Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 8

Tucson, Arizona (where we took a morning hike at Saguaro National Park, pictured below) to San Diego, California, our destination for this road trip.

Distance: 417 miles (3,198 of 3,198 total miles (100% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 6 hours

Temperature Range: 47°F to 77°F (then back down to 63°F and foggy by the time we got to San Diego)

Where we ate: At our temporary apartment (tamales, chicken with sweet potatoes and onions, sautéed green beans, chocolate ice cream)

Miles Remaining: 0

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 7

Las Cruces, New Mexico (where we took a morning hike at Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument, pictured below) to Tucson, Arizona (where we met up with one of my friends I haven’t seen since junior high and her partner)

Distance: 279 miles (2,781 of 3,198 total miles (87.0% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 4 hours

Temperature Range: 31°F to 79°F

Where we ate: Maynard’s Market

Miles Remaining: 417

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 6

Abilene, Texas, to Las Cruces, New Mexico (where chilies are a very popular ingredient and where they also have cool public sculpture, like “Eagle Man” pictured below)

Distance: 497 miles (2502 of 3,198* total miles (78.2% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 7 hours

Temperature Range: 30°F to 55°F

Where we ate: Dragonfly

Miles Remaining: 696

More notes about this leg of the journey:

  • We drove through El Paso and glimpsed the border fence and Ciudad Juárez on the other side.
  • Passed some high-density feedlots in New Mexico that put me off steak again, at least until my memory of the taste of steak again overpowers my memory of the smell as we went by those feedlots.
  • We visited the Las Cruces library, our first library of this road trip. My children were immediately in their element. There were a few titles I wanted to have on hand for the 24in48 readathon later this month, and I found myself thinking, “I’ll pick those up when we get home,” before realizing that we kind of don’t have a home right now. Home is where the library is for my children, and I made a mental note to take us on a tour of the San Diego branch libraries once we reach our destination. Our thoughts about the branch libraries might carry a lot of weight as we decide which neighborhood to settle in.
  • It’s exhausting enough traveling cross-country, but traveling with everything we think we’ll need for two months (and our cat and everything he needs for two months) is even more exhausting. And I packed one too few pairs of underwear for this road trip, and I’m down a shirt after the underarm seams of one of my shirts tore yesterday when I stretched. I am officially road-weary and in need of a washing machine.

*You might notice that this number is different than it was on days 1-5. Google Maps must have had some kind of argument with itself between Day 1 and today, and decided 3,198 was the more accurate number. If the total doesn’t match up when we get to San Diego, I’ll change the numbers until they do match. It’s a good thing I’m not an accountant.

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 5

Hot Springs, Arkansas, to Abilene, Texas (which is the Storybook Capital of America and in the downtown of which we visited a variety of fairy-tale-inspired sculptures (Goldilocks and the Three Bears are pictured below))

Distance: 477 miles (2005 of 3,156 total miles (63.5% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 7 hours

Temperature Range: 19°F to 55°F

Where we ate: The Beehive Restaurant
Miles Remaining: 1,151

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 4

Jackson, Tennessee to Hot Springs, Arkansas (where we visited Hot Springs National Park)

Distance: 273 miles (1,528 of 3,156 total miles (48.4% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 4 hours

Temperature Range: 5°F to 25°F

Where we ate: Bubba Brew’s Brewing Company Spa City Taproom

Miles Remaining: 1,628

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 3

Northeast Ohio to Jackson, Tennessee (where we had catfish, po’boys, and steak for dinner)

Distance: 634 miles (1,255 of 3,156 total miles (39.8% of the total trip))

Driving Time: 10 hours (including two rest stops)

Temperature Range: -2°F to 26°F

Where we ate: Redbone’s Grill and Bar

Miles Remaining: 1,901

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 2

Northeast Ohio

Distance: 0 of 3,156 total miles (still 19.6% of the total trip; this was a zero day set aside for visiting family, including my baby niece, for New Year’s Eve)

Driving Time: Not applicable

Temperature Range: -2°F to 12°F

Miles Remaining: 2,535

Corner-to-Corner Road Trip: Day 1

Central Massachusetts to Northeast Ohio (via Pennsylvania, pictured below)

Distance: 621 miles of 3,156 total miles (19.6%)

Driving Time: 12 hours (should have been closer to 9.5)

Temperature Range: -1°F to 23°F

Miles remaining: 2,535

For those who might have missed our previous cross-country road trip, here’s Day One of our move from Utah to Massachusetts in June 2011.

Vacation Hangover

“The best part of vacation is coming home!”

Or so say many of my friends on social media. But it turns out I don’t share that sentiment

I used to. When we lived in California, I enjoyed our time away, but coming home really felt like coming home, and I appreciated being back in our little apartment. When we lived in Utah, I liked spending a week or so in humid weather—or in the case of winter travel, in better air quality—but was glad to be back to dry air and the comforting embrace of the mountains.

Now that we’re in Massachusetts, the closer the plane gets to New England, the worse my mood becomes. It’s possible that this is because we’ve been visiting places I like—road trips to Acadia, Prince Edward Island, and Asheville, North Carolina, flights to Joshua Tree National Park and San Diego and Salt Lake City. But that doesn’t quite account for my dark mood.

Other people say, “I enjoy being away but after about a week, I’m happy to be back.” Not me, at least not since we moved to Massachusetts. Even after two weeks away I want to keep on traveling.

Maybe I have a travel bug. It’s possible. I’ve never had one before. I’ve had a moving bug, but moving is different from traveling. It’s possible I’ve caught a bit of a travel bug and just don’t recognize it because I dislike flying and don’t like hotel rooms.

But it’s also possible that I just don’t like Massachusetts.

If I don’t leave, I can manage it okay. I focus on the native plants in my garden and the birds and insects that visit them rather than on the suburban inability to walk anywhere and the fact that Chipotle is the best restaurant in town. I focus on spotting and identifying flora and fauna on our hikes rather than on the Lyme- and babesiosis-carrying tick population. I focus on staying home and taking care of our house and children and monarch caterpillars rather than on the aggressive drivers, potholed streets, and rude populace.

But when I leave, I remember that there are other places to live and that in other places, there are lots of friendly people, not just employees at Trader Joe’s. When I leave the East Coast, my shoulders relax. I breathe easier. I’m more apt to converse with strangers, and they’re more apt to converse back in a kind manner. I know this doesn’t happen everywhere and that part of it is a result of the places I choose to visit (and because I’m white), but that doesn’t change the exhaustion I feel being back in the place where my house is.

I know this is an unpopular view among New Englanders. Particularly those who are from here defend the region fiercely should anyone dare to say it’s not the right fit for them. They’re not rude; they’re straightforward! The drivers are only aggressive because there are so many on the road! Doctors really understand Lyme disease now—well, most of them, and it only takes them about six months to finally diagnose it, and only about half of the people I know have had it! And I believe that New England really is a welcoming place—to people who’ve been here since the Mayflower landed. But for those not from here, it’s tough to break in.

Despite the arguments to the contrary and despite my valiant and exhaustive (and exhausting) attempts to find a place here, Massachusetts just isn’t my spot. But it’s where I am for the foreseeable future.

And that’s why I’m in a bad mood when I get back from vacation.

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Weekly Walk 38 1/2: Prince Edward Island

When last we met, my family had just spent a couple of days wandering by car, foot, and boat around Bar Harbor, Maine, and Acadia National Park. Once I’d done enough lunges up the sides of mountains, we packed into the car and headed north through the spruce-fir forests of New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island.

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Brackley Beach area of Prince Edward Island National Park.

When I tell you that I’ve been wanting to go to Prince Edward Island since I was twelve years old, you will probably know what triggered my interest in Canada’s smallest province and the birthplace of Confederation. If you don’t know the connection between PEI and twelve-year-old girls, don’t worry; there are some clues coming up. Read More