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Road Trip Series : X-Country 1

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My first cross country road trip was an exciting event for two reasons. First, it was my first time traveling across the country by automobile, and the farthest west I’d ever gone besides my flight to Los Angeles to visit the school I was about to attend. Secondly, due to personal reasons, I couldn’t leave until four days before school started.

After struggling with my parents who didn’t want me to move, my father finally relented (after I paid off the car). He thankfully printed up a several-dozen page 8×10 booklet of directions on how to get to Los Angeles. I left around noon on Thursday and started my first trek across country.

If you’re from the east, New York and Pennsylvania aren’t anything special. In reality though they are very pretty states with rolling green hills and pastures of farmland. Having lived in New York my whole life (except for 6 months in Orlando), there was nothing worth writing home about. I did get lost for a quick second in PA because I forgot to stay on I-80, probably around the 84, 81, 80 intersection. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, I only made it two states before getting lost! Oh boy!”

I stayed on I-80 through the day and deep into the night (I actually stayed on it until Colorado!). I remember encountering a car accident around midnight outside of Chicago and smelling the beautiful smell of cow manure  all throughout Iowa. I arrived in Nebraska the next morning without getting any sleep. The excitement of being somewhere new, and the thought of making it to school on time, kept me wide awake. There was a very interesting Trading Post outside of Lincoln where I grabbed some souvenirs, and continued on my way.

I arrived in Colorado as evening struck. This is where my story gets much more interesting. As darkness fell I actually started to get tired. (After two straight days of driving, go figure!)  I made a few phone calls to friends who helped keep me awake. I drove passed Denver and into the Rocky Mountains. I remember stopping at a gas station that was open to fill my tank, and while pumping a Husky jumped right into my car as if he wanted a ride!

He was so gorgeous I wish I could have taken him with me. As I got back in my car and drove off I called my friend who I needed to help me stay awake. She told me she’d call me back, so I pulled over for a moment because I was that tired. Unfortunately she forgot to call me back, and I ruined my continuous-driving streak by sleeping for four hours on the side of the road.

Had I have known what I knew now, I would have stopped for the night in Denver. First, because I could and still would have had time to spare, but mostly because the following two states are some of the most beautiful in the country. I drove through most of Colorado and Utah throughout the night, and missed some gorgeous scenery. As the sun came up I was still in Utah, but around the very southwestern end on I-15.

This was all new terrain to me. Just as I didn’t appreciate the rolling hills in the northeast, I’d imagine some people don’t appreciate the rough land of the southwest. Don’t get me wrong, the flat, boring, dry desert doesn’t do much for me, but I could not imagine getting sick of the arches, canyons, and staircases this area of the country has to offer which I would discover on future Cross Country Road Trips.

I drove into the border town of Mesquite, Nevada and stopped for gas. After I swiped by card at the pump the machine declined it. I knew I had credit available, but decided to try my Debit Card instead. Declined. I called Wachovia, the bank who I had both my cards through, and was told they thought someone stole my wallet and drove cross country. A reasonable idea, but wouldn’t you think they’d stop me in Ohio and not Nevada? So I spoke with the representative for a few minutes, who then told me I had to call back on Monday because their Fraud Department wasn’t in on the weekends. This left me stranded in the desert without any money for gas!
So I called my father just to talk. I thought this was both funny and exciting, but he didn’t find this as amusing as I did. He panicked trying o figure out if he could wire me money and whatnot. I told him to calm down and I’d work it out. In the end I ended up scrounging up a ton of quarters, nickels, and dimes from all over my car. From underneath the seats to in the trunk. I actually found several dollars worth. Enough to hopefully get to into California.

I then drove into Las Vegas for a shot glass or two, and continued on into the desert. I was underage, so there wasn’t much for me to do  in Las Vegas besides take in the sites on The Strip. I drove into California on I-15, along the northern rim of the Mojave Desert, and through the beautiful mountains of San Bernardino during sunset.

The following images you can click to enlarge:

I took I-15 to I-10 and drove straight into the heart of Santa Monica. I found a fast food place open to grab a bite to eat and use their bathroom. I then pulled into my school’s parking lot 52 hours after leaving New York. I slept for a few hours until a security guard woke me up. He wasn’t too happy.

All in all it was a good trip. I think you’d have to try pretty hard to find a path across the United States that isn’t fun, especially in the west. Looking back this drive wasn’t as exciting as some of my other trips like XCRT-3, XCRT-4, or XCRT-5, but it was fun nonetheless.


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