Epic Drive: Part One

Day 1 Map

Anyone who’s known me long knows that I love driving.  Back in college, I was a bus driver for the University of Michigan, and I’ve been known to drive up to Big Sur (or San Francisco!) for the day.  But even for me, today’s drive was a little excessive.

This was the first day of what I’m affectionately calling my “Epic Road Trip.”  I’ll be driving from L.A. to Toronto over the course of a four days, visiting my friend Libby on the way.  After spending some time with my boyfriend “A” and his family, I’ll be headed to Rochester, NY to visit my grandparents, then to Brooklyn to visit another friend–Ariela–then to Michigan to spend time with my mom, and any of my friends who are (a) still there and (b) interested in meeting up.  I’ll probably also spend some time at our cabin on a lake, before heading on to parts West.  It’s going to be a long trip.  But today was probably the most driving I will do in one shot.

Here’s a quick breakdown:

  • Hours on the Road: 15
  • States Driven In: 5
  • Miles Covered: ~88o.
  • Tanks of Gas: 2.5 (I love my Insight!)


I left L.A. at about 11:30. This was much later than I intended, but goodbyes are hard, you know?  Anyway, despite the fact that I didn’t get on the 405, I still ended up getting stuck in traffic at the 605/15 interchange.   I must confess: The L.A. traffic is something I’m not going to miss while I’m away.

This is what most of my day looked like:



Once I got going things went pretty smoothly for a while.  I hit Las Vegas at about 5PM–which actually isn’t bad, given the (normal) length of the drive from Los Angeles.  Unfortunately, the timing meant that I hit rush hour traffic.  There’s a lot of construction going on, too, so I lost time dealing with the inevitable backups from bad zippering.

Eventually, things got moving again, and I passed briefly through Arizona, before heading into Utah.  There’s a lot of Utah to go through.  At least it’s greener than the parts of Nevada and Arizona I hit:


The sun set, and I was only halfway through Utah.  And for the first time, I regretted it.  The thing is, I’ve actually done this West Coast to Midwest drive several times before.  But I always took I-80, not I-70.  I-80 takes you past The Great Salt Lake, and its accompanying city.  I-70 passes through the glorious wilderness areas of the mountains.

Well, I assume they’re glorious.  I’ve seen pictures of Arches National Park and the night sky over my head was pitch black and full of bright stars but it’s not like I could really see much.  What stuck with me, as I hurtled through the night, was the smell.  The clean, dry air of the wilderness was touched with the scents of warm stone and cedar.  Almost like the scent of a Michigan Sauna, if it was cool.  The road noise of my car was much too loud to make out any natural sounds, but when I stopped to get gas, the sound of crickets was loud enough to compete with the noise of passing cars.  You can tell: there just aren’t many people out there.  And that’s glory enough for me.

After many, many hours, I passed into Colorado, where the smell of the air became wetter.  No longer was it cedar in the mix, but Pine.  My car chugged along, its small engine complaining not too badly about the mountainous inclines we were traveling, and finally, finally, we reached the hotel in Glen Springs at 2:30 AM.  I grabbed the keys under my doormat, opened my door, and once I’d checked the room for anyone who might have entered, I grabbed my PJs and went to sleep… only to dream of driving through the mountains.

 Author’s note: wrote this post on 8/21/2013, but for the sake of clarity I’m backdating the post to the day it’s covering.

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