On the face of it, this was a brilliant idea. Fiona goes to camp in Wyoming for a month each year. This was the fourth summer, and every prior year, I've flown into Jackson Hole then driven to Dubois which is another two hours. It takes a full day even when you fly, so why not save some money, enjoy the scenery, take an extra day there and back, and drive in my own car! It's just over 1,000 miles from Laguna Beach to Dubois, and a lot of that is on I-15 all the way through Utah, but there's a lot of spectacular mountain scenery too. Let's go!
Day 1 was long. And I got a speeding ticket, thank you very much. It's kind of sad when you're going 80 miles an hour and you're the slowest thing on the road, including semi trucks and fully laden car carriers. Then it got worse. While driving on a two-lane road and admiring the view, things that only happen to females once a month started to happen. On a two-lane road. In the middle of nowhere. With no gas station in sight. Without being graphic, let's just say I'm glad I was wearing black and that I found a rest room after about 30 minutes, which was obviously 30 minutes too late... The only good news after 10 hours of solid driving was that I used my newly-acquired AARP card to get a 10% discount at a Hampton Inn in Provo, UT.
Day 2 started off well, but took a very, very long time. Driving along those great roads means getting stuck behind a lot of RVs and trucks and passing through small towns where the speed limit plummets to 25mph and the police are just watching and waiting for schmucks like me. Another speeding ticket. At least this one is from a different state, but no option of online driving school... Seven hours later, I collapsed into my hotel room by The Tetons, just thankful to be there.
After one day on the ground in Wyoming, attending Fiona's final rodeo and packing all her stuff into my Mini, I set off again in the car, leaving Fiona to fly home with her Dad, stepmom and baby sister, since she had declined to drive with me (smart girl). To say I was not looking forward to the trek home was an understatement. The scenery was still spectactular but my feet and body were wishing I had a large automatic car, rather than my tiny, manual Mini. I was the smallest thing on the road for four days, other than one Fiat 500 and another Mini. And that's the scary thing. People ignore small Minis, or don't even see them, in the same way that they don't see motorcycles. I had two very near misses with people merging and just swerving into my path. After two speeding tickets I wasn't taking any chances, and when you're the slowest thing on the freeway and you're going over 80, that's no fun at all.
When I pulled onto the toll road heading to Laguna, the tension finally started to dissipate, and when I drove down the canyon road and up the hill home, I almost cried with relief. I'm so thankful not to be going anywhere soon, and the lesson here is that maybe a road trip like that is worth it... if you're going to spend more than 24 hours in the place you're going to... if you have someone else in the car to lighten things up, as well as maybe share the driving... and if you have a car that is more suited to the open road than its normal urban life.
Me and my Mini are staying put in Laguna Beach for a long while to come... and that's just the way we like it. And yes, now I can smile.