Reminiscing can be so much fun.  As the organizing and purging continues around our household, I come across all my photo albums.  I love my photo albums….they make me happy.  I’m suppose to be boxing them for storage, but can’t resist sitting down and looking through a few of them.

OMG, I come across the photo album from my first trip across the Rocky Mountains.  I can’t help but smile as the memories flood over me.  I was in my early twenties and Al and I had been dating only a few months.  Al had previously lived in the San Francisco Bay area, long before moi, and would frequent the Sierra Mountains.  Since our relationship was relatively new, Al was excited to share some of his past with me.

We both worked in the Airline Industry and could fly just about anywhere free of charge. So do we fly?  Oh no, we decide a break from planes and hotels would be fun and choose to drive.  We’ll camp once we reach the Sierras.  We loaded up the car with all the camping gear and drove from Chicago to California.  We’ll hotel it until we reach Lake Tahoe; our first camping destination.

Lake Tahoe

Camping near Lake Tahoe… 1981

We took Interstate 80 through the prairie states of Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska.  I thought the flat farmland of Nebraska would never end.  It wasn’t until we drove west of Cheyenne, Wyoming, that the terrain finally started to change.  It was also somewhere in this part of Wyoming that I learned about a cattle guard and free ranging cattle.  You see, in the Midwest cattle are kept fenced on private land.

cattle guard

cattle guard

As we exited the interstate to stop at a rest area, we drove over a metal grate. Initially I didn’t give it a thought.  As we were leaving the rest area, we were greeted by cows along the side of the road.  My response to Al, “Oh no, someone’s cows got out.  Should we let someone know?”  Laughing, Al points out the cattle guard and the purpose behind it.  “Since the cattle won’t walk over the metal grate, it acts as a fence.  So, its okay for the cows to graze around here….they did not get loose.”free ranging cattle

If you’d like to know a bit more about free ranging cattle on public lands click here.cows

Night two on the road was spent in a hotel in Utah.  We got up early the next morning to hit the road.  While checking out, the hotel clerk asked whether we were heading east or west and promptly informed us we may want to wait a little longer before heading west.  It snowed over night and the interstate had been closed westbound.  He wasn’t sure if it had reopened.

Al and I went to grab a cup of coffee and I whispered, “Yeah right!  It’s the middle of September and he’s trying to convince us it snowed and the interstate is closed.  I was born at night, but not last night.  Who’s he trying to kid?”  Amused, Al shakes his head and says, “Well, we’ll give it a try”.

As we approached the on ramp to the interstate, Al points out the gate that had just been lifted.  A service vehicle was sitting on the side of the road.  A guy sporting an orange vest was walking from the gate to the parked vehicle.  Ok, the interstate had been closed and just now opened and it did snow.  I guess I had a thing or two to learn about altitude, mountains, and passes.ColoradoWe continued our trek west and I was in awe with the beautiful snow-covered mountains.  I sure wasn’t expecting snow in September.  Late on day three, we arrived at the Sugar Pine Point State Park just outside of Lake Tahoe.  We proceeded to set up the tent in freezing rain.  Although I grew up camping, it was always during warm, summer weather.  I didn’t sign up for freezing rain and temperatures.  I wondered what I had gotten myself into.  Hmm, and we were the only ones in the campground.  It appears some folks are a tad bit wiser than ourselves.

We awake the following morning after a very cold, restless night to an inch of snow on the now sagging tent.  It was a wonder the tent did not collapse on us during the night.  Come on, it’s mid September and we were here to see the fall colors.

We quickly changed out of the layers of clothing we slept in into fresh clothing and went into town for breakfast.  This has been such a romantic trip thus far for this new relationship….sarcasm indeed.  At the restaurant, the waitress informed us more snow was expected and there’s a mandatory chain restriction for the passes.  Hey, I now know what a “pass” is.

The snow was three weeks early and temps were far below normal for this time of year.  I hear the word chains…..chains are illegal.  Oh, Ingrid’s education continues.  Al explains how chains may be illegal on the roads in Illinois, but mountain driving is quite different and chains are necessary for traction.  We do not have chains or snow tires for our vehicle and with more bad weather on the way, we decided it’s best to avoid trouble and head home.  So much for seeing fall colors in the Sierra Mountains!highway 50

Instead of returning the way we came on Interstate 80, we opted to head east on Highway 50 through some of the most remote land I had ever seen.  Highway 50 through the middle of Nevada is known as “America’s loneliest road“.

free ranging cattle

in the middle of Nevada; free ranging cattle

What an adventure…. We saw wild horses, free ranging cattle standing in the middle of the road, no services for over 100 miles, and rarely another vehicle.  For this city slicker, my comfort level had been challenged by the terrain and remoteness.  Seeing a herd of wild horses left me speechless…, how cool.   Utah

Once in Utah, we picked up Interstate 70 and continued east through Colorado.  I was amazed by the amount of raw and untapped beauty this trip exposed me to.   Never in a million years, did I think when I took this trip over thirty years ago that I would later in life call the “west” home.  An environment that once made me feel uncomfortable, is now quite normal.  This seven-day road trip was definitely enlightening.  It was just the first of many adventures Al and I would embark on.

phone booth

the era of the pay phone


44 thoughts on “Reminiscing

  1. What a wonderful story….we too experienced our new relationship camping and was so thrilled with it in fact that we went well into November camping. Remember waking up to a fresh layer of snow and being the only ones in the whole campground. The most unpleasant task was getting up in the middle of the night and having to make the mad dash to the bathrooms!!!

    • Oh those middle of the night runs. I remember all too well. The house is sold and we’re officially full-timers. Let the adventure begin 🙂

  2. Thanks for sharing some of your past Ingrid. It helps to deepen the connections we all have with you. Before we began our RVing adventures, Terry scanned all of our photos, or at least those we wanted, to our computer and flash drives. It has been a great way to travel with all of those visual memories. Your story reminds me of a camping trip in the AZ White Mountains early on in our relationship. It was so cold and the bugling elk so loud that at 3 am we had to pack up and go for an early breakfast. 🙂

    • I wish I had scanned a lot more photos. It just seems life keeps getting in the way. I always think I have more time….not. I’m laughing at your AZ camping trip….I can visualize it….lol. I’ll be shooting you an email next week to bring you up to date. Don’t want to jinx anything and speak too soon 🙂

    • I’m so glad I kept photo albums to help remind us of some of our adventures. We were reminded of some places we’d like to revisit. I’m about ready for the packing to end and the travel to begin.

  3. WOW amazing pictures!! Seems like you’re having so much fun.
    Could you please visit my blog and read what I posted? I created it yesterday and your opinion would really help me move forward with it.

  4. One of our favorite trips in the lower US was through Idaho. This was before we owned a camper and we stayed in a log cabin in Stanley, Idaho, population 60. The Mayor was also the Firechief, and she also played in a band every Saturday night at the Stanley Rod and Gun Club..Stanley was altitude 7000 ft. and they were the hub for flying fishermen to the interior in little light planes..Memories are the best way to realize how lucky we all are!!

    • We definitely want to explore the northwest. I’ll need to make a note about Stanley. One of the reasons I love my photo albums, they remind us of all the places we’ve visited and things we’ve done. We need that reminder from time to time….especially when we start to complain about never going any where. It’s like, “Really”…you can’t be serious….lol? Here’s to making a lot more memories!

  5. What a story! Can’t wait to experience the first ride over the big “hills” :O) Now when I see a cow guard I’ll think of you! I had to look through all my albums before packing them away….love to have someone scan all of them for me so I could always have them close by. But then it’s a good time to make new memories! Thinking of you and the fires…hoping not close by. So tragic for so many….be safe!

    • The Royal Gorge/Canon City fire is 35 miles to the west of us and is relatively remote. Thankfully the damage to dwellings is few. The Black Forest/Colorado Springs fire is 60 miles to the north of us…..over 400 homes destroyed. Very sad. A home we used to own is in the evacuation zone.

      You will love exploring the west. It is so different than Illinois. The sky is soooo blue. I could go on and on….. 🙂

    • Thank you and I’m glad you commented. Now I have your new address to put in my Reader. I’ll have to do some catching up on your blog.

  6. great memories! I have my photo’s all in the belly of our RV….won’t let them go to storage. Never know when I might need a pick me up going through them. Thanks for the post.

    • Putting the albums in storage was a toughie for me. I wish I had scanned a lot more photos before doing so. As we load the rig, we find ourselves having to do a lot more editing. I’ve never been a hoarder and don’t want to become one in an RV…. 🙂

  7. Thank you for your trek down memory lane. I remember learning about free range cattle, interstates closing and emergency runways off the road in the mountains – it’s a whole different country, that’s for sure. And the best part is being able to roam about in an RV seeing all of it.

    • Thanks Cheryl. You should be about ready to start that roaming again…..I know I am. Been sitting here since early March and it’s time to hit the road again. Got that itch. Hope to be joining that “full-time” club at the end of the month. See ya on the road!

  8. I lived in the Sierras for about five years and moved to Utah about the time you took this memorable trip. It’s quite a different (but wonderful) life from the East Coast I grew up in.
    As for Nevada being all emptiness….. not so: my last trip had me taking 93 south from Twin Falls and there are some great looking mountains on that stretch to Wells. Couldn’t stand Las Vegas, but the Red Rock Canyon area is marvelous. Then there’s Lake Tahoe on the California border. I find that if you get off the interstates, every state I’ve been to has a lot more to offer.

    • I lived on the very western part of Las Vegas in the early 90’s near Red Rock Canyon and took the kids hiking there regularly. Loved it. I said Nevada was remote ….the vast landscapes and mountain ranges are unique and have a beauty all it’s own, but it is remote with miles and miles of no services.
      Hubby still owes me a trip to the Sierras!!!

      • We had a house in Overton (right on the edge of Valley of Fire) for awhile… thinking we’d flee the Utah winters, but that got to be an ordeal. I’m glad we finally decided to head for Oregon instead.

        • Yes, I would agree and pick Oregon over Overton. It’s soooo sad to see how far down Lake Mead is and I’m not sure it’ll ever fill to where it once was.

          • There’s no telling just when, but I see water shortages becoming an increasing problem in time. The obscene waste of resources in Las Vegas is beyond comprehension to me. It’s been over 20 years since we were in that area… I hear it’s grown beyond all reason.

            • We drove through Vegas last year traveling from Mesquite to Phoenix and the growth was ridiculous. We had no interest in stopping.

  9. What an interesting story and taking us back of your trek many moons ago. Packing up those pictures sure do distract you from your original intention in a good way. Unfortunately those will be kept in storage for quite sometime. Thanks for sharing your “green” experiences traveling out west. We are eastward bound and we have encountered/experienced things we have not seen before while living in CA, and thunderstorms for one!

    • It was fun remembering this trip. Since you have spent most of your years on the west coast, you will definitely notice differences on the east coast. The majority of my airline travels were east thus I’ve seen most of the major cities and experienced ALL the weather.

  10. What fun memories. Nevada is a lot of emptiness, isn’t it. Every time I drive that road, I feel like that must be somewhat what the moon feels like (also that top part of Utah from Salt Lake to Reno is desolate too). Love your pictures.

    • You are so right.about the amount of remoteness. Most of Nevada is pretty desolate and not as pretty as Utah. The thought of breaking down still scares me. That second to the bottom photo was taken in Utah. That’s when I fully comprehended elevation. It was 115 in Vegas and 60 when we went camping at Cedar Breaks National Monument. I was not prepared….educational to say the least 🙂

    • Seeing a herd of wild mustangs in the middle of no where is a memory I’ll never forget….pretty awesome. Unfortunately, I did not have a camera with a zoom. I look forward to retracing some of these steps soon, although I’m not sure there are any more wild horses.

  11. It must be those earlier adventures that has led so many of to us to this wonderful life of living on the road. We had a very similar trip!

    Packing up the house certainly does open the flood gates for all those memories. It took me forever to pack up photos, also. You have to sit and relive those days.

    Thanks for taking us back with you. It was great fun!

    • You welcome….it was fun for me to remember. Years ago I couldn’t imagine taking that 6 hour drive to Grand Junction by myself, and now…..why not? The mountains and remoteness have become the norm every bit as much as taking a train into downtown Chicago. I think there’s a level of confidence that develops with age…..that and creaky knees 🙂

    • I wish I had scanned more photos before packing away the albums into a storage unit. My how time gets away from me these days. We should be back on the road at the end of the month. Let the adventures continue…..

  12. how fun….I remember the trip across country with my – then girlfriend, now wife – from Atlanta to San Francisco. I had never driven that far in my life. it took five days and we stopped at Motel 6’s along the way… Jasper, MS, Oklahoma City, Sante Fe, Winslow, Barstow, Pleasanton….all before cell phones and computers. We had a trip tick from AAA… it was so much fun. I hadn’t thought about that drive in years….

    • You should write about that trip. I’m sure lots of us would love to here about that adventure. Yep, we did the Motel 6 thing ourselves….tight budgets. It was fun for me to scan some of the old photos and write about it. These are stories the kids get a kick out of hearing. My kids can’t fathom no cell phone and a pay phone? Really? Fun times!

Comments are closed.