The adventure has begun. I’m moving to Boston! Earlier this week, I packed my belongings into a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited (bought in cash to get me safely to my new home and have some fun along the way)!
My first full day of driving was “mostly” uneventful. However, just past the border into Oregon I ran out of gas for the first time in my life. It turns out that a jeep full of heavy stuff has substantially less range than an empty Fiesta, and certain parts of America have no gas stations for upwards of 50 miles. Thank God I was on a gentle incline and was able to coast safely onto the shoulder. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, http://urgent.ly, and a little patience, I was delivered enough fuel to get me 30 miles to the nearest station.
Driving straight except for a couple stretch/nap stops, I am passing through Boise, on track to rest my head at an AirBnB in Rock Springs WY.
Miles driven: 975 + 355 = 1330
Weather: Sunny, dry, frigid
A pleasant day, relatively light on driving. I got a late start out of Rock Springs this morning because I slept like…well, like a rock. The snow-dampened silence of rural America offered some much-needed quality Z’s. I stopped 4.5 hours away in Cheyenne to meet one of my favorite AirBnB guest alumni for pizza and a nice bourbon. My brother drove up from Denver to join us, then we both headed south to crash at his new home in Denver.
I’m calling it a night in order to get up at stupid o’clock and catch a nice sunrise and a snowboard run or two with my bro before heading east for my longest leg toward Louisville.
Start: Denver, CO
Sleep: Salina, KS
End: St. Louis, MO
Miles driven: 1330 + 430 + 420 = 2180
Weather: Windy, cloudy, ice
I send this ex-post-facto because last night’s attempt was far from any internet access. (Did you know some parts of the country still use EDGE?) Yesterday started out as a gentle recovery day in Denver: a nice hike, a raincheck on snowboarding because I know my limits, and I can’t handle that run, a recklessly large lunch and some cat cuddles…quality time with my brother, whom I love. (Awww)
The real story started after dark. My mid-goal was Salina, Kansas, a tiny town with cheap lodging, which I should have known would not welcome me at 3 in the morning, when I finally pulled in, road-weary from an incredibly dull and windy trek down I-70 which limited my pace to some 60MPH.
So I slept in the car.
Even covered in blankets inside a modern insulated vehicle, 40-knot wind in subzero temperatures will freeze your cojones off if the engine isn’t running. When the sun rose, I started driving just to warm up; this may have been a mistake as a good stretch of the road between Salina and Topeka was literally figuratively a hockey rink; I joined a cautious 5MPH caravan of cars with hazard lights on, passing by multiple unfortunate wipeouts and detouring around a truck spanned across the whole road (which graciously did so just after an exit ramp). Topeka itself was full of drivers evidently not used to snow; my heart went out to them.
The good news? No traffic as such. I did get blown sideways into a minefield of potholes right in front of a Missouri state trooper, who of course pulled over my filthy, veering out-of-state jeep (to make sure I had no guns, drugs, or dead bodies in the trunk), ran my info, and let me off with a warning. This set met back about 20 minutes.
As it is rush-hour in a mild snowstorm, there are several crashes between here and Louisville, and it doesn’t look like it will improve soon; as much as I want to keep trekking, I will, most likely, hunker down soon and wait for it to pass.
Hofstadter’s Law: It always takes longer than you expect, even when you take into account Hofstadter’s Law.
Start: St. Louis, MO
Sleep: Nashville, IL
End: Columbus, OH
Miles driven: 2180 + 480 = 2660
Weather: Clear & cold as a witch’s tit
It’s a Blood Moon!
After a fantastic sleep at a Best Western in Nashville, IL (“the other Nashville”), I finally made it to Louisville, KY, witnessing at least five crashes on the way, some quite brutal. From what I heard from truckers who came from that direction and stayed in the same hotel, I made the right choice not to push on.
In Louisville I parked briefly to watch some happy children sledding on a snowy hill (resisting the urge to dig out my snowboard and burn yet more time). I picked up some local bourbons and got my obligatory KFC (don’t judge), before stopping at the library to plan my next leg.
Incredibly, there was hardly any traffic through Cincinnati all the way to Columbus, where I’ve just fueled up before continuing east towards Pittsburgh, and as far past it as I can stay awake for. With the lunar eclipse starting quite soon, I’ll build in a brief pitstop once I reach a place with clear skies and low light pollution. Maybe I’ll even howl.
Start: Columbus, OH
Sleep: Rest stop, somewhere along I-76
End: Boston, MA
Miles driven: 2660 + 780 = 3440
We made it!
TL;DR: The lunar eclipse was amazing, I got caught in a low-visibility blizzard, navigated (slowly) safely to the nearest rest stop, kept the engine running to catch a few hours’ sleep in -3degF, saw a beautiful sunrise and finally arrived in one piece at my new home in Boston.
I am exhausted. After a brief hibernation, I’ll elaborate on my last and most exciting leg and collect overall statistics.
Happy MLKJ day, everybody!
First, a recap of Monday, begging your pardon for the time to get rejuvenated (a modest 13-hour recovery nap) and to fact-check what I write here. I made it all the way past Pittsburgh but along the way ran into a dreadful blizzard. Photos can’t capture the thickness of this sort of snowfall, but I could only see a few yards in front of me; that limited my safe speed to some 20MPH. I got through it, but by this time my most optimistic arrival time was already late in the morning, and my tank was getting low to boot. This time I knew to keep the engine running till sunrise.
The final stretch was remarkably benign. I woke up to the tragic discovery that I’d run through my provision of 10 Monster energy drinks, so I picked up one more plus coffee at the rest stop, and topped off my tank before pressing on. The gorgeous sunrise was 1-upped by vast rows of naked trees with ice frozen onto the tips of their branches, sparkling like hundreds of inverted natural chandeliers. Photos, again, can’t do it justice.
Only once I got quite close to Boston proper did traffic approach anything near unacceptable. Frankly, the roads themselves were more of a challenge–the up, down, curve, wind, potholes and Rube-Goldberg traffic circles were sort of like the final boss of the adventure.
I arrived at my new home late in the afternoon and pulled smoothly into the rockstar parking spot immediately in front. And thus begins my new adventure. Can you pronounce “Worcester”?
Total cost of trip: $889.19, including incidentals
Stupidest expense: $150 for gas delivery
Smartest expense: $94.89 for a warm bed to weather the (first) storm
Cost of gasoline: $386.99
Highest gas price: $2.56 in Seattle
Lowest gas price: $1.68 in middle America (I didn’t buy and don’t remember where it was)
States visited: WA, OR, ID, UT, WY, CO, KS, MO, IL, IN, KY, OH, WV, PA, NY, CT, MA
States visited count: 17 (one third of all the States including Puerto Rico)
Full route map (not including detours): https://goo.gl/maps/mQxBaToKwfG2
As time allows over the next few days, I’ll send out postcards from my new digs. If you haven’t already, send me a mailing address if you want one.