The final stretch is the most taxing section of any road trip, accordingly, this portion consisted of 16 hours worth of driving on Route 80. Denver was in the distant as I hummed out of the city at roughly 6:00 a.m Friday morning. A tall cup of Starbucks coffee was working it’s way through me, with that, my spirits gradually ascended. Only 15 hours to go, I muttered to myself.
Though, it’s hard to grumble about a long drive when you’re submerged in beauty. Route 80 meanders pass the snow-covered hills and mountains of Wyoming, then under the breathtaking peaks of Utah, slipping pass Salt Lake City, running alongside the Salt Lake, and eventually, tumbling into Nevada. Northern Nevada showcases desolate fields with gigantic mountains in the backdrop. The state appeared empty and cold, nonetheless, beautiful.
Rambling across the boarder of each state jolted me with exuberance. I would scream back at the previous state, “Goodbye Utah!” peering in my rearview window as the state faded away in the distance. I reached Nevada with a grueling six hours still to squeeze out. My final destination for the night was Truckee, California, about thirty minutes north of Lake Tahoe. The sun duck down below the Nevada mountains, and an orange glow coated the rim of the peaks. The darkness of the night overtook the road, as my high beams blindly guided me west. As I previously said, the final stretch is always the hardest.
I trucked along, swapping between audio books and loud music as substitutes for caffeine. As I neared in on California, within two hours of my destination, I unintentionally floored up on a highway patrol car. My high-beams lit up the backside of his car, prompting an immediate push on my breaks. After a few impatient moments, I swerved around him to continue my journey. Well, as I should have expected, his American Flag lights bounced off my side mirrors. I veered off on the shoulder.
“The reason I pulled you over is because you can’t high-beam incoming traffic,” the cop lectured me, as he shined his flashlight on me from the passenger’s window.
“Yeah, my mistake. I saw a deer crossing sign a mile back. That’s why I had them on,” I confessed.
After an exchange of my insurance, ID, and registration, the cop strolled back to my car, executing a mere warning. I offered my cordial apologies and wished him a good night. Then, I pulled back onto the highway and mowed along. California was imminent.
As one inches near the California boarder, Reno appears around a bend. The city prides itself for being the biggest “small” city in the world. The casino lights flash above Route 80, as the road intersects through the city. Then, Route 80 shoots out of the light and back into the darkness, below the mountains. It’s difficult to decipher the left lane from the right lane, especially because of the dried-up white coating from the snow. Therefore, I squinted, holding on tight as I navigating through the mountains. I’m close, I thought. Before curving around another shaky bend, a floral sign appears: Welcome to California.