The day had finally arrived. After an entire month back home in Red Deer, there was finally some adventure in store for Ryan and I. The car was loaded, the gas tank was full, and we were ready to set off on an epic roadtrip. Getting by on caffeine and excitement, we hit the road early Saturday morning, traveling south.
We cruised through Alberta until the border, where we handed over our passports and drove into the United States. Montana was beautiful, much more than we'd expected it to be. We fought the urge to stop around every corner, trying to make good time.
A few more hours passed, and we reached Idaho. Once again, we were surprised at the landscape and the altitude as we drove through the state. The further south we drove, the warmer the outside temperature got. I was thrilled to finally have an entire day without a rain storm. Summer back home hasn't been great when it comes to weather.
It was getting late as we crossed the state line and drove into Utah. We'd been on the road for over 12 hours and both of us were ready to call it a night. To save time and money, we decided not to get a hotel room for the evening. Instead, we settled into a cozy stall in the parking lot of a Walmart in Salt Lake City. In our jam-packed car it wasn't all that comfortable, but it was better than nothing. Before falling asleep, however, we felt it necessary to wander the quiet aisles of the store, open 24 hours. That alone could almost convince me to move south of the border. It was 1 am and there we were, stocking up on memory cards for our cameras. We retreated to the car where we slept for a few hours before waking up to the sunrise. After a quick breakfast at McDonald's (where they have pancakes!!) we were back on the road.
The air smelled of salt and fish as we drove past Great Salt Lake and into the salt flats. The ground was white for miles on end, covered in a layer of salt. If it weren't for the soaring temperatures, you might almost mistake it for snow. We stopped for a few quick photos and then continued on our way.
Before we knew it, we were in Nevada! Surrounded by desert and under the blazing sun, it almost felt as if I'd been dropped off in Dubai. According to our thermometer, the outside temperature was 38 degrees celsius (about 100F). The land was barren. No trees, no homes, just miles of emptiness with a few prisons every couple of hours. It felt as though we'd never make it out. Time slowed to a halt as we drove through the state. Dust devils formed around us and tumbleweeds blew across the interstate. We finally reached Reno, and it seemed like a mirage after the miles of endless desert.
After a quick stop to fill up the gas, we were on the way again. Shortly after Reno we reached the sign that we'd been waiting for.... Welcome to California! It greeted us like an ice cream cone on a hot summer day, and we hopped out of the car to take photos in front of it. Aside from airport stopovers, it was my first time in California and I was ridiculously excited. The landscape changed dramatically as we crossed the state line. Trees! Nature!
We spotted the exit for Lake Tahoe and despite the fact that we were trying to make it to our destination as fast as possible, we couldn't bring ourselves to drive right past without stopping. We pulled into a small lakeside town filled with quaint cafes and sports shops. I picked up my usual fridge magnet and then carried on down the street to a surf and snowboard shop where we discovered a large rack of winter clothing on clearance. In the heat of the store I stood trying on winter jackets and snow pants. I walked out with my purchases, laughing at the fact that I'd found my winter attire in sunny California, but content with the fact that I was a bit more prepared for what I'm certain will be a long, cold winter with my snow-loving fiance. We shared a sandwich at a bench overlooking the massive lake before continuing on our road trip.
I was nervous as we drove on winding roads climbing up and down mountains at speeds that shouldn't have been legal, but were. Ryan loved every moment of it. I didn't calm down much as we got closer to the coast. As somebody who gets impatient at slight traffic jams in my small hometown, I was overwhelmed by 7 lanes of cars. As night settled in, we finally reached San Francisco, 6 tanks of gas and 11 pee breaks later.
Our friends Jon and Jody were kind enough to let us stay in their beautiful home, and we were relieved to finally have a bed to sleep in.
The next morning we woke up well rested and ready for a day of taking photos in San Francisco. Ryan, Jon and myself packed up our cameras and headed for the city. Our first stop was the famous Lombard Street. The steep road winded uphill, lined with pretty homes and camera toting tourists. A cable car passed by at the top, making it all so very cliche San Francisco. I loved it.
Our next stop was the landmark of the city... the Golden Gate Bridge. We took far too many photos and spent quite awhile admiring the red structure before moving on to have lunch at a place called Liverpool Lil's. Ryan and I shared a Reuben sandwich and a delicious burger, happy to be eating a real meal after 2 days of on-the-road snacks.
After lunch we proceeded to take more photos of the bridge from different angles. We walked along a beach barefoot, spotting a few people who took off more than just their shoes, as nudity was permitted. We even had the chance to drive across the bridge not once, but twice, feeling like movie stars. Content with our day, we headed for dinner at California Pizza Kitchen where we dined on Thai Chicken pizza and Hawaiian BBQ pizza, both delicious. On the way back home, we stopped to take photos of the sun setting over the bay, a perfect end to a great day. I'm loving California and don't want to leave... fortunately our vacation is only beginning!