It feels daunting, three weeks after we arrived in South Carolina, to somehow encapsulate our adventure across America so it is a) readable and interesting and b) not merely a laundry list of places we ate/stayed/took photos of. But, if for no other reason than my own reflection and souvenir of this momentous journey, I must try. I have regretted not posting more detailed accounts of other trips (such as Ireland and the first cross country trip I ever made), so here’s to changing this trend.
Before we left El Segundo, I was in charge of mapping our route. All our belongings had been safely stowed away (or so we hoped!) in boxes, except for my iMac, the printer and a few blank notebooks. For days, MainMan would come home from work and ask, “What’s the plan? Where are we going!?” and I’d wave my arms around the apartment at all the things I’d packed and say, “I haven’t gotten there yet!” Friends and family emailed and texted, “So what route are you taking?” And I’d reply, “Yeah, about that. We leave in 72 hours and I have no idea.” I am a terrible procrastinator, but man, do I tear it up when it gets down to the wire.
I love road trips. I get squeakily excited about seeing towns and landscapes I’ve never heard of and roads I’ve never ridden, and may never again. Vacations are a wonderful luxury, of course, but they’re usually highly planned. You can only plan so much for road trips. They consist of about 1/4 planning and 3/4 spontaneity, and for me, that is a welcome treat when so little of our daily lives has any wiggle room for the unknown. I think part of my adult fascination with road trips comes from not going on many as a kid (I’d never camped a day in my life before I met MainMan). We were too busy with year-round swim practices and meets.
Yet here is a brief synopsis of some of the epic road trips I do recall: driving the Alps in a Christmas Eve blizzard when we lived overseas in the early ’90s; a friendly caravan chateau-hopping through the Dordogne (roughly same timing as previously mentioned trip); a couple of beach week adventures (’00s) in college where we drove from UVA to the OBX and even Florida a couple of times; a mommy-daughter, 12-day romp through Ireland for my 30th birthday; a cross-country drive from Conn. to Calif., mostly along Rt. 80, when I first moved to be with MainMan almost four years ago; and now this year’s journey from Calif. to S.C.
When I started researching our route, I stumbled upon Lolo’s Extreme Cross-Country RV Trips and it was a great, if not the only, extensive first-person account of road trip travel in the United States. I was shocked at how little there was on the Internet about road-tripping in the USA. Is such an undertaking a thing of the past? What a shame. Kudos to Lolo and her hubby Herb for taking their kids out on the road to explore this country. I hope to do the same with my family one day. MainMan jokes about there being a trailer or camper in our future. I wouldn’t be opposed!
It was T-minus 48 hours until our departure and I finally circled towns I wanted to see in our giant Rand McNally road trip atlas. We then calculated distances with GoogleMaps and divvied up the route, according to how many hours we wanted to drive and how many days we had. Except for one day when we came up about 10 miles short of Oklahoma City, we hit our target each night.
Here were our evening stops:
1. El Segundo to Palm Springs (movers left our apartment around 10pm that night so we just drove two hours to get out of town)
2. Palm Springs to Flagstaff, Ariz.
3. Flagstaff to Taos, N.M.
4. Taos to Yukon, Oklah. (just outside Oklahoma City)
5. Yukon to Memphis
6. Memphis to Nashville
7. Nashville to Louisville
8. Louisville to Asheville, N.C.
9. Asheville to Columbia, S.C.
Apart from some Internet searches for each of these towns (like the “36 hours in” articles of the NYTimes and a couple of T+L tour guides), and a few friend recommendations, we wung it 75% of the time. Put on your seatbelts and let’s get this show on the road!