Staying close to the Oregon border whilst in Idaho meant we could take advantage of tax free shopping!! Yes, there’s no VAT (sales tax) in the state of Oregon, so we started our day over the border in Wal-Mart for supplies.
We crossed the state line less than an hour later and stopped for some gas. Emma and I have a routine for gas stops, knowing our credit/debit cards won’t work at the pump, Emma goes inside to prepay whilst I wait for the pump to be activated. As I loitered by the back of the truck, I see the pumps display become active and I reach for the unleaded handle (weirdly it’s black, not green in the US).
As if I’d reached for a six-shooter on my hip, I heard a raised voice say, “You better not do that, not here!”
Unbeknownst to me, pumping your own gas is illegal in the state of Oregon. An attendant rushed over to take the handle from the pump and put it in the gas tank… hardly a tricky task, but one Oregonians aren’t to be trusted with. Subsequently, in late-2017 the state government lifted the ban in some areas. I will take unofficial credit for pioneering the serve-yourself movement in Oregon.
Once gassed up, I pulled into a parking space out front and met Emma coming out of the store. “You have to come In, they want to meet you.” As far as my fame has reached, I assumed that rural Oregon was beyond my target audience. It is. They just wanted to hear the English accent. Whilst I was watching a man move the gas handle two feet between pump and truck, they had been getting Emma to read the names of all their products. Ok, we would probably do the same and in this part of the country, foreigners are very few and far between.
After putting on our best Dick Van Dykes, and reading the contents of the candy display, we said “Cheerio” and continued with our day.
A Monster Biscuit Breakfast from Carl’s Jr. later, we set the sat nav for Nevada and noticed it was only about 260 miles to our destination – barely a mornings drive. As neither of us had been to Oregon, I clicked a random point on the map about 100 miles away and we headed off in the opposite direction.
A few miles into our detour, we noticed a a large remote control plane on the horizon. It was getting pretty low and pulling off some crazy turns, which was pretty cool to see – the large, open areas of farmland are perfect for unobstructed RC flying. A few miles more and we realised it was a REAL plane and the guy was crop dusting! I made a sharp turn up a field access road and we parked up in the dirt, next to the corn to watch three(!) planes buzzing around in close proximity. I thought this only happened in movies!
Mesmerized by the acrobatic display for 10 minutes or so, we jumped back on the road before we were overcome by pesticides. The sat nav took the morning off as it was 90-120+ miles between instructions and there appears to only be about four roads in Oregon.
The scenery is similar to southern Wyoming, except less shit. There were hills and the road followed a meandering river most of the way, which was nice; but mainly it was a dusty, grassy farmland – we never reached the forests I had pictured in my minds eye.
We did get hit by a few dust devils en route. Tiny, ground born tornados of dust and debris. Some probably strong enough to knock you over, they could certainly push a car out of its lane.
During our drive we kept crossing the Mountain and Pacific times lines; the dashboard clock jumping forwards and back an hour at a time. After our second lunchtime (which is allowed when you see two 12 o’clocks), we passed over the Nevada border (always indicated by a seedy looking casino) and joined the US 95 road. The longest, straightest road we’d ever seen. 20 miles could pass until you had a slight bend, then it was back on the straight.
With 385.5 miles complete, we roll into Winnemucca and up to the tipi (or teepee) we’d booked for the night. Unfortunately, we’d forgotten to take into account that Nevada is REALLY BLOODY HOT! It was around 100° in our fancy tent and the single desk fan inside was somehow making it hotter! Unable to tolerate the heat, we escaped to Wal-Mart to contemplate our night ahead. Sat in the air conditioned truck, we concluded that we needed a hotel.
With Emma already suffering from probable heat stroke, she booked us into to a local motel whilst I wandered around a random custom car show we stumbled across.
After a room mix up, we left the nice Mexicans to their sleep and dumped our cases before leaving for the stock car racing… yes there’s a race meet tonight and we only just found out!
Ok, local stock car racing for local people is very different to anything we’ve been to before (NASCAR at Fontana). It’s a banked 1/3 mile oval made of dirt. Everyone knows everyone and it’s as redneck as it comes. They asked if any kids wanted to ride in a race car during the interval. Instead of strapping kids in with helmets on.. They clung to the bodywork like monkeys at Longleat!! Somehow this is ok?!
They also held a raffle to raise funds for a charitable cause. I would love to tell you what worthy the recipient represented, but my brain was trying to process the fact that the two small children selling tickets had just explained the prize was a “45 or something.”
You know you’re not in the UK when the 1st prize of a charity raffle is a fucking handgun.
Great night, weird day, and I would highly recommend checking out any local stock car racing you can. It’s as far removed from anything I’ve ever been to and I’ve been to Arena Essex.
I’m looking forward to getting into California tomorrow… is something I’d never say, but we’re going regardless.