I’m also over at the Hooray Collective today, with a post about the truth.
I don’t know where to start, in the telling of this story, the one about how I drove, with Megan, from Richmond, Va. to Portland, Or., with a side trip in Palm Springs along the way. It’s so much, this trip. It means so much. It was so much.
There are the individual adventures, like our experiences along Route 66, at the Grand Canyon and among the giant redwoods, or the solo side trips I took to Joshua Tree National Park and the Oregon coast, stories that I have to break apart from the pack, from the basic telling of this story because they meant and mean so much.
And then there’s the rest of it, the part with the feelings and the logistics of traveling across this great big country, the new states I’ve visited, slept in and driven through, the lessons learned and the towns and cities, forests and seas that I’ve fallen for.
I was gone for 11 days, traveled something like 3,700 miles though 12 states, visited three National Parks and had what just might have been the best adventure of my life.
Day-by-day, it looked like this:
Day 1 || Richmond, Va. >> WV >> Frankfort, Ky. || 512 miles
Highlights: Last minute route changes, snow the moment we passed under the West Virginia welcome sign, burritos for dinner and the shadiest hotel of our trip.
Day 2 || Frankfort, Ky. >> IN, IL, MO >> Oklahoma City, Okla. || 804 miles
Highlights: Snow fields in Indiana, seeing the arch as we drove past St. Louis and freaking out about how huge it is, accidentally getting off the interstate – twice, sit-down dinner and an avoided pet fee of $75.
Day 3 || Oklahoma City, Okla. >> TX, NM >> Holbrook, Ariz. || 776 miles
Highlights: The Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Whataburger for lunch, rapidly changing landscapes, the desert of New Mexico, a 360 degree sunset, the Wigwam Motel, Mexican for dinner with beers and altitude, chatting across tables with strangers, singing the Eagles’ “Take it Easy” in restaurants, the car and the wigwam, and finally settling into our wigwam for the night.
Day 4 || Holbrook, Ariz. >> Grand Canyon National Park >> Palm Springs, Calif. || 790 miles
Highlights: Waking up in a wigwam, taking pictures of old Route 66 establishments, breakfast with books about how to deal with idiots, standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona, road trip purchases, the Grand Canyon, elk, fat squirrels, crossing into California and officially being on the West Coast, $8 beers in Palm Springs, the smell of Abercrombie and the comfiest, coziest beds.
Day 5 || Palm Springs, Calif. >> Joshua Tree National Park >> Palm Springs, Calif. || 143 miles
Highlights: Running in Palm Springs, mountains, venturing into Joshua Tree National Park for a solo adventure while Megan attended a wedding, making lizard, raven and bird friends, climbing rocks, hiking trails and feeling like I was on a different planet.
Day 6 || Palm Springs, Calif. >> Sacramento >> Anderson, Calif. || 641 miles
Highlights: In-N-Out Burger, happier cows, meeting up with San for nachos (!!) and seeing trees I hadn’t known I’d missed.
Day 7 || Anderson, Calif. >> Redwoods National and State Parks >> Portland, Or. || 549 miles
Highlights: Fresh air, big trees, mountains, hotel breakfast, Chance (the dog) celebrating grass, the Redwoods, the forest, the rivers, the streams, the air, the coast, a winding little road through the forest, a new book, a new park checked off the list and the final push on to Portland.
And there are the days I spent based in Portland, wandering the city and driving out to the coast to touch old trees and marvel at the Pacific Ocean and the jagged coast that’s so different from the one I grew up close to.
But this? This is only the beginning of this story.
Also, thank you, internet, for being awesome and for having my back, always. I love you, internet.