Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sabo Road Trip Across America: Part I

                                                  Van life. Sabo style. Seth is hungry ...

On Sunday, July 13, 2014, the Sabos launched what can only be described as "The Great Sabo Road Trip: Version 4.0." For the fourth time we would set out in a van across this great country, traversing rolling hills, majestic mountain passes, treeless plains and deep gorges as we aimed our Chevrolet Express west toward Oregon. On a road trip that would be the fourth time we would go coast-to-coast across America, we would tackle what few families would dare to even imagine: Drive 3,069 miles over the course of 5 days in a van stuffed to nearly exploding with kids, luggage, gummy bears, goldfish crackers, various other snacks, pillows, blankets, coolers, an iMac and, as you can see in Seth's grubby little mitt, pizza. No road trip across the country is complete without pepperoni pizza after all.

It's hard to describe in words what it's like traversing the geographic heart of America in a van posing as a moving house full of kids. But let us try.

Day 1: Gloucester to Danville, Kentucky. Just east of Charlottesville, a mere two hours into our journey I hear Judah's van from the depths of the abyss: "Are we almost to Oregon?" Oy. It's started.
We make it to our destination of our new friends the Morlotes -- amazing hosts and wonderful people -- sometime after midnight. We're safe, we're sound and we survived driving through a thunderstorm in a 3-car caravan late at night on Kentucky roads, with only one detour through a McDonald's parking lot.

                                                  The road trip struggle is real, man.

Day 2: Danville to St. Joseph Missouri. We drove 600 plus miles, a journey low lighted by the sight of black clouds, howling winds and debris being blown across I-70 outside of St. Louis. I was pretty sure we were going to drive through a tornado. We managed to pull off the freeway and find cover in a mall while the storm passed. We stormed the food court like locusts, or a tornado, leaving virtually nothing in our wake. If you happened to be in a mall near St. Louis and saw a man with a bunch of little kids riding the escalator over and over again, well, that was me. What can I say? The Sabos are easily entertained.

                                              The elephant is stuffed. The kids are real.

Day 3: St. Joseph to Laramie, Wyoming. What a day. I learned something on our drive and that is that they grow corn in Nebraska. And that Nebraska is a very loooooooooonnnnnngggggg state full of corn. Our highlight in Nebraska, besides watching the corn actually while we hurtled down I80 at 80 mph, was a stop at Cabela's in Sidney. Anyone who is anyone stops at the Cabela's at Sidney, which happens to be the site of company headquarters. As you can see in the photo above, Cabela's was a big hit. A Cabela's is basically a taxidermist's dream. It's like a zoo full of dead animals, and I say that in a good way. An elephant, moose, elk, deer, bobcats, mountain lions, birds, squirrels, fish ... if it's covered in hair or fur and walks in four legs it's pretty much stuffed and in the Cabela's in Sidney. Somehow we managed to walk out of there without buying any firearms. Or trying to stuff an elk in the van for Judah to pet along the way. Other highlights included an amazing thunderstorm in metro Cheyenne. When the storm parted and the sun poked through the clouds it was breathtakingly gorgeous.

                                              Somewhere in Wyoming. Or was it Idaho?

Day 4: Laramie to Boise, Idaho. A 690-mile run in which we only traveled through 2 states. On the East Coast, particularly the Northeast, if you travel 690 miles you're going to hit at least 6 to 8 states. I don't even know if we traveled through that many counties. Wyoming is an absolutely amazing state. For example, we were nearing Cheyenne, or maybe it was Laramie, and Judah had to go pee. It was quite urgent, in fact. We made it to a rest area on a mountain pass at 8,700 feet elevation. That is way up there! Just walking to the restroom is a lung burner! Then when you are up on the high plains of Wyoming where the interstate speed limit is 80 mph, you can look literally as far as the eye can see and not see a single tree. Zip, nothing, nada with leaves. It's grassy hills and plateaus and indigo skies with fluffy clouds you think you can grab when you roll down your window. Our trip had a bit of a hiccup when a hazmat incident closed I80 at Evanston on the southwestern fringe of Wyoming into Utah. A very helpful Wyoming Department of Transportation worker we reached by phone directed us to Highway 30 through Kemmerer and on into Idaho. I have to say, it was a gorgeous drive. Everyone raved about the scenery: The stark, rather desolate landscape of southern Wyoming to valleys where green hay fields straddle the river bottoms and a few herds of antelope roam (Seriously. We saw them.), to big skies and picturesque mountain ranges forming the backdrop of little towns like Soda Springs, Montpelier and Georgetown. We're actually glad about this detour.

Stay tuned for Part II of our road trip, when we pick it up with an incident in Idaho involving a small Sabo within the tight confines of a Dodge Dart that left Claire and Evie traumatized. Perhaps for life ...

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