This post is a bit late, but my recent road trip across the USA revealed some things about me that I thought were interesting and I really wanted to get it documented in some form before I completely forgot about it. Long story short, it was a really great trip and I learned a ton about myself in the process! The fact that I learned something new isn’t very surprising (I always learn more about myself when I travel), but since I don’t normally travel long distances in a car, this adventure brought out some things that have never come to the surface while traveling via airplane.
Driving long distances is a lot harder than it sounds
I’m not going to lie – driving 2,800 miles in 6 days by myself was one of the most physically demanding things I have ever done in my life. Driving for 8-9 hours every day for an entire week may not seem so bad, but I had done nothing to prepare for it and my body nearly gave out on day 5. I’d like to point out that I consider myself to be in excellent physical condition for 41 years old: I ride my bike 55 miles and run 6 miles every week (which I have been doing for years), and I eat very healthy. But I kid you not – I ended day 5 thinking that I might have to throw in the towel and end the drive early. I was both physically and mentally exhausted by that point, and I instantly gained a ton of respect for the long-haul truck drivers who grind it out on the asphalt highways every day for their entire career.
I don’t take enough time to stop and appreciate the little things
I didn’t realize this until the trip was finished and I was back home in San Diego, but…I didn’t really see all that much during my drive across the country (compared to John Spencer, a traveller from the UK who did this trip right). Sure, I saw plenty of interesting things from the road, but I was on such a tight schedule that all I could focus on was reaching my daily goal as early as possible so I would have time to sit and relax in the evening. There’s so much to see here in the USA – especially in the middle of the country – and it’s a shame I chose not to stop and see the sights along the way. My only goal was to reach Washington DC in 6 days, but I’m realizing now that my goal should have been to take things slow and take look around – even if that meant not driving as far as I wanted. I tend to move this fast in many aspects of my life, and it wasn’t until I took this trip that it I was truly exposed to it.
I worry – a lot
It was right about the time when I was out on route 70 between Roswell and Portales in northeast New Mexico that I started to realize that I worry – way too much. There I was, all alone, way out in the middle of nowhere on a desolate road hundreds of miles from civilization, but all I could think about was the car breaking down. The scenery all around me was mind-blowingly amazing, and I was too worried about all the things that could possibly go wrong at any moment. Instead, I should have been soaking it all in, feeling freedom from being as far away from the stresses of daily life that I’ll probably ever be. Live and learn, I guess – I’ll know better from now on.
I take air travel for granted
I realized something interesting when that jetBlue EMB-190 lifted off out of IAD taking me to BOS on my way back to San Diego: airplanes are fast. After spending all week on the ground in a car averaging 70mph, it made my head spin to experience being in an airplane again. Watching the ground move at speeds I hadn’t experienced in a while was much more interesting to me than any in-flight entertainment could possibly be, and it was almost like traveling by air for the first time again. In just 7 hours, I would fly from Washington DC, up to Boston, and then all the way across the country to San Diego. That’s amazing. And to be honest, I’m glad I’m writing this down, because I know I’ll forget again and will need to be reminded about this miracle of modern technology from time to time.
There’s so much in this world that I have yet to see
I see something new every time I travel. Even traveling to the same places over and over again I end up seeing things that I hadn’t noticed on my previous visit. This trip was no exception. There were a lot of places I drove through (especially in the east) that I had been to before, but packaged together in this particular cross-country adventure, the experience was completely different than I had before. That led me to think about how important it is to keep traveling and keeping an open mind to experience new things. The world is evolving, and our brains change as we get older. We see the world differently, making the same places seem exciting and new on each visit.