Sep 11, 2017

the rest of the way to Portland

Sunday, we got up early, ate our packages of cold cereal with milk, and hit the road early because the only breakfast options was a Denny's inside a sad casino. We drove all day, continuing across the wastelands of Nevada, passing derelict brothels and silent and vast military installations. We finally starting getting to more interesting areas with lakes and high desert plains, before we reached Reno. Reno was nicer than either of us were expecting, but then we were expecting Reno to be the cheaper, skankier version of Las Vegas, so there was a lot of wiggle room there.

We stopped at a diner at one of the casinos close to the Reno main drag, and got a big, greasy, diner lunch. We picked it mostly because it was close by and had street parking. Pressing on, we passed the border into California, which was about the same, and drove on for a few hours more towards Susanville. Susanville is situated between the Douglass fir and Redwoods pine covered mountains, and the scrub and grasses of the rolling high desert. We arrived to find a thin smell of smoke in the air, the first taste of the forest fires which would follow us to Portland.

Checked in to a typical cheap roadside motel, and walked next door to a discount grocery store before returning to the motel for the night. I wouldn't have minded walking around a bit more, or visiting the local brewery gastropub, but Saori was done for the day.

Monday, labor day, we got up early, ate the cereal we had brought, checked where forest fires were burning, and hit the road again. We continued northeast, driving between pine forests and high deserts, although finally we were in the mountainous forests of northern California and southern Oregon. We stopped for BBQ in a small city near the border. It was the first BBQ since I'd arrived back in the US, and after all, it was my birthday.

We pressed on. The smoke in the air got thicker. Road closures due to fires had limited us from taking a more scenic route, but this way was scenic enough. Lots of traffic from people returning from Crater Lake, and Burning Man, and we saw lots of Burners, easily identifiable by the white dust coating the vehicles, and the bicycles hanging off the back. We did really appreciate, however, the passing lanes every ten miles or so, so traffic didn't get too backed up on the forest roads.

We stopped to use the bathroom and take a break at the outskirts of Portland at a KFC, which ended up a semi-go-to for pit stops. The smoke was as thick as it ever was, and it rained ash. Although we didn't know it at the time, this was from the very nearby Eagle Creek fire, which is burning through Columbia gorge. I took over driving, and we pulled into the driveway of our duplex around 5pm.

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