Since I recently purchased a house and am settling down a bit (after hopping through four states in four years) it was finally time to get my sh*t together. Literally.
I had left a box of rocks and fossils with my parents before leaving southern Arizona in 2017 (former geology student, I dug those specimens with my own two hands! ‘Nuff said).
Later, in 2019, when I moved to the Texas Coastal Bend from Coastal Oregon, I wasn’t certain how that would work out so, I stored some boxes in my friend’s attic. It was rather prescient of me really, since that small “drinking village with a fishing problem” did not afford me the opportunities I was looking for.
However, since I ran short on time, I did not pack my belongings carefully enough for shipment. And while I may be blonde, I was also not willing to pay to ship that heavy box from my parent’s. That would be dumb as a box of…you know.
All of which meant an epic road trip was in my future. My plan:
- Drive from my home in St. Petersburg, FL to the Portland area (a 3,000+ mile jaunt),
- visit with my best friend from college for a couple days during her precious time off,
- load all my boxes into my car (my Prius has amazing capabilities, much like Mary Poppins’ carpet bag),
- pop over to the Oregon Coast to see another set of dear friends,
- drive through California to southern Arizona to check in with a couple old friends (a mere 1,500 miles or so),
- stop off at my parents’ house near the New Mexico state line and visit with family,
- pick up my rocks,
- and, finally, beeline back home on I-10 (roughly 1,925 miles).
- I wanted to slide this trip in right before there was too high a chance of winter storms and right after most of the western wildfires had abated.
- There was no time for sightseeing or side trips, besides, I’ve already explored so much of this country. That Hank Snow song, I’ve Been Everywhere is pretty fitting!
- Return home in time for contractors to replace roof.
- I left a day after Hurricane Zeta churned through the South, thankfully, it was a smooth drive.
- From Tennessee through Idaho, I counted an average of 1.3 deer carcasses per mile. I noted with interest that many of them were young bucks (young, dumb, and horny?). I also correlated their abundance with predator-removal programs in some states. Mostly, I was just relieved that I did not have any run-ins with them!
- I discovered that my iTunes Playlist has a rather sick sense of humor. I put it on shuffle and it played Tom Petty’s Free Fallin’ right after his Learning to Fly. Not sure Tom would’ve approved of that coupling.
- Saw some gorgeous fall colors along the way.
- There’s a town called Oregon located in Iowa, talk about a tease!
- It was cold! I had to wear jeans, long sleeve shirts, close-toed shoes, and a jacket for the first time in about 8 months.
- The wind gusts on I-80 were really high, I was hoping they wouldn’t close the highway.
- Just missed an early winter storm in Wyoming, as evidenced by piles of snow along the road.
- Once I reached Oregon I spent half a day babying my car. After the oil change I had the tires balanced and rotated. I requested that when they checked the spare that they pull it and the tools out and place them behind the driver’s seat. Last thing I wanted was to have to unload my boxes on a busy road, at night (those kinds of things always happen at night), just to access the spare. The young guy pulled the spare and bagged it carefully, which was really quite thoughtful, but he didn’t get out the tire changing tools. I didn’t want to hurt his feelings so I dealt with it later but I ask you, what good is the spare without the tools?!
- I caught a nice tailwind which helped me breeze through New Mexico.
- According to the TXDoT signs, there have been over 3,010 traffic fatalities in Texas this year. An alarming number but by no means the highest. The highest fatality rates (per capita) consistently belong to Mississippi, South Carolina, and Alabama. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions…
- During the last hour of my drive home I ran into several heavy rain bands, the worst weather of the entire trip – thank you Tropical Storm Eta!
- Ten miles from the house I encountered the first major crash, there were at least 8 smashed up cars.
- I averaged 950 miles per travel day, a solid 12-14 hours of driving each time.
- I racked up a cool 7,000 miles on my car and, luckily, made the entire trip without incident (no accidents, no traffic tickets, and no mechanical issues).
Of course, since it is 2020, nothing went according to plan. I didn’t see half the people I had hoped to (though perhaps in the time of COVID that’s for the best) but fortunately, it all worked out.