The final blog about our cross-country journey
The song I loved listening to the most during Ryan and my cross-country road trip was “Free” by Zac Brown Band. The lyrics emphasized feeling free, “just me and you”, which is exactly how I felt traveling across America with my husband by my side. Ryan and I both agree we have never felt closer than we do now after surviving, and enjoying, each other’s company 24-7 for the past four weeks.
In total, my car “Snooty” covered 8,683 miles and drove through 26 states. From Maine, we visited (in order): New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Michigan, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Massachusetts. Of those, the only ones we didn’t stop in while driving were Arizona and Massachusetts. We described our route as either an infinity symbol or a horizontal figure 8 which crossed in the very nice Kansas City, Missouri. Other than the false alarm of a funky-sounding belt when leaving the hotel in Iowa, my 2009 Hyundai Sonata toured the country without any issues.
We arrived home sweet home late morning on Sunday, May 21 and could not have asked for a more glorious homecoming. Ryan and I were scheduled to be back in “Monkey Vernon” that Saturday but were having such a good time catching up with family that we ended up spending the night in Scarborough. It is so much fun to have my father Bill, mother Rinda, sister Alayna, and brother-in-law James as four of my best friends. All of them have been extremely influential in my life and each strongly encourages a passion for travel (and food). Ryan is also blessed with a wonderful family. Case in point, we pulled into our driveway and noticed a freshly mowed lawn thanks to his dad, Ralph. The house was clean and my friend Erin was gracious enough to retrieve the mail and care for our seven plants. As if that wasn’t amazing enough, our neighbor Greg had rototilled our garden for us while we were gone! Life is good.
Now that we have returned, I frequently get asked, “What was your favorite part?” The answer is simple: the people. Ryan made a joke somewhere along the way that this trip was “restoring his faith in humanity.” I am already an optimist, yet I could still empathize with his feeling of comradery inspired by this vacation. We indulged in top-notch hospitality, meaningful conversation, incredible meals, and fabulous tours provided by our hosts. Reflecting on what I liked best about the accommodations (other than the people), I believe clean sheets, soft towels, quality soap, and a refrigerator stocked with beverages are key components to a comfortable stay. I even liked having my own toothbrush holder at multiple sites! As far as our favorite places go…Ryan says I am not allowed to use the word “favorite” in my blog since we really did enjoy everywhere we went. Minus Kansas, since I thought we were going to die in a tornado. Montana was our most pleasant surprise and we loved the dynamic scenery from Colorado to Washington. The four National Parks we saw were all exquisite gems. I now understand why the PBS documentary “The National Parks” has the subtitle “America’s Best Idea.” Ryan and I revel in the patriotic episodes and already started a list of other U.S. National Parks we hope to someday witness. Perhaps we will make it our next goal to visit all 59!
It is bittersweet to be back to reality. Ryan and I have already experienced withdrawal from the road warrior lifestyle. We miss the ever-changing views, sporadic visits to breweries, and ample quality time with each other. Both of us have re-established our office habitats and are busy catching up on emails and work that has piled up. My personal “to-do” list quadrupled from 3 tasks when I left to 12 outstanding items (p.s. sorry if you have yet to receive your wedding thank-you card from September!) On the bright side, I am happy sleeping in my own bed, not living out of a suitcase, and getting back into my running routine. Ryan went “upta camp” for Memorial Day and looks forward to riding his motorcycle to work. I am teaching two new pharmacy students at my practice site and was able to attend my dear friend Sarah’s bachelorette party this past weekend. Although it is exciting to get away, home is where my heart is in Maine.