Wednesday, July 3, 2024

Trip home

I'm home, dear readers! Thank you for your forbearance as I focused on my parents rather than the blog for the duration of the trip.

As you can imagine, it was wonderful to see my parents. My mother had a stroke last year and is confined to a wheelchair, and my dad (who turns 89 in a few days) is her primary caretaker, so Older Daughter and I tried to be as useful as we could during our visit. (Unfortunately I had to work three of the days I was there, but such is life.)

My parent's home is comfortable and filled with photos, cards, and other evidence of the warm family life they've cultivated during their marriage.

Here's a hallway of photos. What's not visible is the rest of the photos – the entire angled hallway is filled with pictures.

Last year, my parents celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. I wasn't there for the party, but they kept the decorations up. This August, they'll hit 66 years.

The mantel has cards from kids and grandkids.

One morning while my mom was napping, Older Daughter and I snuck out to walk the beach. The marine layer made for cloudy and somewhat chilly conditions, but we walked a good distance up the shoreline.

We saw gulls feeding on (presumably) sand crabs. It was nice to see gulls acting like gulls, rather than feathered rats rummaging for garbage.

We found a dead crab that was entirely whole, rather than broken into bits. No doubt the seagulls feasted on it later.

We walked until we hit the section of beach that was cordoned off for snowy plover nests. Then we turned around...

...and retraced our steps back to the parking area.

Afterward we stopped at a used bookstore (because, of course) and looked over their selection.

I chuckled at this cartoon.

However this book bag displayed on the wall hit a bit too close for comfort.

On Saturday, Older Daughter and I drove to the airport and picked up Younger Daughter. It was so good to see her! She had been in Norfolk, Virginia for a week of  training, and afterward flew out to California to join us at my parents' house. Unfortunately Older Daughter and I were leaving the next day (Sunday morning), so we made the most of our short time together.

At one point the girls and I went for a walk around the neighborhood to stretch our legs. It wasn't until halfway through this walk that the girls remembered we were going to give my dad an early birthday celebration (since we would be gone by his actual birthday on July11). So we made tracks to a nearby grocery store and purchased a small cake and a fancy novelty candle that, when lit, opens up into petals and plays a tinny version of Happy Birthday.

Well, my dad loved it. I'm so glad the girls remembered!

The next morning, Older Daughter and I made our painful goodbyes and hit the road. We had two days of hard travel ahead of us.

The first leg of the trip is along the I-5 corridor, which has very few urban areas and is mostly irrigated farmland.

However at one point we passed as massive – massive – cattle facility. It must have been a mile long. I was driving so couldn't grab any photos, but it had sun shades (glad to see it, as it was about 100F) over feeding troughs. As I told Don later, there must have been a hundred thousand head of cattle there.

Later I looked it up and saw we were passing Harris Ranch, California's largest beef producer. What I want to know is, how did I not notice this on my previous trips to California? Seriously, this is the kind of thing I would remember, and I don't recall seeing it at all. Go figure.

Here's an aerial photo someone else took, which shows the industrial scale of the facility:

After many hours, we hooked around Sacramento and proceeded east over the Sierras on Hwy 80.

At Donner Summit, we stopped to swap drivers. I noticed this stack of huge boulders, maybe 10 feet high.

We spent the night in Reno (a place where you can get excellent room rates even at fancy casinos, as long as you stay outside the weekend). The next day we had a long – long – day of driving ahead of us, well over 12 hours. Much of it was desert.

Here's a prison a distance outside of Winnemucca. Signs along the highway instruct drivers not to pick up hitchhikers.

Here's the Winnemucca "W" overlooking the town.

Not far from the "W," there's also what looks like a massive private home. Massive. Yowza.

We crossed into eastern Oregon and continued north on Hwy 95. At a jog in the road called Burns Junction is an abandoned gas station with one structure collapsed. Literally that's all there is to Burns Junction.

As we approached the tiny hamlet of Rome, Oregon...

...the skies opened up and it pounded rain for a few minutes.

Finally we got home. After over 12 hours on the road, we were wiped. Unfortunately we've barely been able to stop. During my absence, Don was fencing fencing fencing. The day after we got back, I had to work (covering for an absent coworker), though Older Daughter and I made a fast dash into the city – four hours round trip – to return the rental car.

Today Don started fencing early in the morning while I took both Mr. Darcy and Lihn (the parrot) to the vet for checkups and a beak trimming.

So close to Independence Day, everyone in town had thrown themselves into patriotic displays, which I liked.

To make things even more exciting, I decided to do Camp NaNoWriMo this month, so I've been typing away at a new story.

Phew! This has been a busy two weeks. But at least I'm home.


  1. It's amazing how long hours in a vehicle, whether driving or riding, will exhaust a person. You write almost too well, Patrice - after reading your account, I'm ready for a nap!

  2. Ah, Harris Ranch. It was our traditional stop for lunch when I was driving my parents up to see my brother in the Bay Area, as it was roughly the halfway point.

    I'm glad you got home safe, and yes, a 12 hour drive is an endurance contest for sure. Happy Independence Day to you.

  3. I'm with Paul D! I'm drinking my second cuppa coffee, almost ready to make the hour-long trip to Ikea and the Habitat for Humanity Restore (the inside of our house is gutted as we update it for our future needs). After reading that account, I'm ready to go back to sleep!

  4. You went through my area up and back. Wilder, Id. near the Snake River. Glad you had a nice visit. My spouses birthday is also July 11th, mine is the 12th.