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Utah, Nevada, and California

We arrived in Colorado later then we had hoped but were met with open arms by our friends, the DeRaad family. I really can not express enough our gratitude for the families that opened up their homes with open arms to not only us, but also our three dogs during this trip!

The DeRaads provided us with an amazing meal, a hot shower, a comfortable bed, great company, and a safe and welcoming space for our pups! It was exactly what we needed to feel re-energized from our road travel weariness. I wish I had taken some photos of all of us during our visit, but in our exhaustion it never even crossed my mind. We knew we would be up and leaving pretty early the next morning, so we said our goodbyes before bed. When we awoke the next morning we found coffee brewing with to-go cups waiting, along with snacks including some amazing granola and cookies! We also had a sweet note from our friends and Jill even took the time to write me out a recipe I had asked about from dinner the night before. We headed out into the dark morning with a little sadness we couldn't visit more with our friends but excited for our adventure to come!

Colorado was cold, we saw snow on the mountains which seemed so weird to me as we were headed to camp on the beach. We also learned they were expecting lots of snow the next day, so we were quite glad we missed driving in that. We were able to see some of the Aspens in their fall yellows, which I was really excited about.

This was also when we first started to notice a few things that Luna was doing. The first issue that arose was she started pulling to the left when under moderate braking. Nothing needed fixed immediately, but we did put it on our list of things to watch. The second was realizing she hates altitude and struggles to maintain speed, especially with all of us and our gear weighing her down. Multiple downshifts were non-stop while in mountainous terrain.

Utah was next up and pretty uneventful. The rest stops and gas stations were few and far between. The terrain looked like what I imagined the moon would like. One of the few rests had a large area we were able to let the dogs off leash and even found a tiny little lizard. The sun was shining pretty brightly through the drivers side windows, we were able to use the windshield sun screens to help the dogs, but it was pretty rough on Cory. Sometime shortly after we fed the dogs Prune puked, luckily she is the smallest and it was mostly food so cleanup was relatively easy.

Our plan was to make it into San Diego by early evening to spend the evening with my cousin Ryan and his family. They live close to the Tijuana border and when I was in the planning stages of our trip, I had asked Ryan for suggestions on places to camp near that area when he graciously invited Cory and I and the dogs to stay at his house. So we were really hoping to make it in early enough to get to visit a little.

Nevada started out about the same as Utah until we passed a bad accident on the other side of the freeway just outside of Vegas. It was clearly a very bad accident (we later looked up the news and saw it was a road rage incident that ended up with a fatality), traffic on the other side of the road was backed up for miles, people had been sitting there for hours outside there cars in chairs ect. It was a very sobering moment for us, just thinking about how quickly accidents happen and being thankful for our safety thus far on the road. After we passed this area we drove through the outskirts of Vegas, it had been less then a week since the Mandalay Bay concert shooting. It was so sad to see all the casino signs lit up with messages of condolences instead of ads.

Most of the stretch through the rest of Nevada and California is a blur from me. I was not feeling well, traffic was heavy, we were tired, and stressing as our arrival time to my cousin's house kept pushing farther and farther away from us. We later learned that lots of people from California go to Vegas to gamble for the weekend and then head home late Sunday night, which is why the traffic was so bad the entire way to San Diego.

We finally arrived to the Delgado home, if I remember correctly, right around 2 am or somewhere close to there. My amazing cousin was awake and waiting for us with warm amazing food, cold beer, and great conversation. They had set us up to sleep in their living room and had even had set up a bed for our dogs! After visiting for not nearly long enough with Ryan we headed to bed.

Ryan and Katie and their son Mason had to be up early for an important appointment so we didn't get to visit to much in the morning. It worked out fine for us as we were anxious to get everything situated and head over the border. I was still pretty sick at this point and Cory was seriously questioning waiting another day before heading into Baja, but I was adamant about continuing forward.

The Delgado's were so sweet and had hot coffee with to-go cups and donuts waiting for us in the morning also! So Cory and I were able to have breakfast and make a plan which included making sure Luna was ready to go, a quick walmart stop (we lost a dog bowl at one of our rest stops), find a currency exchange place, and go over our border crossing information. After, making sure everything was good to go we packed up the dogs, said goodbye to the Delgado's dogs whom Cory was enjoying playing with and headed out.

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