Cross Country Roundtrip

I left nearly a month ago to move myself cross country from NY to San Diego, California. It was a big move obviously and just another move in an ongoing mission to keep my life interesting. I am looking for adventure and experiences and felt that, besides overseas travel, a cross country move would be a good way to achieve that.

I just leased a new 2014 Chrysler 200, packed my entire life (or as much of it as I could fit) into it, and got on the road. After chatting with people who had made the drive I decided to take the southern route. The “straight across” route was very boring and the northern route would mean contending with weather and also adding several days onto the trip. Furthermore, I had a bunch of places to stay along the southern route. Family in Maryland and friends in Charleston, Alabama and Phoenix would put me up and save me some cash for my hotel stays.


The drive to Marlyand was short and sweet. I left NY around 430am to avoid traffic and arrived at my cousins around 8. I had a great time hanging with their kids and had some tapas with friends who live in town for dinner. The next day I left bright and early for my 8.5 hour drive down to my buddies in Charleston. The drive was pretty boring but somewhat salvaged by a detour in the southern part of north carolina. I forced myself to take some detours throughout the trip because I quickly realized that interstates are a complete bore.

One of the best and worst things to happen to america

The interstate highway systems is a double edged sword. Sure it saves you time from driving the old backroads of America, but those backgrounds hold the most interesting parts. The most intriguing parts of my trip were when I went off the highway. I swear, the interstate in texas looks exactly like the interstate in ny. It’s just road and woods, road and woods, exit to fast food and gas… road and woods.

Anyway, back to the trip. 

Charleston: One of the most beautiful cities I’ve been too. I’ve visited a ton of places in the states and after my second trip to Charleston, I just feel this charm from the city. The color, the architecture, the weather, it all just works together for a great place. I got to Charleston and had to kill some time. I thought I’d get some photography in and visited a couple of plantations. First was Middleton and then Magnolia. My suggestion to anyone visiting the area…. Go to Magnolia, skip Middleton.  Middleton is twice the cost for the basic visit and was just boring and plan and overall lacking in color. It was my second time at magnolia and it was just as beautiful as the first. They have a petting zoo and a large walking garden and maze and more.

After getting to my buddies, we spent time with a bottle of Crown Royal XR and made a Mexican dinner.

The next day was spent walking around downtown Charleston and shooting the environment and the buildings. As I mentioned before, the architecture and the color of the buildings really brings a charm. I thoroughly enjoyed my time in the “low country”. It was great catching up with friend and his beautiful family.

charleston south carolina downtown architecture and buildings charleston south carolina magnolia gardens gazebo charleston south carolina magnolia gardens sun through the trees

Birmingham, Alabama: I made the drive to Alabama in relatively short time. My buddy sprung a last minute trip on me so he wouldn’t be around to hang. He was nice enough to leave me a key though so at least I had a place to crash. Alabama was pretty uneventful. I grabbed some dinner and a couple of drinks and zonked out. I had another drive to Louisiana the next day and wanted to get on the road around 7.

Nachitoches, Lousiana: The most event part of this drive was crossing the “mighty” Mississippi. I made it to my hotel and went to the main street/downtown area for the day. It was a ‘cute’ little area right on a small river. It is called the “city of lights” because they have a huge Christmas celebration. In the off seasons however, it’s pretty uneventful. They had some sort of crew/rowing competition going on and that was pretty interesting to watch, but, other than that, there wasn’t much going on.

natchitoches railroad crossing

11.5 hours in Texas… What a waste:

The original plan for texas was to spend a couple of nights in Austin with some friends. My car took a little longer to obtain then I thought and my time in Austin would have ended up falling during SXSW which is a huge music and tech festival. It has really put Austin on the map and needless to say, there was a lack of accommodations. The hotels were all completely booked up and my friend’s apartments where filled to the brim. I decided to just make a night out of it in Abiliene instead, but by the time I got there, after driving for 8 hours, it was about 2pm. I just figured I would drive the rest of the way to Carlsbad, New Mexico and save myself another night on the road. It took just over 11 hours to drive across “the great state of texas”. It was a lot of interstate highway driving and if it wasn’t for an hour or so detour, I probably wouldn’t have made it.

The most interesting part of the drive was on some country road in north west texas. I had pulled over to take some pictures of some long horns and the property manager rolled up in 4×4 and opened the gate into the “pasture”. I got kind of close to the animals before they took off in fright.

dr pepper sign on building in texas texas road side barn and sun burst gunslinger painted on side of building in texas texas long horn in hdr

Carlsbad… More NOTHINGNESS.

Carlsbad caverns is the only thing going on in Carlsbad. When the caverns are closed, however, the town pretty much shuts down. I got to town in the afternoon and pretty much just grabbed dinner and did some work at a super crappy motel. The second shittiest place ive ever stayed it but by far the most expensive crappy place. For a place where there really is NOTHING happening, even the motels are over $100.

Another 9 hours to Phoenix. More nothingness along the way. I was excited to spend some time with my buddy Steven and his wife Tracey. They’ve been in phoenix for several years after going to Arizona for college. I was there last year and they are great hosts. We lounged by the pool, watched some Arizona March Madness Basketball and just relaxed and ate good food.

Overall, the trip was pretty casual. It was a TON of driving and a travel buddy certainly would have made it all easier. The last 5.5 hours was spent driving through more deserts between Phoenix and San Diego. I got to the “welcome to California” sign around 9am and grabbed a picture roadside.

I arrived to my new home just about 10:30am. I got unpacked and went to the bar by 12. As a whole, It was an adventure. Something I would do again? Perhaps. But I would plan to visit more “fun” locations and actual destinations instead of just places to sleep.

So, here I am. I’ve been in SD for about 2.5 weeks now and I love it. More in my next post.


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