Retro Post: 10 Years Ago Today, 15-Aug, Part 3

For the next few weeks, we’ll be observing an anniversary: 10 years since we left San Francisco and moved to Ann Arbor. I’ll repost articles Frank and I wrote at that time for our Ann Arbor blog, aSquared. Bittersweet, very definitely they will be, bittersweet.

[It’s aSquared’s First Birthday … we’re celebrating by looking back at events from a year ago … skip these retro posts if you’re not into sentimentality.]

‘I still haven’t quite figured out how to pronounce ‘Tonopah’ … is it ‘TOEnuh-pah’? or ‘tuh-NO-puh’? or ‘toe-noePAH’? Whatever it is, I’m sure it means ‘Middle of Bum-F—- Egypt’ … And thus begins our cross-country trip. A note on these entries: the times may get all weird; we wrote some of these entries while on the road and posted them later. I remember the Yosemite portion of this trip, crossing the Nevada border and arriving in Tonopah, but the rest tends to be a blur. I remember that the beagle was very worn out that first night.

Day One

A Note: Sorry folks, I had no dial-up number for internet access last night in Tonopah, NV, which is, after all, WAY out in the desert. One of the next nearest towns is Coaldale Junction (which is really no more than a gas station and an FAA VOR navigational aid, used by commercial airliners on their way to San Francisco). There’s another nearby town we passed through which featured a sign declaring the population was ‘13 and a half.’ We didn’t slow down long enough to find out what the half-a-person was. Nonetheless, tonight we’re in Flagstaff, AZ, back in civilization with real dialup numbers. Lordy, I miss that DSL and cable modem broadband! Anyway, here’s the first post, which was supposed to be online last night. Apologies for the delay.

Best Western Hi-Desert Inn, room 124, Tonopah, NV, 23:00 PDT | 15-Aug-03

‘Day one of the road trip is finally over. On two-and-a-half hours of sleep, we travelled 415.4 miles from San Francisco to Tonopah, NV. Spent $82.51 on gas, $29.20 on food, a $20 entrance fee to Yosemite and $75.21 on a hotel .. .the fabulous Best Western Hi-Desert Inn in Beautiful Downtown Tonopah, NV. Total Day One expenses: $206.92.

‘The day began with a wake-up call at 6:30 a.m. I was barely able to rise after yesterday’s big moving day and because I was sleeping in my sleeping bag on the floor. I went to bed very late because I had to do laundry (you really don’t want to ride 3,000 miles with a smelly dog bed) and pack for the trip. I probably couldn’t have slept much anyway.

‘After a soak in the tub and loading the car, Bayley and I said our goodbyes to David and then left the apartment for the last time. Yes, I’m a big wussy; I pretty much bawled all the way over the Bay Bridge. After Yellow Truck finally picked up our trailer (a day late), we said more goodbyes to Kit and Gracie and Rudy and Suki cat. These were very hard like all the rest, but they were the last ones. Gracie whined and pawed and moaned and groaned. It was very, very sad to be leaving behind so many wonderful people and puppy dogs. But Gracie and Rudy will be heading south themselves in a couple of months, so they get to share the grand moving adventure too.

‘We stopped off at a drug store in Livermore so that I could get a prescription filled, then headed for Yosemite, which, while hot and touristy and dusty and dry, still manages to be beautiful and serene in spite of man’s best attempts to despoil it. Still haven’t figured out what those large brush piles by the side of the road every few feet for miles were for; each pile had a layer of cardboard in the middle. Very strange looking. Some tree groves are dead and you can see the ravages of past fires. Bridal Veil Fall and Yosemite Falls were both down to mere trickles … it is August, after all. The first time I saw them was in late March of ‘97, and they were roaring and simply the most beautiful things on the planet. Half Dome and El Capitan remain reassuring in their forever-feel and the Tioga Pass road, which I had never driven, was magnificent as well. Still, if you wish to see Yosemite in all her glory, be sure and do a mid-Spring visit … less tourists and crowds, more freedom to move about, and the falls and newly greened trees, as well as the remaining snowpack, are truly breathtaking.

‘I’m writing this as we finish up the last 40 miles of the trip; it’s 19:11 and we’re exhausted and should be in our hotel and getting dinner in about an hour or so, thank goodness. We’re just east of Coaldale, NV, on US6/95. The countryside is typical Nevada; harsh and mountainous, yet still beautiful. It’s been a grand trip so far; no problems, we’ve made good time, etc. The beagle has been a bit uncomfortable perched on his bed through the very twisty roads and traffic jams in the Bay Area, but now that we’re on a more straight, even road here in the Nevada desert, he’s able to finally lie down and get some sleep.

‘He was a very tired and hot beagle after his little visit to Bridal Veil Fall, where he attracted the attention of everyone on the trail. One little girl asked to pet him; we demurred, because his typical reaction to a stranger is to howl loudly in their face (just like with Kit this morning) and scare them half to death. But the walk down the trail was good for him, since we’ve already started burning off calories and fat in preparation for a more adventurous life in Ann Arbor. Our goal is to get his weight down by the winter so that he can play in the snow without having a heart attack. He turns nine years old on Aug. 20, which means we’ll probably be touring Memphis and driving to Nashville. I guess I can start calling him Grandpa now that he’ll be 63 in human years. But considering how beagles very much demand a routine and don’t like things upset, he’s handled this pretty well so far, much like he did moving from Dallas to San Francisco, San Francisco to Denver and Denver back to San Francisco in 1996 and 1998, respectively. He’ll be fine, and he’ll love his new home.

‘The setting sun is turning Boundary Peak (at 13,140 feet, the highest point in Nevada) and Emigrant Peak (6,790 feet) truly gorgeous shades of orange and yellow, with wedges of purple and dark blue in the shadows behind outcroppings. There is some cloud cover and the sagebrush adds some vibrant green, It’s a very pleasant evening, the loading-of-the-truck and Day One of the trip are over, and we’re well-launched on the brand-new life. The pain of goodbyes is over, although much sadness lingers. Parting is not sweet sorrow; it’s not sweet anything. I hate it. But what’s happening is best for everyone; life is all about change, after all. You don’t change, you’re dead.

‘And now I can’t wait to get to Santa Fe. We can have a day of complete rest and see what is surely one of my favorite cities in my home state, my spiritual home. But first comes a 200-mile journey to Las Vegas, with a little side trip down the Strip for some ogling, followed by a trip over Hoover Dam and 250 miles to Flagstaff, AZ.

‘Today’s trip stats:

‘‘• 08:51 — Left the apartment — 0 miles

‘‘• 08:58 — Gassed up at Twin Peaks Auto — 0004

‘‘• 09:20 — Bay Bridge — ?

‘‘• 10:17 — Leave Kit & Erin’s in Oakland — 0031

‘‘• 10:45 — Livermore, Long’s Drugs — ?

‘‘• 11:52 — Manteca — 0094

‘‘• 14:00 — Gassed up at Crane Flats, Yosemite National Park — 0191

‘‘• 14:47 — Bridal Veil Falls, Yosemite Valley — 0215

‘‘• 17:47 — US 385/CA-120 Junction (Frank starts driving) — 0292

‘‘• 19:45 — Tonopah, NV — 0415

‘Good night from Tonopah, NV, y’all!

‘—Posted by Steve at 22:32 | 15-Aug-03