From LA to NYC: Solo Cross Country Drive in 5 days

Solo Cross Country Drive

Well, I finally made it.  After what seemed like a blinding, delirious, and otherworldly traverse across the country, I am currently sitting smack in the middle of Manhattan, contemplating a run in Central Park followed by a stop at the farmer’s market situated somewhere below my window.  Although I barely had time to take photos with 11+ hours of solo driving every day, wrangling unhappy cats in a tiny over-packed car, drowning in fall-flavored coffee, and rocking out to 80’s rock and pop punk from my Jersey scene days, I did mentally list important roadside tidbits to share.  From LA to Albuquerque, Oklahoma City, Hendersonville TN, Staunton VA, and finally New York, here are the thoughts that kept me company.

1) Pat Benatar is the single greatest female vocalist of ALL time.  No contest.

2) I left CA on a Thursday, arrived in NYC on a Monday, and didn’t hit a single drop of traffic along I-40 and I-81.  It was pure magic.  Though I didn’t get to stop and smell the roses (or see the Grand Canyon), this was a fast, straight shot with minimal hill action.

3) Arizona, the second half of New Mexico, and Texas are the most boring stretches of beige nothingness…you will rejoice at the sight of the rolling plains of Oklahoma, even though Oklahoma City is pretty much one building.

4) When the sign says “speed enforced by aircraft,” there really are low-flying planes monitoring your speed.  I found this out after the roadtrip.  Luckily, I kept it at 5 mph within the speed limit.

5) Once you get out of New Mexico, truckers become your worst nightmare.  At this point, they are bored and tired which leads to them playing games, speeding, cutting people off, and being creeps. (*I am generalizing, of course.  I’m sure most truckers are very nice, considerate amazing people).  I learned to avoid them, pass by them quickly, or just get over and let them pass.

6) Never, ever stop at a gas station that has a garage.  I did this in Arizona and the guy sauntered up to my car, tried to help me pump my self-serve gas, punched a nail in my tire while I was in the restroom, and then almost convinced me to buy three new tires.  I made it all the way to NYC on those tires that “weren’t going to make it to New Mexico.”

7) Albuquerque is a weirdly awesome mix of old Mexico and a gold rush town set at the foot of the Sandia Mountains.  Over a hundred miles of beige nothing sets you apart from Gallup and when you finally enter Albuquerque through LED totem poles into the magical lights of the small, dusty city, it’s like you are entering a painting.  Or maybe I was just delirious after a 12.5 hour driving day.  Either way, it was a dusty, smoky dream.

8)  Along this route, Virginia boasts the greatest display of brilliant autumn; the likes of which are usually only seen in Thomas Kinkade puzzles.  Vibrantly colored leaves, winding mountain passes, and the lingering smell of burning fireplaces left me with more than just nostalgic Shenandoah hiking memories.

9) Arkansas is also quite beautiful, but man are there rednecks there.  I thought the state smelled like cookies until I realized I was standing next to a Waffle House.

10)  Speaking of beauties, don’t ever let anyone tell you that Oklahoma is “flat.”  It is miles and miles of rolling green and wildflowers, wind farms, cow pastures, and the entire state smells like freshly cut grass.  It was the truest, most movie-like version of Middle America that I have ever seen.

11) Sheepskin car seat covers are alive and well in Pennsylvania Dutch country.  And Amish girls roll up in Jettas along the freeway.

12) Be prepared to spend $1000 on the drive.  With low-budget hotel stays (3 out of 4 nights), coffee, minimal food (I packed a cooler), and 37 mpg, I spent just under a grand getting across this vast country.

13) Nashville and Hendersonville are kind of awesome, and not only because my dad and his lady live there.  Cash country is filled with beautiful remnants of Johnny and June and fall-flavored trees.  It makes me want to go back 10 years, find my own Johnny Cash, and start a musical comedic duo.

14) I will probably never do this again.  It was literally a test in determination and perseverance; the likes of which I hadn’t come across since attending boot camp in 2001.  I have to give props to long-distance truckers for making it a viable lifestyle.

Ludlow Cafe

Ludlow Cafe, CA

Peach Pie

Peach Pie from Ludlow Cafe, CA

Route 66

Route 66, CA

Route 66

Route 66, CA

Route 66

Route 66, NM

Sunset Oklahoma

Sunset in Oklahoma

Cat driving

Feline co-pilot


Fall in Arkansas

Cash Country Burnt House

Johnny Cash’s burnt down house in Hendersonville, TN

Johnny and June graves

Johnny & June Gravesite

Mother Maybelle Grave

Mother Maybelle Wildwood Flower

New York City Skyline

Home at last. My view of NYC.


Happy fall from NYC, ya’ll.



  1. I don’t have time to read, but created a short cut so that I could get back to it! :) Our son just did Central FL to CO in 2 days. He can relate. lol Glad you’re safe and will read this later!

    • Oh that’s awesome!! I lived in Orlando for 3 years; I wonder if we crossed paths :) Thank you so much for the well wishes and for reading and congrats to your son – it is not an easy task! :)

  2. mothcaterpillar says:

    It sounds like quite a ride! and although it must have been challenging (at least at some points) I envy you for doing this! Well done, you brave lady! Best of luck for NYC! Enjoy! :-)

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