What driving across the US is really like

When I told people my partner and I would be driving home from Texas this winter I got a lot of mixed reactions… from “trip of a lifetime” to “what the hell, why??” I came to realize that this trip was going to make one hell of a story. I mean really, who drives from Texas to Vancouver in a week for fun?

My partner was going to be attending a firefighting training division in Crowley, Texas for a two-week boot camp in December, and we thought why not make a trip out of it? Neither of us had ever been to Texas, never mind driven across the continent! Most of all, I was just desperate for an adventure.

My boyfriend would fly down to Texas from Seattle where he left his car, and I would fly down two weeks later to begin our road trip extravaganza.

It was December 17th, time to go!

Texas

I landed in Fort Worth, Texas and wow! As a born and bred West Coaster I was in culture shock. People are louder, expressive and in the kindest way possible, more aggressive. I really thought it was a stereotype that Canadians are constantly saying “sorry!” but I learned very quickly that it’s true!

My partner picked me up in our rental, our little 2021 Toyota Cam Cam and we were off!

Texas drivers are a bit different than what we are used to up in Canada. They drive faster and meaner down there, tailgating is just the way of the road down south. I’m not exaggerating here like if you weren’t tailgating the person ahead of you, you’ll get passed or honked at. Very scary for us meek Canadians!

Our first night was in Wichita Falls, not to be confused with Wichita, Kansas.

Wichita Falls is in Texas, aka Texacoma (Texas + Oklahoma?) and no longer has a waterfall. Anti-climactic right?

The city is home to the Newby-McMahon Building (otherwise known as the “world’s littlest skyscraper”)

Nevertheless, the Walmart Supercenter is where it’s at, in Wichita Falls. It was Friday night and the strip mall drive-thrus were popping. Every single chain from Chilis to TGI Fridays was a drive-thru, and they all had at least a 15 car lineup. A drive-thru Olive Garden? Say what?

It’s quite wild to see the social customs and differences of Texans, compared to us, British Columbians. First of all, no masks, like none and if you were wearing one you’d be scowled at. It was to the point that I actually didn’t wear my mask into Walmart, out of peer pressure essentially. And then immediately after had an anxiety attack in the car. My fear of being judged was not worth getting covid.

After one too many F*ck Joe Biden and Police Lives Matter posters, we were ready to get out of Texas. And off we went! Onto New Mexico.

New Mexico

I loved New Mexico. I loved the pueblo designs, the desert, the food, it was just amazing. Out of everywhere, we went on our trip, I’d recommend New Mexico the most.

As a Breaking Bad fan, we had to check out some of the TV shows signature locations in Albuquerque.

View post on imgur.com

We also checked out the petroglyphs at the Boca Negra Canyon.

Petroglyphs

We spent the night in Air BnB in Rio Rancho and obviously got street tacos for dinner!

Located in a Speedway, Tacos Elotes del Rancho Food truck had some of the best tacos I’ve ever had, absolutely to die for!

Visit us today from 3-7pm !!! 🤩🔥🌮

Visit us !!! 🤩🔥🌮

Posted by Elotes Del Rancho on Sunday, 12 December 2021

The culture is so rich in New Mexico, I wish we could’ve stayed longer.

Next stop Vegas babyyyyyy!

Arizona

To get to Las Vegas, Nevada, we had to drive across the entirety of Arizona in a day. I wasn’t driving so I can’t complain but this was definitely a long haul. Arizona is stunning, with red rocks and canyons, and for me it the scenery surprisingly didn’t get old after 9 hours of driving.

We stopped in the snowy Flagstaff, which to my surprise felt reminiscent of home. Tall, lush, evergreen trees after seeing straight desert for two days straight was nice and refreshing!

We actually spotted some wildlife!

Bearzona

Nevada

Arriving in Vegas feels like entering a simulation. The lights, the attitude, the energy, it’s just something you can’t replicate. If you know, you know.

My boyfriend described it well, “Vegas is like an Instagram post, it’s got a really nice filter, but when you close enough it’s kind of gross.”

No matter how the Vegas strip is, it’s still pretty awesome.

Vegas

We stayed at The Luxor. Yeah, the pyramid hotel that Chris Angel lived in.

There’s a certain smell Vegas has that I couldn’t get over, I swear it just smells like a hangover. I assume it comes from the fact people are smoking and drinking everywhere.

On our first night, we hit the strip had a good ol time, roaming the streets racking up 50,000 steps on my Fitbit. I wish I could say we racked up some bills, but no, we lost $60 and walked away before we did more damage.

At first, we sneered at everyone walking around with these giant 32oz daiquiris, but as the night progressed and our inhibitions went down, we ended up spending $50 bucks on one of those dumb 32oz daiquiris.

We woke up feeling the pain and spent a chill day in our suite, and did some Christmas shopping on the strip.

Next stop…. Reno

The drive through Nevada was super interesting. Tons of juxtapositions between areas, like Area 51 and small cowboy towns.

I don’t want to be too harsh, but I hated Reno. It could be a ‘me’ problem, but damn that place was depressing. We called it Vegas without the Instagram filter.

I’ll leave it at that.

California

After our night in Reno, morales were a little low. Driving was getting old and we had entered the 72 hr timeframe to get a Covid test, in order to return to Canada for Christmas Eve.

We were headed to Roseburg, Oregon to get a PCR test, and Eugene for the night so another 9 hours of driving.

As we drove through California the temperature began to drop and the roads started to get icy. And before we knew it, we were stuck in a snowstorm.

Our Toyota Camry had no business being in these conditions. In fact, we actually were pulled over on our way through Mt. Shasta.

California Snow

We were told that our car was not approved to continue on the highway unless we had chains. Of course, we didn’t have chains… but there happen to be a hustler on the roadside selling chains to fools like us for $120.

Done and done!

We continued on, restricted from going over 50km an hour, so a 2 hr drive became a stressful 4 hr one.

Oregon

We made it to our Covid test appointment, almost on time. We were feeling better and the West Coast laidback vibes were comforting.

Remember this covid test because it comes back later.

In Eugene, my boyfriend surprised me with the most beautiful Air BnB in the woods.

Eugene Air BnB

Like absolutely breathtaking!

After a relaxing night in the woods, we were feeling good! Headed to Portland, where we were going to see a Portland Blazers game against the Brooklyn Nets.

Unfortunately, we woke up to the news that due to Omicron the game was cancelled.

We also woke up to no update on our Covid test results.

However, we continued on and headed to our hostel in Portland.

Very hipster, i.e. very Portland. We got dinner at a food truck and watched Portlandia. I honestly loved it, as simple and almost satirical as that sounds.

Washington

It was the home stretch, December 24th, we will be home for Christmas!! Or at least we thought?

We woke up to no covid test results. It had been 2.5 days, and the average turnaround was under 24 hours…

We arrived in Seattle, a mere two hours from home, still no results… awkward.

We return the rental car… still no results.

Out of precaution on the way back from the car rental place we went and got another test.

Fortunately for us, my partner’s Aunt lives in Seattle so we decided to wait there for a couple of hours until our results came… still nothing.

We ended having to sleep on the couch on Christmas eve, completely crashing someone else’s Christmas. As sad as I was, I was hopeful that at least I’d be home for Christmas day. We woke up to our test results on the 70th hour.

First my boyfriends: Negative! Great!

Now mine: Inconclusive….? What?

“Get another test.” it said beside my results.

Thankfully we had gotten that other test, so we had hope, but not until at least boxing day.

After calls with customs and health authority, threatening to fine us $5,000. So it was clear we going to be stuck in Seattle for another 72 hours. And we were.

My boyfriend’s aunt was one of the kindest people I’d ever met. We were so fortunate that she put us up for 3 days, and completely halted her plans for us. We woke up on Christmas morning to stockings and hot cocoa, I still can’t believe how at home she made us feel, through such unfortunate circumstances.

Lobster Christmas Dinner

We did eventually get our test results back, both negative. And we went on our way. Making it home for Boxing Day! Only a little late right?

Home

Reflecting, I learned so much on this trip, and although there were definitely some obstacles it was well worth it.

The characters I encountered, the scenery, the food, even on the long drives I was never bored.

I would highly recommend driving across the continent to anyone seeking adventure! Maybe just learn from my mistakes and wait till the pandemics over.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *