This was the third time I’ve driven across country at breakneck speed. No superfluous stops. No sight-seeing. Just get from A to B as quickly as humanly and mechanically possible.
The first time I did it was in April of 1999. I was driving a 14′ U-Haul, poorly packed and containing the material of my life. The stuff was stored in some friends’ garage until I was settled. I picked up I-80 near Chicago then just followed it to almost all the way to my backyard in Berkeley. I was leaving everything and everyone I knew and was scared and could accurately be described as forlorn. Yes, I’d chosen this and I was going to stick by the decision but that doesn’t mean I had to like it.
The second time was in June of 1999. I’d just been Best Man in Guy and Megan’s wedding and now was driving back to California with my car and Moira. Considering her feline nature she took it surprisingly well. Again, I-80 was the route of choice. The road was familiar and there was a home and people waiting for me at the other end, which made the trip easier.
This time it was February and we wanted to avoid the Rocky Mountain passes so we took the southern route. The roads we took largely paralleled the old Route 66, a fact which the roadside attractions would not let you forget. Nevertheless they were new as were the views rolling by outside the car windows.
Twenty-six hundred miles in two and a half days is a great way to get where you’re going but it’s no way to experience the country. You see gas stations and truck stops, the occasional hotel room and you become intimately familiar with your dashboard. You drink more bad coffee than you care to remember and eat more bad food than you care to admit.
Some day I’d like to take a leisurely drive along the same route. Take some time to stop and look around. Eat the local food. Talk to the local people. See something other than the gray highway and the endless billboards.
There are so many things to see out there. So many photos to be taken and moments to be captured. I regret losing the chance to capture them. This chance, anyway. There can be another later. And I hope to be able to take that chance when it’s presented to me.