I totally have lots of advice for you.
I just completed a nine-day epic of a solo road trip from Tahoe all ze way back to New Hampshire. I stayed at Casa Yoke in SLC, got woken up by Erik Olson going to a farmer’s market at an hour so early they couldn’t have possibly been open, went to a high school’s friend’s wedding in Aspen, stayed from friends from ever nether of my personal history, got to drunk with the ‘Bomb’s Jon Hartley in Philly, and did some sweet mountain biking. Since many of you are likely (hopefully) planning to execute this same drive in the reverse direction come fall, I thought I’d share a few lessons from my experience on the road.
1) In an era of superPAC-funded political brainwashing, it’s nice to know that the spirit of independent political expression is alive and well in Kansas. It’s hard not to shed a tear as a chest-beating proud American when you see a billboard reading “Wannabe Marxist Dicatator” with a picture of Obama’s face on it, paid by a single patriot, Ann Barnhardt. It should also be noted this billboard is only a mile or so away from an Army base.
2) Driving two hours to go skiing when all you want to do is get to the hill and ski is way more stressful that driving across country for twelve hours, since you don’t really care when you get to Missouri.
3) Books on tape are essential for any multi-day roadtrip, especially when rolling solo. Pick ones with easy dialogue and a good story that flows quickly, especially books that involves the protagonist moving across geographic areas. However, books focusing on the influence of the Napoleanic era on Tsarist Russian upper-class culture, with their onerous dialogue and a plot surrounding one long stiff, uncomfortable dinner party should be avoided. Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian is a good selection, however Tolstoy’s War and Peace should be avoided altogether.
4) If you are traveling with all the cool gear you outdoor enthusiasts usually store in your garages but that are now strapped to your roofs and tailgate – skis, surfboards, mountain bikes – there is nothing you can do to avoid looking like an asshole for about 98% of the trip. Just embrace it, take your shit off, put both your feet on the dash, hit the cruise control, and add a few more dumb bumper stickers to piss all the regular people off.
5) While you may not have spent any money on tolls from California to Maryland, be prepared to spend about $38 in tolls to get from the greater Philadelphia area to New England.
It ain’t the sunsets either… Missouri.
6) It’s not the heat or the humidity, but the crickets from hell that will keep you from getting a goods night sleep outdoors anywhere between Colorado and the Northeast.
7) While you will do a good job staying on budget and slamming endless peanut butter sandwiches and making your own coffee the first few days of the trip, your self-control will unavoidably dwindle towards the end of the trip as you pass Sonic after Sonic and dream of pouring an ice-cold “real fruit” slush all over your melting body. Account for this in your budget.
And you’re about to drive across miles and miles of salt… Bonneville salt flats, Utah
8) You’re about to do a lot of driving. Actually CHECK your coolant, oil, etc. levels since your vehicle is about to see some serious abuse. Thankfully, my battery didn’t die til I literally pulled into my girlfriend’s driveway. Must have been all those Karma points I’ve accumulated from being such a goddamned nice guy…
9) Most importantly, since you will likely never in your life have another excuse to slowly move through the mid-west, be sure to hit up a few local joints and make an effort to talk to people. Most of them are nice and it will give you some serious perspective on this whole ski thing.
10) This is where the 10th and final piece of advice would have gone, had I thought of it. Oh, you only get nine? Quit crying.