I arrived in Southern California exactly a week ago today. What significance is there to this statement? Well, it means that my cross country trip has come to an end, having traveled from one ocean to another, Massachusetts to California.
Spending the majority of the past two weeks driving well over 4000 miles, as well as exploring the places I visited, meant that I was not able to write that often. To be more specific, finding time to update the blog was difficult, as I was working on some flash-fiction and short stories that I’ve been mulling over and trying to send elsewhere.
Rather than providing timely updates as I arrived in one destination and prepared to leave for another, I figured that it might be best to document my travels in hindsight, reflecting on my interactions with the people, history, and national monuments/parks I would witness, whether through my personal lens or the lens of fiction.
I will be referencing photos that I posted to my personal Instagram account, photographs I took along the way (ones I have yet to publish anywhere), and some tweets I made along the way.
This trip was a fantastic way to experience the United States, traveling through regions I had never seen before and interacting with a diverse population of the citizens living under a manifold of societal, economic, and political conditions. To share my firsthand accounts and introspection on the people, places, and nature I encountered is a joy, whether it solely provides with me a refined view of my trip or if it equally influences one of you to take such a similar trip. As disagreeable as the trip might have been at times (the day-to-day loneliness, the scorching heat in the southwest, disgusting truck stops, etc.) the beauty of this country and its people make it well worth it.
Day one of my trip saw me traveling from Massachusetts all the way to West Virginia. What should have taken 9 hours turned into a 12 hour trip with intense traffic and construction all across Pennsylvania. Add to that the constant heat emanating from the sun and an already failing A/C (more to come on this), it made for an okay day. My spirits were still intact.
Yet upon arriving at my supposed stop for the night, pulling into a Flying J truck stop to get some sleep in my car, this plan was equally curbed. The overwhelming humidity of the east coast had turned my Honda Element (a literal box of a car) into a hotbox. After trying to sleep for about an hour and getting nowhere except for having my clothes become progressively more damp with sweat, I decided to try again later.
An outpouring of thanks is needed for the Denny’s inside of that Flying J. They were saviors. They allowed me to chill in the A/C for a few hours, both literally and figuratively, sipping on water and coffee while spending some time writing on my laptop, waiting for it to cool off outdoors. It had done just that a little after midnight. Thus, I made my way for my car and managed to catch a few hours of shut eye.
Waking up the next morning, groggy and with a crick in my neck, I made my way for the road, specifically to hit a nearby Dunkin Donuts to grab cheap, hot coffee for the morning. With surprisingly fresh coffee in hand, traveling into Virginia, and simultaneously watching the sunrise, I was feeling a bit better following the unfortunate culmination of events from the day/night before. Stopping off from the interstate to grab a bit of gas, I was met with the pleasant view posted above: an open field of cows, grazing about on the grass, seeming to enjoy the sunshowered morning much like myself.
My drive the day prior had provided me with sights that I had already experienced in life – whether visiting family in Pennsylvania, going to college in New York, or adventuring through my home-region of New England. Thus, there wasn’t much excitement to be seen, nothing new to capture my attention.
Seeing these cows in the morning, the rolling fields, and the vast, never-ending farms were a sign that I was beginning to enter a part of the country I had never experienced. From here on out, everything I was going to see was brand new to me. As far as I was concerned, my trip had begun with this sight.
I could only imagine what else was to be seen.
Feel free to read my follow-up post that documents my second notable sight during my U.S. cross country trip, where I took a brief detour to explore Roanoke, VA, here: St. Andrew’s