Well, I am one week back from doing something that was one of the hardest things (but quite interesting) I've ever done and that was to plan to visit my sister & her family as well as see the sights in Colorado. Since they both had to work and needed their cars, I thought, well I just drive. It was all decided upon somewhat quickly and atypical of my travel habits, with very little planning as to the "road" aspect of the trip which was huge!! Something bigger and more dangerous was ahead in Colorado but more about that later. I was lucky I just got there. Why?
I started to look at the maps with probably a week or less to plan the drive west from NYC. The map said it was close to 1,800 miles door to door and that I should take Interstate 70W as this was the most direct route. Then I eyeballed the map and chose two places where I thought I could stop, checked the mileage and each day I'd be driving about 600 miles a day.........ALONE. So I planned to stop in Springfield, OH and the next night, Blue Springs, MO. Well, I never made Blue Springs on the second day and had to stop in St. Louis - exhausted. Determined, on day three I was making Colorado no matter what, and I did although I had no idea when I crossed from Kansas into Colorado until I hit a small town called Silna, CO which listed it's elevation (all the towns do in Colorado!) at over 6,000 feet. Yes, my ears did start popping, but I didn't know I was climbing. Essentially, I was so tired I could barely see but luckily there were literally no other cars in sight and I found my sister's place. I had tears when I got there which I think were partly due to being happy to see my family and also, because I was done driving!
I did not know that I 70W was a very commercial route, i.e. LOTS of trucks. I'm not one who gets worried by trucks, I just never saw so many and well, it's a two lane route and they seem to like being in the left lane. I wasn't quite sure of the "etiquette" because signage was lacking. There were also many RV's which I was happy to see because it meant folks were out there seeing America..........one thing I learned (but kind of already knew) was that there is A LOT to see in America! At a small rest stop in Kansas I saw a family get out of their giant RV with their little dachsaund, all taking a rest and although I guess in an RV you really don't need to stop but even sitting for a long time requires leg stretching time!! It was interesting to see that almost always, the RV had something that was hitched to the back (often, a car!) OR, the RV was hitched to a very large quad cab pickup truck and while I know these trucks have big engines, I still couldn't believe they could haul the very large trailers! I saw the smallest "Airstream" trailer that I didn't think existed but it looks neat, all silvery. They all looked neat in their own way and part of me wished I was in one many times along the way
I passed through these states on Day 1: NJ, PA, WV (briefly), OH. Day 2, IN, IL and just into MO. Day 3, MO, KS and CO! Missouri and Kansas are w i d e states! So is PA, although I've lived in and visited there so often, I'd never driven across it and it is wider than I ever imagined. What was nice was going up, into and through the Allegheny mountains in western PA. Very pretty, stunning views. What was funny were the signs to "Remove sunglasses" before entering the tunnels through the mountains, which were lit. I was like "huh?" I drive through the Brooklyn Battery tunnel all the time with my sunnies on, and that's a LONG tunnel but it's lit and depending upon the time of day, can be two way traffic. The PA tunnels were one way. I left my sunglasses on.....please don't tell. It was cool to drive through some "major" cities along the way and see unexpectedly impressive skylines, no disrespect intended. Kansas City, MO was no exception but heading in, it was so wonderfully modern and then as I left the city, surprisingly old and seemingly "forgotten" so a bit frozen in time.
Along the way: essentially 3 types of billboards..........ones that advertised "Adult Super Stores" (??? I figured it out later) ones wondering if I knew where I'd be spending "eternity" (at the moment I only knew I was going to Colorado - can one plan for eternity on an interstate? I just prayed for a safe trip) and the rest that mostly said, "Advertise Here." I did pass one of the LARGEST Cabela's stores I'd ever seen - actually I'd only ever seen their catalogue, but there was one candle superstore that was hard for me not to stop and look at. The country was enveloped in such a heat wave the entire drive that despite having a/c, I didn't think the candles would fare well and I really already had a LOT of stuff in the car and trunk. Other signs: unbelievably high in the sky Petro, Love's (with prices) and of course, those golden arches! Gas was high priced on I 70W but I didn't know that until traveling back on I 40E, where they got as low as I'll ever see for awhile. I have to re-check the exact amounts but the gas cost around $110-115 or so to make the trip....my mileage was good and my car is not used to so much highway so I think it was happy.
Road trip dining? Not so exciting, mostly fast food but occasionally there were other options, mostly on nights I was sleeping in a town, I went looking for something different, or bought healthy snacks at nice stations with great stores to quell hunger, thirst though I did pack a cooler bag for the car. Both my nights heading west, I stayed in Days Inn. I was looking online in the cities I planned to stop/ended up stopping in, and when I was making reservations via phone but through hotels.com I believe, the agent asked me if I had any discount codes etc. I just sort of stuttered - I do have hotel discount benefits from my college and a professional organization I belong to but they weren't highly represented in road stop type hotels. As it turned out, I have car insurance with a company that got me a discount at Days Inn and that really helped. Although the room in Springfield was supposed to be non-smoking, it definitely was a smoking room but I was too tired to fight it and not up to moving all my stuff. The sheets were clean, as were the towels and it had a fridge so I could re-freeze my cooler packs and keep other stuff cold. Beyond that, Days Inn Springfield, OH........ick. The one in North St. Louis did not have a fridge and didn't smell of smoke but again, sheets clean, towels clean....OK. One of them left something in the tub that should not have been there, big ick, but well, we're not talking 5 diamonds here although by the time I got to St. Louis, I was dying for a Ritz Carlton! I never saw the arch in St. Louis but I have seen it from the air flying across country; totally expected to see it when I got there though! Otherwise, the corn looked like it was coming along well from what I could see on the road - although word is the drought could ruin a lot of it. Also, cows do more laying down than I have ever seen, so I don't possibly see how anyone could (or should) tip a cow because I don't think you can creep up on them, they are very big, and likely if they are resting, will already be laying down! Mostly saw Holsteins and Black Angus....I think. Plus there was my one "homeless cow" as I called s/he....standing alongside the roadside fence all alone. I was worried about that cow, but when you're alone in a car and don't see people, you worry about cows.
I'd brought along some CD's for the ride but then got bored of them and tried the radio.......now across America, that was interesting, there's country, country, country, talk, religion and maybe a rock station or a station playing the strangest but surprisingly interesting blend of tunes from disco, pop, R&B, rock from ANY era but it was fun. Oh and yes I get that country is VERY popular across America, we just do not have a country station here in NYC so I only know a little, past & present, that is good. Every road stop, restaurant and rest room was playing country and folks were happy - who am I to say?
Well I need to say one last thing before I write the return trip.......RE-TREAD - what is up with that? I know what it is, and when it's sprawled all across the road - scary, but I don't know why they put it on tires to avoid buying new tires. If it's not good for cars on the road, how good can it be for a truck from which it falls off of? Perhaps if there are 18 wheels, it does not matter much, but it should. Oh and one day, I would REALLY love to see the inside of one of those super cabs. Oh and the signs I saw aimed at truckers relating to "Jake Brakes" and "Engine Brakes" (say what?) I got explanations about on the way home......from a trucker I had coffee with in Arkansas. There's also no more "double clutching" FYI. I did worry about the gas costs for the RV folks, though I kept thinking that by not having to pay for lodgings, it must somehow work out and be very cool.
cont'd.........Part 2, coming back. Also, I have to update Colorado. When I did get to Colorado Springs, the very next day as we were doing some sight seeing, we saw the Waldo Canyon fire start....except we didn't know that's what it was going to be when we saw the small plume of smoke and flames; it did curtail our outing and then changed my entire first week! There's no knowing what can happen no matter where one goes.......I've had stuff happen all over the world, America can't be any different. Traveling is traveling!
Prior to this drive, I'd visited only states up and down the eastern US. The drive was interesting on many levels and seeing America is great.