From California to the U.K. in 30 days - Day 2 (Reno to Twin Falls)

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July 17th 2017
Published: July 17th 2017
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Today was one of the longest drives we will have on the trip. Over 500 miles and almost 8 hours is enough to wear on anybody's nerves, but add a 4 and 5 year old into the mix and well..... things escalate. We have been limiting their exposure recently to ipads and TV which overall has been a very positive experience, but four hours into our eight hour odyssey and I caved. Out came the laptop, Bluetooth audio to the car speakers, fade them to rear, add a couple of towels on the back windows and boom! We were in movie theatre mode. Although Antonio initially resisted the plan, he quickly agreed that listening to the soundtrack of Angry Birds was a small price to pay for the relative peace that ensued.

It seems that you either love the Desert or you hate it. Thankfully I belong to the former category. I find the severity and the color palette extraordinary. I've made the drive across Nevada as far as Elko before, but it's been a while and I'm thrilled to see the reality backs up the memories and expectations I had laid out in anticipation. As soon as you leave Reno you enter a narrow valley following the Truckee River. Sage brush, dried grass and a never ending palette of yellows, reds, pale greens and browns paint the contours of the hills and expose rock formations in a way that leads you to believe the view must never have changed. The valley opens up into an unending vista of dried lake beds surrounded by arid mountains. The desolation is spectacular. The sheer openness is extraordinary. I feel as if I am seeing the world through a fish-eye lens, for surely it isn't possible to see so far without some kind of contrivance.

We stop in Winnemucca (Willy Wonka as Antonio likes to call it) for lunch. BBQ at a place aptly named "The Pig". We are trying to eat somewhat healthily so order a salad which is approximately the size of a coffee table. It's topped with pulled pork (one does want one's protein after all), and is absolutely delicious. The kids demolish a couple of tacos and everyone leaves satisfied. On the spur of the moment, we decide to get AJ a long overdue haircut next door. He emerges looking much neater but "a bit itchy" which is a theme that we will be exposed to for the next several hours.

At Wells, we turn Northeast towards Idaho and the landscape subtly begins to shift. What is about driving that makes it impossible to tell where one terrain ends and another begins? It's like trying to figure out a magician's trick, but the slight of hand is always too fast. The desert becomes less angular, the mountains less severe and odd rock formations begin to appear. The isolation is no less spectacular with nothing but miles of barbed-wire fencing and power lines stretching off into the distance. Suddenly, occasional buildings and dwellings pop up. But who could live here and why? They become more frequent and as we cross into Idaho, farmland appears. Enormous circles of green with irrigation equipment trundling it's slow and ponderous repetitive route. The desert held back in a neat circular line. The road straightens and we turn right onto the highway and enter into Twin Falls.

We have been cheated by the time change and it's past 7pm so we head directly for Shoshone Falls. Spectacular! They call it the Niagara of the West, and while I haven't visited the original, it's hard to imagine this one doesn't live up to the claim. It's only $3 to enter and we are blown away by the view. The falls are incredible and a tremendous spray boils off and drifts up canyon. We take advantage of being out of the car and run the kids around as much as possible. They have been very good considering. It's still hot and I wish the wind would change direction and blow the spray towards the observation platform. It looks delicious!

I check Yelp for dinner and am shocked to find most places are in the process of closing. Saturday night in Mormon Country? We find a place with good reviews that opens late and find ourselves at Elevation 485. The view is spectacular! We are seated outside with the Snake River Canyon unfolding beneath us as the sun sets. The food was very good (trout for me and ribs for Antonio), and after a nice glass of Pinot, and maybe a nice Port to finish I feel wonderfully relaxed. We head back to the hotel and Antonio takes the kids for a quick dip. Experience tells us the more tired they are, the better! Lights out by 11.30pm and ready for the next adventure.

Additional photos below
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18th July 2017

Happy Trails
As you might have known I am from AZ but love the forests and water. I do miss the huge vistas where you are actually the only person as far as the eye can see. My sister-in-law hates seeing all green when she comes to visit and feels hemmed in by the forest. The pastels in the desert are beautiful. I didn't know about Shoshone Falls no I do. I am enjoying your trip. Now don't go off looking for buried treasure. Looking forward to tomorrow.

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