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Lessons Learned from a Cross-Country Summer Road Trip


“Stand where the roads cross and look. Ask where the old way is, where the good way is, and walk on it. If you do, you will find rest for yourselves.” Jeremiah 6:16

For the past three weeks I have had an epic journey; a summer road trip across the U.S. using forgotten highways, abandon county roads, and antiquated railroad lines.  When I started out I was naïve and underestimated the challenges, but the successes and the great memories made the experience worth it. Afterwards I felt (well, exhausted, but…) inspired, refreshed, rested, and open to the next season of life.

The ‘plan’ was to: travel with a girlfriend (who was moving to Denver) on highways from San Francisco, CA to Denver, CO making points to stop in Moab, Utah and Steamboat Springs, CO camping along the way. After visiting for a few days in the ‘mile high city’ I was to fly (solo) back home to Indiana to visit family and friends for a week. I wrapped up my vacation by traveling from Indiana to San Francisco via the Amtrak California Zephyr (FYI: total train ride time: 60 hours, only the brave need apply!).

Lessons I learned:

  1. ‘Man makes plans and God laughs’ – We mapped out routes and pegged recreation areas to camp at, but our ETA was ambitious. Once on the road we had to forgo planned stops and ‘wing it’. I’m glad we did! The places we discovered on the road were better than anything we found on Google.
  2. When traveling on Route 6 from Bishop, CA to Ely, NV – stop at the gas station in Bishop, even if you have a full tank just to ‘top off’. Only 175 miles of desert sits between Bishop and Ely with NO GAS, anywhere. We ran out10 miles from Ely and had to call AAA for help. Had we ‘topped off’ in Bishop we would have made the last 10 miles.
  3. GPS is designed to give you the most DIRECT route, not the most SANE – as we found out after traveling on dirt county rounds through CO mountains for almost 2 hours
  4. Roadtrip tunes are essential (See my road trip tunes list)
  5. Make sure you’re traveling with a good friend – this guarantees deep conversations, fun times, and no judgment when you get cranky from time to time (your bound at the hip for 5 days who wouldn’t get a little worn out?).
  6. Make sure you have a code word when you are cranky, ours: ‘I’ve just hit my wall’ and ‘I’m really getting hungry’
  7. Before visiting the ‘mile high city’, drink lots, and lots, and lots of water to prevent altitude sickness. I didn’t do this….
  8. Going home always feels good and its nice to have your mom do your laundry, even if your 30yrs old
  9. When your back home, make sure to do the things you can’t do in San Francisco – like going to a tractor show with your dad, having family dinner at the local American Legend, having late night conversations with your mom, going to the county fair, and letting your step-dad drive you around to see all the renovations added to your hometown
  10. Its only good to visit family for about a week – otherwise self-medication may be required
  11. When riding the Amtrack, spring for the cabin, 60 hours sitting in coach – no bueno!
  12. Final lesson: There is no better way to worship God than by appreciating all of his awesome creations, landscapes, and people scattered across the nation first-hand.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to do a cross-country road trip, I would encourage you to start saving now – its’ something every woman should do at least once while she is single. (I couldn’t imagine it being the same trip if I had a husband and children in tow!)


One comment on “Lessons Learned from a Cross-Country Summer Road Trip

  1. You made me laugh out loud. What fun! Wanna do it again? Miss you girl! Lots of LUV. xoxo- Kel

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