3.02.2007

Road Trip

If you live in this country long enough, you really ought to take a
road trip at some point. I was lucky to have the time, money, and
friends to pull off a three-week, 9000-mile adventure with my friends
R and V about nine years ago.

We three pulled out of Philly about 6am on Day 1 and had crossed four
states by noon. We ended up hooking up with our friends E and L at a
summer camp in North Carolina's Smoky Mountains, and after spending
the afternoon and evening with them, headed out again and checked into
nearby hotel not far after.

By Day 2, we had blitzed through Atlanta (our friend P wasn't there at
the time, so we saw the sights and then bolted) and made it to New
Orleans by evening, taking in the scene on Bourbon Street before
taking off and checking into a nearby hotel. Two nights, two hotel
stays. . . and for the next nineteen days, we'd only need a hotel one
more time.

We arrived in Austin by noon on Day 3 and spent three days there with
our friends C, F, and G. On Day 6, we drove 1000+ miles from Austin
to Phoenix. We gained an hour crossing time zones but spent two hours
stopping by a spa and an observatory, so we were in the car a long,
long time.

At Phoenix, we met up with our friends A, N, and T. We spent three
days at A's place in Phoenix, including an overnighter in Sedona - I
think someone's family friend comped us a two-room suite. Then A, N,
and T joined us as we headed for LA on Day 9.

Too my friends and sights to mention in LA - three days there was far
too few, especially since A and N would be heading back to Phoenix.
But on Day 12, per our itinerary, we headed off to the Bay Area, where
we stayed at my parents' place for three days and did a day trip to
Yosemite.

On day 15, we were off to Seattle and T's place. Fun to see K and N
there, and of course having been born in Seattle, I have my loyalties
there. We were sad to leave on Day 18 after three fun-filled days,
especially since we were leaving T behind and returning to our
original threesome.

Day 18 was another long, long day of driving, compounded by getting a
speeding ticket in Montana and getting shook down for $85 in cash
(yes, the state that has no speed limits apparently has speed limits
that the cops decide on their own). We finally decided to stop just
outside of Mount Rushmore, about 1000 miles from Seattle.

Mount Rushmore was surprisingly enjoyable, but soon it was back to the
car so we could be in Chicago by nightfall. At that point, I split
off with R and V and hung out with my friend H, while they spent a
couple of nights at C's place.

Day 21 had us on the road again, to Pittsburgh, where we crashed at
J's place. The next day, we drove the final five hours home to
Philadelphia.

The descriptions above don't do justice to the fun I had, the
hospitality I enjoyed, and the nuances you pick up when you physically
drive across the country instead of flying. I've spent about half of
my life on the West Coast and half on the East Coast, but obviously
there's a lot of terrain in the middle.

It's good, if you're going to live in this country for some time, to
get to know the whole of the country, to appreciate the vastness of
the land and the diversity of the flora and fauna (and people), and to
be able to have an anecdote ready when you meet someone new and they
throw out a random city they've just been / were born in / went to
school at. So if you get the chance, hit the road.

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