Belated write-up of Washington to Washington: the Return

So, a year ago today, the Transporter and I set off for Seattle.  Unbeknownst to many, I returned to DC in February, after 8 days on the road.  I logged way more miles than I had on the drive out and absolutely fell in love with Flagstaff, even though I’ve now been there for a grand total of 2 days in my life.

Because the Transporter gave birth to a darling baby girl on January 11 (1/11/11 — how cool is that??!), she wasn’t available to co-pilot the return drive.  The night before I left, a Seattle pal, whom I’ve dubbed the Last-Minute Interloper, agreed to do the drive from Seattle to San Luis Obispo with me.  I would then pick up another friend — Moon Monster (this is actually his trail name from when he through-hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2003) — in San Luis Obispo, and we’d drive back east.

The Itinerary

Day 1: Seattle to Eugene (with Last-Minute Interloper and a stop for lunch in Portland)
Day 2: Eugene to San Francisco (spent a night with my bff) 
Day 3: San Francisco to Mojave (with stop in San Luis Obispo to pick up the Transporter v. 2.0, aka Moon Monster, and to drop off LMI)
Day 4: Mojave to Flagstaff
Day 5: Flagstaff to Albuquerque
Day 6: Albuquerque to Joplin, MO (to outrun the imminent snowstorm)
Day 7: Joplin, MO to Dayton, OH
Day 8: Dayton, OH to Baltimore/Washington, DC

So, here are the highlights of the return drive from Seattle to Washington, DC:

  • Most importantly, the Transporter v. 2.0 (aka, Moon Monster) and I returned to the east coast having driven in merely trace amounts of snow.  This is notable because Oklahoma City, Little Rock, and Memphis (aka, I-40) got walloped the days after we went through.  And the week before, too.
  • I-5 through Washington, Oregon and northern California is, simply, gorgeous. I really want to ski in the Marble Mountain Wilderness.  LMI and I kept ogling the potential routes.  Miraculously, I did not drive off the road.
  • It’s kind of dorky, but I got a kick out of driving by the exit for Sleater-Kinney Road outside Olympia.  While I was in Seattle, I’d driven by the exit at least 5 times, and it never got old.  
  • Everyone warned me that Eugene was a vortex of weirdness, and they were right.  My night with LMI, his grade-school pal, and my high school roommate was something out of a 1990s comedy flick.  It involved a minivan, a skateboarding ex-husband (not mine), and the bassist from Cherry Poppin’ Daddies.
  • Rush-hour drivers in San Francisco sort of messed with my chi.  Or qi.  I’ve been playing lots of Scrabble® lately.
  •  It was traumatizing to see the car in front of us run over a squirrel outside of SLO, especially when the squirrel bounced off the back tire and rolled under my car.  😦
  • The weather in Flagstaff is simply amazing.
  • The drive from Flag to Albuquerque is pretty cool, although there weren’t many people in Winslow, AZ, on Super Bowl Sunday.  We stopped at the Walnut Canyon National Monument; fulfilled Moon Monster’s childhood dream (and Experienced the Impact!) to see the Meteor Crater; stood on a corner in Winslow, Arizona; and drove through the Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert.
Walnut Canyon National Monument, outside Flagstaff
Meteor Crater that Moon Monster wanted to go to.
Lonely corner in Winslow, Arizona.
A drive through the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert, above.
  • From Albuquerque, Moon Monster and I went through the Texas panhandle, where we stopped at the Cadillac Ranch.  Then we booked it through Oklahoma, where a storm was coming in, and headed north to Joplin, MO.
The Cadillac Ranch is on a frontage road, right off the interstate.  Snow – in Texas!
  • We hit a dusting of snow outside Joplin and then went on through St. Louis. 
The closest we got to the Arch.
  • The Wright Brothers are pretty cool.  We stopped at their cycle shop in Dayton, and I picked up another National Park stamp. 
  • Moon Monster and I had a 1-hour time out just outside of West Virginia.  I wanted to go one way, he wanted to go another.  I was driving, so we went my way.
  • The most snow we hit was, of all places, in Baltimore as I was dropping off Moon Monster.  

And that’s how the drive back east went!