I was really nervous before leaving for the cross-country road trip.
This is unusual for me. Usually I am excited to travel. I might be a little apprehensive on flights at the takeover and landing, but not worried about the trip itself.
It just seemed like a huge undertaking, driving all the way across the country, and I had unfounded worries that something would go wrong. That my credit card company would send up a fraud alert because of all the random charges and freeze my account, or something would go wrong with the car, even though we rented a car specifically to keep that from happening. That after days in the car, we would get sick of driving, and hate the whole undertaking.
I was worried about the weather. We were going in December because we both can get a lot of time off over the holidays, so the trend has been to travel instead of buying presents. But we could – and did, as it turns out – get hit with horrible weather conditions.
I finally talked myself down by telling myself: This is a big undertaking. But you do it a little at a time. Almost all of the problems you are worried about can be solved, if they even happen. If worse comes to worse, we can change our plans.
So we picked up the rental car on the morning of Day One, loaded it up with all sorts of luggage, camera supplies, snacks, and clothing for a wide range of weather conditions, and we headed out.
The first section of the trip, through Delaware and almost to Baltimore, we have driven just about a million times. And, as we probably could have predicted, we got stuck in a traffic jam as a result of both accidents and construction before we made it to our exit. Frustrated from sitting in traffic, we got off of 95 South and had lunch surrounded by frenzied Christmas shoppers. Then we took a back way to get back on track to 70 West, and pretty soon I was unfamiliar territory.
We started out later than we had hoped to, and we planned to drive most of the day. By the end of the trip, I had learned that my itinerary for the early days, which involved driving 9+ hours per day, was simply insane. Luckily the pace slowed down later, but I am now pretty sure now that 7 hours is probably the maximum we should schedule to drive for one day, and eight hours is pushing it.
The other bad part about a roadtrip in the winter is that you run out of daylight. By the time we reached our first new state, it was almost too dark to see it.
We played John Denver to commemorate it. Mike and I also started the practice of high-fiving for every new state we made it to. Before we knew it, there was another one.
But since it was dark I don’t remember much of the landscape. I think it was mostly forested hills, and mostly empty of towns in both of these states. I remember at one point in either West Virginia or Kentucky, we passed through what looked like a huge power plant complex that was lit up and working, the clearest sign of civilization we saw.
We made it to our first stop, Lexington, KY, later than we would have liked. But by the time we got there, I was finally getting into the spirit of a cross-country road trip. I was ready to keep going.