I think this was the most entertaining sight on the trip home. (And I'm sorry I that due to the glare on my camera phone screen that I did not manage to center it.) Basque, Oregon is a tiny settlement for the Oregon Highway Department on US-95 where it crosses through the southeastern corner of the state. We stopped here briefly to get drinks from the electric ice chest and I had to get a picture of the town center.
We were not off the mark as early as I would have liked from Ontario thanks to me trying to catch up on e-mail, doing some Day Jobbe stuff, and desperately trying to reconcile my Quicken bookkeeping. (I managed to be off by only $6.60 on cash expenses for which I forgot to get receipts.) We refueled and popped back over the border into Idaho, turning south at the first exit, which is US-95. After passing through several small towns, we joined US-20/26 for a while. ("Hey, this road goes right past scott_sanford's house," Lisa said. Scott's house is near Division Street/US-26 in Portland.) US-95 then turned south, crossing the Union Pacific railroad tracks.
This is the final crossing we made of the Snake River. Reviewing our maps, we now find that as of this trip, we have now covered every bit of US-95 between Coeur d'Alene ID and south of Searchlight NV, leaving only the last 22 miles north of its southern terminus on I-40 and the part north of Coeur d'Alene to the Canadian border. Actually, it looks like Lisa has that bit covered as well, as she drove that way through the Eastport/Kingsgate border crossing on her drive to Torcon 3.
This was our first southbound trip through the area. (Our previous two trips were northbound only; when we came up in May/June, we went back by way of the Oregon Coast.) This gave us a different perspective on the Soda Fire, which was not completely controlled until August 25, although the area through which were driving had burned over before we came up to Spokane. The fire burned more than 1,100 square kilometers of southwestern Idaho and southeastern Oregon.
Several times as we drove through the burned area, we thought we'd reached the end, only to turn another corner and find another vast area of scorched earth. Here as we crossed back into Oregon from Idaho for the last time, you can see some of the power poles that were replaced after being burned out by the fire.
Passing through Jordan Valley, we turned slightly west and eventually made the steep descent into the Owayhee River canyon. In the right distance you can see some of the Pillars of Rome geological formation. Rome station is at the left.
The road into Rome Station descends through a series of curves that took a whole lot of work to carve out of the plateau.
We stopped again at Rome Station, where power had been restored (they were on generators when we were going north). Unlike the hive of activity the place had been on our northward trip, with power company crews grabbing a meal before returning to the task of resetting burned-out power poles, we had the place mostly to ourselves this day. The cook/server (and I think owner) took our order and made Lisa a good hamburger on a deli roll. I skipped the chorizo sausage that disagreed with me so heartily on the last trip and ordered hamburger steak and eggs. He didn't stint on the portions. This was hearty roadside diner food; probably not very healthy, but filling.
I've taken so many photos around Rome that I created a separate Rome Station Flickr Album for them.
As we left Rome, Lisa began to do some figuring. We were booked to spend the night at Winnemucca, based on how on our return from San Antonio we found we really didn't have the stamina to drive as far on the return trip as on the outbound, and we ended up holing up at Hawthorne, only about 100 miles from home. (Ideally, we would have stopped at Tonopah rather than risking our lives pushing onward, but we survived.) However, Lisa was feeling better this time. By the time we got back to Nevada and stopped briefly at the Say When casino (I won 25 cents on slots), Lisa concluded that she was good to make it all the way home, so I called IHG and cancelled our reservation.
We refueled at Winnemucca and set off into the setting sun on I-80. (Fighting the sun was a bad part about this leg of the trip.) Between Winnemucca and Lovelock, the Union Pacific railroad is to the north of the highway. Lisa spotted an oncoming train. "That's Amtrak," I said, and I tried to snap a photo. However, the sun pretty much blinded the camera for this shot of the eastbound California Zephyr
This final portion of the trip was hard. We stopped at Lovelock for a rest stop and at the grocery store in Fernley for immediately-necessary supplies, but otherwise it was just a case of keeping alert and pointing the van homeward.
Before 9 PM, we pulled back up in front of Fernley House. (I took this photo this afternoon.) We unloaded our personal luggage, the ice chest, groceries, video camera, and the most immediately urgent things. The rest could wait.
As quickly as we could after getting home, we brought the house and travel trailer back to life and tried to get the house aired out and some cooler air flowing. Fortunately it wasn't too awful overnight, so I slept decently. Indeed, I slept for ten hours.
Today we need to actually unload the U-Haul and the rest of the stuff from the Astro, putting the Asteroids video game into the garage (but covering up the holes to discourage local mice from re-colonizing it) where it will await restoration.
I really enjoyed the Spokane Worldcon trip, fires, smoke, intense debate over small technical issues, Hugo Awards, mice-infested video games, and all, but I'm glad to be home. And I'm rather glad that there's a holiday weekend ahead before I have to return to the Bay Area. I'm getting Day Jobbe work done, but the extra sleep I get by not having to commute to an office will help me return to some semblance of normal humanity.