The morning started early, with the crusty frost on the grass and the long morning shadows on the ground. The Wasatch mountains were cloaked in beautiful colors, and tiny birds filled the sky.
After a conference call for work, some free OJ in the hotel lobby and a repack of the Jeep, we were on our way at 10:30AM. We hit the first Starbucks since Ohio, and celebrated our familiar caffeinated favorites with a cardboard clink and a toast for the road.
Today would be the home stretch, a blessing in disguise. Knowing it would be our last day on the road was bittersweet, but knowing we had to push on – no more breaks – was a bit daunting.
We made our way out of Utah very quickly, the Idaho border arriving as a surprise. Following signs for Burley, I was able to calculate distance and time with the familiar scenes from our recent Moab trip.
We ended up stopping for a gas up at a small gas station just off the highway, in the middle of nowhere. As we pulled in, a lone tumbleweed tried to warn us of the potential “Hills have Eyes” situation about to unfold.
However, while we were never burned to the stake, we were greeted by some friendly donkeys and llamas as well as entertained by a very well laid out store ripe with western jokes and cold drinks.
We stopped in Boise for a lunch break and to see an old friend for a cup of tea. Brandon suggested a vegan-friendly joint called the Shangri-La Tea Room and I was impressed with their vegan goodies. Right when you walk in the door, a display case teases you with a beautiful array of vegan donuts.
I ordered the vegan burger which was really good, and my sister got the tofu scramble (which she said was amazing). Brandon made it a tea-only affair. After lunch, I ordered a ton of donuts for the drive, and to take home for Melanie.
These last 7 hours would be the longest of the trip. Idaho soon blended into Oregon at the Snake River and the Wallowas soon greeted us. Eastern Oregon has to be one of the most beautiful arid, stark places I have ever seen and it continues to astonish me each time we pass through.
The headwind as we approached the Columbia gorge were unbelievable. The little Jeep still pushed 70-75 where possible, but the noise with the soft top was often unbearable. My Bose noise-canceling headphones proved helpful.
We left I-84 in Hood River, opting to circle Mt. Hood for a shorter drive home.
The dark, snowy (read: very snowy) drive was a beautiful end cap to our adventure. As we descended through Government Camp, Rhododendron, and finally home, we pulled in the driveway at about 10:30PM.
It was so great to be home. Being greeted by the dogs, seeing Melanie, and sleeping in my own bed was so amazing. But being on the road in a 15 year old Jeep was also amazing. With plenty of silent time to think and recollect it was almost more meditation than road trip.