Well … I’ve finally made it! It was the longest solo road trip I’ve completed so far and not an easy one at that. From the city of Fruita in Western Colorado, to New Bern, North Carolina. Through mountains and plains, along rivers and through storms, the trusty Nissan Xterra has come through once more.
We have been anticipating, and preparing for this adventure for what seems like an eternity, making the actual arrival to the boat feels so surreal. Night Music, our 37′ Tartan was waiting just the way I had left her 2 months earlier when we made the deal. More about the boat later, for now I want to tell “Y’all” about the trip that Riot (our 3-year-old Corgi) and I took to get here.
First off just a few stats on the trip. We drove 2,237 miles in about 55 hours. We passed through 9 states, spent 35 hours driving, 12 hours sleeping, and 8 hours eating, refueling, walking the dog, and taking stretch breaks. We burned through 213 gallons of fuel with an average fuel consumption of 10.5 mpg. The max speed reached was 76 mph coming down a long hill in Kansas with a tail wind. Yes we were slow! I consumed 6 double cheese burgers, 4 tacos, a bag a pretzels, 8 red bulls, and 3 coffees.
It is strange planning for a trip like that, when you plan for x amount of hours and miles a day, it always seems like it will be such a neat ride. Then you start out, making 10-15 mph less than the speed limit because of your overloaded rig and the massive wind catch of a trailer you are pulling. Then some quick calculations in your head tell you this is going to be a longer trip than planned, however, you remain confident and excited for the journey. This is how it started for me.
I left my Mother’s house in Western Colorado at 5:30am. By 6:00am I was in a full blizzard and my windshield wash sprayer quit working. If you have ever driven in Colorado under these conditions, you know that the road crews cover the highways in a combination of magnesium chloride and gravel making my windshield nearly impossible to see through. So I stopped in Glenwood Springs before the long and winding Glenwood Canyon, to purchase a couple of gallons of wash fluid so I could stop on the side of the highway every ten minutes for the next 6 hours to splash a bit on the windshield. Those kinds of conditions made each stop miserable with driving snow and what felt like hurricane force winds. The most difficult part of the whole journey across the Rockies was Vail Pass, where the icy roads had my overloaded Xterra struggling. At one point, (while in 4-wheel drive) my speedometer said 42 mph and I couldn’t have been moving more than 5 mph. It was all I could do to stay on the road while moving around the many stuck or stranded cars that dotted the pass.
Once we were on top of the pass, we stopped to give the car and my nerves a quick break. Right before leaving the rest area, I jumped out to splash the windshield one last time before heading down the other side, leaving my door open the whole time. Twenty minutes later I check my mirrors and do not see Riot. I call for him … nothing, no jingle of his collar. My first thought, pure panic, I’ve lost out dog! Kristy is going to be pissed. He must have jumped out when I stopped to clear the windshield. As I cussed at myself and frantically searched for a spot to turn around, here comes Riot out from under my duffel off the floor of the rear seats, Thank Goodness!!! That dog has never received as much love as I gave him in that moment. What a terrible feeling to think you lost the family pet.
After the Rockies the rest of the trip was smooth cruising that was rather uneventful. Our first night was spent sleeping in the back seat, at a rest stop just outside of Paxico, Kansas. After a quick sleep, we woke to 21 degree temperatures and you guessed it, snow again! Thankfully the ground was warm enough to keep the roadways from freezing up, and we continued making good time through the morning with tail winds. We out ran the storm by 10:00am. That day we made it through the rest of Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, and finally stopped for the night at 1:00am at a truck stop just outside of Beckley, West Virginia.
A quick nap and we were on the road again by 5:00am. It is funny, by this point in a trip like this, things are no longer fun or interesting, you enter pure survival mode. Even Riot was there, each pee break for him became a race for the both of us. Let’s hurry and get there. No time to pee, eat, or sleep, we will do those things when we get there. Until then, pure survival mode. By 8:00am we dropping out of the Appalachians and I could see the flats of Eastern North Carolina stretching out to the horizon. We were getting close, I could feel it, and it was palpable that Riot could sense the end of our journey. We fought our way through Monday rush hour traffic in Raleigh and finally turned onto Highway 70. Our last highway before our destination! Soon things started to look familiar as I had seen some of these places 2 months prior. At 12:00pm we arrived and settled onto the boat. What a relief, what a journey, we had made it! Now all I need is my wife and my babies!
*What’s the longest road trip you have made in a single go? Have you ever lost a pet only to realize where they were later? Let us know in the comments below!