Lessons From a Cross-country Roadtrip

My Army son returned from a five-year tour to Okinawa, Japan. On the way to his next station in Ft. Detrick, Maryland, he stopped in California to spend time with his parents (love this kid). He bought a phone (one that worked in America rather than only Japan) and a 2022 Audi Quattro. Then, he and I set out on a cross country road trip to my daughter’s home in Fulton, MD (she’s with the Navy there), about 45 minutes from his new station. We took a week driving, a week finding his apartment and buying furnishings, and then I returned to California to see what craziness my husband wrought in my absence.

The green pin is where we started, the red where we ended. The yellow pins were touristy stops along the way.


Here are my observations and lessons from our cross country journey:

  • A sad farewell from my dog, Casey.

  • Rather than the freeway, we took the iconic Route 66 as far as it would take us. It was two lanes each direction but well-traveled and rarely backed up. The only issue was the many many trucks–hundreds of miles of them. For some reason, this seemed to be their preferred route. Except for when it rained (and it sure did), they were good partners on our excursion.
  • Gas was most expensive in California (close to $5 a gallon) and cheapest in the middle of the country. Interestingly, the Audi Quaatro takes regular gas, not premium, which saved a lot of money.

  • Everywhere we went on both coasts, there were lots of empty shelves. I’ve never seen that before. Maybe because of insufficient trucks to bring goods from warehouses (though Route 66 was filled with eighteen wheelers), container ships stuck offshore, or the lack of workers to restock the shelves. Or all three.
  • It started raining in Memphis, Tennessee, and didn’t stop for two-three days. Blinding rain–sheets of it–and in heavy rain, trucks send up a wash of water that drenches any car around it. We were deluged with this spray which made seeing in the sheeting rain almost impossible. I’ve never driven in such horrid conditions. The Audi Quattro has sensors in the front to assist driving–slow the car when you get close to traffic ahead–but the rain was so bad, the sensors couldn’t see through it and turned off. Yikes!
  • Usually I watch some TV each day but not on this trip. We drove all day, stopped to play tourist where relevant (like the Grand Canyon), ate dinner, and read until bedtime. Then, started over the next day. There didn’t seem to be any time for TV.
  • Across the country, we saw a plethora of proud American flags. Don’t know if this was normal or because of all the craziness going on. Whatever the reason, I loved it.
  • Even Dallas-Fort Worth airport was decked out–I suspect for Veteran’s Day:

  • Getting vaccinated wasn’t a problem there, either:

  • We passed over a hundred miles of windmill farms in Oklahoma, Texas, and surrounding areas. They filled the landscape. And no surprise, the wind was crazy, buffeted us and the trucks around us all over.

  • As we drove across the wide open spaces of the American fly-over states, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the ancient cliffs, the rolling hills, the open savanna, the grassland, the scrub-filled gullies. I imagined how the first people to inhabit North America (17,000 ya, depending upon which scientists you listen to) would have viewed this landscape as they sought food and shelter.
  • We visited the Grand Canyon on the way. It is an amazing landmark though this I found rather odd:

Freedom of speech is part of the US Constitution. I didn’t get why they posted this sign.

  • During our trip, Tesla surpassed $1 trillion in market cap, only the fourth company to do that. It is now (or was then) bigger than all other American car companies combined and Elon Musk was worth more than Exxon Mobil. Yikes!

Tips for road trips:

  • Use the (free) Waze app to find accidents and driving issues. It’s much better than Google or Apple maps.

  • Use the (free) Fox Weather app to maneuver through big storms–either avoid them or wait until they’re gone (or in our case, cry a little bit). The blue dot on the maps below is us in the middle of the storm, trying to get through it.
  • Have Sirius, Apple Music, Pandora, or another music app without commercials. With that much driving, the sales pitches would have driven us nuts. We had Sirius as well as Pandora (the commercial-free option) through the installed Apple CarPlay.
  • Have Apple CarPlay or similar so you can listen to podcasts, the audio on YouTube, and other options when music becomes tiresome.
  • Have lots of charging stations in your car. Maps programs eat through phone battery. We had three and used all of them for phones, headphones, and more.

  • Hotels cost more than I remember from my last cross-country road trip but we discovered the Marriot offered discounted rates for active service members. They charged only what a soldier’s housing allowance was, usually about 25% under the posted price. Whenever possible, we stayed at Marriot.
  • Be a good guest if you impose on family/friends for meals for beds. Sean and I did our best to make my daughter happy we were there during our week in her condo. We fixed her ice maker, her printer, and her dryer (all broken for at least several months), and did constant vacuuming (she has a Dyson stick that made it easy) and light cleaning. Thanks to that, she pretty much forgave our mistakes during the week.

Any tips from your travels?

Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular prehistoric fiction saga, Man vs. Nature which explores seminal events in man’s evolution one trilogy at a time. She is also the author of the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers and Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy. Her non-fiction includes over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, reviews as an Amazon Vine Voice,  a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Natural Selection, Winter 2022.

103 thoughts on “Lessons From a Cross-country Roadtrip

  1. Looks like a fabulous mother-son time. And I love Waze, it’s even good for city driving, especially here where it’s chaos on the roads. It lets you know where bad traffic is too with alternative routes. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Thank you for sharing your adventures!!.. glad you were able to share some time with your family!… “Life gives us brief moments with another, but sometimes in those brief moments we get memories that last a lifetime, So live that your memories will be part of your happiness.” (Author Unknown)… 🙂

    Until we meet again…
    May love and laughter light your days,
    and warm your heart and home.
    May good and faithful friends be yours,
    wherever you may roam.
    May peace and plenty bless your world
    with joy that long endures.
    May all life’s passing seasons
    bring the best to you and yours!
    (Irish Saying)

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Sounds like you had a great time. I’ve been on sections of Route 66, but not all. The empty shelves on stores is a bit disconcerting, but surprising in a way because Interstate 20 which I drive on to work each day, has no shortages of big trucks.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. HI Jacqui – wonderful post … and a journey I’d like to make – though probably a sort of dream! Equally though I thoroughly enjoyed your take on your journey – from leaving Casey and your hubby behind, that wonderful Audi Quattro your son bought and then the time setting up his new abode. A great read thank you … cheers Hilary

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I like trip all the time. I go to a attractive place in Mianyang city. Its very splendid and beautiful.ABB HMI CP620 On the driving road, we need some engineering parts for case the car to fire up!Okmarts provide many engineering parts. If somebody need to a new one, he can search on the website.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Great trip, Jacqui! It sounds like you both had some quality time together. An advantage of making the trip from west to east is that you have a tail wind! One of the reasons we had such poor fuel mileage the other way around is because we had to head into the west winds a lot. And, I see you found gas under $3 still. Must have been in Texas. 🙂 We prefer to take secondary roads instead of highways as well. If you ever follow Route 66 all the way, you’ll end up in Chicago!

    Liked by 1 person

    • We ended up on it by accident. We met with a AAA TripTik agent you organized the entire trip for us. She wanted to send us east through St. Louis but we wanted to stay south, which rhymed with Route 66. Glad it worked out that way.


  7. Since I’m a pilot I travel a lot (including huge distances by road – a six hr drive isn’t unusual for me), but I think you have all the bases covered.
    Wonderful that you were able to do this trip with your son. So great, and especially taking the long way.
    And poor Casey – that is a seriously sad pooch face!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I enjoyed this entire piece, especially your tips, apps, and experiences with your son. I’m sure you didn’t need any more confirmation, but he sounds like a great guy. I don’t like driving for extended periods, but If I could do something like this with my son, I’d go for it. I actually have a fantasy about driving from one coast to the other and spending time with each brother (we ended up in all four of the continental time zones.) Maybe if I was single. I don’t think my wife or I would like to be apart for that long.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good for you for taking the two lane roads! I have driven across country 9 times and my favorite trips were done mostly off interstate. It appears that you came close to where I live (I am assuming you took either US 11 or Interstate 81 from Knoxville up through Virginia and would have been about 30 miles away when you crossed I-77 (which interestingly runs “south” while I-81 is running north).

    Liked by 1 person

    • Shoot! I did think of you in passing and the lovely area where your church now is but didn’t look it up. Darn! My next trip back that way is to the Ark and the Creation Museum. Those probably aren’t close enough.


  10. Thanks for your road trip story and tips along the way. I have been noodling about a trip to Florida by car. I get nervous with big trucks and rainstorms. Love your sense of adventure. Glad you made your trip with no hiccups. Good memories to look back on when you and your son get together.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. What a great adventure for mother and son! Must tell my sons I need a road trip! 🙂

    Thanks for the great tips too. Will share them with my daughter who’s traveling from Kansas to Arizona alone to spend Thanksgiving with me since her hubby is still deployed. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Thank you for taking us along for the highlights of your trip, Jacqui. It much been such fun with your son (except for the horrendous rain part). I wonder if the sign at the Grand Canyon was to prevent protesters from accosting other visitors.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Wow! Jacqui, any road trip would be amazing and even more so and very special with your son! Great advice along the way and glad all went well, apart from the horrendous rain (are you weren’t in the UK?!) Great you had time with both your children and now I’m wondering … what mistakes?!! Bet your daughter is happy so much got fixed and hope your son is sorted for this next phase of his military life!

    Liked by 2 people

  14. I’m so happy you were able to make this trip with you son, Jacqui. I’m sure you created many great memories.How wonderful to see a display of the American flag…I love it! I’m sure Casey was thrilled when you returned home. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Pingback: Lessons From a Cross-country Roadtrip — – uwerolandgross

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