Starting March 29 and ending May 10, I took a solo road trip across the USA from coast to coast, up the coast, and finally landed back east. Starting in my hometown in Pennsylvania, I traveled to Lexington, KY; Knoxville, TN; Kansas City, MO; Denver, CO; Apache Junction, AZ; Los Angeles, CA. Then I drove up the California coast to Santa Barbara, San Fransisco, Portland, OR; Port Ludlow, WA; Seattle, WA. After two nights in Seattle, I took a “hard right” back east, staying with family friends in Montana, stopping by Crazy Horse and Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota, cutting north for a college friends wedding in Minnesota, and stopping to see two long lost friends I met during my Semester in Spain who live in Iowa and Chicago area. Last, I booked it home from Chicago on Sunday, May 10, to make it home for the tail end of Mama’s Day.
People have asked me, “Why did you take the trip?” “Didn’t you get lonely?” “Weren’t you scared?” Except for a 13 hour drive through the desert from Denver to Apache Junction- where, yes, I had a moment of tears and frustration, seeing nothing but DESERT for 100s of miles, alone except for maybe one other car and too many truckers- it was honestly easy, fun, and awesome.
I experienced the USA coast to coast, visiting with friends, some of whom I hadn’t seen for 3-5 years, but have stayed in touch with on and off through the years. I was blessed to see the unique lives of people from every region of the USA in one fell swoop and all the cultural differences of each region. The USA, I decided, is diverse – climate, land, the way people talk, what they eat, how they drive, the clothes they wear… all of these differences pointing to the values that make up our unique country.
This cross country road trip was something that I thought I would venture at some point during my years of college as I attended school in California, while my family still lived in Pennsylvania. It never happened. Flying outweighed driving every visit home and I never transported enough “stuff” at once that it couldn’t fit in my suitcase.
So, this past spring, when I decided that the east coast is a good change of scenery (not that I wouldn’t move to CA in a heartbeat if the right job opened up), God told me, “Go get your things and take that road trip you always wanted. Oh and drive to your friends wedding in Minnesota instead of flying.”
When is the right time for a cross country road trip that I’ve always wanted to take and never felt like I could? Now. Now is the time. It was time to go get the books, clothes, and mementos that had accumulated in Santa Barbara, CA for over 5 years that I left in a storage unit when I moved home 6 months before. And the multifaceted trip really boiled down to three parts: Go clear out that storage unit to stop paying for monthly storage. Get to Allissa’s wedding on time, and driving gives flexibility to come early and help out if needed (which it was 😉 ). See the country and all those friends whom you haven’t in months or years.
On March 8, my birthday, I first heard the song “Beautifully In Over My Head” by Jenn Johnson, which became my life theme song and is what carried me to believe, decide, and plan this road trip across the US. That I can do this. I have God and friends from here to there and back again, this can totally work. The trip fell together in two weeks, I didn’t plan it really, God had his hand on each piece of the trip. Texting, calling, and Facebooking friends, every person I asked to see was available when I asked to see them. It was totally blessed.
As for all the long drives by myself… This introvert NEEDED the alone time to process life and all the visiting. I was able to pray, cry, listen to music, books on tape, sermons, and just be quiet and BREATHE taking in the scenery and all the open road in front of me to behold.
Like I said. Blessed trip. And though I freaked out the day before I left, almost canceling the trip, “Beautifully In Over My Head” encouraged me and I realized that who cares what happens? Just Go For It. So I did.
I’ve been home for weeks now, but that hasn’t stopped me from making my own video memoir of the trip, which I am sharing here on my blog. A good friend allowed me to borrow his GoPro during my 6 weeks on the road and I just finished the last edits, changes, and details of the video. Please excuse all the bumps. It was my first time to use a GoPro and didn’t realize all the micro movements that the camera would pick up. Plus, I was filming while driving for much of the footage and the steering wheel was more important than the footage at the time 😉 .