I believe this to be my twelfth cross country road trip in the last year and a half and it is difficult to believe. Nearly two years non stop on the road to date.
Why am I heading cross country yet again? Because my son and his girlfriend are sick of watching my cat. The cat eats plastic bags then runs through the house barfing and they are pretty sick of it and rightly so.
Not that I need much of an excuse to hit the road. I love to travel and am particularly fond of long haul drives.
Pretty much any excuse to go out on any sort of road trip is good enough for me.
Need help selling your house in Seattle? Have a cool place to stay in Madrid New Mexico? Wanna have drinks in Denver?
Festival in Arizona? I’m on my way. Hiking in Maine? Castle in Scotland? Daring bridge crossing in Norway… I’ll be there.
I do not need a specific reason or destination, the drive alone is pleasure enough. A desolate and beautiful drive in the Scottish Highlands? I’ll do it numerous times. (Lately it seems I’ll do anything in Scotland, any chance I get.)
I do love to venture out and explore on foot. Yet driving to and around any destination is one of the best parts of travel for me. Be it cross country or a road trip to the next town, even in its simplest form, such travel it is my bliss.
Routes of the Rootless Cross Country
At about noon I headed west on I 64 from Virginia Beach, bound for Lexington Kentucky. Amazingly I made it as far as Dale Indiana, where I spent my first night.
Having done similar cross country road trip sojourns so readily this past year, I opted to take a new route, staying as close as I could to the middle of the country.
I planned not to go too far north due to bad weather. Not that driving in snow bothers me. In fact I quite enjoy driving in the snow, and did so on a similar trip nearly a year ago
being that my plan this time was to get to my destination as quickly as possible, it made sense to avoid possible snow.
Dew the Cat
More commonly when I drive cross country routes I base them on things I wish to see and do. Yet this trip is more focused on quickly releasing my cat Dew, from my sons care.
Dew the Cat
A sweet cat, Dew is clean, goofy and funny but skittish and sort of… well… dumb. That she does not get along with female cats (of which there are 2 in my sons house) was an issue. As a barf driven in general and has little understanding of boundaries. She also is not fond of the road trip lifestyle, but she is mine, and I love her. So off we go.
My son has been caring for her far longer than ever anticipated. An outrageous amount of unexpected circumstances held me up, including a broken leg that laid me up for over 5 months.
America, the Beautiful Toll Free
The stretch through the West Virginia and Kentucky mountains is phenomenal.
An aesthetically pleasing, as well as enjoyable drive. Rolling pavement brings you up and around beautiful countryside, with steep inclines and descends.
On this cross country passage, I mapped the trip via google maps. For the first time I chose the option to avoid tolls. In result, I ended up on wonderful local small town roads that winded me around the turnpikes and other toll roads. It worked out wonderfully.
Google directed me off of the highway just prior to the toll booth and took me on a few off the beaten path sojourns. Each detour was truly spectacular scenically and roadway wise.
This unexpected bonus only added a few minutes to the entire trip in the end. At on point, I was amused to see myself pull out right in front of the truck with whom I’d been sharing the road for hours, just beyond the clutches of the “pay your toll” booth.
Resting at Rest Stops
I created a cozy little sleeping nook in the back of my Lincoln Aviator.
It was pretty comfy once I got the sun shade thing situated.
I slept at 3 rest stops along this road trip. Not only did it save me money, but it allowed me to hop back onto the road with little wasted time. I think I prefer this to motels when on a cross country route focused on expediency. over sightseeing.
This one in Dale, Indiana was not the most picturesque, but nicely maintained and I felt safe sleeping there.￼
This strip of highway has quite a few decent rest stops normally, but many were closed on this particular trip. I was extremely glad to find this one open.
Good morning Indiana From there I hit a Denny’s for a power breakfast then headed out towards I70 making it as far as Oglala Nebraska.
The Nebraska rest stop was fantastic. Clean with lots of parking. Wide open spaces and lovely views.
Good morning Nebraska!
For some reason google gps routed me through Nebraska instead of my previously designated plan to follow straight through Kansas and Colorado, yet I enjoyed the I-80 drive passing miles and miles of cattle ranches.
Riding High on Audio Books
As much of this particular drive offers such exquisite views, I tend to revel in the scenery without distraction.
But on long hauls like this, driven alone, various forms of distraction are necessary to staying alert, even if that sounds a bit oxymoronic.
One way I pass time is of course my music. When I’m feeling tired I at times rely on talk radio to keep me going. Yet one of my best allies is Audible.
Listening to lectures or books or whatever wets your noodle, is one the most valuable tools when in the more long haul type of journey. Just make sure you download ahead of time.
Your in Reno? I’m in Reno.
Before picking up my cat from my sons house in Portland, I will visit with FieldHaven Feline Center, the group with which I volunteer from afar.
FieldHaven, a long standing cat rescue and shelter in Lincoln California has been working hard to help the thousands of cats affected by the campfire.
Along with the support of Alley Cat Allies, FieldHaven opened 2 temporary shelters; Alley Cat Allies Recovery Center in Marysville and Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station in Paradise. These additional shelters were necessary for the unprecedented amount of cats let injured, lost, homeless or without shelter and food across the burn zone.
Having been invited to stay with Joy Smith, the head of FieldHaven, I remained in touch with her as I headed West. When I told Joy I’d be in Lincoln Friday, she mentioned that she would not return from Reno (where many of the unclaimed campfire are being sent for adoption) and ot back home until 5pm.
Checking my itinerary, it occurred to me that I’d be in Reno by about noon on Friday. In the same time my friend Christine, who I hadn’t seen in years texted me, asking me to stop by when passing through Reno. (Is totally forgotten that she’d moved there)
In the end, I got to stop in Reno, take a much needed shower as well as visit with my good friend Christine, then meet Joy & Rog of FieldHaven, as well as a bunch of campfire cats at Nevada Humane Society then follow them back to Lincoln.
Landing in Paradise
I made it across the US, practically from coast to coast in 4 nights easily.
The expense of the trip was purely gas, breakfast and drinks in the end and it was yet again another fantastic road trip across the US. I GoPro’d every light day of it and will share it, along with my many other recorded journeys, as soon as I am able.
Saturday I was able to visit Alley Cat Allies Transfer Station as well as drive around Paradise to see the devastation first hand. It may seem a grim thing to do. Yet certainly I am not a catastrophe tourist. I’d ridden this area on my motorcycle many years before. The strange familiarity felt by the awareness of knowledge of this place I had rarely ever been. I felt a unique and intimate understanding of the tragedy that affected so many.
The stories of loss, heartache and then the ultimate satisfaction of reuniting someone with a cat they were sure had perished in the fire. Cognizant of the feeding station and trapping locations as well as if I’d lived there and physically helped. To know the addresses and stories of human, animal and material loss as if it had happened to my friends and neighbors. It is difficult to put into words the sheer devastation of it all and how keenly I was touched by experiencing it first hand, after all of this time.
And am keenly aware of all hard work and dedication that FieldHaven and the many trappers, feeders, rescuers and shelters have put in just to help give a small bit of relief to the people and animals that have lost so very much.
Sadness and Loss
I GoPro’d the devastation but I’m unsure if I shall share it or not. It was heart wrenching to see the depth loss exhibited by these utterly charred neighborhood’s. Businesses mostly gone. Hearth and home obliterated along with the foliage and trees.
The overwhelming emptiness of the place, bereft in its losses it is tangible as if a solid entity.
But the cats… so many survived. They escaped locked down burned out houses like little Houdini’s. Thousands of cats so far recovered. More found and trapped every day. Their ability to survive in a burned out world of nothingness is remarkable. This place so long considered a paradise for so many, as in name then to ashes.
It was a magical experience and an added bonus to this cross country drive. If it actually meant anything beyond a rainbow happened to cross my path at the most opportune moment or not, I’ll let you decide that. What I will state, is that my expeditious drive across the US, for me was well worth it if just for that moment.
Hell, I live driving and exploring so much, it was worth it just for the drive alone.
Next Stop Portland
Soon I leave for Portland to pick up Dew. Then I will head out with my friend Laurie, her chihuahua Rudy and my cat to cross the country once more, this time via the most northern route heading from Portland to Rhode Island.
First stop Yellowstone Park.