By Mummy B.
Road trip… the word is dreamy! It makes you think about freedom, discovery and travels. It’s all about road movies soundtracks. Endless landscapes. And… the road!
But nowadays the word seems to be used only to describe a long-distance drive from one point to another. But a lot of people actually forget what is essential in a road trip. The pleasure of driving, watching all around, stopping during the journey. For a big stop in order to visit a point of interest, or just for a few minutes. Admiring a view, feeling so well moving and breathing fresh air after hours spent in the car, after miles and miles observing the landscapes through the window…
When the travel begins in the car…
Road tripping is not only about going somewhere, it’s so much more!
Most of times the journey is considered only as a requirement. In that case the distance is not envisioned as something pleasant but more as an obligation, even constraining, to reach a region and go sightseeing around. Then people choose an accommodation in the area and visit within a close perimeter. It is the case when you want to have a getaway weekend or go on vacation in a specific place. But the spirit of a road trip is quite different.
Indeed, on a road trip, the journey is of equal importance than sightseeing. In that case you are guided by motivations specifically related to this kind of expedition. Your point is not to arrive by the shortest way. The road becomes like a travel mate: you have to get acquainted with it, you will have to tame it or spare it or stick with it. Anyway, you will have strong memories about it for sure.
A road trip is not about counting hours and miles before the arrival but enjoying every moment, every change in light or landscapes, every part of the road (paved or not!) which brings you to some unknown places. It is also choosing to take a detour because it is more interesting than the highway, even if it takes more time. Yes indeed, in a road trip, there is no waste of time but only new discoveries. It is also about getting lost without panicking or being stressed by the time. On a road trip, it is no big deal. Actually you are in the car for driving and dazzling your eyes. A road trip means enjoying the landscapes with the sound of silence or building a music playlist with care, so that your eyes and ears are in perfect harmony. It is also putting the GPS aside to just enjoy driving or being passenger and maybe even try to find your way with a paper map, which can show you minor paths unknown by your GPS.
The journey during a road trip is what makes the trip vibrant and full of life and surprises. The road on a road trip is not only a way to travel… it is the travel itself!
Following a changing and rewarding route
Two days and a half. Almost 1000 miles. From Friday lunch time to Sunday night. Spending 22 hours in the car and coming back with our minds full of memories… A long road-trip by the distance and so short as time went by so fast.
Friday (375 miles)
Departure from Walnut Creek at lunch time. We eat an IN-N-OUT (fries and burgers! yummy!) inside the car as the traffic previsions are quite bad. Indeed we won’t be alone on the road as many people are heading to Tahoe Lake for the weekend and we have to take the same road for a while. We already know this road as we took it to drive to Donner Lake and Kings Beach. We drive through Tahoe National Forest and the landscapes are already very different from East Bay’s. The traffic will be better after dining in Reno. From there, we have a 3 hours drive to Austin, NV.
Saturday (160 miles)
We get up early for a pre-breakfast at Stokes Castle. Then we go back down to Austin for a real American breakfast. We tour this town, lost in the middle of Nevada, and order sandwiches before heading to Spencer Hot Springs. The road is completely traffic-free during all our day trip, which brings us from Toquima Cave (at Pete’s Summit) to Diana’s Punch Bowl and then through the Big Smoky Valley.
We arrive in Tonopah at night and sleep there.
Sunday (435 miles)
After breakfast, we visit the Historic Mining Park of Tonopah. Then we go back in the car and take the County Road 89 to reach Berlin-Ichtyosaur Park. This road is sometimes unpaved and totally empty, contrary to the US95 we could have taken to spare some time. But it is also way more enjoyable to have the feeling to be all alone and the priviledge to see some landscapes and viewpoints without anybody around. After touring the ghost town of Berlin, we drive to Middlegate Station, then Sand Springs Pony Express Station and Sand Mountain. We have dinner in Fallon and drive back home, completely exhausted but also enchanted by this road-trip full of discoveries and surprises.
I will write several articles about the numerous points of interest we stopped at during this journey.
As far as we can see and just for the three of us
Central Nevada, Austin, Tonopah… those are not very famous places! And indeed, during two days and a half, we had the impression to be cut off the rest of the world. This feeling was even stronger with no internet or phone network reachable, on unpaved roads where no car goes by. At some point, we were happy to refill our gas tank even if just a quarter of it was empty.
Completely isolated, with only desert or mountains around us, we had the impression to go back in time to our honeymoon road-trip during the Summer of 2011. We just enjoyed the silence of wide-open spaces, the loneliness in the nature and the joy with each new discovery.
Some people might wonder why we’ve been so far, in a quite unknown region, while we have all the wonders of California just next door. Well, we did it on purpose, exactly to get back to that feeling that we missed so much! We were not expecting a lot of this trip but… we came back with unforgettable memories! So much discoveries! What a change of scenery! It’s been so long since we had this little taste of adventure, this feeling to be so far from our everyday life… We loved to be off the beaten track and to come back with all these moments in mind as we found every piece of them in a treasure hunt during the week-end.
Some unexpected and unusual moments
This kind of travel offers a lot of surprises and unforeseen occasions to see more than expected. You have to learn to stop and enjoy a unique moment, a lucky instant… Just have a break, for a while, and let yourself being impressed, surprised, amazed by a place, an animal, a moment that you couldn’t even plan, that you might have missed without being aware of what is around you.
Here are some of our nice and unexpected moments on the road :
In the US50, dust devils in the fields
In the Monitor Valley, a flock of goats climbing up the mountain.
[kad_youtube url=”https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DoLhJrOJBFk&feature=youtu.be” ]
In the County Road 89, a solar panel field and its strange light effect.
A cattle of cows in the middle of nowhere, far from any farms or houses
And a car wreck full of bullet holes… no doubt, we are in a land of cowboys!
A road trip with a child?
We never had any concern travelling with Mimi B. who just turned 3 years old. She came with us for every trip in Asia during our expatriation in Singapore, and every time we flew to France for vacation. So, car is surely the most comfortable means of transportation she knows.
We never take a lot of entertainment stuff with us, so she can also enjoy the journey itself. For a couple days, she doesn’t use any TV, tablet and smartphone, and learns to find other occupations. She is always very interested in the various landscapes we drive through, the animals by the roadside, the towns we cross… We can hear her speaking to her stuffed animals and dolls or trying to figure what clouds in the sky are shaped. So we are totally reassured, she is never getting bored and enjoys the trip her own way.
Before each departure, she has to prepare a bag (sized for her and which she has to carry for the whole weekend or vacation time) and choose to put some little stuffed animals, dolls or toys as well as some crayons and drawing books (useful in the car and in restaurants). She also enjoys listening to the music a lot, and discovering the songs we are listening to. So she often asks us to turn the volume up in the car and even tries to sing on the songs she knows best.
Of course, a 3 years old girl needs some sleep. Especially because she is very active and pays attention during the visits. We don’t have any stroller, so she has to walk. Moreover, we always explain her with simple words the goal of the visit and what we are learning from place to place. She remembers a lot each time and keeps telling us about it for months and months after. So, naturally, she gets tired between the visits and often sleeps in the car when we are driving (even when it is not the usual time for her to sleep). So we don’t plan out itinerary depending on her nap time, but choose to tell her whenever she can sleep in the car because we have a long road.
When the circle is complete…
Now you know… a road-trip is not only about sightseeing and you can’t really enjoy it if you don’t see the journey as an opportunity to discover the region you are driving through. With or without kids, you surely need a bit of organization, but also, you need to be flexible, paying attention at what is surrounding you and being able to let your everyday stress go. That way, you will enjoy some great surprises on the road!
So buckle up, have a nice trip and… come back here soon to know more about Central Nevada!
And yes, every pictures of this article have been taken during our 2 days and a half road trip in Central Nevada! 🙂