Hi everyone. I recently completed a solo cross country roundtrip from the New York Metropolitan Area to Las Vegas. The purpose of the trip was just leisure and to clear my mind due to challenging circumstances at home. I thought I would share my thoughts on the trip and to warn others of some of the horrors that come with the territory of cross country driving.
I recently acquired a used car that was seemingly working well and thought would have no problem making the trip. Shortly before leaving NY the oil light went on and I needed to add oil. This could have been a harbinger of things to come. I left NY on Aug 5 in the late morning and started the first leg of the trip crossing NJ, PA, OH, IN, IL, and IA on i80 before passing Omaha at about 5am the next morning. I only made a few stops along the first half of the country (aside from gas, food, etc). One was to take a picture of the Mississippi in Davenport and another was to visit a famous truck stop I saw on a TV show. I stopped at a rest stop in between Omaha and Lincoln shortly after and slept for about 4 hours before resuming at about 9am. I stopped to look at the state capitol building in Lincoln and also stopped in a couple other cities in Nebraska that were right off the highway to stretch my legs (they were all very underwhelming). I then drove into Wyoming and was on track to make it to Nevada very late that night. Of course in spite of making this great time, I go to fill up my car in Laramie, WY to make the final push to Nevada and to my horror, my car does not start. Thinking it is the battery, I go to get a jump from a man at the gas station. This eventually starts the car but it stalls again on my way to a garage across town. Of course since it is Friday at 4:30PM, I am running out of time to get my car serviced. After getting jumped again to no avail, I call to arrange a toe to have my car brought to an auto garage across town. Naturally, they close a minute after I show up and I walk across i80 to a motel for the night. The next morning, I go to the garage and find out they are unable to service my vehicle. Nor is any other garage in the tiny town of Laramie. Out of options, I reluctantly arrange to have my car towed 50 miles to Cheyenne which was the closest place with a dealership able to help me. The toe truck arrives after about 2 hours and due to "COVID policy" or some other liability I am unable to ride with the truck driver and left there stranded with no car and spotty cell service. I walked to the edge of i80, and was fortunate enough to hitch a ride with an elderly couple making their way across Wyoming. I get to the dealership and spend the entire day waiting for them to diagnose the problem. Thinking it is the fuel, they siphon out the $50 I had just put in and as they are backing it out, the real problem presents itself as the transmission gives out and the car no longer shifts into gear (it is a manual transmission). They give me an estimate and tell me it will take several days for them to get the part since it is now Saturday and they will need to order it from out of state. Deflated and regretting taking this trip, I walk across to the street to the only motel in walking distance. I spent the next 5 days stranded at this motel 6 wedged in between i25 and i80 having to walk 2 miles each way just to get food in town. Being stuck at this dirty, overpriced motel all the while being kept up by freight trains passing 100 feet from my room honestly made this leg of the trip one of the worst few days of my entire life. I look into alternatives and find out that not only is Cheyenne not serviced by Amtrak, their airport hasn't even resumed commercial service since COVID began and I can't leave even if I had unlimited money. After wasting time doing nothing in my motel, the part arrives 5 days later as expected and with my car repaired, I leave Cheyenne at about 3pm, arriving in Nevada at about 2am local time.
I originally had planned to spend some time visiting national parks since I was close to the Grand Canyon, Utah, and Southern California, but I was so disgusted by the ordeal of getting here, that I spent the next week doing little other than gamble at my hotel and take trips into Las Vegas for a few hours to then drive back across southern Nevada to Mesquite to sleep. I only had a little over 2 weeks of vacation time and the trip coming here ate up an entire week by itself. I initially picked Mesquite not only because it was close enough to Las Vegas/national parks, but because it also saved me an hour on the return trip when it was time to go home. In hindsight I was too upset to go to any parks and probably would have just been better staying in Las Vegas. It was also very hot and I did not trust my vehicle being driven into the desert park roads after what it put me through in Wyoming.
The return trip was thankfully much less eventful (aside from my lemon car continuously consuming oil). I left Nevada at 7am on Wednesday, crossed Utah and the Rockies on i70, and eventually passed Denver around rush hour. I drove across the rest of Colorado and entered Kansas as the sun set. I crossed Kansas overnight and made no significant stops aside for taking a picture of the capitol building in Topeka. I passed Kansas City and continued across Missouri as the sun rose the next morning. I pulled into a rest stop shortly after between Columbia and St. Louis to sleep for a couple of hours and then began driving again. I stopped at the Gateway Arch in St. Louis and then unremarkably crossed IL before hitting traffic and detours around Indianapolis. After getting past the road work, I drove across Ohio and entered PA as the sun set. This is where the fatigue started to catch up to me as the winding mountain road in southwest PA combined with rain and darkness made this by far the most challenging part of the entire drive. I made it past Harrisburg before finally hitting the wall and needing to pull over at a gas station off i78 to get some more sleep (they really need more rest stops on PA interstates). I woke up after a short nap and finished the last 2 hours of the trip getting home at 4:30am yesterday. The return took me a total of just over 42 hours with stops included. I could have spent more time obviously, but after this nightmare of a trip, I just wanted to get home and put the ordeal behind me.
Thank you all for reading. I had been looking forward to and planning taking a trip like this for many years but unfortunately I can't say there was really any part of it that was enjoyable. I hope you all can have more luck than I did. I've learned a lot from taking this adventure in spite of the challenges and setbacks.