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The Long View: My First Cross-Country Road Trip

Go Jules Go The Log View My First Cross Country Road Trip title graphic 12JUN2019

Colorado Rocky Mountain hi-igh…” I belted at the top of my lungs, cranking up the volume. Sorry, Uncle Jesse, but this has to happen.

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S’okay. I’m used to your sh*t by now, Mom.

All right, so maybe I wasn’t actually driving through Colorado, but close-a-freaking-’nuff.

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Somewheresville, Wyoming, as seen from I-80W.

“I can’t believe you’re already in Wyoming!” Jenn texted.

“My ass can,” I fired back.

After leaving my home state, New Jersey, last Friday to embark on my very first (…and last?) cross-country road trip, I was starting to feel the burn. I was also starting to feel like I was living on borrowed time, having survived three extremely questionable roadside motels and one AirBNB in a town where Uncle Jesse and I bumped the population to 750 for the night.

Elmwood, Nebraska. …Wow, you’ve never heard of it. Huh. …What? No. I didn’t say anything. …Wait’ll Kristen at the post office hears about THIS.

As part of my latest Grand Caper -which involved quitting a very stable job and selling all of my stuff- I decided to move to central Oregon because I heard they had good beer and I still wouldn’t have to pump my own gas. Unfortunately, since they haven’t perfected teleportation and don’t ship Labradoodles who only drink ice water and hide in bathrooms because they’re scared of the dark, I was forced to drive myself.

Maybe if someone around here could pull his weight…

All in all, though, I’ve hit the jackpot. Sunny weather, friendly people, working car. I hit a few snags in Cheyenne, but my Maine road trip in April prepared me for all of that and more.

Go Jules Go car stuck in mud
Maine mud or quicksand: you be the judge.

Things I’ve learned so far, having covered New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and (partially) Utah:

The (giant, giant) bugs on I-80 all have a death wish.

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I’ve been on a lot of highways, and I’ve never had to actually use the gas station squeegee until this trip. …Every time.

Some stereotypes are…well…

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Nebraska: Um… Yup. (Okay, in fairness, I did a quick pass through of Omaha and Lincoln, and both looked pretty great.)

Gary, Indiana is NOT what The Music Man will have you believe.

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Sorry I couldn’t get a better picture. Stopping my car would have been a baaaaad idea.

You can fit way more into a 4-door sedan than you might think.

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Photos of Cheyenne, Wyoming are invisible until an old-timey filter gets applied.

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Three days on the road turns me into a person who wears socks with sandals.

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And also a person who will tempt her dog to keep her company by giving him his own pillow.

The world is as big or small as you make it.

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OH MY GOD I HAVE A GREAT IDEA LET’S FACETIME GRAMMY!!!!!!!

As I hit the scan button on my radio for the thousandth time and massage my neck, the same thought I’d been having for days pops back up: Holy sh*t. I’m DOING THIS. I’m DRIVING -AND MOVING!- ACROSS THE COUNTRY. I remember all of the winding roads that led me to this moment and laugh. Jiggling my right leg and checking my odometer, I suddenly feel like I earned every mile and every view.

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19 thoughts on “The Long View: My First Cross-Country Road Trip”

  1. Wonderful post. And the photos are fabulous!
    I admit I lol’d my ass off at the Maine mud shot. Been there girlfriend.
    Of course the Jersey in me is slightly appalled at the sandals and socks deal, but I’ll cut you some slack because of the long drive.
    Those mountain pics at the end? Ahhh…
    Lowers my blood pressure just looking at them.
    Beautiful…

    1. Thank you! This Google Pixel 3 is proving worth its weight in baby chipmunks, apart from the fact that the battery charge lasts from about Cheyenne to Laramie. Ha! Oh! Road trip jokes!

      I’m spending a few days staring at those mountain views outside of Salt Lake City, about to pick up a friend from the airport. Best decision EVER. Everyone kept asking me why I chose SLC as my pitstop. Hellooooo, two things I love to explore: 1. Trails. 2. Polygamy.

      1. I’ve heard the Google Pixel has a great camera… but I’m a die hard iPhone fan.
        Never been to SLC, but it looks gorgeous. Enjoy!
        (the trails, not the polygamy)

  2. Hi Jules, not sure if you remember me, but I was in at least one of your IHE classes! (I think it was the writing class, which is where I first heard of your blog and I’ve been a reader ever since!) I just had to write today because I have done the cross country thing with animals. For future reference, if you have to do a long trip again, I have had good luck with Motel 6 (except for one in VA which was kind of scary, this past March.) They don’t charge extra for pets (I usually only admit to having one pet, two at the most.) My first cross country road trip was in 2015 from Boston to Kanab, Utah. I did I-70, so oy, Kansas was long……and flat…. Then in May of 2018, I moved from Albuquerque to Naples, Florida. (Oh yeah, I lived in AZ too, along the way.) Then in March of this year, I got homesick and decided to move home to Boston where my wimpy Floridian ass couldn’t take the cold quite literally. So I drove back to Florida. First trip, I had 5 cats and a 4.5 lb chihuahua (who sat on my lap the entire time.) Second long trip, I had three cats and a chi-weenie. These last two trips to Boston from Florida and then back, I had three cats and two dogs. You don’t know stress until you’re trying to sneak them all into a motel room for the night and then trying to catch all of them in the morning.) But anyway, I am so proud of you for doing what you are doing. Following your heart. I applaud you. And I love your blog. Always have loved your style of writing. You crack me up. Photos are beautiful, btw. (I write all of this so you know you’re not nuts, or if you are, you’re not alone.) LOL — Terri

    1. Terri!! Oh my gosh, you have no idea how wide I was smiling reading this comment! Every Tuesday night, as I curse myself for waiting until the last minute to write, I wonder if it’s worth it and who’s actually reading. Thank you so, so much – really.

      And. I can’t even imagine the level of panic you must have felt. Part of my snafus in Cheyenne involved getting to a Rodeway Inn (that god had abandoned long ago) and learning that they no longer accepted pets. Which, really, was for the best, because my stomach dropped as soon as I saw the place. So far I don’t think anyone has charged the pet fee, although the Cheyenne Motel 6 (where I ultimately landed) cost almost $80 – the most expensive place so far, which is INSANE given, well, that I now realize I could have driven 20 more minutes to Laramie and seen mountains and not feared for my life. (Note to self: Picking motels on a map based only on miles between “cities”: Not the wisest choice.)

      I’m so impressed by your willingness to GO FOR IT, even when it doesn’t go according to plan. Sending you so many hugs and high fives!!!

      1. LOL, that was how I was picking hotels — I downloaded the Motel 6 app and then when I felt like I couldn’t drive much longer, I’d go on there and see how close the closet one was. And yes, I did pay $81 for one in Connecticut so you’re not alone. Sometimes it’s better to just stop when you’re tired than just keep on pushing through. And yes, the Motel 6 in VA that I stopped at — the internet never worked the whole time. They acted surprised when I told them. Then I went and read the reviews of the place. Let’s just say, “Yeah, they knew.” I am so impressed by you!!

  3. What a ride! One thing I’ve gotten used to, having been born and raised on the East Coast, but living west for 20 years now, is the socks and sandles thing. The fall I was pregnant with my son, my feet got to swollen that they only fit in my Birkenstocks. As the weather cooled, I wore warm socks with the buckles as loose as they’d go. I love all your pics.

    1. Wait, it’s a west coast thing?! Am I already acclimating without knowing it?! It was so windy in Nebraska, the socks were a must. As was putting my bubbly in a heavy mug so it didn’t blow away. 😉

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