The Saturn's Final Journey

Trip Start Sep 09, 2009
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Massachusetts
Tuesday, September 1, 2009

When it actually came to the time to sell the '99 Saturn SL2, there was a tear, just for a second. It has been a companion over the last five years, rumbled and stumbled all over Boston for me and even drove me across the country. Well, now it was time for its second trip across the country, except this time it wouldn't be coming back...

Courtney and I had one week to drive from Boston to San Francisco, visit with friends, see some sights, sell
the car, and make our flight to Australia, with a few detours along the
way. Sounds like a solid plan, right? We pretty much winged it...

Baseball Hall of Fame:

We started much later than we wanted on Tuesday thinking we could make the long haul to Chicago that night. Not even close. However, I'm glad we didn't because we ended up stopping at a place I've always wanted to visit: The National Baseball Hall of Fame. It wound up being a 3 hour detour with dinner, but well worth it. Cooperstown, NY is a small town with nothing much to do except check out the museum and the baseball-themed road leading to it. I was impressed with the museum itself and definitely could have spent more time in there. We left town after dinner with our new Red Sox banner and knew we wouldn't make it to Chicago that night, so we crashed at a motel outside of Buffalo, NY.

Cooperstown to Chi-town!:

On the way to the Windy City, we stopped in South Bend, Indiana to check out Notre Dame and arrived just in time to see the marching band practicing in the visitors parking lot. We wandered around campus enough to realize that we were starving and didn't care about Notre Dame anymore. So, we asked one of the young college band geeks where we should have dinner and one of them suggested Culvers. Not knowing Culvers was just another Fast-Food joint we waltzed in to the packed establishment and devoured a cheap, delicious meal and hit the road again. I missed a turn for the highway and knew the Indiana countryside was not on our itinerary, so I returned to I-90 West and continued to Chicago. We made it there around 9pm and stayed with Courtney's friend from Weymouth, who showed us around the city the next day. We would have like to spend more time in Chicago, but managed to squeeze in some time downtown at Millennium Park and checked out Wrigleyville right after a Cubs game. I've always wanted to go to a Cubs game at Wrigley field, but settled on observing the scene after the game. My brother drove up from St. Louis that night, so we had the chance to hang out for a bit, eat some Mexican food and we left the next day.

Corn, Corn, and more Corn!:

I was surprised how much Court enjoyed the rolling corn fields of Illinois, Iowa, and Nebraska. She wouldn't even let me put the camera down. "Take another one!" I can see how beautiful the corn fields are for a first-timer, but after the 500th mile, it gets a little tedious. We reached Des Moines, IA just in time for lunch, so I navigated us to a city park where we ate, stretched, and prepared ourselves to make it to Denver that night, a reasonable goal. After stopping at a few gas stations in the Midwest, we started to question why the premium gas was cheaper than the regular. Finally, Courtney asked a local, Laverne, who explained that the local farmers add ethanol from their corn to the ingredients of the gasoline to encourage people to buy it and support the local corn industry. When we told him we were from Mass, he exclaimed, "No wonder you didn't know!" Laverne then summoned us over to his pickup where he insisted we accept a parting gift: A whole deer antler that he found stuck in the back tire of his pickup truck and wanted us to keep it as a souvenir. How could we refuse?

The Rocky Mountains! (Foothills):

Having made it to the Colorado border, I forgot how much of the state we had to drive through before hitting Denver. Fighting off exhaustion, I woke up Courtney as we entered the Mile High City just before midnight and immediately crashed. My friend, Eddie, let us stay in his old apartment for a couple nights which was really convenient. Returning to Boulder was something I had been looking forward to the whole road trip. I was just as excited to reminisce about my college days as I was to show Courtney how special Boulder really is. I showed her everything: The campus, the foothills of the Rockies, and Pearl Street. We arrived just in time for the annual football rivalry between University of Colorado and Colorado State. Although we didn't actually attend the game, we met up with some of my old college friends still living in Denver for some good 'ol tailgating before the game. It was fun to see how crazy the students still get before the games. Courtney immediately noticed the fashion styles and more specifically the amount of clothes (or lack there of) that the girls wore to somehow show their school pride, but in turn just looked scandalous and superficial. After a couple hours of procrastinating, we ate dinner and decided to leave for California that night. Our reasoning was that, we'd rather get the night driving out of the way first and we would also get one more full day to hang out in San Francisco before our flight. We were about an hour into the drive, when Courtney asked me to get out her camera from her bag to get ready for the "Welcome to Wyoming" sign. "Uh, Courtney, where your bag?" After another return to Boulder to recover her bag at Whole Foods (whew!), we were on our way to California...again.

The Great Salt Flats:

The change in landscape from Wyoming to Utah was another reason for leaving Boulder at night. We entered Utah early in the morning with the sun rising over the Wasatch Mountains and Courtney woke up to the amazing views. She wanted to charge her camera battery, so we stopped at the first gas station and relaxed for 30 minutes. The guy working at the counter was blasting Rage Against the Machine and head-banging to it. He was an interesting character to say the least. I wanted to find a breakfast place in Salt Lake City, so I went up to the counter and said, "How's it going?" The guy replied, "Shitty!" So, I carefully moved over to the older woman next to him, who seemed scared to be working with him, and she calmly recommended a place to eat. Courtney was bewildered with the Salt Flats outside of the city that went on for miles, with rough, dramatic mountains in the background. She drove for most of Utah and into Nevada and kept saying that this landscape was her favorite of the trip. Making great progress through Nevada, we finally stopped in Reno and caught the tail end of the 2009 American Rib Cook-off. At that point we knew we were officially in the West. We ate some over-priced, but delicious ribs and couldn't help but notice the cast of characters walking through the festival. Let's just say the locals of Reno are unique and we didn't want to stick around to get to know any of them...

The Final Stretch:

Nobody said it would be easy to get to San Francisco, so as I approached the Bay Area and called my friends, they informed me that the Bay Bridge was closed until Wednesday. This basically meant an hour detour around the other side of the Bay when I was already exhausted and it was getting late. Courtney, fast asleep, was completely unaware of this, so I admirably kept going until finally making it to San Francisco. We crashed at my friends' Ted and Heather's house in the Sunset and explored the city for a couple days. I was glad to be reunited with two of my best college buddies before heading off to Australia. We took the car to a place called "Cash for Cars," hoping to get a good deal for the faithful, 11-year-old sedan and ended up selling the Saturn for $400, but its sentimental value was worth much more...(sorry, that was wicked cheesy). We enjoyed our last two days in America, including a 6 hour layover in LAX and headed off to OZ!!!

Next Stop: Melbourne, VIC

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