s time to write.

A fine night to run the moon at Winnemucca RV Park.
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