Quick Road Trip With My Sister

Nine months going around the world, now less than a week back in the US and I had to get moving again. My sister had started school in Hollywood, but wanted to get her car over there so our parents had elected me as the “responsible” person to accompany her on the drive from Connecticut to California.

We started in the darkness of early morning. Our first stop was New Jersey to pick up one of her friends, then Chicago to pick up another and straight on to Hollywood from there. It was still just barely getting light by the time we scooped up her first friend.

I took over driving as we got through Pennsylvania. The leaves were deep golden and vibrant, it had been a good while since I’d seen the fall in the northeast of the country and was loving every minute of it. Jillian took over driving for a while, then Jess pushed us into the start of night and a rainstorm into Chicago. The city was lit up like a circuit board, it felt like were in a cheesy 90’s hacker movie scene.

We found Kora there, making a quick trip to the auto shop to deal with a car issue, then back to Kora’s place where the girls got showering and were looking to go out. I found a great beer bar, but once at the door the girls fumbled through their purses looking nervous and clearly they could not provide an ID worth the bouncers time. We managed to find an Irish pub that was more low key closer to Wrigley and made due with that.

Jess drove of us out of the city in the morning, I took over for Iowa and Nebraska. I was enjoying driving across the country for once, past roads and familiar exits where I had memories of hitchhiking many times in the past. I cruised fast looking down the freeway towards the next car and closing gaps, covering miles.

Jillian took over driving, we hit some traffic while Jess shouted and laughed about having to pee, thoughts of jumping out of the car into the ditch, but finally we crawled up to an exit where she could run into the cornfield.

We landed in Colby, Kansas when the day was done, chowing down and getting a cheap motel.

Kora started the day behind the wheel, her driving was shocking. I was in the passenger seat as we cruised down country roads, hitting a diagonal heading south and off the major freeways at this point. Out there in the middle of nothing, she would tailgate the one and only other car by several feet, her mind would wander and we’d drift a quarter mile back, then we’d be right back up on their bumper again. I could see them looking back, probably wondering why we weren’t passing them or why we were fucking with them. I was entertained.

This little game ended when our car started slowing down rapidly in a way I’d seen before, sluggishly passing out into the shoulder of the road. She hadn’t been watching the gas and the last station was a good amount of miles back, nothing but wide open around us, a “Welcome to Colorado” sign barely visible in the distance.

Right away I knew what had to be done, my first opportunity to road trip it across the country driving would still involve a stint of hitchhiking. I waited a bit, but the very first car to come picked me up and ended up being a great ride to get. The guy was a farmer heading up to the next gas station for a tractor part and would be turning right back around. I headed up some twenty or thirty miles, he got his part and they lent me a gas can with my promise to return shortly with the can and payment.

He drove me back and we emptied the can into our tank then tied the leaky can to the roof, the girls were all giggles from the early morning and mishap leaving them to their own devices on the side of a Kansas country road. We drove up to the station, properly filled the car and returned the can before hitting the road again, in Colorado now.

I took over after the next lunch break. I wanted to make Flagstaff by night, I had friends there so I pushed to make it. I blasted through the day and into the night, we passed Santa Fe, another fill up outside Albuquerque and one last fill up just miles before Flagstaff, but we made it. We checked into a motel, picked up some beers and I got in touch with my friend Keith.

Conveniently enough, he was going to a house party in town, so we met up with him there. It was a good night of catching up and swapping some stories, memories of some wild Vegas trips and making loose plans for an unspecified future that may or may not come.

The girls and I headed back to the motel room, a late night food run, then soon sleep. The morning came for one last day on the road. They’d be going all the way to Hollywood, but I’d already decided on Phoenix. I’d be staying with a friend there for some weeks collaborating on Trip Hopping, our travel website, along with some other friends who’d be flying in for the same project.

I guided our route through Sedona on the way south so the girls could catch a glimpse of the beauty there, it’s a unique place I always love to see. Soon enough we were through Phoenix to my friend’s suburb and I was parting ways with my sister and her friends, they’d easily make Hollywood by night. I had many days of coding ahead of me and I was excited for it.

October 13, 2011 to October 17, 2011