With relaxed restrictions at home in California and our own comfort levels improving as inoculations increase, we took advantage of the opportunity to spend two weeks at family property my grandparents own in rural Wyoming — in the part of the state my grandpa lived in through high school before attending the U.S. Naval Academy.
As you can tell, it's partially a working vacation. Still, it's good to get away after so long, and a change of scenery never hurts a writer.
We made the 17-hour drive late last week with overnight stops in Reno and Twin Falls, Idaho, before arriving in Dubois.
But the adventure began early.
The first leg, after a noon departure, was going smoothly (and my 4:09 p.m. tee time in Reno beckoned), when Interstate 80 came to a standstill.
A Walmart semi-truck with trailer jackknifed on a steep decline outside of Truckee, blocking the entire eastbound direction with really nowhere for us to turn around. Fortunately, no injuries were reported.
We sat there for 2-1/2 hours, and I stewed (and pouted a bit, one source might say) as my golf time came and went due to a preventable accident. A few minutes of steady rain, something I hadn't seen since mid-May, helped me regain some perspective on the situation.
Don't worry. We got to Reno by mid-evening, and I rescheduled for an early tee time the next morning — even managed to shoot par on the front 9.
The next two legs of the drive were less eventful; mainly long stretches between the few cities with little change of scenery before Wyoming. I was particularly struck by the number of fire prevention signs in Nevada, Idaho and Wyoming, serving as reminders that we in California are not alone in facing annual wildfire battles.
We also made a stop in central Idaho Falls, where my mom was born while her parents lived only briefly during her infancy early in my grandfather's Navy tenure.
The drive through western Wyoming was certainly the most beautiful of the journey, other than the early leg in the Sierra. Not very often you stop on the highway to watch bison cross the road. We look forward to checking out Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks over this holiday weekend.
I had been to Wyoming once before, as a kid, but I have only few fleeting memories, partly because I had chickenpox during that trip.
Of course this time, though fully vaccinated (shout out Contra Costa Health Services and Pfizer-BioNTech), I'm trying to avoid another medical scourge. The coronavirus health crisis in the U.S. sure seems to be waning, but it's certainly not gone yet and plenty of other countries are still having a really tough time.
With reports of the Delta variant increasing in the U.S. and the "Equality State" posting only a meager 34.4% vaccination rate, I hope they'll excuse us for wearing masks in public indoor settings to help limit preventable spread of this virus. So far so good in that regard, other than the occasional side-eye or smirk.
One other question mark for this early part of the trip was where to pose for my first Take Us Along photo.
The answer proved pretty easy in the end: outside Welty's General Store in downtown Dubois, operated for generations by my grandpa's relatives and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Now, it's time to wrap this column up and get some sleep. I've got a tee time later this morning.
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