Longest Road Trip

Three young girls, barely in their twenties, just old enough to be legal, we piled into one friend’s car and headed south. Destination: Nevada and California in 1972.

We followed I5 south from Seattle, down past Portland and spent the night in Medford, Oregon. The next day we got up leisurely and back on I5 until we came to Ashland, Oregon where we stopped at one of the parks for a short picnic and then pushed on again, making stops in Weed, California, to take a picture with the “Weed” sign, and the again at Mt. Shasta. At Mt. Shasta, we took highway 44 to Susanville.. probably not the best choice. I remember the highway at that time was two lane only and very slow going, at least to us. At Susanville were able to get on highway 395 which gave us a straight shot down to Reno.

We had gone to Reno the year before with a big group of friends, but that time we had flown down. This time it was just the three of us. I remember walking around town with drinks in our hands, visiting one casino after another. We only spent one day there and then got back in the car to go to Lake Tahoe, where we spent two days. As much as we loved Reno, I think we loved Tahoe even more, and here we explored more than just the casinos. We mostly stayed on the east side of lake and visited Incline Village down to Stateline and then we went back up to Reno to catch highway 80 to Sacramento to get back on I5. Next destination was Disneyland.

We spent the night in Los Banos, and resumed our journey, which was a very long trip. But for three yakky girls and a radio turned on full blast, it went by quickly. We made sure we had plenty of snacks and bottles of Coca Cola in a cooler.

Drove all the way through Los Angeles until we came to Anaheim where we had hotel reservations at a small motel right across the street from Disneyland. It didn’t have much, but it did have a pool. I remember we were starving when we arrived, so we walked down a few blocks to a restaurant to have dinner and then back to the hotel where we put on bikinis and jumped into the pool. By then we were exhausted from driving, that we each promptly fell sleep at about 9pm. Unheard of for any of us.

We spent three fun filled days at Disneyland, trying to experience as many of the rides as we could. I remember Tom Sawyer’s Island being a particular favorite for all three of us. We also enjoyed Main Street, the Matterhorn, Pirates of the Caribbean, and of course, the Haunted Mansion.

Soon, our time at Disney came to an end, and one girl had to get back to Seattle. We drove her to the airport and said our goodbyes, and then the two of us continued on with our trip.

Next stop was Las Vegas, but first we made a quick visit with my cousin who lived in a small apartment in Beverly Hills and we spent the night sleeping on her living room floor. The next morning, we got on highway 15 heading towards Barstow. But just outside of Barstow, in the little town of Baker, we got pulled over by none other than CHiPs, the California Highway Patrol for speeding. It didn’t seem like we were going that fast!! But we took the ticket with smile and then asked the cop of he could open a bottle of Coke for us that was being a stubborn and wouldn’t open… one of those twist tops. The cop laughed and said.. “it’s going to be really embarrassing if I can’t…” but he did. He was charming and cute and I think maybe he regretted giving us a ticket, but it was too late now. After the cop let us go and walked away, my friend shoved the ticket in her glovebox and said, “well, that’s one ticket I have no intention of paying”… and I don’t think she ever did.

We finally drove in to Las Vegas and to say it was overwhelming was an understatement. We headed straight for Fremont and wandered around the different casinos and had dinner in an all you can eat place. We spent several days exploring all of the big hotels and casinos, many are no longer around; the Dunes, the Stardust, the Flamingo, and Caesar’s Palace where we were in the audience for the funniest show I’ve ever seen. It was just a small, intimate room that featured Jerry van Dyke in the raunchiest show ever, but it was hysterical.

After three more fun filled days, we headed north again and back to Reno where we spent the night again and did a little more gambling and even drove out to Sparks where I stuck it rich, making $125 on one quarter. Not a bad investment.

Now on our way home, we went basically the same way we had come except we drove straight to Eugene were we spent the night and the next day straight on to Seattle.

It was one of the best two week vacations we had ever had and hated to see it come to an end.

I wish I could share the pictures I took on that trip, but they are packed away on a box somewhere. Hopefully, one day, I’ll find them again.

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