Almost 4 years ago, I headed out on a cross-country adventure. It’s always good to see where you’ve been. And, while I won’t be driving miles and miles any time soon, it’s worthwhile reflecting on the experience.
Here’s what I wrote* about my travels:
RANDOM TIPS, LESSONS LEARNED, AND GENERAL MUSINGS:
When I first started this trip, I was a tad bit scared that I’d meet some weirdos–and not of the muppet variety. So, I came up with a simple, believable story to tell if a person was to get nosy
and inquire about where I was going–alone. My story was this: I was moving across the country and my dad was following me in the moving truck. But, you wanna know what? No one asked. Some people I told I was traveling by myself. But they were nice people at visitor centers.
And only a few of them expressed concern for me traveling alone. I told them I had people watching out for me all along my route. And I did. I met up with family twice both ways. I called my parents every night at a designated time. That way, if something had happened and I didn’t call, they could get the process of helping me started.
Caffeine mints, Diet Coke, bottled water, bread and peanut butter are essential. I’d have a Diet Coke at least once a day. The bottled water guaranteed good tasting water. Water tastes funny in different places and I didn’t want to take that chance. Caffeine mints keep you awake. And, if there aren’t any good places to stop and eat, peanut butter sandwiches are delish.
WalMarts are the best places to stop and rest. Their bathrooms are of the same quality of rest stops, if not better. Most rest stop bathrooms aren’t heated. WalMart’s are. Plus, you don’t pay $1 for a Snickers bar at a WalMart. And, some WalMarts even have postcards.
Never pee where you fill up. Never, ever use a gas station bathroom. Only do so in the case of an emergency.
Muesli is the best cereal ever. Across brands it doesn’t change. The Safeway brand’s ratio of nuts and raisins to flakes and oats is the same as Kroger’s brand. When traveling, or moving, buy this cereal anywhere and you’ll be satisfied.
People always offer to take your picture if they notice you’re taking a self portrait. It’s hard to explain that you do a lot of solo traveling and have made taking self portraits a hobby, but stick to your guns and politely decline the offer.
In additon to peanut butter, I can eat a lot of chicken and not get tired of it.
This is how I entertained myself on the road: singing along, singing a cappella, telling stories (to myself), keeping my eyes peeled for deer, making up new monikers (feel free to call me Kinase DuBreht), and seriously, seriously contemplating my navel.
Moving blind to a location isn’t scary. Ignorance is bliss. And that’s what I was. When I moved to the Pacific Northwest, I had no idea I was going to hunker down in Beaverton and end up working part time in Portland. My original intentions included seeing Seattle, but I never went there. I had no idea how to look for a job. But, I figured it out.
There were days when I curled up on my sleeping bag (that was on the floor) and cried, because I didn’t think I was going to make it. Because no matter how many times you’re told you’re going to do just fine, you can do it, there’s nothing more discouraging than an empty inbox and unreturned phone calls. There were times when I thought that I was going to lose all of my worldly possessions. There were times when I thought for sure I was going to go off the road–literally–and be seriously hurt, or have a severely damaged car, which at this point was my lifeline.
While I was wandering, I went back and forth between thinking that driving out west was the best thing I had done and thinking I was absolutely stupid for doing it. Hindsight is 20/20. It was ridiculous to drive out there. But, I had nothing going for me in Atlanta–at least nothing more than what I had in Oregon. Now, that I’m in a new location and settled for some time, I can say that driving out there was scary. Driving back across the states for a solid opportunity was even scary. But it wasn’t scary while I was in the moment. In the moment, you just do what you gotta do.
Was it the best thing I did? Was it the worst? It was absolutely the best fucking thing I’ve ever done. I still can’t comprehend the entire last 2.5 months of 2 cross-country road trips and 3 flights, but I know that as time passes, I’ll be creating a perspective unique to my travels and experiences.
People, here’s what you’ve been waiting for, THE FINAL MILEAGE:
8,704 solo miles.
*The original post first appeared on my Everyday Adventures blog.