Tag Archives: road trip

Home again, home again, jiggity jig.

We drove the hour and fifteen minutes to Pittsburgh from Betz’s house in the morning to drop him off before I headed back to Middletown.

He and his friends moved into my old house from the year before, so it was really strange dropping him off there. It was the first time I’d seen my old place since I left so long ago. A pang of sadness hit me when I realized it wasn’t my place anymore. Then I got over it.

After dropping him off I headed out on the final leg of the trip by my lonesome. It was the three hour drive from Pittsburgh to Middletown down the mundane PA Turnpike. Normally, I’d make some sort of quip about the turnpike being equal to one or more of the gates of hell, but today was different. The painfully boring trek through western and central Pennsylvania has never been more welcoming. It meant I was going home.

Although I went longer periods of time without going home while still in college, this stretch felt much longer than normal for obvious reasons. I gained so much life experience in the last two months that I couldn’t even begin to describe it to someone. When my friends asked, “How was LA?” I never knew how to answer. “Good” would normally suffice for them, but inside I knew that it was so much more than good. I wanted to describe every minute of everyday, every beach, every work week, every mile on the road trip there and back. I wanted to talk about the people and the scenery, the drivers, the weather, the ocean, the culture.

The friends that did get to hear everything probably wanted to kill me. I was the obnoxious person returning from a semester abroad – all I could do was think and talk about everything that happened.

The final road trip was great overall. Las Vegas was awesome and I will absolutely be visiting again. I saw a ton of the Southwest, which I most likely won’t intentionally visit again. The Deep South rocked, and I can’t wait to go back to NOLA. I only got a taste of that city and it was sweet. The regular South was alright too. Each place has it’s quirks. Each has its pros and cons.

What’s next? Between these two road trips and other places I’ve been in my life I’ve visited 32 states and Washington D.C. so far. The goal is obviously to make it to all 50. I basically need to visit all the states that touch Canada, including Alaska but not including New York or Vermont. A few stragglers in the Midwest (I’m looking at you Kansas), and of course, Hawaii.

The three hours went by faster than I ever thought. I got off the turnpike and drove the familiar six roads to my house. As I pulled into my neighborhood, a sigh of relief overwhelmed me – I was home and it felt great. I parked in my spot in front of the house, walked across the yard, and opened the front door.

“MOM?! I’M HUNGRY.”

The Lampshade Capital of the World

As I finished up the last of my heart-wrenching goodbyes, I packed the last few things into my car for the long drive ahead. College was officially over, and I was moving to LA for the summer. The sun was breaking through the clouds in a very un-Pittsburgh-like fashion as my best friend and I climbed into my two door Honda Accord to start the long trip to sunny California. It was going to last 7 days and 6 nights with stops all across the country.

To understand the trip, you have to understand that my friend and I have a relationship that can only be described as “pushing the limits of the bromance”. Basically we’re two ball taps away from my mom “loving me no matter who I am”. It’s love in the straightest way possible.

So my definitely not boyfriend and I hit the road heading west. Our first stop was 8 hours away – Chi-Town. However we hit an obstacle before Chicago: Ohio and Indiana.

On a whim because I’m creative and spontaneous (aside from my numerous other positive qualities) I decided I was going to take a picture of the “Welcome to” sign at the border of every state we entered. Things started off great in Ohio:

This was followed by our first sight in this great state – a tractor trailer with not two but three trailers attached. This blew my mind because I’ve never seen this in PA, most likely because we have landforms. Needless to say Ohio was opening my eyes to the wonders of the free world.

When we got hungry, luckily, were about to hit Toledo. We’d heard of Toledo before, so we decided to find the nearest Chipotle (obviously). As we got off the highway, I realized Toledo was not the sprawling metropolis I had envisioned. Aside from Chipotle, I think the newest thing was an Old Country Buffet from 1987.

However it did have the following: a restaurant called “Good Food”, a hotel called “Best Hotel”, and most importantly an enormous store called “Lampshade World”. This proves that Ohioans are not only creative, but are on the forefront of technologic and economic prosperity. When I think “What is one product that is so versatile and profitable I could fill up a warehouse with it and call it a store?” I think lampshades.

We dined with Toledo’s finest, and after about 15 minutes of lampshade jokes, we got the fuck out of there, dubbing it “The Lampshade Capital of the World”. We crossed into Indiana, where my “Welcome to” sign picture taking ability greatly improved, and started counting down the minutes til we got to Chicago.

Day 1 had already been a whirlwind of exhilaration, and it was barely noon.

There’s Not Enough Hours in the Day. Or Life.

I think about travel often. Places I want to go (Alaska), places I’ve been (San Diego), places that I never want to go (Kansas – unless it’s for a KU Basketball game, in which case I will fly in as close as possible to campus and leave immediately following). I’m sure you have places you want to go, I mean, who doesn’t?

Obviously, traveling has its setbacks. It’s expensive, there are a ton of logistics, it can be dangerous – luckily all of these can be easy to overcome with some good planning. One problem that everyone has though is time – when will I ever be able to see these places? I’m so busy with my job/kids/kickball/underwater basket weaving that I’ll never be able to find the time to travel.

I’ve thought these same things. However, a few days ago, I heard a really interesting speaker. Actually the speaker was painfully boring (I dozed off), but when I was awake and listening he had a great piece of advice about traveling – to travel when you have “breaks” in your life. These breaks can be between high school and college, college and the real world, grad school, between jobs, retirement, etc. Whenever there is a time that things are changing or slowing down, and there’s free time in your life, travel.

This advice is great because it solves the biggest issue many of us face when traveling – not having time. These “pauses” work perfectly for traveling not only because you now have the time, but, let’s be honest, chances are you have a huge decision in front of you soon and traveling will most likely allow you to relax, straighten out your priorities, and make a good decision about what to do next.

Or it could make you totally forget about your decision and stress you out even more. Who knows. What I’m saying is travel when you can! It opens your eyes to so many things, gets you out of your bubble and allows you to appreciate the vastly different facets of life around us.

That being said, over the past two years I’ve done a lot of traveling – in particular a cross country road trip from Pittsburgh, PA to Los Angeles, CA where I’m currently living – and I’m going to chronicle this experience with a “mini series” of posts over the next few weeks. It will culminate in my return cross country trip to Pittsburgh early this August.

Stay tuned! Hilarity to ensue.

Probably not though.