Knowing that it was my only opportunity to do so, I slept in again on Thursday. At some time close to noon, Bonnie and I made our way down to Hell’s Kitchen for lunch. I had drank a bit too much the night before, so I didn’t have my normal appetite. However, the mahnomin porridge was excellent and just what I needed. They also made an Americano good enough to rival Starbucks. After brunch, we headed over to the conference hotel and picked up our registration packets. I had a few minutes to kill before it was time to meet for the NASIG skits rehearsal. (Yes, there was much teasing from my friends about me being a thespian.) This year was the 20th NASIG conference, so there was a bit more hoopla in the schedule of events, the skits being part of the anniversary part/dinner on Friday evening.
The opening session of the conference was much the same as previous ones with various members of the conference and program planning committees speaking about how great it was to be at NASIG again. The local historian and pictures segment was interesting if only for the flavor of the bias the historian had. He spent most of the time showing pictures of buildings in Minneapolis and Saint Paul that no longer existed along side of pictures of dismal office buildings and freeways that have replaced the old buildings. I understand his dismay over the period of time when old buildings were demolished and their history and unique architectural design unvalued, but really, we got the message and there was no need to continue to harp on it.
The Awards and Recognition Committee decided to create a new award to be given periodically to members who have significantly contributed to the organization. The first award winner is Tina Feick, who later showed her thespian skills in the NASIG skit about dorm life. Given the years she has been a part of the organization, the campus conference experience must have been quite familiar to her, and that came through in her performance on Friday evening.
I woke up feeling somewhat depressed and ready for this trip to be over.
I woke up feeling somewhat depressed and ready for this trip to be over. Part of my depression was in knowing that we would not be in Ellensburg that night, having decided to get a motel room in Yakima instead (all of the rooms in the Super 8 in Ellensburg were booked, and I didn’t know of any other motels that would allow a cat). The other part was that this was the morning of yet another long day of driving.
We stopped at a bagel bakery for breakfast, and then a quick visit to the next door Barnes & Noble cafe for a picture with the Starbucks travel bug and my mocha frappucino. Then it was on to the scenic overlook on the edge of town. It was breathtaking and surreal. I took many pictures.
The landscape of Idaho and Oregon and Washington was stunning, of course, but most of the rest of the day the miles flew by without my hardly noticing the world around me. I was numb to the beauty of the earth, and there is only so much stunning and beautiful landscape one can see before the brain stops assimilating it.
Around two in the afternoon, we stopped in Baker City to find some lunch. We ended up in the downtown area purely by accident, but it was a fortunate accident. The historic downtown is a vibrant commercial area; a throwback to twenty or thirty years ago. We had several lunch options and settled on the historic Geyser Grand Hotel. The food was quite good and inexpensive. The decor was as grand as the name implied. I felt a bit like a character in an Agatha Christie novel, staying at a 1930’s hotel on holiday.
On our way down a mountain near Pendleton, we pulled over for a scenic overlook. It was a little hazy, so we couldn’t see much, but what we could see was quite beautiful. Again, I took several pictures. I wish I had taken more pictures in the early part of the trip. Not too long after that we crossed over into Washington.
Yakima was probably the dullest stop on the journey. The motel was definitely the dingiest, and the food options weren’t particularly enticing. We were both so exhausted we could hardly move enough to explore the town, but we did stop at a Starbucks for another picture with the travel bug. The barristas gave us the sympathy we craved after we told them how far and how long we had been traveling.
I got a good night’s sleep and was feeling more my usual self the next morning.
I got a good night’s sleep and was feeling more my usual self the next morning. We slept in later than we aught to have for our nine hour drive to Twin Falls, but it was worth it. The coffee at the cafe was good, although I was disappointed that their wi-fi connection was having trouble. Earlier this week I commented on enjoying my mini Internet vacation. While I am still enjoying this state of transition and disconnection with the real world, I also know that there were at least 20 messages in my inbox when I checked it late on the evening of Day One. One can only imagine how many there must be now.
After breakfast, we located a geocache near the interstate and pulled out a travel bug to take with us. This bug is trying to visit as many Starbucks as possible. I think we can help with that.
We hadn’t been on the road very long before the coffee kicked in for Dad, so we stopped at the next rest stop. It turned out to contain a memorial for the Lincoln highway, and while Dad used the facilities, I took some pictures. Then we got back on the road and continued west. Shortly before one in the afternoon (local time), we crossed over the Great Divide at 7,000 feet. It wasn’t particularly breath-taking, just a sign along the road.
About an hour after that, we stopped at a rest stop and located the third and final rest stop cache on our trip. I think there were others, but I must have forgotten to download them or lost them somehow.
Dad & I marveled over the changes in the landscape as we drove across southern Wyoming, the northwest corner of Utah, and into Idaho. It seemed that with every mile, the terrain changed dramatically. We went from flat, rolling plains that suddenly opened up to reveal a vast valley with mountains in the distance as we descended. We skirted around mountains and hills that rose up into the sky out of empty plains. The vegetation changed from scattered grasses and brushes to thick grasslands and copses of trees. At one point in Utah we saw a pull-over for a scenic view and seized the opportunity to take pictures of the beauty around us. The official scenic view is a rock formation called the Devil’s Slide for obvious reasons.
As the sun sank into the horizon, blinding us and masking the landscape around us, we pulled into Twin Falls. The main drag into town was a haven of consumerism we had not seen in many thousands of miles of driving. It reminded me of Hamburg Pavilion in Lexington. We drove by all the restaurants and stores, dazzled by the unexpectedness of it all. At first we thought we’d try out one of the restaurant food options, but after we checked into the motel and unloaded the car, we settled on a pizza and bad TV.