The Professor Goes West//Day 18//Efficient Stops

I got behind on these posts because we had a busy weekend celebrating a family wedding! Now we are home and I will finish up the series:

Day 18—Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Today was a sad day as we bid farewell to the fair Yosemite—loved of the sequoias and other towering pines—even the orange cone pine. The drive to Nevada took us the length of the park further into the wilderness where we were met with spectacular mountain views, lovely lakes, and John Muir’s favorite Tuolumne Meadows.

There was a stark change as soon as we crossed to the Eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas. The wooded magnificent domes were now rocky, shrubby mountains as we took a long road into a desolate valley filled with Lake Mono—a salty lake with volcanic rocks sticking up out of it. We then came to a road that went up and down like a roller coaster for miles and miles as we went through a red-brown mountain land. There lived wild horse which we saw grazing in the distance.

Then the land became flat and desolate. There we passed a tower surrounded by mirrors which we are pretty sure was an alien base. We got gas and Subway sandwiches in the desert town of Tonopah, Nevada and then passed through a US testing range area. After hours of desert we came to the lovely Spring Valley which gave us a view of Wheeler Peak where we would be camping.

The desert made us feel a sense of dread until we came into the gorgeous Great Basin National Park. There we nervously went through the first-come, first-serve campgrounds until we found a lovely sight bordered by a mountain stream lined with quaking aspens and pine nut trees. The kids called the stream our sound machine to give us white noise for the night—it also brought us a cool breeze. We had chili for supper which I prepared while the professor set up the tent. After supper we brushed our teeth and then had a campfire until. The sun went down. The night sky there was incredible. We were far from the nearest city and saw millions of stars—everyone was multiple shooting stars. We watched them up in the sky until the kids were way too tired and our necks hurt from looking up. Then we went to sleep to the sound of our mountain stream.


I remember when my Ohio relatives came to St. Louis for my sister’s wedding. They caravanned in a few cars and their were about 7 kids total. Their trip took several hours longer than it needed to because they stopped so many times⎼sometimes just for one person. My family drove to Cleveland every summer, and we had one rule for rest stops: everyone has to go in and use the facilities no matter what.

I have continued the tradition of efficient and quick stops on road trips. We have a system that keeps the time stopped to a minimum for every minute we save is a minute less of traveling. The goal is for everyone to go to the bathroom, refill on gas if necessary, to get out any food for eating, and to get back on the road as fast as possible. When we have a nursing baby, we add this in as well. The nursing baby stop is usually 20 minutes. The stop where we don’t get out food is 10 minutes.

This is the typical gas stop:

1) Pull up at pump.

2) Females exit the car and all go to the restroom.

3) The Professor pumps the gas then parks it. (If we have baby or toddler the diaper change happens here at the car.)

4) Ladies come back to car, the guys go to the restroom. (If there is a nursing baby—this happens here). The driver often buys caffeine.

5) I get out lunch food, prep it, and hand it out.

6) Everyone is buckled up and we go.

All other stops are variations on this. We do not normally take a long break or rest for too long unless we are taking a shorter drive. For example, if we are not getting gas we all go in quickly to the rest area together and try to get out before the guys do.

On our road trip Out West, while we made some of the stops efficient, we purposefully determined to not always make efficient stops. We took the trip for the whole experience. On days we only had a few hours to drive, we stopped at overlooks on a whim. We stopped at tourist traps occasionally. We grabbed food to go as a treat. Though on days we had 9 hours to drive we went back to our normal efficient travel schedule–sometimes stopping to blow dandelion seeds.

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