I am sitting very still – metaphorically speaking. Day 7 in Seattle, and the stormy weather forecast has discouraged all the vague ideas I had about driving to the coast or going to visit people in Portland. And so I am sitting – with tea and a book – and looking back at the last few weeks in awe.
One week ago, I was driving from Hungry Horse to Seattle. Two weeks ago, I was on day three of driving from Cleveland to Hungry Horse. Three weeks ago, I was driving from New Hampshire to South Carolina. Four weeks ago, I was in New Hampshire. Five weeks ago, I was in New Jersey. Six weeks ago, I was driving from Cleveland to Philadelphia.
Somewhere in there, I visited New York City, a beach in Rhode Island and knocked four more states off my list. I spent time with both sisters and their families, two cousins and their families, one aunt and uncle and several great friends. I stayed in six different homes and 11 different hotels, traveling through a total of 23 states (nine of those in one day, thank you tiny New England states) and put more than 6000 miles on my car.
No wonder I’m tired. No wonder I’m excited about getting a regular job and finding an apartment of my own. Even the idea of having to get up IN THE MORNING five days a week hasn’t made me question my decision to stay in one place for a little while.
I got to take public transportation to three interviews this week – someone else did the driving! I got to shop at Fred Meyer, where they have both my favorite tea and my favorite sausage! Street buskers, gorgeous views of Elliot Bay, funky residential areas, pedestrians! I actually unpacked my suitcase!
One way to drive 2500+ miles in four days (3 full days + two half-days = four days):
Don’t string all those days together – break for a day, or maybe a few days to hang out with your friends along the way.
Don’t bring food in the car you’ll regret eating later. In fact, if you only have healthy snacks in the car, you’re likely to eat nothing else until you stop for dinner – a traveler in motion tends to stay in motion.
RE: #2 – Good for making time, bad for really seeing the country you’re driving through. Also bad for your attitude by the end of the day.
Relearn how to pump your own gas efficiently.
Notice all the billboards and road signs that say “Don’t Text and Drive.” (or alternately, “Don’t TXT & Drive,” because that guy was hip to the young people). Notice how none of them say “Don’t Take Photos and Drive.” Proceed accordingly.
80mph in South Dakota. Seriously?
Do not plan to see a national landmark at the end of a long day of driving when the weather has quite unexpectedly turned cold and snowy. You will not enjoy it.
Realize you should have gotten an EZPass for driving through the northern part of the Central and Eastern Time Zones. You’re spending a lot of money and extra time paying a ton of tolls.
RE: #7 and 8 – Acknowledge that the need to do research for a long trip does not completely go away just because you have Google Maps.
Notice how amazed you are when you recognize street names and realize you are able to actually drive all the way to Cleveland, that place you used to live. Marvel at the surprise you feel, though this was your goal all along.
Try to explain #10 to people and watch them be very confused by you. Be glad they are friends and like you anyway.
Send blessings to the Google Maps people for helping you navigate strange cities.
Don’t assume cool tourist traps will be open for business before Memorial Day just because they have the Blues Brothers out front.
Give yourself smug cool points for your Oregon license plate as you get further east, until you see the dude with the Alaska plates. Decide Alaska dude had his truck shipped out here and go back to feeling smug.
Notice how your car is downshifting to climb that hill and realize it hasn’t had to climb a hill in four states.
Decide that upstate New York looks much like the Wisconsin Dells.
Be surprised that some areas of Vermont and New Hampshire look much like the Matanuska Valley.
Curse the Google Maps people for being unable to locate your sister’s house in rural New Hampshire.