Wednesday, December 18, 2013

That Time We Drove Across The USA




Back about a month ago, my Dad and I drove across the United States, roughly following Route 66. This was the best idea I could come up with for getting my junk out of my parents' basement. You see, it's been kind of a big year -- closed a career, relocated to San Diego from Toronto, got married and everything in between. So we loaded up Dad's Tundra with my TV, boxes of books and other sentimental stuff and Mom, Dad and I set off moving-to-university style for Buffalo.

Once we made it across the border without incident we headed for the Buffalo airport to pick up a one-way minivan rental. We transferred all the stuff into a lovely silver Dodge Caravan (seriously, I can't say enough about minivans ... so useful!) and Mom headed back home with the truck but NOT before stopping at our first Denny's of the adventure.

I remember feeling excited and horrified about the number of miles ahead, but right from the start, we found a good rhythm and pushed all the way into the evening before stopping at a lovely motel for all of about 7 hours. Dad is a real road warrior. Waking up at the crack of dawn is sleeping in.

Our first full day on the road with "Dorothy" -- the winning entry in our van's nickname contest -- is the one I will probably remember most fondly. We were caught completely unprepared in the late-season tornadoes that ripped through Illinois and surrounding states. I found myself looking up what to do if you're on the road and spot a twister. Apparently hiding under an overpass is *not* recommended, but thanks anyway for that advice "Man of Steel." (1:06).  (Best bet: find a ditch).

Anyway, I was only half sarcastic at my use of the word fondly because honestly, coming out the other side of those storms unscathed and seeing the destruction, injury and death reported in their wake gave both Dad and I a really deep sense of gratitude. We were very lucky.

The rest of the trip continued under the sun and big blue skies. We met interesting people in Stetsons, heard every kind of accent, tried some truly horrendous coffees, saw some things for the first time, and best of all, got to know each other a little better. (For example - my dad was his student president back in his Ryerson days! I had no idea campaigning is actually in my blood!! Also, he believes aliens walk among us ... didn't see that one coming.)

We were pretty gung ho to get those miles under our belts so we didn't do a lot of stopping, but one stop we did make, which I highly recommend, is the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Park in Arizona. Below you can see some instagrams and daily updates I took at the time. To see those colourful deserts now and compare them to the lush, green riverlands they once were is mind boggling. We loved it.

Road trip stats! 

  • Origin: Port Elgin, ON
  • Destination: Carlsbad, CA
  • States crossed: New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and California
  • Days on the road: four
  • Kilometres travelled: 4,130 (2,566 miles)


Dad stayed with us in SoCal for a few days to "recover" before flying back home. We went surfing, lobster diving, we built an Ikea TV stand for my freshly delivered flatscreen (Dad has NEVER been to Ikea before! Wonders never cease!) and we even got in some road riding.

It was a great trip, and a wonderful adventure. Thanks Dad!

Here are those instagrams: