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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Going Mobile

Heading home after so long away from the NW

When we hit the road last fall for Our Grand Tour 2.0, we had a pretty itinerary with one clear goal: Spend less time behind the wheel, more time hanging out. Mission accomplished! From the Oregon Coast to the Redwood Forest, all the way down to Palm Springs, we took our sweet time and we were richly rewarded.

Of course, the world has turned upside down since then. We had planned to drive back along the coast, but instead were quarantined for nearly two months in Arizona, trying to figure out the best strategy for our trip home.

Throughout this epic journey, John often asks: Should we take a look at the map? We studied the possible routes and talked about whether we could get in a side trip to Great Basin National Park in Nevada. Then it abruptly closed, so that option was out.

We checked mileage and plotted a casual four-day drive back to the Northwest. Sedona to Shoreline is just shy of 1,400 miles and we made reservations at KOAs along the way because many of those campgrounds remain open, committed to helping travelers get home safely. Our final day in Sedona was bittersweet. We’d come to love this special place, with its spectacular red rock mountains and exceptional hiking trails. But home was calling and we were ready to answer.

What we didn’t expect was that the drive north would be so interesting, especially the first leg of the trip, through rural Utah. The broad, sweeping valleys dotted with vintage barns and horses and cattle looked like scenes you might imagine from 150 years ago.

When we pulled into our first stop at the KOA in Fillmore, Utah, we were thrilled with a gorgeous view of snow-capped mountains, and took a late-afternoon walk in the countryside.

The next day, we took turns driving the interstate highways north to Twin Falls, Idaho. That town holds some special memories because we used to visit our friend, Rick Lukens, there back in the 1980s. It was the longtime KXLY broadcaster’s first gig and we made several action-packed visits to Twin, always with a side trip to Jackpot, Nevada.

We arrived in the early afternoon during a serious windstorm. When the KOA crew member who distinfected our site on arrival told us it was typical for spring occurrence, we hunkered down in the RV, hoping it would pass. Nope.

It’s at times like this that we started to wonder if we would have been better off driving farther down the road, making it a two-night trip instead of three. And when we reached Pendleton, Ore. -- the place we planned to stay on night three -- early the next afternoon, we decided to go for it and make the final push home.

Listening to the fascinating Keith Richards memoir “Life” -- read by Johnny Depp -- certainly helped the miles fly by. When we finally arrived at our destination, it had been 11 hours on the road and sleeping in our own bed never felt better.

Now what? Like everyone else wondering just that, our next steps remain very much TBD.

In the meantime, let’s take a look at the map, shall we?

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.