At the beginning of October, the 6th to be exact, I started out on a cross country road trip from Phoenix, Arizona to Fountain Hill, Pennsylvania. I drove my car three days, through nine states, stopping to rest twice. For some background, I decided to embark on this trip as a means to get my car from point A to point B, as a part of my permanent move to Pennsylvania.
Around June, I had begun setting into motion my plans to move in with my boyfriend of two years, Jason, and finally put an end to the long distance part of our relationship. It was a big step, and one that was made a lot easier by the fact that my amazing boss was able to get me the approval to work remotely from my new home, allowing me to keep a job that I enjoy. Once all that had been sorted, I began telling friends and family about the move and I set a date. Using one of our household goods providers from work, I scheduled my move date for October 5, and a crew came out to pack up all my belongings and ship them to Pennsylvania for me. All that was left was for me to get my car and myself to my new home.
I set out early on Saturday morning, around 7:00 am, with my car packed full off everything I didn’t want shipped in the containers and a giant box full of road trip snacks from my team. As a going away present, they had put together a box full of chips, energy drinks, Starbucks cards, other snacks, a first aid kit, and pepper spray. It was the sweetest gesture and I got a bit choked up by my amazing team who I knew I would miss quite a lot. On top of that, I had to say goodbye to Mom and our cat, Max. That was hard to do, and I knew they would both miss me a great deal, but at least Mom would have Max to keep her company.
It did not take me too long to drive out of Arizona and into New Mexico, where I made my first stop for gas. There would be many more stops for gas along the way, in many different states. Most of the gas prices were fairly similar, around the $2.89 per gallon mark, until I hit Missouri where I got $2.59 per gallon. The most expensive gas was not until I hit Pennsylvania and that was over $3 a gallon.
I did have a nice surprise (which was only slightly spoiled beforehand) to start out my trip in the form of a special episode of the Our Liner Notes podcast, where good friend (and host) Chris Maier and my boyfriend Jason, dedicated the episode to me and filled it with great road trip songs. The only bad part, was that it didn’t last the entire day because they really did a great job and I loved it.
I made it a goal to drive all the way to Oklahoma City, Oklahoma in the first day, a total of 14 hours, and I succeeded. That meant driving through part of Arizona, across New Mexico, the top portion of Texas and halfway through Oklahoma. I arrived at the Holiday Inn around 10:00 pm, where I got a room for the night and then headed out again early the next morning. While still in Oklahoma, I had my first experience with toll roads, having to pay for turnpike access in amounts varying from $1.75 up to $5 per toll booth. But this was nothing compared to the final turnpike toll road I used to cross nearly the entire state of Pennsylvania, which cost me nearly $22.
The second day of travel saw me through Oklahoma, Missouri and into Illinois. I had two stops planned for Illinois. The first of which was to meet up with friend and fellow podcaster, Dr. Sara Netzley, a University professor by day and a recap writer for EW.com by night. I also know Sara from the DC TV Report podcast, that she co-hosts with our friend Ed O’Hare. Both of them have been guests on my podcast numerous times. I had been chatting with Sara prior to my trip and we had discovered that I would be driving right past her on my way to my best friend Khanh’s house. And seeing as it would not be too much out of my way, we arranged to meet up along my route, in her hometown, which was only a short distance from her current location. We decided on meeting at a Steak n’ Shake, since I had not been to one in decades. It was fortunate that we had made those plans too.
While stuck at a construction zone (which I hit a lot of and was the only “bad” traffic I had to deal with) about an hour away from our meeting place, a large storm front rolled in. Literally, I watched the dark clouds roll across the sky towards the road. Shortly after the traffic began to flow again, it began to pour and it only kept getting worse, to the point that visibility was low and some people were forced to pull off to the side of the road and wait. I did not wait, I was so close to Sara, I drove slowly with the rest of the traffic and finally made it to the Steak n’ Shake parking lot where I could wait out the storm with a meal and pleasant company. And so it was, Sara got there first and I soon after. We had a lovely time chatting and enjoying out first meeting over milkshakes. Once I was finished with my food, we got ready to leave and as predicted, the storm had passed and I could get back on the road. Luckily, my next stop was only another hour away from the Steak n’ Shake, my best friend Khanh’s house.
Now, Khanh wasn’t actually at the house, due to a trip she already had booked to go to California with her husband. But our mutual friend Van and Khanh’s two dogs (Summer and Moka) were at the house when I arrived at nearly 11:00 pm. I chatted with Van for a bit after she had calmed down the dogs and they finally remembered me, then it was time for bed. The next morning saw a slightly later wake up, and a cup of tea with Van, before heading out. I filled up the car with gas and made my way out of Illinois, through Ohio, a small portion of West Virginia, and finally into Pennsylvania.
An interesting thing to point out about this trip, given the fact that I traversed so many different states, is the varied amount of road kill that I saw along the sides of the roadways. At the start of the trip in the deserts of Arizona and New Mexico, coyotes and small rodents were what you would see. Through Texas and Oklahoma, this was switched up with the occasional armadillo(which was really sad because they are so cute). Somewhere closer to Missouri, and throughout the rest of the trip, there was a shift to raccoons and possums. I have never seen more roadkill in my entire life than I did in those three days.
This brings me to the final day of my trip, and yet another construction zone although the last one luckily. After making my last stop for gas, halfway through the state, I made my final check in calls to Mom and Jason. I had been calling both throughout the trip to give periodic updates on my progress. I drove and listened to podcasts, which had been my go to for the majority of the trip, until it got dark. I switched over to louder rock music during my drives at night, to keep me alert, which the coffee and energy drinks had a hand in as well. I remember getting off the most expensive turnpike ever, which I was happy to be able to pay with a card, and transitioning onto the last highway I would need to drive on before finally getting to my destination. I should also point out, I coincidentally had a can of change with me, because the movers wouldn’t pack change, and that came in very handy with the numerous tolls. Except for the last one. The lady in the toll booth must have seen the look on my face when she told me the $22 total. The wheels had been turning to figure out if I had enough change to pay it, until she said those magic words, “We take cards.” Instant relief.
It had started to rain slightly upon my approach to Fountain Hill and Jason’s house, but just a light sprinkle. Still, I only got out my suitcase and left everything else in the car to take out in the morning, after some much needed sleep. And boy, was it a good sleep. Not having to wake up early to hit the road, sleeping in and having a decent breakfast, and of course finally being together with my wonderfully patient boyfriend.
It’s been over a month now, of us living together, and I could not be happier. I love him, the weather, being on the East Coast in this small town outside of Bethlehem. I have begun to explore my surroundings, through small trips to the grocery store and into Allentown to meet Jason and his coworkers for lunch. I look forward to exploring even more and meeting more of his friends and family. Mom will be coming to visit us for Thanksgiving, which will be great, and his Mom is looking forward to having her here just as much as I am. It’s going to be fun. Then, I return home for Christmas to spend time with Mom, family, and my coworkers, before being back in plenty of time for the New Year.
Here’s looking forward to a new and exciting future!