OK, so waking up at 5.30am facing a 750-mile drive home isn't the most pleasant thing ever. But the experience? Especially for a Brit like me (in England you pretty much couldn't drive that far in a straight line without ending up in the sea) it's pretty breathtaking.
Departure from Park City, UT, 6.15am. Sunrise in Salt Lake City, UT (40-mile mark). Breakfast in Wendover, NV, just over the state line (150-mile mark). Gas in Elko, NV (260-mile mark). Quick stop in Mill City, NV (population 28, 410-mile mark), followed by lunch in Truckee, CA (580-mile mark) and more gas. Arrive home in San Francisco (766-mile mark) at 5.45pm local time, about 13 hours after we began.
And the whole way---across mountains and salt flats and praries and deserts and more mountains and rocky valleys and barren hills and finally to lush and glorious Northern California; the hugest and most unimaginable vast expanse of it---you simply cannot fail to be in awe of the pioneers who made the journey over months rather than hours, with no idea of what they might find. The romance and intensity is palpable.
Even being back here in San Francisco for just a few hours, though, I can fully appreciate why they were happy to settle here.