Realizing a Dream, There and Back
Six years ago, I had the dream of driving across the country after graduating High School, but life had a different direction for me. Sadly, I never completed that dream and I got sucked into school and work. I told myself "oh, I'll go do it afterward!" And as afterward came around, I never went. I never made the trip. I did, however, join the military. This gave me an excellent opportunity to travel a bit and get paid to do so. As great as it was though, it never really scratched the travel itch I had.
As my service commitment neared its end though, I realized that I would have an opportunity to take a few months off before moving on to something else. But what would I do with this time? Well, I finally decided to stop putting off my dream and to drive across the country. Except instead of doing it once, I'll be doing it twice (once to the eastcoast and then back over to the westcoast)! And I'll be making quite a few stops along the way.
After realizing that I could actually make it happen, I spent nearly a year planning this grand road trip! I did research, I watched videos, read books, asked friends and family for suggestions, and so on. I wanted to make the most of my time and I was afraid to miss anything along the way. As I started to put it all together, I found that there was just too much to do in the time I had! Which means that I'll be making many more trips in the future.
As I was planning, I figured that doing this all on my own was probably a terrible idea and for a few reasons. 1) I'd probably go crazy being alone for so many hours while driving. I'd also have to take a lot more breaks to stay sane and aware. 2) I'd see so many beautiful sights, but I'd have no one to share it with! These are just two of many reasons, but they could be cured by inviting someone. That's when I decided to invite my girlfriend. She loves to travel just as much as I do, if not more and I was confident that she'd be great to have by my side. Not just for the long hours in the car, but also for all the adventures we'd experience along the way. I also decided to invite my roommate and a good friend of ours, @chaseburnett. The four of us would be able to conquer anything that may lie ahead and we could all get along.
With input from all four of us, we were able to consolidate and finalize a route. I'm sure this route will differ and reform as we actually drive it, but for now, we have a good idea of where we want to be. We also found a great website called RoadTrippers that could help us find the most efficient route as well as many other important details for along the way! If you look at the map below, here's the route that the site helped us to come up with:
Of course, we knew that we couldn't spend forever in every area of our route, so we decided to really focus on a few areas of the country. The Pacific Northwest, the Northeast, and the Southwest. Three solid corners of the country that had a lot to offer in relatively close/compact areas. Here we'd be able to hit as much as we could with minimal driving days. Here are some close-ups of each area:
The Pacific Northwest:
Each of the little dots just happen to mark waypoints, such as National Parks, cities, monuments, etc. There will be tons more we see along the way.
All of this begins this Sunday! I'm so excited that it's finally here; it's been a long time coming. We'll be passing through 35 states, a few dozen parks, and making many friends along the way. If you all have any suggestions for stops we should make, please let me know! I'm trying to see everything that I can and I love seeing the hidden little treasures that each town has to offer. Thanks for reading and thank you in advance for any suggestions!