Oregon Trail, Day 3

We set out from North Platte, Nebraska this morning after a good night’s sleep. The cats were much better behaved during the night only waking me up a time or two, which probably had about as much to do with my bladder as it did them. Moises, coming down off his bad cat sedative trip yesterday was back to normal and actually was much more mellow sober than he was high.

The sky was spitting snow on I-80 for the first few hours, making the road a little wet, but nothing that felt dangerous. There was a heavy fog covering the flat terrain. We passed frozen lakes with lots of ducks and geese. Hills began to emerge from IMG_3095the fog. We crossed into the mountain time zone. Pretty soon we were in Wyoming. This would be the big state for us to cross in the day.

It’s amazing to watch the landscape change as you drive for miles and miles. The trees gave way to prairie grass and scrubby bushes. Rock outcroppings turned to stone hills which turned to full-on mountains. We passed Elk Mountain and saw mountainsides coated with evergreens and snow. The wind was powerful and we passed several wind farms.

Wyoming is a beautiful place. You drive through it and everything seems so huge, so wide. The land stretches for miles. Interstate exits are paved for about 200 feet, then quickly turn to gravel and dirt that stretches out over the landscape like a quick pencil scratch. There are 20-30 between exits at times, and I wondered to myself why more people aren’t in a place that seems so beautiful and compelling. Then, I decided that this emptiness of people probably had a lot to do with its beauty. Plus this looks like a hard place–one you’d like to visit but wouldn’t want to spend too many winters in. Still, there were many more “wow”s and “look at that”s than in any day previous.

We had lunch in downtown Laramie, home of the University of Wyoming, at a place called Jeffrey’s Bistro. I had the breaded fish sandwich, and it was pretty good. Allyson and I have noted several times today how it’s funny how tiring sitting on your rear-end in a car can make you. On this trip, we are reminded frequently how important it is for the human body to do something and how important it is to eat. When we sit still too long, our body takes the hint and starts to shut down. When you don’t eat, same thing. We were in a haze when we got to Jeffrey’s, and we needed to look through something besides a windshield and our bodies needed some fuel.

While there, I got a text from my good friend, Zach. It said

There will come an overwhelming sense of making the move is the right thing to do. Mine was looking out over the Grand Canyon with my dad as we drove to L.A. You may or may not have a transcending moment or you may have already had it. Your move is like out of a book that’s still being written. As your friend, I’m glad I get to read words as they come to life. I’m so excited for y’all and thinking of you and your journey. Love you and Allyson!

I saw the text coming out of the restaurant bathroom and almost started to tear up. I told Allyson I’m so glad we’re making this move by driving cross-country. It’s really giving it time to set in the way something like this deserves. The first night when we went to St. Louis, it felt like a trip we had made many times before. The next day seemed a little different, but still like a long IMG_3110road trip. Today, the landscape changed so much. We saw so many fantastic sites from our window. I’ve gotten so many messages from people who love us, telling us how excited they are. It’s like they are taking a few minutes to ride in the car with us for a stretch of interstate.

We stopped at the Prairie Inn Motel in Evanston, Wyoming, just shy of the Utah border. It’s called the Prairie Inn Motel and it’s very much in the 1960s roadside style. It is the cheapest place we’ve stayed by about $40 and is full of these quirky but authentic throw-backs to the days when the family vacation roadtrip meant you’d find interesting motels in every highway town. There was a cheap place next door called Jody’s Diner and Allyson and I ate there. I got brinner.

We could have made it to Salt Lake City tonight, but we didn’t feel like pushing it. We had crossed Wyoming, but I think there was also something that made us want to spend a little more time in this place. As we approached Evanston, Allyson talked to her best friend Amanda on the phone, and the sun sat behind gorgeous mountains and buttes (which Allyson thought said “butts”). The sunset was a beautiful thing to watch. Because we were driving west, it lasted a little longer for us, and we got to enjoy it over a few more landscapes than if we had stayed stationary. It’s thrilling to me that we’ll continue to chase that sun until we run out of ground to chase it over. I hope we stretch out the beauty as long as we possibly can.

I-80 near Rock Springs
I-80 near Rock Springs
Moon above the plain near Green River
Moon above the plain near Green River
Rest Stop west of North Platte, NE
Rest Stop west of North Platte, NE

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