On the Road

Day 1 – the move

Once we got the house rented we decided to take a couple of days off work before the new year to drive across the country. With the built-in holiday that gave us 5 days to travel the 2,300 miles to Santa Cruz. We left without much of a plan other than to make our last driving day shorter than the first four and to try and enjoy the trip as much as we could – no small task with 2 people, 1 dog, and a year’s worth of belongings packed to the brim in a Subaru!

We left around 1:30pm on December 30th with the hope of getting to Springfield, MO before we called it a night. Beth took the first driving shift so Matt could get some emails and calls taken care of in regards to his new job. Leaving the house was terrifying and exciting at the same time. Snickers was equally terrified, but not quite excited yet.

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We got to Evansville, IN before stopping for gas and some food. As anyone who’s driven through Indiana knows, this was not a very exciting drive. After our bellies had been filled, we loaded back in the car and struck out towards St. Louis. While we were driving, we decided to stop at the REI in St. Louis to get some sort of rooftop storage for the car; we wanted to open up some visibility and keep Snickers from being completely scared of the precariously stacked bags falling on her. We kept our time at REI to a minimum, though we could have easily spent hours meandering the aisles, and ended up buying a Sherpak 15 cu ft rooftop bag. We strapped it to the roof and moved a couple of bags from the interior of the car and headed back on the road to Springfield.

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Grainy proof that we crossed the gateway to the West

Only….it wasn’t smooth sailing. Maybe it would’ve been better if we had an actual sailboat! With all of the rain that IL and MO were getting, parts of I-44 were flooded and traffic was rerouted miles up the road; we added about an hour of drive time with the detour. We persevered and finally made it to Springfield at 11:30pm EST. We stayed at a La Quinta Inn that was a.) cheap and b.) dog-friendly. Not the nicest, but after a long day of travel we were glad to rest our weary heads. We toasted a successful first day with a beer in bed before crashing for the night.

Distance travelled: 481 mi.

Matt’s favorite part: corrugated steel in the rest stop bathroom

Beth’s favorite part: leaving Louisville

Day 1 driving route

Day 2 – This isn’t so bad

There were bad omens all around when we got to the La Quinta last night, but we were so tired that we shrugged them off. By 5:30am we were really regretting that. The hotel sounded like it was made of balsa wood and each footstep from our upstairs neighbors had us worried that the ceiling was going to come crashing down. I certainly didn’t want my obituary to read: “Died in a La Quinta Inn in Springfield, MO” so we got the heck out of dodge…after partaking in the complimentary breakfast, of course.

We spent some time this morning reorganizing the car to maximize the space used in the cargo bag. We ended up keeping our carry-on suitcases (which had our essentials for the drive), our hiking backpacks, and two smaller daypacks up there. We were glad to have the extra room in the car, though the decrease in fuel economy wasn’t ideal.

On our way out of MO, we stopped in Joplin to stretch our legs. We found Wildcat Glades Conservation Center online thinking it looked like a promising area for a quick walk/hike. It wasn’t quite what we were looking for, but I guess you can’t expect much for hiking in the flyover states. Snickers sniffed a deer carcass and we were back on the road.

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Let me tell you, this day had to be the most boring day. Oklahoma and Texas don’t offer much in the realm of scenery.

We stopped at a gas station outside of Tulsa and downed some sandwiches with crudites and hummus (fancy car food, eh?) and took off toward Oklahoma City. There wasn’t a whole lot of stopping this leg, but we hopped off on Route 66 in Clinton, OK for gas. Imagine a town that hasn’t seen much action since the interstate boom of the 50s and you’ve got Clinton.

From Clinton we headed west on I-40 towards Amarillo. This was New Year’s Eve, after all, and who doesn’t want to spend it with some Texans? North Texas was flat and desolate. Oil fields and not much else as far as the eye could see. After a quick gym session at the hotel we headed out to see what Amarillo could offer us in terms of brews. Did you know, there is only one craft brewery in Amarillo? ONE! Naturally, that’s where we headed.

We tasted all the taps and settled in talking to the owners for a few hours. We bonded with one of the workers over a mutual love of bourbon, at which point Matt retrieved a few bottles we had in the car (Eagle Rare and Rowan’s Creek) and shared a taste. After another beer (on the house!) Matt brought out a bottle of barrel-aged Narwhal and we toasted with the owners. Two beers in and we were starting to feel the effects so we chowed down a couple pieces of free pizza and headed back to the hotel. We didn’t make it to midnight Central Time, but we quietly rang in the new year with our Eastern comrades…from the comfort of the hotel bed.

Distance travelled: 545 mi.

Matt’s favorite part: talking to the owners at LWS

Beth’s favorite part: free bar pizza!

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