The heat is on, the sun’s blazing and you’ve got the urge to visit places you’ve only seen on the cover of the History textbook that you didn’t open in 3rd grade. It’s the summer, and it’s road trip season.
Before last summer, I’ve considered myself lucky, as I typically would travel fairly often each year, but that was via flying (and no, not by drinking Red Bull). I’ve always thought it was thrilling to travel to various places, to meet new people and immerse yourself into that culture, be it in the U.S. or outside of it.
Never before have I had the chance to travel with friends, for simple leisure and take on wild adventures. During the winter of 2013, my friend mentioned that he was conducting his physical therapy clinical hours out in Arizona, with the intent of driving there (from Connecticut). BOOM, LIGHT BULB TURNED ON. Immediately, the conversation moved to, “When are we leaving”? The idea of the trip carried us through a long New England winter.
There were three of us, a few pieces of clothing, a Go Pro camera and our mini-van got onto the road by May 11th. We left Fairfield, CT with one plan, head West and get there in one week. Everyone that we talked to about our trip asked, about where we were staying, what sites were we stopping at, or if we were sure that we knew what we were doing. The answer was “No” to all of the above.
Before a big trip, most people create a plan of what they’re going to do along the way, but we’re definitely not ‘most people’. To be honest, the only thing we planned was a night at Caesar’s Palace in Vegas. Other than that, the foot was to the pedal and the thought of the Pacific was in our heads. We did decide that we didn’t have any real reason to stop in the Midwest, although the world’s largest truck stop in Iowa did draw some interest, it was not enough for us to drive that direction.
25 hours later, we made our first stop, a night in Fort Collins, CO, where we stayed a night with Luke’s cousin. Through exhaustion of no sleep and never having been at altitude before, we were quite satisfied after 1 pint of local beer. At this point, we still didn’t know where was next for us. We stepped outside the next morning to see the Rocky Mountains, big as day. Egg sandwiches in our stomachs and coffees in our hands, we hit the highway and drove south through the Rockies. Can you say epic?
After nearly burning out our brakes in the van going downhill, we hit jaw-dropping stop after stop. Mesa Verde National Park, to The Great Sand Dunes, to the Four Corners, Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon State Park, The Grand Canyon, the list goes on, the memories ever lasting. Everyday, our minds became more and more blown to what we and many people have been missing out on seeing and learning about.
Growing up in the Northeast, we have the Adirondack's, the ocean and over populated cities. Call it the intrinsic desire to explore, call it post-college “I’m heading to California, dude!”, call it what you want, but the voyage was destined for greatness. The country is HUGE, that’s an understatement and we were appreciative of every inch of land we saw and touched. We loved all of the people that we met along the way, thankful for safe camping adventures, pumped we met Chewbacca & Lady Gaga in Hollywood and most of all we caught the bug. The travel bug. It’s stuck in our system now, the urge to get out and see the world. Every neighborhood, city, state, country, they all have different cultures within them. If you have the time and a buddy or two, hit the road this summer and take a road trip.