Friday, May 30, 2008

Day 6 - Leaving California

Wednesday we bid San Francisco farewell as we crossed over the giant concrete-steel mass of the Bay Bridge. We hummed past the rolling hills Northeast of Oakland until we found ourselves at the doorstep of the Sierras. I don't think that either of us were really aware of what about to happen as we headed into the mountains. At one point I looked over and Annie and said, "We're not in California anymore."

I knew all along that day six would have us leaving the state but I never really gave it much thought. For the first time on our trip our license plates told those who saw them that we were away from home. For me, it was the first time on this cross-country trip where I really felt like our bones were headed east. I think the realization of these things gave us both pause for a few minutes. I have often used the word "surreal" to describe the idea of this trip to people before it started, and for the first five days that's pretty much how it felt. But when we were no longer in our home state, when our car starting saying we were from "somewhere else", and when it really started to feel like we were leaving home, the one-way drive we were on became that much more real.

For me, the panorama that surrounded us kept the heaviness of those thoughts from hanging around too long. We had decided to get off the jet stream of the interstate and wondered down along the northern shore of Lake Tahoe. It felt good to breathe the clean mountain air as we wove our way through the wooded highway. The clouds were bold and damp. "Even when its gray here its beautiful," I recall Annie saying as the car climbed above 7000 ft. We were driving amidst rocky, snow-capped mountain tops. The air was cold, crisp and thin enough to explode one of my favorite pens. "Man down" I proclaimed as I retired the mighty black pen and wiped its black inky blood from my fingers. The first casualty of the trip. Thankfully I had stolen plentiful amount of pens from work so there were others ready to carry on the written battle.

It wasn't long before we were zipping and twisting down Hwy 431 on the Eastern side of the Mount Rose Wilderness. The snow faded from view and we escaped the shadow of the Carson Mountain Range just in time to roll into town in the pinkish-orange light of the setting sun. We had beaten the night to Reno.

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