Square State Tour

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Day 15
Sailing into Salem

Sun, Oct 14, 2007

8:45 am
4,036 miles from home

Yreka, California

As we walk out the door of our room on this bright, sunny California day our noses wrinkle at an acrid odor. "Smells like the world's biggest cat just peed on our motel," offers the ever-eloquent Robert.

"Nope, that's just what northern California smells like," replies Laura, "It's some kind of sage bush."

So bear that in mind if you're thinking about moving to northern California. On the plus side, once you get used to it, you probably can't smell cat pee, either.

9:05 am
4,058 miles


We enter Oregon at the Siskiyou Pass (the highest point on all of I-5). No more pumping our own gas! No more sales tax! Woohoo!

The freeway has been lined with lots of trees and greenery, which is a welcome relief after all the desert we've been looking at.

12:15 pm
4,254 miles

Eugene, OR

We make one last gas stop and our credit cards take the opportunity to whine about it one last time. (You'd think the credit card companies would WANT you to use their credit cards when you travel, but apparently not. They'd rather you stayed home and racked up debt locally.)

It's also amazing how much stuff there is along the freeway. We're used to driving for an hour or two and seeing nothing—no houses, no farmland, no stores—nothing but desert and mountains.

Here along I-5 there's a steady stream of houses and trees and every five or ten miles a gas stop. Way different.

1:30 pm
4,319 miles

Salem, OR

HOME! Yay! Mooch, our fat cat, waddles out to see if we've brought him any fish. Indiana, our tiny ex-feral cat hides out for an hour or two before she peeks out to see if we're gone yet.



Here's how many miles we drove each day, because Robert got bored and decided to figure it out:

Day 1: 290 miles
Day 2: 450 miles
Day 3: 325 miles
Day 4: 128 miles
Day 5: 0 miles
Day 6: 252 miles
Day 7: 392 miles
Day 8: 219 miles
Day 9: 50 miles
Day 10: 0 miles
Day 11: 428 miles
Day 12: 520 miles
Day 13: 409 miles
Day 14: 494 miles
Day 15: 283 miles

Some things we learned on our trip:

  • There is a LOT of empty space in the West. And when we say "empty" we don't mean "nothing but backyards and empty lots," we mean "miles and miles of scrubby desert." And it's likely to remain empty; hard to live someplace without any water.

  • There are a lot of different types of desert—from the red rock desert of Utah to the high desert with Joshua Trees in Arizona to the amazingly flat desert in Texas and New Mexico. The vegetation, terrain, and colors vary with each location.

  • We learned what the whole "off-roading" thing is about—although we're not going to take it up as a hobby. (And this is not something that we would ever have done on our own, so thanks, Jane & Jim!)

  • There are places in this country where it makes sense to own a four-wheel drive vehicle. Redmond, Washington is not one of those places, but Moab, Utah is.

  • Don't order Chinese food in Price, Utah. This probably applies to all of Utah (we weren't willing to experiment), but it definitely applies to Price.

  • The Hualapai Indians have a good deal going with the Grand Canyon West thing. Our only complaint was that it was hard to find information about it (like how much things cost, what options were available, and so forth).

  • If you want to stay at the Hualapai Lodge (and have a cultural experience), make reservations. Everywhere else, you can always find places to stay and pretty cheap, too (if you stay away from the chains).

  • Back roads are WAY cooler than freeways. Except for highway 89 between Salt Lake City and Provo, which is one long strip mall. You might as well stay on the freeway to get it over with quicker.

  • Robert's sister Mary Ann was born in 1956, not 1957, so it wasn't her fiftieth birthday this year. Oops.

  • Area 51 and Roswell are not in the same state (Nevada and New Mexico, respectively).

  • Area 51 has no gift shop.

  • October is a good time to see the southwest. The summer tourists have gone home and the weather is pleasant.

  • Indians (the ones from India, not from America) have taken over the cheap independent motel business. Every motel we stopped at was run by Indians. We're not complaining, just observing.

  • And they've all decided to serve ice and soft drinks from a refrigerator in their kitchens, rather than from soda and ice machines. If you need ice, you go to the office, and they give you a tray or two's worth of ice. Same thing if you need a soda.

This is, of course, the last trip log for the Square States Tour. We hoped you enjoyed visiting all those square states in the middle of the US along with us. We'll be returning to our regular schedule of Mid-Life Crisis Trip Logs.

Robert & Laura
Square State Tour

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