I meet Bob and Jarrett at 8 am, and it’s still a bit foggy outside. I explain that I’m going to skip breakfast, maybe grab a donut and coffee in the office, and work in my room for a while on this blog. Blogging is a new job on the road, and I’m trying to figure out how to catch up, keep up and shut up when necessary.By 10, we’re packed and pulling out of the Pacific Heights Inn. We know we can’t go back across the Bay Bridge because it’s closed for the weekend, but we’re not far from the Golden Gate, so we’ll head for the beautiful bridge and drive north for a few miles before turning eastbound for Pittsburgh.
It’s so foggy we can’t see much of the bridge at all, but there are lots of people out walking across it. Bob says that it was so foggy when he got up that he knew it would be pointless to go back to get a rooftop shot from the house of the people who have the last marker hidden in their hedge. We thank them for the offer nonetheless.
The Golden Gate Bridge is the southern end of what’s called the Redwood Highway, so it’s nice to be starting our journey on a highway with a name as well as a number, US 101. We stay on the Redwood till Novato, where we take the exit to California Route 37 that skirts around the northern edge of San Pablo Bay. Just after we cross the Napa River, we begin our quickie superhighway journey eastbound.
We get on Interstate 80, intending to make some time. Eat up some miles. I’m hoping that we’ll still consider stopping or getting off on the Lincoln Highway for a while if it seems interesting or we just need to find somewhere non-chain-y to eat.
Jarrett is driving. And he’s eager to get home. Before we know it, we are in Sacramento, through Sacramento, and on our way back up into the Sierra Nevada mountains. On 80, you don’t get the up-close contact with the Donner Pass, but there’s a Scenic View pull off where we stop to get some shots looking back to the west at the pass and the cool old concrete arch bridge where we paused on our slow journey westward. It’s odd to realize that was just yesterday morning.
We consider lunch in Reno, thinking we’ll watch the billboards and just pull off at a casino, grab a quick bite in a buffet and continue on our way. We actually give it a try at one of the big casinos in Sparks, NV, and suddenly we’re stopped dead in our tracks. Labor-Day-weekend traffic on the exit ramp is clogging everything. We aren’t even trying to get in at this casino. We stay in the far right lane, trying to slip around the massive bottleneck as the other three lanes squeeze into casino registration and check-in lanes. It’s midday Saturday on a long holiday weekend, and lots of people are heading for the casinos.
We drive another 30 or so miles to Fernley, Nevada, where there’s a little casino, Chukar’s, just off I-80. We have no trouble finding a good parking space in this lot. Lunch is not memorable, but I’m puzzled again by the obviously addictive nature of the slot machines jingling and coughing, beeping and squeaking all around us in the subdued lighting. In this small town casino, cool and inviting in the desert, otherwise normal-looking people are pouring quarters into “slots,” slot machines that have themes often based on kiddie movies, comic books and cutsey pop culture. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon. I don’t get it.
We get back on the highway.