A few weeks ago we embarked on an ambitious summer drive that took us from farmlands and prairies, to mountains and valleys, to deserted areas and busy metropolis, to rivers, waterfalls and ocean.
We started off from our home in Iowa and drove to Glacier National Park in Montana where we stayed for 3 days. Then we continued our trip to California where I attended 3 days of conference and my medical school’s grand reunion at Long Beach, but we passed by Yosemite National Park first, where we stayed for 2 days.
The sceneries that we passed have been so varied that it changed drastically: from barren lands of South Dakota to lush forests of Montana, from farm lands of Idaho to deserts of Nevada, from wilderness of Yosemite to concrete jungle of Metro Los Angeles.
It was the drive from Glacier National Park to Yosemite National Park that we passed through very lonesome country roads. Though I would take the lonely highways anytime than dealing with the heavy traffic of Los Angeles.
Passing through Nevada on our way to Yosemite, we passed Route 50, a transcontinental highway, which is also named as the “Loneliest Road in America.”
Indeed it was a lonely road. You probably can set camp in the middle of the road and not be bothered by a passing car for hours. While we were driving through Route 50, I was afraid we will run out of gas and nobody will come to our rescue. Until we saw this….
Right in the middle of nowhere, is a sort of an oasis. They have a bar, a restaurant, a small motel, and a gasoline station – all in one.
Notice the sign posted in the motel? It said, “Route 50: The Loneliest Road in America.”
They even have an old phone booth, which of course is now obsolete in this age of cellular phones.
So we pulled up to this place and filled our gas tank. We also took the opportunity of taking a bathroom break. Though in reality, I wonder how many travelers in Route 50 when they felt the urge, just stopped and took a leak at the side of the road?
We also check out their small restaurant, and we found that they have plenty of supply of ice cream! Who knew?
Life they say is like a road trip. Sometimes the journey is exhilarating as we go through scenic byways. Sometimes it feels boring as we go through mundane yet major highways. Sometimes we feel we are not going anywhere as we are stuck in traffic. And sometimes we feel alone as we go through lonely roads. But there’s always surprises and unexpected turns.
In the last leg of our trip, after the medical conference and reunion, we also took time to visit our friends and family in California, including my wife’s mother who was staying in Los Angeles area.
Sadly to say, my mother-in-law got sick and was hospitalized while we were there. Her condition quickly deteriorated and was even transferred to the ICU. So part of my vacation was visiting the ICU, not as an ICU physician but as a patient’s relative. I can’t seem to get away from the ICU.
Despite the medical efforts, my mother-in-law did not improved. She died shortly after a few days.
It was not the vacation we imagined. But at least we can comfort ourselves that we were there during her last moments and we’re able to say our goodbyes in person.
Our family is surely going through a lonely road right now. Yet, we can find solace that even in the loneliest road, there’s always an oasis, a refuge, or a sanctuary if you will, waiting for us where we can find rest.
Lastly, an important thought to remember, that even though it seems we are passing through a very lonely road, we are never alone.
P.S. Nanay, thank you for the love and the memories. From you “favorite” son-in-law.
(*photos taken at Route 50, somewhere in Nevada)