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After a Cross-Country Road Trip, What Did I Learn?

Quarantine was a tough time for most of us. Being dragged away from school to go sit at home wasn’t what anybody wanted and during this time, tension in households have been raised and our world is not the same place it used to be. I was tired of all the rules, tired of the complaining, and tired of all the coronavirus news reports(which had to be on the TV in my living room at all times of the day). My friend, Jack, asked me, “Would you be down to go on a road trip?” I think you guys can guess the answer to that.

After a few days of booking places to stay and stocking up on supplies, we were ready to hit the road and head west. I was going with two of my friends who I’ve hung out with forever and my friend’s boy from St. Louis. We didn’t have much of a plan for our trip, but more of a loose outline. Essentially just cities to be in on certain days, or some ideas of places to see during a day. Road trips can be difficult and boring, but with these simple things I learned from my trip, any road trip can become an awesome adventure.


Don’t be afraid to check out new places along the way, even if you have to adjust your plans.

Some of the best moments of the trip came as a result of playing by ear. I have already discussed our loose outline, and during our trip we actually changed our plans from what we had originally thought. On the second day in Idaho, it snowed(it was the end of May btw) and we couldn’t get to the national park that day. We smoked weed until we had forgotten that it wasn't our original plan and then we explored the rather small town in Idaho. That night we made brats on the grill and watched a movie to wrap up the day. We adjusted our plans for the next day and did not miss anything. We ended up going on a nice hike the next morning, and continuing with our original plans as soon as we could.

On the road, we had also decided to stop in Madison, Wisconsin for a night and go home the day after. Funnily enough, all of the kids I was with go to University of Wisconsin, and I had never even seen the campus. We got to eat at my friends’ favorite restaurants and also got to see where they are going to be living next year. It was a great way to wrap up the trip, in a place I was unfamiliar in, but my friends knew like the back of their hand. It was one of my favorite stops, along with Boulder, on our trip. In my opinion, it was worth extending our trip by a day even though we were all exhausted and tired of driving.


Check out local restaurants and stores on your trip.

On our journey, we had opportunities to stay in cities that nobody had been to. None of us had even been to Idaho or Wyoming, yet we stayed in those states for over ⅔ of our trip. One of the first things we noticed on the highway was the presence of Taco John’s on every food sign.

After some googling, we figured out that Taco Johns is a fast food restaurant based out of Cheyenne, Wyoming. When we stayed in Cody, Wyoming, we knew there would be a Taco Johns in the town and we had to try it. Even though the food wasn’t even up to par with Taco Bell, the experience was worth it. We pulled up to the drive thru to hear what we believed to be a recorded voice say in a wacky voice,

“Welcome to Taco Johns, what can I get you started with today”

Since it was our first time there, my friend asked for a second to look at the menu and the voice responded again. We knew it wasn’t recorded, so my friends and I started cracking up. We ordered hella tacos, and will never forget our wacky experience in Wyoming with the interesting dude at Taco Johns.


The car was the best place to talk and reminisce about our crazy trip.

With the long drives, there is a lot of time to talk to the people you are travelling with. A lot of stuff happens very expectedly in the car, whether driving in the mountains at night or seeing a buffalo walking 5 feet from your car, the car becomes a place that triggers memories of the journey. Since we were in the mountains, the scenery was always unbelievable, drawing comparisons to the Apple computer backgrounds. We had snow storms with zero visibility and a deer ran out in front of the car, only to dart away unscathed.

Ultimately, the drives did not consist of Netflix binging or excessive sleeping as I had anticipated, but rather of nonstop  conversation and connecting with the people on the trip. On  our drive to Idaho, we went into a store in a small Wyoming town to get shampoo and body wash for our first AirBnb and we stood out like a sore thumb. We didn’t acknowledge it in the store, but as soon as the car doors had closed, we all burst out into laughter about people staring at us in the store.

A lot of stuff happens in the car and it becomes your place for the majority of days in our case. The conversation flows naturally, so don’t interrupt that by being buried in your phone.


Conclusion

When I first thought of myself going on this road trip, I was nervous. I had a history of being unable to sleep in the car and I had never been on a trip this long . In the end, even though the trip can never go quite as expected, I made memories to last a lifetime. 


Do you guys think you would ever take a road trip across the country? Comment below



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