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Finally back home in Austin. I arrived here Saturday afternoon after making the 2700+ mile trip from Bellevue. All together, I put in 6,295 miles in the two weeks I’ve been gone. I spent Monday and Tuesday visiting friends in the area and began the drive home Wednesday afternoon. I had intended to drive down the western coast along highway 101 and California route 1, but the constant small towns and slow speed limits were really putting me behind schedule. The coast along Oregon was nice, I stopped at some point to watch the sun set over the ocean. I’d still like to make the drive sometime.

By the time I reached Coos Bay, it was well after dark and couldn’t see the coast anymore. That, and since Oregon doesn’t allow you to pump your own fuel, it was hard to find any gas stations open that late, I decided to abandon the effort and went in search of the interstate. I spent Wednesday night at a rest area in Yreka, California. The next morning I got to drive across Mount Shasta.

It’s been a few years since I’ve been to San Francisco, so I headed there to see what was new. Way more traffic than last time. On top of the tan haze from all the forest fire smoke, it was foggy which made seeing the bay difficult. While I was downtown, some guy on a bicycle clotheslined himself on the EMT conduit hanging out of my truck bed. I heard a clatter, looked in my mirror to see this guy catching his bike before he went over.

After leaving SF, I traveled further south on I-5. I passed on the edge of LA (ok, San Fernando) around midnight. I called it a night outside of San Bernardino, sleeping at another rest area. The next morning I made the longest haul of the trip, all the way across Arizona, New Mexico, and landed in Van Horn, Texas. According to the Garmin, this was about 965 miles. I was so tired of driving I was ready to sell my truck in Tucson just to buy a plane ticket home. Gasoline was $2.38 in Phoenix and Tucson, cheapest on the whole trip. New Mexico apparently fixed their speed limits through their interstate safety corridors, it was 75 m.p.h.; last time I see to recall it being 55 m.p.h.

I slept amazingly well in Van Horn. The final 400+ miles drew out like a knife, I wanted it to be over with so badly.

Now I’m here. This is the second time a long trip has somehow transformed me. Sleeping in my own bed last night was odd. I had been on the road so much, sleeping in my truck, that I had gotten used to it. I almost wanted to go curl up there last night. I don’t know what I’m doing here. I was hell bent on returning home, and for what? There’s not a lot here for me. I’ve finally truely realized that the adventure is out there on the horizon somewhere, not in my posh AMLI apartment. When was the last time something blog worthy happened in my home? Despite being sick of driving and roadtrip poor at the moment, I’m ready to go somewhere else for a while.

Lessons learned:

  • Even just a 2 dBi gain external antenna for wi-fi works spectacularly well when stealing internet from a motel or at a rest area.
  • 20 liters of water is quite heavy and should be aquired at the last possible opportunity.
  • McDonalds/Wayport wi-fi at $2.95 for two hours is a good value in my opinion. The times I have used it, it’s been fast.
  • You can by wi-fi service at truck stops and your account allows you to use the service at different truckstops. But, all the truckstops use different services, i.e. Pilot, Love’s, Flying J, so you have to stick to one brand.
  • I’ve mastered the complex ‘s’ shape needed to sleep in the front seat of my truck as I’m about a foot too tall and there’s permanent seat belt fastners sticking out of the seat.
  • Weight and balance of load matters in a vehicle nearly as much as an airplane. e.g. put the 45 pound deep cycle battery toward the front, not the rear.
  • Don’t buy gasoline in southern California. Buy it after crossing the Arizona border. Better yet, buy it in Phoenix or Tucson. I don’t know why it’s so inexpensive there.
  • A power sprayer works wonders for cleaning playa off all your storage containers. Treating solar panels with Rain-X works wonders for making it easier to wash off playa dust.
  • Take a can of compressed dusting air to Burning Man if you have cameras. After the whiteout I was caught in, I never did manage to clean the lenses or body properly in the field.
  • An inflatable queen sized mattress inside of a tent is the greatest thing ever when it comes to a week of comfort. Leave the Thermarest at home for backpacking.
  • Leave the fuh at home. No, really, I’m not going to build that portable dipole antenna or shower stand while I’m there. I’m going to be sleeping as much as possible during the day or completely lethargic.
  • Smaller tarps are way more versatile and less of a wind load than huge 20′ x 30′ tarps. Patching together smaller tarps leaves seams that allow wind to pass, saving it from excessive thrashing or flying away.
  • Take an RV next year. I’ve put in my time of sleeping in tents and dealing with spoiling meat.

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