Total Distance: 9493 miles!
Today's Destination: Home
Well, we did it! We made it home yesterday around 6 pm local time. It was a long drive concluding a loooonnnnggg trip, but boy was it worth it!
Unlike the day before, we got a fairly early start on the day (checkign out at 9 am became early for us) and just drove. Montana is, fortunately, more interesting than Wyoming, but it still took a few rounds of I-Spy and some crazy conversations to get us through. Justin finally took a nap (he almost never sleeps in the car) and I got to listen to Carmina Burana, which kept me plenty awake while driving. That and curving around mountains and counting how many times we crossed the Clark Ford (seven).
We arrived home to find my mom and brother had left us some surprises:
We also arrived to non-functioning AC (it was turned off while we were gone). So I'm currently writing this while sitting in front of a box fan going full blast.
Today I added up all the receipts I had saved. We estimated the trip would cost about $200/day, or roughly $600 total. To my surprise, we were under budget! The receipts clocked in a little under $4000, although I know it's really more than that because there are a few gas receipts we missed and we didn't get receipts for most of the tolls we paid. But still, I figure that's pretty good for a road trip around the country!
Some fuel stats, if you're interested
Average MPG for the trip was 34.8 (including highways, cities, idling in traffic, etc.)
Cheapest gas: Hattiesburg, MS: $2.31/gal
Most expensive gas: El Cajon, CA: $4.29/gal!
Average gas price: $2.93 (average price per gallon, not average we spent)
Median gas price: $3.30
I learned some things about myself on this trip, although not necessarily what I expected to learn. I was hoping this trip would make me more spontaneous and less tightly wound, that it would give me a break from my daily stress and make me less frazzled when I came back. I'm not really sure if I accomplished any of that, largely because the trip itself had many of its own problems and stresses to worry about!
I got very upset whenever plans fell through. Justin told me it's okay for things not to work out, and I hope I learned to accept that because it's not like I really had a choice. I also hope I learned to communicate better with Justin. We had some ups and downs, but overall I feel like the trip really brought us closer together.
But the biggest lesson for me actually happened unexpectedly, and it was the result of my forgetting to pack extra contact lenses. I've worn glasses since I was in the second grade, and I've always hated them. I got contacts when I was 11, and since then I've felt very self-conscious whenever I wasn't wearing them. I'm usually pretty self-conscious in general; I think about my clothes and how much makeup I have on (even though I don't wear a lot) and what picture I'm presenting to the people around me. I have to say, there's nothing like a good, long road trip to shake up that mindset, and there's nothing like having your security blanket (my contacts) ripped away (literally, because one of them ripped two weeks in) to make yourself deal with your insecurities.
The first few days were tough. I even wore my contacts a couple days while one of them was torn, even though they hurt, because I just didn't want to be out in my glasses. I didn't want to feel ugly. Finally, one day I told myself that feeling good was more important than looking good, and that's when I put my contacts back in their case for the rest of the trip. It still wasn't easy. I wondered what the people around me thought when they looked at me. I'm pretty good at acting like I don't care what other people think of me, but deep down I really do. The great thing about a road trip, though, is that nobody cares about you! Most of the people you interact with are people you'll never see again, and when you're at the Grand Canyon or an art museum, you know that the people around you also are way too focused on the stuff right in front of them to even notice you. That's a very liberating realization. I hope I can carry it over into my daily life.
I packed a pretty light wardrobe, which meant rotating through the same 8 or 9 tops over and over for a month. Again, it was something I started not to think about - especially whenever we hadn't done laundry in a while and my primary concern wasn't what was cute or what was my favorite, but what was clean. I also wore less and less makeup as the trip progressed. By the last day, I didn't wear any (of course, that was the day I ran into a former student of mine at a gas station, of all places!).
So here's the lesson I learned: my physical appearance had absolutely no effect on my enjoyment of the trip. Once I got sunglasses that could fit over my glasses, I could see just as well and drive just as, well, the way I normally do. The Statue of Liberty doesn't look any different without contacts. Niagara Falls is just as breathtaking with only tinted moisturizer and mascara (actually, I'd recommend not wearing any makeup if you're going to go close to the falls, because it will wash right into your eyes). And the Midwest is just as flat and boring no matter what you're wearing, and if you're going to spend 9 hours in a car you're going to want to wear something comfortable.
All in all, it was a pretty amazing trip. I'm glad we did it, and I'm glad we were with each other because I can't imagine going through that craziness with anyone else but Justin. We hope to travel a lot more in the future - but from now on, we think two weeks is our limit!
|I missed these sunsets|
I'd like to thank everybody who prayed for us on our trip as well as anybody who actually read all these blog posts. It's been an incredible journey and I'm glad to have "shared" it with you.