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Tag: drive

Day 1: From Seattle to Idaho

Total Distance: 630 miles.

Total Time: ~10 hr

Total Time in Car: ~8.5 hr

This post comes to you from a cheap motel in Twin Falls, ID. Six Hundred and Thirty miles, give or take a few from Redmond. Day 1 of the road trip to Arizona. Let us go chronologically shall we.

Part 1: Departure

It takes a while to get onto I-90 from Redmond. –CeG <oBelIX>

Useful things to take on a road trip:

  • A radar detector
  • A GPS
  • Audio

If you are driving alone then you should have a fairly good idea of the route you need to take. Fortunately, my destination for the first day was in Idaho and a simple route. I-90 East to Ellensburg, I-82 till I-84 and then I-84 till Twin Falls. It is also useful to keep the following easily accessible (I keep them on the passenger seat):

  • Water
  • Tissue paper
  • Snacks (Haldiram’s Khatta Meetha)
  • Espresso Shots
  • Halls/Altoids

The trip itself started off bang on time and it took a long time to actually get on to I-90. Well, not a long time in terms of actual minutes but a long time in terms of the initial nervousness that makes ten minutes feel like twenty. Once on I-90 of course, the trip began in earnest. I will not talk much about I-90, it is a nice drive but by now the novelty of the scenery has worn off. The cascades did look beautiful, all the mountain tops were covered in clouds. There was a slow down near the lake where all the construction is going on and another near Ellensburg (there is always traffic there). Nonetheless, I made good time through I-90. It was tiring though, unintelligent of me to have not put on the sunglasses. I did listen to some nice music, courtesy of someone who I will refer to as Why. Among the songs I liked or remembered were:

  • Something by Gloria Gaydner, I forget the song right now
  • A song in Arabic, Albina or something like that
  • Eyes Like Yours
  • The song that goes, “I’m too sexy for this boat, too sexy for my shoes, too sexy for this hair, too sexy for the boots, too sexy for the water, too sexy for the moon” …

Part 2: Yakima

I-82 is pretty. –CeG <oBelIX>

By Ellensburg, the scenery has changed. The greenery has reduced. There is more bush. There is more scrubbery (if there is shrubbery and there can be scrubs then why is Microsoft Word ™ putting red squiggley lines under scrubbery). I-82 off from I-90 at around Ellensburg and immediately climbs over a few hills. The last time I drove this road it was 5AM and I was returning from a night of meteor gazing at Goldendale (something I highly recommend doing). Anyway, there is a viewpoint which is not as epic as it looks and a road which is rather nice. Continuing onwards the scenery gets much better. The hills have a little more brutishness in them, the scrubs are fewer and fewer and you can see more of the rocks. There is an exit that says “Military Base” which looks like something CeG<xirtam> may try. This is the part where the drive started to get interesting – up till now it had been routine. Infact, one of the laws of drivingness, and I am sure I am discovering these, is that the enjoyment factor of a drive is inversely related to whether the road is one you have travelled before.

I-82 continues past this gorgeous, desert (well, far more desert-like than the other side of the Cascades) scenery and into Yakima valley where there is greenery. Not tall pine trees greenery but smaller farm greenery. There are lots of hoardings for wine places and other such “Tourist Activities”. At this time, I was listening to NPR which in this area is on 88.9 FM. It gave me an idea of how plugged out I was, there was apparently a vote in the British Parliament and David Cameron was slapped on the face (figuratively of course – Why will tell me if I misused figuratively over there) and told “Don’t go messing around in Syria.” The IRS has decided that it will allow same sex couples the same benefit as different sex couples regardless of whether the state they are in (by state I mean Geographical state in case some of you are inebriated while reading this and parse that as a state of matter – ala – solid, liquid, gas, bose-einstein condensate). Anyway, it was nice listening to NPR.

The only other thing of interest that happened was the radar detector paying off yet again. It beeped as I was about to crest a hill and I got the car back down to a sensible 75 from 80 (I don’t speed much in Washington State) and lo, behold, there was a cop, sitting in the bushes, in the middle of the road, waiting for someone to come over the hill at speed and ticket him (or her – for my readers with strong feminist tendencies – I do not have any presumption that the fairer sex is not prone to going fifteen-twenty over the speed limit).

Part 3: Oregon

I like Oregon. –CeG <oBelIX>

By now, I was tired. Well, by tired, I mean mostly irritated at not having worn sunglasses and it was reasonably bright outside. And about this time is when I entered Oregon. I-82, enters Oregon across the Columbia river with much more fanfare than I-5. At I-5 there is the city of Vancouver that stands as a big bright billboard stating, “Hey You, Portland is coming”. On I-82 there is no such city. There is a board that says, “Weigh station”. You go over a small hill. You see an expanse of blue divide the landscape in two. And then you see two bridges, one for each side of the carriageway. These are nice bridges, they have arches that look yellow, a nice yellow ochre which goes well against the blue of the river. Ergo, I state that I-82 is a nicer entry into Oregon than I-5.

I-82 merges into I-84 and I took the road East – this was the last major route change I needed to make and there is about 180 odd miles of driving in Oregon on I-84. The speed limit is 65 which is woefully incorrect and I moseyed along at a nice 80 miles to the hour with absolutely no indication of the police (this includes the band as well). The first part of I-84 in Oregon was flat and farmland and it climbed over some hills where there was a view point. This view point would have been really nice had the sun been lower on the horizon. Unfortunately, that was not the case and the sun was fairly bright making any kind of photography a pointless exercise. So, I got back into the car and hit the road.

At this point, I will bitch about the iPod. It took me practically forever to get the damn thing setup last ngiht, and download the audiobook (Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance) on to the blessed thing (the Audible version is very good for 12 dollars). When plugged in to the car, it would skip and made this horrible whine. In the end, I ditched the iPod and used my old old Kindle to play the audiobook.

Part 4: Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance

The first time I read this book I was perhaps in school. I skimmed through it and hardly understood a word. The second time I read this book I was wiser. I understood some bits of it but the most important understanding was that I would need to read it again to understand more of it. This trip, especially with its few thousand miles of driving alone seems like the perfect time to indulge. The audiobook from audible is also well narrated and the narrator has a deep-ish voice and good enunciation. It is not like jarring heavy metal and is pleasing to the ear.

I will not describe the book here in any form of detail. This is mostly because when driving on a nice empty road with an audio book playing I usually tend to listen in a very different sense of the word listen. It’s going on in the background, my mind is rather empty, devoid of absolutely anything. Every once in a while a phrase will register, like when the narrator talks about how if human consciousness is a river then in earlier eras it had a well defined course and in the twentieth century it has overflown it’s banks or when he mentions how he takes back country roads because it is about making good time with the emphasis being on good and not time. It is very difficult to recall exactly what was said in the book but since the mind is not listening actively the words are being processed and stored at a far more intrinsic level. The understanding will be greater when something in the future hits the right spot and brings it back up.

I just re-read that last paragraph. I guess I am tired but perhaps I will elaborate on it some other day. Or perhaps, as that is rather against the nature of this blog I will take it out all together.

Part 5: Oregon and Idaho

I-84 is a nice highway –CeG<oBelIX>

Idaho is flat with a chance of hills! –CeG <oBelIX>

I have said this before, in a post about Portland IIRC. I-84 East of Portland is beautiful to drive. There are hills and the Columbia river. After Hermiston, I-84 today was fun to drive as well. After all that view point and farmland stuff. There is a point where it gets hilly and goes through a set of mountains. The road here is beautiful, even for a dual carriageway interstate. I was wishing I was on something more like a state highway, a two lane road where the turns would be far more fun to take. Regardless, it was joyous to drive this at around 8 in the evening when there was little to no traffic. The mountains or hills that I am taking about were when I was 400 odd miles out of Redmond.

Immediately after these mountains is the border between Idaho and Oregon. It was dark by now and I was tired and hence this was more on autopilot. Also, in Boise Idaho, the radar detector found a cop who followed me all through Boise waiting for the moment that I would step on the throttle and go above 65. I kept it at 60 and outwaited him. It is important to note that if you have a different interpretation of the speed limit than the gentlemen who drive the big dodge chargers with lights on them, do invest in a radar detector. It has already paid back its money’s worth in tickets. And if you know me then just send me a message, I’d be happy to lend it to you if I am not using it.

There is much more to say but I am tired now and it is 2AM Mountain Standard Time. Tomorrow is many more miles of driving, listening to Phaedrus and the Great Basin National Park.

The Oregon Coast – II

I drove this last year – The Oregon Coast. This year, @roh4n had come up to Seattle and wanted to drive back and of course, while blasting down the interstate does get you to San Fransisco faster, it is much less scenic. So, we did the following ~900 mi:

image

We left on a Friday, at around 5:30 in the evening, fully aware that traffic near that ugly place where there is an upside-down-bowl-of-concrete would be terrible. Still, it made sense and we did end up getting into Portland at around 8:30-ish. Now, traditionally I’ve been a fan of Chennai Masala in Hillsboro, one Rava Dosa and a filter coffee can keep me going for a bit but this time we headed over to the Bollywood Theater. There was a line, which was to be expected, a Friday evening. The décor was brilliant, the ambience doubly so. It felt real without really being overdone. The ads in the bathroom were epic:

 

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I will not translate this

 

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and I liked the devnagiri font over there

The food was decent. I wouldn’t really drive over to Portland to eat it again (unlike Bombay Chaat which is a foodtruck that serves heavenly chaat). If you are here though then do order the Kathi Roll. Also, this was the first time in a long time that I had trouble finishing food on the table.

 

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dinner … pav bhaji to the right where the bhaji lacked spice and dahi-papdi to the left which had some masala that felt incorrect

 

It was at this time night and there was fog and we drove on I5, continuing past Salem and Eugene. This part of the drive was uneventful, relaxing. The traffic had thinned and people were driving sensibly despite the fog. Somewhere past Eugene we turned onto OR-38 which is another one of those brilliant roads in Oregon. Last year, I had driven West on OR-42 in the wee hours of the morning with the sun rising behind me and it had been memorable. This year, at midnight I was driving west on a very similar road. There was a little bit of fog, the Umpqua river next to us for the most part and mountains. I am sure this road is brilliant during the day, scenic and beautiful but at night the experience was exhilarating. We turned onto 101 and halted at “The Best Western” in Coos Bay for the night.

The next morning after breakfast we headed south on US-101.

 

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weird car parked at a grocery store – I forget what groceries we got

 

it was a gloomy, overcast day.

 

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windy as hell

 

at the first cape that we stopped at.

I’ll take a moment here to chit-chat about what I think is a good way to do the Oregon coast.

Step 1: Get a nice car. This is important if you like to drive.

Step 2: Wait for December end or January. This is important if you want the road to yourself and free from random grandmothers

Step 3: Drive either North or South on 101

Step 4: When you see a sign-post saying “Vista Point” or “Cape **** State Park” put on your turn-signal and pull over

Step 5: Step outside the car.

Step 6: Marvel at the sheer power of the Pacific

Step 7: Feel the wind through your sweatshirt and your jacket

Step 8: Breathe!

Step 9: Rinse and repeat till you see a signboard that says either, “Welcome to California” or “Welcome to Washington”

This is pretty much what we did.

 

foam and surf

 

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US-101 and the Pacific

 

We eventually hit the town of Gold Coast which is approached by a rather decent looking bridge. It has a beach, which at this time was deserted. I suspect it would be a nice place to visit during the summer as well.

 

This is a rather good photo

 

The Pincochio Hippo. Yes, I was lazy, drew it with my foot.

 

You never get tired of the views!

 

and the ocean

 

and the road

It should be noted that there is a small part for which 101 does leave the coast and goes around a hill, Humbolt or Humtumps or Hum something or the other. Be awake, this little bit is incredibly beautiful with small streams and a different shade of green and quiet.

 

Eventually though, Oregon ended. California began. 101 becomes a different road out here and gradually transitions to a carrier of people. We did however, get off 101 and head onto this brilliant road called, “Avenue of The Giants”. Cut through redwoods and going along some type of water-body (a river and then a lake), in foggy weather it was beautiful.

 

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glomp – that is just amazing road

 

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the river I was talking about

 

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Redwoods are tall. Really tall. I took this looking vertically up. Makes you think a lot.

 

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no description required.

 

Eventually though, it became dark, the redwoods became normal trees and then grasses. The rain started to come down like a torrent. The drivers started to drive like idiots. The rest of the drive after sunset was just a grind, counting down the miles to San Francisco and dinner (which was rather nice, at Dosa on Filmore).

That is now, twice in two years. Ty, Oregon!