After all the planning and preparation we have finally arrived in our new home of San Francisco! In the interest of our dog, Wilson, we ended up driving across the States, which took about five days (averaging around 9.75 hours on the road per day). As you can imagine, the drive was long and, at some points, painfully boring.
Driving through the first few states were especially uneventful and boring. Once we hit Wyoming, however, the landscape started to get more mountainous, as opposed to the monotonous and endless plains of the previous states. Wyoming was also a neat state to drive through because it is known as “Cowboy Country”, and true to its word, we saw legitimate cowboys, ranches with hundreds of grazing cattle, and horses scattered throughout the rolling hills. If you turned on the radio, country music represented about 75% of the stations, and even the license plates had a picture of a cowboy riding a bucking bronco! Although I was seriously considering making Wyoming my home, we continued on the I80 West towards Utah.
Utah was absolutely gorgeous and actually reminded me a lot of British Columbia and Alberta. The mountains were huge and the villages we drove through (Park City for one) were nestled in valleys amongst the Rocky Mountains. As I’m sure you can imagine, Joey was in absolute heaven, and while I could have easily stayed in Wyoming, Joey very easily could have stayed in Park City. Once we drove through Salt Lake City we came across a stretch of highway that was as straight as an arrow and was surrounded by water and wet sand on both sides. We were on this stretch of road for about 100 miles, and because of the landscape there were no service stations or stops along the way. For fear of running out of gas and the fact that we were soon to cross into Nevada, we stopped at the border town of Wendover to fuel up (our tank and our bellies) and let Wilson out to stretch his legs before we undertook the six-hour drive across the Nevada desert.
With the snow-capped mountains of Utah in our rear view, we began the endless trek through the desert of Nevada, where civilization is few and far between, the landscape is varying shades of brown, and no matter the size of the town or travel stop, you are guaranteed to see at least one casino. Nevada is, to say the least, a creepy state (what we saw of it, anyway). Not only were we literally driving through the desert on a stretch of highway that lasted for about 370 miles, we would drive into zones along the highway where the fog was too thick to get any sort of radio or cell phone signal (playing the radio game was definitely out of the question). We also wouldn’t see any kind of civilization for miles, and often times we were the only vehicle on the road. To top it off, we continually saw signs that read, “Prison Area – Hitchhiking Prohibited” and Joey maintains he saw a sign that provided a number for drivers to call if they witnessed a “shooting” (I was sleeping when he supposedly saw this sign, so I can’t verify whether this was a legitimate sighting or if it was a by-product of Joey’s overactive imagination – he also claims to have seen a house “made of bones”). Nevertheless, the towns eventually started to get bigger as we approached California, and we called it a day in the bustling city of Sparks, which is about three miles outside Reno.
From Reno, San Francisco is just under a four-hour drive, and whether it was the shorter drive (as opposed to 14 hours the previous day), the refreshing change of scenery, the fact that we were almost at our final destination, or the fact that we made it out of the Nevada desert unscathed and without witnessing any shootings, both Joey and I were in good spirits as we crossed the state line into California. Even Wilson seemed excited and happy, sitting upright in his crate, nose pressed up against the window, ears flapping in the wind. Once again, we were driving through a mountainous region – the Tahoe National Forest – and we were quickly climbing higher and higher until we were eventually 5000 feet above sea level. As we were ascending, the weather was progressively getting worse and worse, until we were in a full-fledged blizzard. With the exception of the surrounding mountains, we could have easily been in Ontario with all the snow. What goes up, must come down, however, and after reaching the top the only other option was to start our descent back down towards sea level. The roads were slick (that’s the American word for slippery) and snow covered, but, thanks to growing up in Canada, we’ve mastered the art of driving in bad weather and we made it safely to the bottom.
As we approached Sacramento, the landscape quickly began to change as palm trees replaced the evergreens of the Tahoe forest and we began to catch glimpses of the ocean. We were excited to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge, since the last time we were in San Francisco neither of us saw this iconic sight. Unbeknownst to us, and much to our dismay, our GPS had other plans and ended up guiding us over the Bay Bridge instead.
Nevertheless, we officially arrived in San Francisco around 10:45 on Tuesday, February 15th and immediately drove to the Golden Gate Park to let Wilson stretch his legs.
While walking through the park I couldn’t help but feel a twinge of excitement and, although we left all our family, friends, and belongings behind, I look forward to the new adventures that will come our way as we explore this brave new world.