Monday, September 17, 2007
We reached San Franciscoo!
We made it!!!!

We actually made it!!!

We are in San Francisco!!


I'm sitting here in my new home, with the view of the Golden Gate Bridge outside the open livingroom window. I can hear the cable cars clanging outside and the soft breeze on my face. Our luggage is piled up against the wall.

Our new home.....

It still hasn't fully sunk in yet. I have to keep pinching myself.

We drove 3,083 miles all the way across the country from New York to San Francisco. We passed through 13 states in 7 days.

All of this with "Marty" our little 10 year old Toyota Corolla with 200,000 miles on it, no working air conditioner and no tape deck/cd player.

Right now he could really use a car wash, he's covered in dust, dirt and bugs. He's dented and wheezing, but he's still alive.

A lot of people said we wouldn't make it or that we were crazy...They shook their heads at the idea and told us that it was a major risk. But we did it anyway.

I'm so glad we did.

It was the greatest journey we made in our entire life. An experience I will never forget. It's something I had always dreamed of doing but never imagined I'd have the opportunity.

****

We hit the California border at 3 P.M. yesterday afternoon

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The landscape became greener and more lush. The sky was big, blue and open wide for us. We cruised around the mountain landscape, past the endless pine trees...

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It was gorgeous and we were so insanely happy.

Even the fact that our brakes were making funny noises (kind of like a little raptor stuck inside our car screaming at moments during the final 190 miles) didn't take away from our blissful state

Windows open, KFOG, the San Francisco radio station blasting... It was heaven while we drove over the Bay Bridge into S.F.

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We meandered over the steep city hills and the victorian homes towards our final destination
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Our friend greeted us at his front door with a warm tight hug and said "Welcome home"

So now here we are. Only $300 dollars in our account and a handful of luggage.

Time to start over.

It's the first day of the rest of our lives. A new chapter begins

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WE MADE IT!
 
posted by Clarity25 at 4:13 PM | 20 comments
Sunday, September 16, 2007
Reno, Nevada
We are now in Reno, Nevada!

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Last night we drove around in search of an affordable motel in town with vacancy. A lot harder than it sounds especially since it was a Saturday night. We found a little motel called "Desert Rose Inn" with one room available. We dragged our luggage up the stairs and collapsed on the bed in relief.

After taking a shower, we went into the city area and checked out the different clubs, casinos and hotels. We put 40$ into the slot machines and walked away with 75$. Not a major winning but I skipped all the way back down the road afterwards. "we won! we won!"

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I'm not much of a gambler. I put a dollar in the slots and then cash out any winnings. I pour it it into a cup and Then put in another dollar. I never put my winnings back into the machine.
Boring, I know...

But we used our winnings to eat dinner at Mel's Diner. A 1950's style diner in the center of the city. So a little gambling spree led to a free dinner in Reno.


****

Yesterday we left Elko at 12:30 after having breakfast in an Italian Cafe.

The drive to Reno was beautiful.

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we pulled over to the side of the road whenever we saw an interesting exit.

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We wandered down railroad tracks, walked through the desert and explored different areas.

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The weather was incredibly hot and we don't have air conditioning. We had to keep the windows down and just wipe the sweat off our foreheads. There were barely any radio stations available and our cellphone service kept cutting out.

It really felt like being in the middle of nowhere!

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We saw a few abandoned cars on the side of the road, I wondered what had happened to those people. Perhaps they broke down 60 miles from the next gas station and just hitch-hiked to the next place. Never bothering to return for their vehicle...

I was praying that this wouldn't happen to us.

It didn't

I also didn't like the mini-tornadoes dotting the landscape on all sides. they swirled and danced along the desert.

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We made it to Reno as the sun was setting over the mountains.

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***
Now it's the last day on the road.

We are about to embark on our final stretch of road.

THE ROAD TO SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA

We're so close now... so close....
 
posted by Clarity25 at 4:10 PM | 2 comments

We made it.

We're in Reno.

Today we're going to drive our final stretch into California and reach San Francisco!

I can't believe it

First though, we need to find a mechanic in Nevada that is open on Sunday to replace our BRAKE PADS.

Once we accomplish that, we can continue on our way.

Or we'll be stuck here for a while.

We're checking out of our motel and in search of a mechanic.

Wish us luck.

We're SO close!!!!
 
posted by Clarity25 at 12:43 PM | 4 comments
Saturday, September 15, 2007
Road trip - Day 5
Right now we're in a motel in Elko, Nevada. When I look out the window I see nothing but rocks, dust and mountains rising in the distance. The motel is located on a small cliff on the edge of town. It gives the illusion of being in the desert in the middle of nowhere.

This is the final stretch on our road trip to San Francisco

We were supposed to be in Reno by now, but we're running behind schedule. We encountered some car troubles yesterday. (big surprise?)

But let me back track and recap our last 24 hours on the road, picking up where I left off in my previous journal entry

******
Yesterday We haphazardly threw our luggage back into the car at 10:45 A.M. and checked out of the Prairie Inn in Evanston, Wyoming. The view around the motel is beautiful. I didn't want to leave.

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We ate at breakfast/lunch at a chinese buffet in town. I was just thrilled to discover a chinese restaurant at all in Wyoming. I anticipated Shrimp, crab legs, Sushi, stuffed mushrooms... But all we got was a little set up with a couple of pathetic looking piles of chinese looking rice dishes to choose from. There wasn't even a salad. Desert consisted of slippery and cloudy yellow jellow cubes.

Yuck. But it was cheap and filled us up so I can't complain.

Then we checked out downtown Evanston. It was charming and beautiful. Older buildings lined the mainstreet and mountains surrounded us on all sides.

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We looked at the watch and realized we had to hit the road in order to make it to Reno by 9 P.M.

Unfortunately, it was that moment where "Marty" our little corolla started acting up. He began grumbling and bucking back and forth. At every stop light he started bumping up and down.

Crap.

So we pulled into a car supply shop and asked for advice. The guy said it was probably dirty spark plugs and the car might be in need of a new oil filter... or something a long those lines. I can't say I understand much about cars, but luckily Eric DOES. He nodded in agreement. So we purchased new spark plugs and a new oil filter.

Eric stuck his head under the engine and started puttering around. I stood there in the hot sun pacing back and forth.

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One hour later (after some internal wire tore apart and needed to be replaced - a very expensive wire apparently.. and then some tool fell into the car and we needed to buy some magnetic stick to pull it out of the engine area again...) the spark plugs were replaced but not the oil filter and the car was still stop and go..bumpy and choking.

We drove around and eventually found a Jiffy lube. We showed him the new oil filter we had just purchased (expensive) and asked him if he could replace the old one with this new one that's made for our car.

"Sorry, We can't use the one you purchased. You have to buy one of OUR oil filters and we'll install it", the Jiffy lube guy explained

"Okay, fine whatever... just do it"

He typed some stuff in the computer and shook his head "Sorry we don't have that part for your car at this time in our storage room"

Eric held up the oil filter "We have it here. Can you put it in? This is the part you need, right?"
"Yep that's the part", The Jiffy lube guy said "But...No. Sorry"

"How about I SELL this oil filter TO YOU and we will BUY IT BACK from you?", Eric suggested

"No. Not possible"

"What if I place this oil filter in your storage room and you pretend to find it, you install it and we'll pay for it again?"

"Nope"

JIFFY LUBE SUCKS. WE WILL NEVER GO THERE AGAIN.

So we had no choice but to hit the road with our car and prayed that it would make it to the next rest stop.

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The View was breathtakingly beautiful during this drive. I couldn't tear my eyes away from the passing scenery or stop taking pictures. I'd never seen anything like this before. It felt like a dream!

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We reached Utah and the view became more amazing and stunning. This was the best part of our drive so far... It made this whole road trip worth it. Just to see what we saw.. The mountains, the rivers, the cliffs, the rocks...

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We stopped in Salt lake City, Utah and began searching for a mechanic. We found one and he was willing to put in the part we had bought.

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"It's gonna take an hour or two though..", he informed us rubbing the grease off his hand with a dirty rag.

So we wandered around Salt Lake City aimlessly while Marty was being fixed. We ended up in an Arby's. (Believe it or not, my first time in an Arby's EVER)

The lady behind the counter was sweet. "You're a photographer", she said pointing to my camera "That's how you say it right.. Photo-gra-pher?"

I smiled "Yes, but It's just a hobby. we're traveling cross country to San francisco and I'm taking pictures"

We got in a long conversation with her and before we knew it, everyone in Arby's was asking us about our trip and involved in the discussion. It helped pass the time and everyone was so nice!

We returned after an hour and Marty was still being fixed. We sat in front of the mechanics shop on a bench feeling like potential parents in a hospital waiting room. the heat beat down on us and we wiped the sweat off our brows. This wait seemed to stretch on for eternity.

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An hour later, Marty was back on the road. We paid the bill... (so far, all the car repair costs equaled about 250 dollars... a minor unexpected financial setback, still a little discouraging)
But the view more than made up for the wait. The rest of the stretch was gorgeous.

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We stopped to take pictures in different rest areas...

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Marty is driving great again, but we took it slow just in case. It's more important that we arrive there ALIVE then fast...

As we were driving through the final stretch of Utah, we hit the Salt desert. Endless stretches of Salty white desert for as far as the eyes could see.

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We stopped and walked through it. Our feet sunk into the ground, the salt was damp... hard and clumpy in some parts.

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It was gorgeous and surreal. I've never seen anything like this.

we held hands and took it all in. This is a once and a lifetime experience... this entire road trip. It all feels like a dream. Sometimes I truly can't believe this is all happening and I don't want it to end. I could live like this forever...

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when we drove in Nevada, the landscape became more sandy and arid.

We stepped into our first casino, right at the border.

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We put a dollar in the slot machine and lost it.

Maybe we'll have better luck in Reno?

Another long stretch of endless road until we reached Elko.

We were relieved when we pulled into the motel parking lot. The only room available had two beds and filled with mirrors...

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Not the prettiest place.

But no complaints. It's cheap! We stopped at a bar and grill that had some of the most amazing food. The best food of the entire trip...

Now we have to pack up the car and start our drive towards RENO. There will be a lot of mountains and desert a long the way. I'm a little nervous about driving through BATTLE MOUNTAIN. But I'm sure we'll be fine. As long as we take it easy and keep the gas tank filled.
I'll update again once we reach Reno and find some lodgings for the night. (Fingers crossed)

Until then....
 
posted by Clarity25 at 1:35 PM | 4 comments
Friday, September 14, 2007
Road Trip - Day 4
It's 8:30 A.M. mountain time and I'm sitting in a place called "Prairie Inn" in Evanston, Wyoming. I can see a mountain from our motel window. it's so close that I can't really view the top unless I stretch my head out and peer up. This town is nestled in the mountains.

There are buffalo and cow heads mounted in the lobby area and deep red carpet. It's a strange place, but charming in a way. The air is fresh and kind of dry.

Today we're going to check out the town of Evanston a bit, grab some breakfast and hit the road again. Our next stop is Nevada.

****
Yesterday morning we explored the little town of COZAD, Nebraska. (This town is even smaller than Newton Falls, Ohio). The population is 4,163 and it's located on the 100th meridian. It used to be a stop along the pony express.

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First we wandered around the corn fields a bit

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Then we drove into town to find a place to eat breakfast. The town was small, desolate in areas. A lot of store fronts had closed years earlier but a few remained. We walked into Kelly's Hardware store in search of a new watch. The older man behind the counter greeted us from the back when we entered.

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"I'll be right there!!" He called to us.

The store smelled like Gasoline and the supplies were haphazardly lined up on the shelves. He had a display with watches that was a little dusty.

when he emerged from the back room, I explained that I took my watch in the shower and it stopped working. I needed a waterproof watch.

"Well, these days they are called Water resistant...", He chuckled "now lets see now..." He took a watch out of the display and started opening the package.. "Yes, this one is water resistant up to 90 feet. Now you can't go deeper than 90 feet in your bathtub, you hear?" he chuckled again.

I liked the laid back demeanor of everyone in town. They were friendly, talked slowly and had a good sense of humor. The pace was relaxed and not many people walked through the town. It seems like everyone knows eachother's name.

We asked him where we could find breakfast.

"Well, the only place in town is called "The Green Apple Cafe", he explained "It's right around the bend"

Green Apple Cafe served breakfast, lunch, dinner and pastries. Their soup of the day was "Cheeseburger soup".

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Although, I think I would go crazy in a town this small and this empty... but it's nice to visit. It's a taste of a different way of life.

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After breakfast, we hit the road again.. and began our drive through Nebraska.

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The landscape began to change after a while. The rolling hills of Corn began to dry up and slowly disappear. More and more rocks appeared. Mountains began to form in the horizon...

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At one point we were driving right on the edge of the border of Colorado and we could see the tall mountians in the horizon.

After a long drive we reached Wyoming. We stopped in an empty visitors area for the restroom. Mountains were on all side. A lone car or two was parked up front and a very friendly older woman was behind the service desk.

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We told her we had a reservation booked for a little inn in Evanston, but we had to be there by 10 P.M or we'll lose our room...

She showed us a map and explained that Evanston was right on the border to Utah.

"It's a long long drive, so you both have to hurry up if you want to reach there in time. But you should be okay", she explained "Good luck!"

So we grabbed the travel brochures of Wyoming she had given us and we rushed to the car.
Eric began patting his pockets frantically as he stood in front of the car door. "oh &*%^%$^&!!", He cried out. Then he peered in the car window "oh no..oh no..."

I looked in the car to see what he was viewing.

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The Keys were in the ignition and the door was locked.

CRAP.

"Tell me this isn't happening...", I whispered.

So we returned to the front desk and explained the situation to the older woman that ran the visitor center. "Oh dear...", she said shaking her head "That's not good at all. The closest locksmith is many miles miles away. it will take hours before he can arrive"

Eric ran out in search of a wire hanger to squeeze in the car door and unlock it. we bumped into a couple with a mini van that was entering to use the restroom. "Do you have a clothes hanger??", Eric asked in desperation.

"Well, now that's an odd question", the man said with a chuckle. "But you know, it just so happens that I do have one. Come with me"

He had a rack of clothing in the back of his car and they were all strung up on hangers. It's an odd way to pack your clothing, but brilliant at the same time. He pulled a shirt off and handed the hanger to Eric "Out of curiosity, why do you need a clothes hanger so badly?"

We explained the situation "Our keys are locked in the car"

"well now, that's not good. Let me see what kind of car you have"

He couldn't help, Eric couldn't get the lock to push up... he tried unrolling the window.. but the feeble wire couldn't grasp the handle to lower the window. It just kept bending and hitting the windshield.

A man with a broom cleaning the front area heard about our situation and said "You know, the local sheriff, Mike, might be able to help you get that car open. I'm not sure where he is but I'll go into town and search for him"

"Thank you!", I was relieved that people cared and wanted to help. I was beginning to panic.

The clock was ticking and we were now an hour behind schedule.

The older lady (her name was Mildred) said "My husband has some supplies that he could probably use to open that door. Let me see if I can call him up... I'm sure he'll help"

Her Husband arrived 15 minutes later. He was an older man, that moved very slowly out of his car.. He pulled a kit from the back and approached our vehicle.

He spread all the tools out over the street and got to work.. pushing wedges in the door, sticking in metal prongs and sticks.. poking, prodding... He managed to pull the lever under the seat with a metal stick and that caused the trunk to pop open. We were able to get the spare key out of the trunk.

We were so grateful. Eric gave him all the cash we had and thanked him over and over.

We returned to Mildred at the front desk and thanked her for calling her husband. She was so sweet and happy that we were able to continue our journey.

That's a picture of that wonderful kind woman

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It it wasn't for her, we'd still be stranded in the middle of nowhere

The couple that gave us the clothes hanger waved and smiled. "Good luck in San Francisco!!"

We started up the car and it didn't sound so good. It bucked and came to a stop. Then We tried starting the engine again.. it was a little bumpy.

"It's the belt", Eric explained. "It's normal for an old car like this with so many miles"

That's the first time the car has acted like that. We're going to have to slow down our pace from now on. I don't want to push our little corolla too hard and end up broken down on the side of the road.

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But despite the stress of the key situation, the ride through Wyoming was beautiful! The upward climb going into the mountains caused our little corolla to wheeze, but the view was breathtaking on all sides.

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This is what we dreamed of. Open roads..mountains...fresh air.. fields of deer, cows and buffalo...
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I didn't want the drive to end.

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We reached Evanston, Wyoming by 10, and we entered just in time. The room was spacious and surprisingly nice considering the cheap cost. We actually expected it to be a dump.

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Now it's time to hit the road again.

I'll update again from Nevada
 
posted by Clarity25 at 12:30 PM | 3 comments
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