Before writing this account of my cross country trip, I had to determine who the audience was going to be, who am I writing this to? I figured, rather selfishly, that I am writing this for me. I mean, my primary reason for writing this is to vividly preserve the memories that we encountered on our journey, after all, you can't let Kodak do all the work. But also, I have written this to condense all of the information I learned about the many places we visited not only for my benefit, but for anyone else who may be interested and able to put up with my drivel.
The amount of information one collects on a five week trip is immense, especially if you consciously go around collecting things like I do. Therefore, I have divided this journal into parts to mask some of the confusion. The first part is the part you're reading now, the introduction and preparation. The second part is the day by day account of the trip split into sections based on geographic location. The third part outlines our expenses and my conclusions about the trip.
The toughest part about going on a trip like this is the amount of preparation and the uncertainty of that preparation. At some point this trip went from a far off dream, to a good, let-me-look-into-it idea, to reality. My friend Andy had just gotten back from his semester in Spain and found that many of his friends had taken cross-country trips. I have dreamt about taking a trip like this for a long time and even practiced last summer on my solo, week long, 2,200 mile trip. Once we both started to talk about a trip like this I think the idea fermented in our heads. It probably started during the summer of 1993 and continued into the fall. By the time Andy went to Spain, I think we both knew we were going to do this. We kept talking about this idea as if it was going to become a reality, exercising a lot of faith in our planning. This is what really transformed the idea into reality, as is the case for everything, I guess.
Throughout the fall of 1993 and the winter and spring of 1994 we met a few times and tried to nail down where we wanted to go, what we needed to bring, and how much we would need to spend. The primary purpose of these meetings, I think, was to psych ourselves up for this thing (as if either of us needed that). We probably made dozens of lists and revised these lists many more times. Our lists covered the things we needed for camping, cooking, clothes, tools, first aid, books, bathroom stuff, and assorted necessities like Trivial Pursuit, a flashlight, and garbage bags. We also made lists of the places we would like to see and thought about how we might get there, compromising between the two of us. These lists helped in cost estimation. Our original estimates for food was about $500; lodging, $400; gas, $500-550; and other fees, $100; were very rough and did not include other spending money we may want or need. Because we really did not plan our route, sometimes until the night before, we really couldn't estimate our expenses without a lot of uncertainty.
By the time summer came around, we were both trying to get our supplies together and began sending away for anything we needed. The living room became the trip headquarters where all our scrounged stuff was deposited. During the week before our departure it filled quickly. We did a lot of shopping for clothes, food, and anything else we needed.
The day before, we gathered everything we were taking and put it in the car. We were taking the 5-speed, 86,000 mile, 1986 Accord. By the time it was packed, the extra blankets had to be sacrificed but we did get two nice outdoor sleeping bags from my neighbor so they probably wouldn't be needed anyway. I wanted the car to be roomy, not crammed with stuff. We packed it in such a way that it was somewhere between these two extremes. There was more stuff in the back seat than I wanted, but there really wasn't much of a choice.
I tried to get a good night's sleep the night before, but this usually proves to be a lot harder than it sounds, especially since the next time I would sleep in this bed, and possibly any bed, would probably be at least a month from now. Eventually, though, the panic of getting only three hours of sleep is suppressed by the absolute need for sleep at that sub-conscious level. At six o'clock the alarm will go off and our adventure will begin...