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.
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!