BootsnAll Travel Network

Road Trip Day 1: Los Angeles, CA to Woods Cross, UT

Distance driven: 694 mi
Time including all stops: 13 hours 59 minutes (includes one hour lost
for transition from Pacific to Mountain Time)

Miraculously, we left my mother’s house at 9:00 a.m. as planned. My mother took the first driving shift, because she knew a back road to the 14 Freeway. The alternate route may have been a little slower than the freeway, but there were fewer stoplights and no traffic. It was also amazing to see how close to L.A. one can see rural ranches with horses.

Not long after we got on the 14, we got off again at Pearblossom Highway. We drove past Hungarian sausage stands, Latin American artisan shops, date shake stands, and other oddities on the road. We got on Interstate 15 (I-15) in Victorville around 11:00 a.m. and enjoyed the endless desert horizon on the way to Las Vegas.

We stopped for lunch 8 miles (12.8 km) south of Las Vegas at the Silverton Casino and Lodge. We stopped there for a number of reasons. Las Vegas is a reasonable midway point between L.A. and Salt Lake City. It is also famous for massive buffet lunches at low prices. My friend Christie, who is a huge fan of the band Hootie and the Blowfish, had recommended it because it has a lounge filled with Hootie memorabilia. I had been there in June and found that it wasn’t as tacky or busy as the hotels on the Vegas strip.

My mother agreed to break her strict diet to enjoy the casino’s Seasons Buffet. It was an overwhelming all-you-can-eat feast of salads, pasta, carved meats, turkey with all of the Thanksgiving dinner trimmings, and seafood which, after all the fresh fish in Peru, made me decide to avoid eating fish in the desert in the future. The desserts were to die for, especially the blueberry pie with fresh blueberries and vanilla ice cream with bits of vanilla bean (a sign of authentic vanilla flavor).

We waddled out of the restaurant clutching our expanded stomachs and hit the road again. Once we got out of Vegas, there was nothing but open desert highway with not even a gas station for miles around. We were grateful that our friend Will had given us Isabel Allende’s novel *Portrait in Sepia* on tape to help keep us awake.

In the sliver of land of Arizona between Nevada and Utah, the landscape changed. There were hills of red rocks and roads winding through canyons that panicked my mother but to me seemed tiny compared to Machu Picchu. As dusk fell over Utah, the mountains in the distance took on a purple hue. I felt I was truly seeing purple mountain majesties that before I had believed were only part of the “America the Beautiful” songwriter’s imagination.

We drove on into the night, arriving at the hotel finally at 11:00 p.m. I called my friend Nicole, a former Peace Corps volunteer in Moldova who is now getting her Ph.D. at the University of Utah. I was too tired to drive back to downtown Salt Lake City, but she agreed to drive up to the hotel and hang out in the lounge to catch up. We had a nice visit, but I was ready to sleep when I crawled into bed at 12:30 a.m.

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