GART – Leg 5 – Yosemite to Salt Lake City

Time for the final leg on the first part of our trip. We have to leave Yosemite and head to Salt Lake City. I had been worried about the drive into and out of Yosemite for some time. I’d posted on and canvased everyone in the campground about how to leave. The general consensus was that we should go down CA-140 and the to CA-99 and to I-80 to head to Salt Lake City. I ended up choosing to go down CA-120 to exit Yosemite, and had no problems. I actually found driving CA-120 out of Yosemite easier than driving CA-41 into the park. There was a good sized climb to Crane Flats as your leave the park, but the motorhome handled it with no problems. There was a bunch of downhill driving, but the grade brake did the job and kept us in control. The nice part was that CA-120 was wider and had more room on the sides (even a bit of a shoulder) that CA-41 did. The “worst” part, the one that everyone warned me about was Priest Grade just west of Groveland. This grade is steep, and has a number of switch backs, but there seem to be good straights between the switchbacks, so it doesn’t feel as right-left-right-left as CA-41 did on the way in. As we exited Groveland, I let the grade brake work until about half way down the grade. I had a couple of people that had built up behind me, so I pulled into a pull-out and let them pass. Then I manually shifted to 2nd and finished going down the grade.

The mistake I made was at the split of CA-120 and CA-49. I had considered continuing up CA-49 to US-50 to cross the Sierras, but I choose to follow CA-120 to CA-99 then go north to Sacramento to catch I-80 and go over Donner Pass. I think my time to Reno would have been about the same, maybe even a little better if I’d just gone up CA-49. Instead I had the “pleasure” of dealing with city traffic around Sacramento, which was a pain. Much less fun than driving in and out of Yosemite.

We pushed on for a twelve hour day and ended in Elko, Nevada for the night. We stayed at the Double Dice RV Park (our pics), which is a big gravel parking lot with hookups. We were there about 14 hours, so no complaints, we got what we wanted: electricity and water.

We spent another four hours on Mother’s Day driving from Elko to Salt Lake City. There are 410 miles of I-80 in Nevada, and they are a lot of nothing. We came up with two new state “nicknames” for Nevada based on our I-80 experiences: The Bush State and The Prison State. Lady CurbCrusher noted that there are no trees along the interstate, just a lot of bushes. The other thing that is prevalent along I-80 are signs that read “Enter Prison area. Do Not Pick Up Hitchhikers. Emergency Stopping Only.” It seemed like about every 60 miles you would see one of these signs. I never realized that Nevada had so many prisons.

We reached the goal of the Pony Express RV Resort (our pics) in Salt Lake City on Mother’s Day afternoon. Lady CurbCrusher had to ride for a while, but we were early enough to go out had have a dinner and relax for a while. That completes about 3700 miles of our Great American Road Trip. Just over half of the 6600 miles that we think we are going to travel. We are also headed back to the east. We spent so much time headed west, that I tried to get on I-80 west in Sacramento. Lady CurbCrusher pointed out that I wanted I-80 EAST, and I wanted to argue until I realized that as usual, she was right.

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