Two years ago, I was supposed to take two weeks to drive across the country, from California to Connecticut. Half the time would be spent with my mom and the other half would be spent with E and we had all sorts of plans about where we would go and what we would do and see. Well, we all know what happens when you make plans…
This year, our road trip consisted of only half the country – Kansas to California, but we took it slow and were able to see some pretty fun things along the way:
[The Garden of Eden in Lucas, Kansas] About three hours outside of Hutchinson, we took a short detour to Lucas, Kansas, where we received a tour of the Garden of Eden, something of a cross between a house and a sculpture. It was created by a man named S.P. Dinsmoor, a civil war veteran, who began construction of his home at the age of 64 (when our tour guide explained that he went on to sire two more children at the age of 81, one of our fellow tourists, who was about the same age exclaimed, “Get out of here! Not without a little help, he didn’t!”). All the doors and windows are different sizes and all the sculptures have some sort of religious or political significance. At the end of the tour, we went into the mausoleum, where Dinsmoor and his first wife lay entombed. The wife is buried in concrete, but Dinsmoor is on display in his coffin, as per his wishes.
After the Garden of Eden, we continued on to Denver to have dinner with one of E’s cousins and his six-year old daughter. I joked that after all these years of being together, I was finally making up for lost time by meeting all E’s relatives at once. It had been a long time since E and his cousin had seen one another – in fact, E had never met the daughter (who is a totally awesome kid). It was nice to meet them and listen to E and his cousin catch up, to learn about his family in a different way and from a different perspective.
[Golden Spike in Promontory, Utah] After N and L’s wedding, we drove through Idaho and Utah and decided to stop in Promontory, to check out the Golden Spike, where the transcontinental railroad was joined. Turns out we needn’t have gone so far to see the spike – the real one is at Stanford, since Leland Stanford was a Central Pacific Railroad tycoon. We also learned that there was not just one precious metal spike, but *four.* There was a second gold one that has since disappeared, one silver spike made from Arizonan silver and another one made from Nevadan silver. After learning a little bit about the history of the railroad (some of which came from the museum, some of it from a book on tape that E’s parents had loaned us), we went out to look at the original track (not currently being used) where that final golden spike was driven. In case this sounds really boring, they also had on display two replicas of the engines that drew the locomotives for the Central and Union Pacific Railways, which were pretty interesting.
[Spiral Jetty, Utah] This one was on our bucket list. When plans changed and E and I found ourselves driving across Utah instead of Arizona in 2011, we both wanted to see the Spiral Jetty. Unfortunately, due to time restrictions and lack of ownership of the appropriate vehicle for the road conditions, we were unable to go. We saw the signs for the jetty when we got to Promontory, but again, didn’t think we had the right car. However, the ranger at the Golden Spike informed us that the road had been redone and that we would be able to drive right up to it, so we decided to go. The Spiral Jetty is a giant earthwork structure created by Robert Smithson. He collected a bunch of rocks and formed them into this jetty right out into the Great Salt Lake. Sometimes water covers the jetty and it can’t be seen, and sometimes, when the water level has recently receded, the jetty will appear white since it is covered in salt. It was black when we were there, which I think made it all the more striking against the pink-tinged white of the salt flat. We clambered down to the jetty and walked around for a bit, marveling at the sight, glad we had come.
From Utah, we drove into Nevada. I wish I had anything to say about driving in Nevada, but the entire state seems to be painfully sparse and devoid of life. When we finally did stop, in Winemucca, which is a reasonably large town, it still felt scuzzy somehow. However, as a point in its favor, Nevada did just pass a bill allowing midwives to practice autonomously, which is more than we can say for California (which still has a supervision law).
The next day, we had a relatively easy drive back to San Francisco, arriving at the Bay Bridge just six minutes too late for the lower bridge fee. Despite our travel weariness and desire to rest, we forced ourselves to return the rental car down at the airport and then had an early dinner at one of our local favorites (Nojo), followed by bed.