The Loneliest Road - Durango, CO to Nevada City, CA

 

After much preparation (and anticipation), we're back on the road! We are feeling as good as ever and have settled in to our new van, Loaf, nicely. We quickly slipped back into the selves we remembered so well from being on the road before, and it feels familiar and like home. We are looking forward to this new chapter together and getting back to what we miss most - quality family time, limited distractions (and clothing options), connecting with old and new friends, simplified living, and of course, exploring new corners of the world with eyes wide open. With a week under our belt, we've blazed a solid trail starting at our home in Durango, Colorado then onto 600+ miles of the loneliest road in America through Utah, Nevada, and California. While this road was in fact fairly quiet (still in the off season), we ended up finding plenty of fun things to keep us busy! We think Loaf is having an equally good time during his first "overseas" trip. Just keep reading to see all the beautiful places he has taken us already!

We left home in Durango on Sunday after weeks and weeks of house and van preparation. Attempting to tidy up loose ends with work, obligations, and children is always the hardest part but this time around it was not nearly as difficult since we would be leaving most of our possessions in place at our house. While away this time we opted not to find renters but to offer it up to dear friends who are moving back to Durango. The timing was nearly perfect as they will arrive two weeks after and can enjoy our home for the remainder of our trip. So with the house spotless, Spud secured in the garage, and the boys strapped into their carseats along with the other van-trip accoutrements, we were ready for take off!

Stop 1: three hours into our road trip we paused in Moab, Utah at the sand dune outside Arches National Park. A great place to stretch legs, get the heard pumping, and to enjoy PB&J sandwiches

Stop 1: three hours into our road trip we paused in Moab, Utah at the sand dune outside Arches National Park. A great place to stretch legs, get the heard pumping, and to enjoy PB&J sandwiches

Those first few hours on the road always hold the most emotion for us all. We can go from sheer panic to sheer excitement in seconds. From - Where did I pack the passports? Are our bikes going to go flying off the back a few miles down the road? To - Holy crap, I can’t believe this is happening again. It feels so good to be cruising in the van! I think I need to cry! And then I did. I had to because I could tell all of our hearts were into it. We were so immensely jazzed about being on the road again, you could not wipe the smile from any of our faces if you tried. Then, not long after, all those worries began to melt away with each mile marker that we passed.

Loaf Sightings & Random Happenings along U.S. Route 50…

The loneliest road in America is anything but boring. Stretching a total of 3,000 miles in length across the United States, this route takes drivers through dozens of old towns across America. Our route was roughly 600 miles of it, and yes, the road was seemingly endless at times but every town or roadside attraction we passed, we made the effort to stop and enjoy the randomness that each had to offer. Also, because of Loaf ‘s unusual appearance we were quick to make friends with many of the gawkers, I mean locals, too.

A quick gamble at Hotel Nevada in Ely, NV

A quick gamble at Hotel Nevada in Ely, NV

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Loaf stopping in front of an old General Store

Loaf stopping in front of an old General Store

Stopped to get gas and stumbled upon a unique restaurant/store with a unique vibe, one of the world’s largest burgers, and thousands of 1 dollar bills stapled to the ceiling. Definitely a must stop if you’re on this road!

Stopped to get gas and stumbled upon a unique restaurant/store with a unique vibe, one of the world’s largest burgers, and thousands of 1 dollar bills stapled to the ceiling. Definitely a must stop if you’re on this road!

The legendary Shoe Tree of Middlegate - a cottonwood filled with old shoes. Read about the folklore    here.

The legendary Shoe Tree of Middlegate - a cottonwood filled with old shoes. Read about the folklore here.

Testing out the new wetsuits at our campsite at Lahontan State Rec Area

A Favorite Campsite: Spencer Hot Springs

Hands down the best campsite of week one was here, in the middle of nowhere Nevada at Spencer Hot Springs. From the highway you would have had no idea that such an oasis existed just four miles off the main road. Having researched prior to leaving we knew this would be the perfect overnight stop. After ten minutes up a moderately bumping gravel road, the most gloriously welcoming pools surrounded with expansive views sat in front of us. This was going to be the life! We met two small groups of people the entire time but I imagine this place picks up during the busy season or on weekends. Because we were seconds from one of the hot springs pools, we enjoyed soaking morning, mid-day, and night, thank you very much! We probably smelled and looked a little more fresh too.

Last-Minute Family time! Nevada CIty, California

After four fantastic days on the road we hit the California border. And civilization. And scenery that included towering trees, not expansive desert with shrubs. Hallelujah! We had planned to meet up with Matt, Chip’s brother, and his girlfriend Lydia somewhere along our route. After Chip’s mom and sister, Kate, caught wind of our plan they surprised us with a visit too! It just so happened to fall on Mother’s Day weekend and Chip’s mom’s birthday so a proper celebration was in order. Our meet-up destination was in Nevada City which is an incredibly charming little town that we fell in love with. We used an airbnb house as a main base to do loads of laundry, make meals, and gather as a family then Chip and I would retreat to the van to sleep at night.

Our days were spent exploring the windy, redwood-studded roads that led us to and from town, or to beautiful crystal clear swimming holes. We spent morning bike rides and runs along the canal trail just below the house, and Chip and Matt invented a new adventure sport: Canal tow-in surfing (don’t miss the vid below) which was entertaining (and actually worked)! Watch out - it’s coming to a river near you! We also scoped out a small fat tire bike festival that was also in town one evening. While we would have welcomed more time with family, the three days spent with them were filled with fun, exploration, laughter, and new memories. Thank you, family for meeting up with us on the road!

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Giant burrito-eating meals!

Giant burrito-eating meals!

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Upward and onward to Oregon

With our farewells behind us, we were ready for the change in direction ahead. We were moving north through the foothills of the Sierras in California and then into a place we couldn’t resist visiting for the second time, Oregon. Here we will skirt along the coast in search of surf and some of our favorite sights (and eats..eh um, Tillamook Creamery for ice cream!). We also planned a meet-up with my mom in Manzanita, Oregon and Moclips, Washington so we can show her some of the places we fell in love with on our last go around. Stay tuned - we will be back with more updates in a couple weeks!

As always, thanks for tagging along! Hugs to all!

-Chip, Lindsay, Reid & Bennett

Week 1 Stats & Fun Facts:

Distance Traveled: 784 miles

The first five days we: Ate breakfast out every single morning

The latest we rolled into a campsite: 10:45 pm

Weirdest place we slept: Truck stop (and we slept like a log)

Additions to this year’s trip includes: 4 bikes (we all have one now!), a toilet and shower in Loaf, wetsuits, an indoor table and bench seating, larger beds (!!)

Longest stretch of driving: Happened on day 1 when we went 6 hours (much of the driving took place during nap and bed time)

Favorite quotes: “You don’t see many of those around here” - referring to Loaf. Chip: “Uh, yup, because there’s only one other one in the entire U.S.”

Reid taking in the views at a vista point: “Wow, mom! Canada is AWESOME!” Me: “Yes, Reid. But this is still Utah.”

Number of hours it took for us to break out Loaf’s bathroom: 3 hours in, and now we even use it while driving (slowly). Major upgrade!