Miles Driven: 34,834 miles
States Visited: 40
Days Spent on the Road: 185 days (not including time spent with family)
Total length of road trip: August 11, 2009 - May 25, 2010 (9 months)
Yes, I really did drive that much. I had this philosophy that if I took a wrong turn or chose a winding byway that I wasn’t wasting time at all. I encouraged myself that the more time I spent driving the more scenery I saw. If I had any kind of curiosity about a certain town I would make the detour to see it, because I knew I wouldn’t have such an opportunity again. So that explains why my mileage got so high. You can see from these maps of the approximate route I took just how indirect my path was.
Along the way I started collecting little items to display on my dashboard - mostly rocks, leaves and shells. By the end of the trip my dash was covered (it made making turns in my car somewhat dangerous, since things would sometimes go flying if I made the turn too sharply). But it was worth it. I knew pretty early on that I had to do something with the seemingly random assortment of paraphernalia I’d collected that ended up meaning so much to me. So I made a shadowbox and took the best items I had to make a display. I love how each item brings back memories of a specific place - it’s hard to believe I remember exactly where I got each one.
Most people ask me what my favorite place was. And that is the hardest question to answer. Really, there wasn’t any area of the country I didn’t like. Even the bitter snow in New England and the monotonous stretches of farmland in South Dakota had their beauty. Heck, one of my favorite times was hiking in the rain on St. George Island - even the bad times were good. What I can tell you is what places I was surprized to love. I didn’t expect to like the South very much, but I would go back to Charleston, Savannah or New Orleans any time. I loved it there. I also didn’t expect to like the deserts of Utah and Arizona, but those were some of my favorite National Parks.
Another thing most people ask me is “Wasn’t it scary?” It wasn’t. Not really. There were times when I would have acted differently had I not been alone. But I made a safer choice because that was a priority for me. So because of that there were only a few times where I was frightened. Some of the things that didn’t make it into my posts were the scariest moments. The worst was when I had a bear in my campsite in Washington (I’ll never know for sure if it was a bear or something else, because I was too afraid to open the tent, but it was something bigger and heavier than a man that was rummaging through the trash cans and breaking branches on the ground). Unless you’ve had a similar experience you have no idea how frightening that is.
Inspite of a couple moments like that, this road trip has been the most incredible and amazing journey. I can't recommend enough that at some point in your life you have some kind of similar travel experience. I'll never forget it.