Hi, guys! It’s been a while, I know! It’s officially been 1 week and 1 day since I’ve arrived safely in Denver, Colorado. So far, I love everything! It was quite an adventure driving from my hometown of Sunnyvale, CA all the way to Denver, CO–a total of almost 1300 miles! Let me tell you all about it in 2 posts since it took me about 2 days to make the entire drive.
Prior to this drive, the longest I’ve ever driven was probably the 3 hours I spent driving from Acadia National Park back to Portland, ME about a month or so ago. Trips to LA don’t really count since I’ve never had to personally drive those. That and I was 5 when we drove to Disneyland; every other time I’ve gone anywhere remotely far, it’s been via airplane. With little long-distance driving experience, the first day’s full-day drive felt terribly BRUTAL. I survived, but I definitely suffered during the last few hours towards Salt Lake City because it was pitch black and boring.
I actually started my trip Friday night, where I drove from Sunnyvale to Woodland. My good friend Wendy graciously let me stay over for the night so I wouldn’t have to endure an even longer drive on Saturday. If I started from Sunnyvale, that would’ve added an extra 2 hours to my drive (yikes!). So early Saturday morning, I woke up early and got ready for my drive. That included playing with Wendy’s cat for a little bit.
I left a little later than I initially wanted (was on the phone to deal getting my renter’s insurance for the apartment), but I eventually made it out on the road. First stop was Reno! But before I really started my drive, I needed some coffee.
I’m normally a black coffee person, but Dutch Bros is one of the few places where I’ll seek out flavored coffee. Pause for a sec–I’m going to tell really quick story why I like black coffee because I think it’s kinda sad and hilarious. I actually started out drinking coffee with plenty of sugar and creamer. What kid doesn’t like super fatty, sugary coffee? I certainly did. When I got to college, coffee was obviously a necessity. But as you know, college students are poor. Me being me, I usually spend money on food items but I prioritize them accordingly to how useful they were. Milk/creamer wasn’t a multi-purpose/common item that I used often, so I didn’t buy more when I ran out of my Coffee Mate creamer. That’s when I started drinking coffee with just sugar. After a while, I got used to it, and it wasn’t so bad…until I ran out of sugar. I generally don’t use sugar all that much in my cooking, unless I’m baking, but I didn’t have the funds to bake anything at that time so no refills on sugar. That’s when I started drinking black coffee. After a while, I got really used to it to a point where it’s hard for me to switch back now. So there you have it. The reason for my fondness for black coffee started because I was too poor to taint my coffee with additives. Anywho, Dutch Bros Coffee is one of places where I enjoy the cream and sugar added into my coffee. It’s that Irish Cream blend, I tell ya!
After grabbing a cup, I was off! I would say there were interesting things along the way, but there really wasn’t. It’s very pretty at some parts, but I-80 is a pretty boring drive. I stopped at a rest stop and saw some interesting monuments, but there’s not much else on the interstate.
One of only cool/nice things you’ll see is Donner Lake in Truckee, CA. There’s a spot called “Vista Point” that you can pull off the road and snap a couple of pics. There were a lot of people enjoying the view when I parked my car there for a couple of minutes.
After that, absolutely nothing interesting… I made it to Reno in about 2 hours. I considered gambling, but I figured if I was going to do anything in Reno, it was going to be eating at a buffet for lunch. I went to a sushi buffet called Sushi Pier, a small little sushi restaurant in this giant plaza. The last time I went to a sushi buffet was probably back in college when I went to Davis (the land of sushi buffets), so I figured this would be fun.
Verdict on the sushi place? It was all right. Decent sushi buffet but I think some things were drenched in a little too much sauce. The rolls tended to be very rich, so I personally found it hard to eat too many (which is probably a good thing since I haven’t been to the gym in a bit…). Would I go again? If I was in the area, probably! I like some of the rolls, and the chefs were super nice. Not the best sushi in the world, but it is a buffet so can’t complain!
Then it was back on the road! During lunch, I had read some random forum posts and blog articles that I-80 is a pretty boring freeway. I was hoping to find some things I could see along the way, but there isn’t very much. Bonneville Salt Flats was one of the options of interesting sights to see while driving across towards Utah, but I left Reno later than I should’ve so going to the salt flats wasn’t an option. It was just going to be a loooong, straight drive to Salt Lake City. I will say, there was one thing that DID strike my interest while I was driving through Nevada:
These signs! I have never seen these before in my life, and seeing them freaked me out just a little. Why? I watch too many horror movies. My greatest fear during the moments of passing by those signs was my car would die in the middle of nowhere (no signal!) and an escapee would pop up and kill me. Unrealistic, but again, too many horror movies ahaha. There are a LOT of prisons that you drive by on I-80 through Nevada. I suppose it shouldn’t come as a surprise to me, since it makes sense to have a prison in the middle of nowhere. There is absolutely nothing but tumbleweed and dirt/sand for hundreds of miles. It makes sense why an escapee would want to hitchhike. It makes you wonder what happens when you DO get stranded there because there isn’t much reception? Scary!
Speaking of prison and inmates, something that kept me pretty sane during the long drive was a podcast called Serial. A couple of friends had suggested it to me when they heard I was going to make a long drive to Denver. If you’re a fan of Netflix’s Making a Murderer, this podcast series is in a similar vein about possible wrongful conviction. It’s a lot less blood boiling than MaM, but certainly makes for an interesting mystery to listen to while you’re driving. Season 1 is about a high school guy that is accused of murdering his ex-girlfriend. The host Sarah Koenig narrates the story in a soothing voice and brings up interesting points that makes you think and gives you information form your own opinion on whether or not this guy really is a murderer.
Here are some interesting (or not so interesting, depends on whether or not you like the desert) photos I took on the way to SLC. Don’t worry, I wasn’t focused on my phone; I just blindly tapped on the screen while pointing in a direction that I thought would make for a good photo. Got a handful of decent ones out of the dozens of terrible ones (sideways, crooked, seats of my passenger seat, etc), so yay success!
Soon enough, I was driving in the dark along I-80E. I-80 is pretty boring already, but once it’s dark, you can’t see anything so no enjoying a nice view of nature. Things got even more boring once I found that I had finished the podcast. I’m sure Utah is beautiful, but I unfortunately got to see none of it in the pitch black night. I eventually made it to Salt Lake City to stay in a little quaint Airbnb, where I promptly knocked out. I was exhausted, and I made it a mission to wake up early to go see ONE cool thing since my time was incredibly limited in SLC. I chose to view sunrise, so I went to sleep as soon as possible to get some much needed rest.
And that was Day 1 of the Great Drive! Have you been on long drives before? If so, how’d you deal with them? If not, would you ever want to go? How long is too long? Let me know your thoughts and comments below!