Road Trippin: My Journey Across the USA

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In my forthcoming travel memoir, I wrote about how my grandmother would take me on cross country trips from our suburb on Long Island all the way to the coasts of California. They were vivid memories that shaped my lust for travel, even as a single mom. I started traveling with my little boo internationally when she was 4 months old. I wanted her to see the world just as I did as a girl. In living color.

Funny thing about some trips. The best ones come about when you don’t over think things. When you don’t give much notice. When you don’t give people enough time to ask too many questions and put all kinds of unnecessary shit in your ears. You just go.

My voyage to Burning Man Festival in Nevada was just that kind of a trip. (More on that here) An idea that almost didn’t happen, but with a late night dose of ‘fuck it, we’re doing this.’ With a few lists in hand, I gathered up some essentials, packed up our bikes and a few bags, got in my car, and drove. Told my daughter’s father we were going, and that we’d check in at each rest stop. He was cool with it, gave  me some tips from his experience as a long haul driver, and my baby and I were set.

The first day, I managed to book it from Jersey City to the Ohio border. I stopped every two hours, stretching and occasionally grabbing something to eat from the rest stops. We made it to Nevada in three days. I had forgotten my iPod charger, so most of that time was spent in quiet meditation, which wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. I drove, and observed, contemplated, revisited old hurts, sorrows, dreams. I thought about was might come after Burning Man. Thought about not coming home. Thought about new beginnings. Things to see.  I wanted to see where the Purple One spent his final hours. I wanted to find the place where the Gloved one was groomed. I wanted to sing the songs of classic 80s shows as I passed by the houses that housed them. I wanted to find the yellow brick road. With this adventure, This long road was absolutely mine, and it took me father that I could have ever imagined.

Takeaways:

• I did this trip alone. With a 6 year old. Am I a badass? Sure. Would I do it alone again?  Nope. If I had another driver, I could surely cover more ground, more quickly.

• Campgrounds are your friend. Because I wanted to cover a lot of miles in a short time, staying overnight in a hotel would have been a waste of time and money. Most campgrounds allow you to use their modern shower facilities for $5. FIVE BUCKS. When I got tired, I found well lit, security monitored, well populated rest stations, and slept, like the other travelers, in my car. When I woke, which was typically about 3 to 4 hours later, I just started driving again. Every time I told my experienced, truck-driving baby daddy I was in another state, he was shocked.

• Ohio had the best, cleanest rest stops out of all of the states we visited. Indiana, the nastiest.

• Wyoming is an unexpected state of natural beauty. As we drove through the multi layered mountains, I couldn’t help but be in awe of this wild west territory.

• Nebraska is boring as fuck. It was the most dreadful state to pass through and seemed to have taken forever.

• The town surrounding Lake Tahoe in California has a gentle, easy-going filled with vacationing housewives and nature-seekers. We would have loved staying there a few more days.

• My daughter loved San Francisco. She loved rolling up those steep hills that absolutely terrified me, and equally loved sliding down the other side of those hills. And of course, the water. After being in the desert all that time, the coast was a welcome retreat.

• When you stop at a travel station on the main route, if you have cell service, type in something random into the search, like ‘thrift store’ or ‘tacos’. You’ll find some amazing things just down what seems like a desolate, unpopulated road.

Don’t over plan. You know you need the basics: a good car, gas, and food. Think about things along the way, and surprise yourself with what you may find.

Our road trip, in pictures:

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