Samantha’s road trip brought her up the East Coast to her new home of Massachusetts. Image from panoramio.com.
Thirty hours on the road and 16 states later, I have hauled the majority of my belongings from south Florida to the North Shore of Massachusetts. While this wasn’t the leisurely road trip I had imagined, it was still an ideal opportunity to see parts of the country I had never seen (and might never have seen otherwise).
I started in south Florida, hopeful and energized, heading north up the Atlantic coast where the scenery was flat and boring until entering Georgia.
The South is lush.
From Georgia through Tennessee, I was mind-blown by the amount of fresh greenery around me. It wasn’t just the huge number of trees, but the variety of altitude, curve of the highway, and picturesque quality of the semi-hidden townships that I passed. Simply stunning, as if that was the way the world was supposed to look. Who’d have thought?!
I passed by Savannah, wishing I could stay, but the upcoming six hours on the road (after already having driven six) convinced me to keep going. I then drove northwest through South Carolina to Asheville, North Carolina. I am not, by nature, a mountain girl. I am a city girl. But I decided to take a slight detour from my northern-bound route to stop in Asheville to see a friend who had just moved. Great decision!
Asheville is a city to see.
This North Carolina metropolis is city-like with a hint of an adventurous, outdoorsy (and sometimes hippy) feel. But it wasn’t overwhelming at all. The preferences for an all-natural and do-it-yourself lifestyle seemed second-nature to the landscape. It didn’t feel advertised, bragged about, or pretentious. Asheville was also more liveable than I expected. It is a charming mountain town with good coffee, excellent food, clean air, a creative riverside art district, and the best croissant-like biscuit I’ve ever tasted. I dubbed it the “croisscuit.”
The Blue Ridge Mountains are stunning.
Upon leaving Asheville, I took scenic Route 26 over the ridge of the mountains that join North Carolina and Tennessee. The countryside was breathtaking. A serene sunrise popped over the two-lane highway nestled into the mountains that rose and fell in undefined patterns. The hills guided the highway around bend after little bend, as if we weren’t on a road but a footpath. With discrete country homes visible in slender valleys every now and then, I thought I was in Germany! I would’ve loved to have stopped to camp along the route. Perhaps next time!
I then moved northwest across the majority of Virgina where the landscape was much less lush or hilly. After passing through a sliver of both West Virginia and Maryland, I crossed northwest over a large stretch of Pennsylvania.
My little road trip bubble of bliss popped immediately upon entering New Jersey.
Here, for the fist time, I hit traffic (and a lot of it). I passed into New York, north of NYC, and the sky turned dark just as I entered Connecticut to spend a night with my grandmother. I hadn’t planned on stopping there–shame on me–but fourteen hours on the road was enough.
More than 10 hours of driving is as bad as they say.
During my previous long-distance drive, 10 hours had been my longest day on the road. I thought 12 would be a piece of cake. When everyone suggested I was ridiculous for doing such long legs, I assumed they were hinting only at the potential for boredom. It turns out that after ten hours my legs got incredibly swollen, my eyes stopped focusing, I was too mentally exhausted to laugh (let alone concentrate), and I started to imagine that the passenger seat next to me had turned into a person. Really safe.
In the morning I drove into Cambridge, Massachusetts, ecstatic but loopy, had lunch with a colleague, then headed north of Boston to unload my life’s worth of belongings at my aunt and uncle’s, return the rental car, and collapse on the couch.
Before I could sleep, I rode shotgun to Maine to see my cousin, happy to be in the passenger seat. In the morning we packed her up and helped her move to Rhode Island, reminding me that, as overwhelming as moving may seem, everyone does it, and it’s actually not that bad. That night, after driving back to Massachusetts, I collapsed in a heavy, divine sleep, glad to be back and sure that I had made the right decision to leave Florida but stay in-country.
My biggest frustration:
Tennessee, West Virginia, and New Hampshire didn’t have “You are now entering…” signs (or I didn’t spot them). For a roadtripper, this was heartbreaking.
The best part: I get to do it again in two weeks.
Next time I hope to be able to take more days to complete the journey. This is not only because 12 hours turned me into a zombie but because there were so many places I would have wanted to explore, like Saint Augustine (America’s first city) or Savannah, that I couldn’t see this time around.
If you get an excuse for a long drive, take it! Then tell us how it goes.