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3,050 miles in eight days

California to Colorado – a windshield tour of 6 states

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POSTED September 7, 2010 7:02 p.m.
Traffic was so light as we drove along Interstate 80 just west of Wendover, Utah, on our way to Denver. Actually, it was lighter than light. There was hardly any other soul this Sunday morning driving on the highway in front of us that stretched like a snaking ribbon in the vast horizon ahead. So when a silver Toyota appeared on the lane to my right, I visually checked it out more closely than I normally would. As the small car smoothly zoomed past our seemingly lumbering heavier pickup, I glanced idly at the license plate.

“Hey! A car from Manteca! Cabral Motors!” I almost yelled to my husband in my excitement when I saw the familiar words.

“Let me see if the driver is someone I know,” I said.

Although the car quickly glided past us, I was able to take a good look at the person behind the wheel. She did not look familiar to me. In no time at all, her car was just a speck in the distance and we were alone on the highway again – at least, for quite a while.

I guess, we really live in a global village in a world that is fast shrinking. When you go on vacation, you think you’re leaving Manteca behind. However, as this instance illustrated, you may be thousands of miles from the Family City but it’s really just behind you, or maybe just ahead of you.

We “bumped” into a part of Manteca again about three days later while we were exploring “The Loneliest Road in America” and stopped in Eureka, Nevada, to explore the town’s historic sites. One of these historical attractions was a “historic five-hole outhouse” that was built for a prominent businessman in the early 1900s. “It remains the only known five-hole outhouse in Nevada,” read the posted sign in front of the well-preserved whitewashed structure that enjoys a prominent location in the central part of the Eureka Historic District. It’s actually just a few steps away from the Eureka Opera House where the Manteca connection came in. Scheduled to appear at the Opera House on Oct. 15 is “Patsy Cline” singer Joni Morris who just performed in Manteca a few days before our stopover in Eureka. Mantecans, though, were more fortunate in that her special appearance during the Movies in the Park at Woodward Park was free, whereas one has to buy a ticket (I forgot how much) to see her Patsy Cline Show in Eureka, Nev.

In Denver, Colorado, we stopped at a manufacturing company that is on the cutting edge of energy-efficient and environmentally friendly air conditioning system. We actually saw a demonstration of how the system works, which was really quite fascinating especially since its advertisements tout it as a system that “provides cool, dry, healthy air while using about one-tenth of the electricity of traditional conditioning systems.” We learned a lot from talking to the company’s marketing official and its vice president. They were extremely accommodating and patient with us. From a business point of view, I think, as far as my husband was concerned, that was the highlight of our eight-day trip.

But for me, photographically speaking, there were dozens of visual highlights that I found so breathtaking and awesome to behold that I would never be able to capture them even if I had the best camera in the world – the canyons and rock formations in Colorado and Utah, just to name a few.

And then there were the near-comical sights. “Elect anyone butt Harry Reid” was a sign we saw almost everywhere in Ely, Nevada. The Nevada native and Senate Majority Leader is facing a serious challenge from Tea Party favorite Sharron Angle. Politics as usual, of course.

In Lakeview, Oregon, an old movie theater posted the following notice to patrons: “This building was built in 1930. We DO NOT  have air conditioning. Only fans. Sorry.”

In Modoc County in the northeastern corner of the Golden State, I begged my husband to stop at a place called Likely, California. Since it was almost lunch time, we had a good excuse to check into The Most Likely Café. Inside, I saw a young boy sitting at the counter alone enjoying his brunch. But what grabbed my attention was his attire. He was dressed as a cowboy complete with a wide-brimmed hat and a gun slung on one hip. I’m not sure if the gun was just an accessory and not the real thing. He told me he was a rodeo champion in his age group, and he wore a large belt buckle that proclaimed him as such. The manager of the restaurant was a guy named Lee who took a year off from his job as an office manager in England to experience life in the United States.

But it was in a small unincorporated area on the Nevada-Oregon state line in Humboldt County, Nevada, and Harney County, Oregon, where I felt really far away from home. A sign posted at the entrance to a small business establishment called Denio Junction spelled out just how many miles from this point to Moscow (7,988), New York (2,787), London (5,744), and Paris (6,212). And the distance to Tipperary? The sign said, “it’s a long way!”
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