Our First Road Trip

We’ve made numerous references on this blog to our first road trip, so for those of you who haven’t heard that story, here you go. It’s part of the reason we’re doing our current traveling…and the reason we’re still together.

How The Trip Came To Be

We are a product of the internet. That’s right – we met online at Match.com. And we had a great initial 6 months of dating, from July 2009 to January 2010 – nothing too serious but lots of fun. By January though, we’d hit the point where we were starting to have more serious conversations, trying to figure out whether this was going to be a real relationship…or just end when something better came along.

In our case, however, the “something better” turned out not to be another person, but a whole other state. Scott had decided that he was going to move out to San Diego, California – something he had been thinking about for a while and had finally decided to do. But this was January…and he wasn’t moving until May. So instead of making the emotionally smart choice, we opted to throw caution to the wind and just keep dating until he moved…at which point we would definitely break up.

Scott decided to make his trip out to San Diego a fun road trip. So he spent hours planning routes, using Google Maps to find winding roads, national forests and great food. The only thing that would make it more fun? A travel companion. So he invited his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend to join him for one last (and 7 day long…) date before they broke up. Again, caution was thrown to the wind – Edie agreed to go, and thus we had our first road trip.

The Road Trip

After dropping Knox off at the Bed-N-Biskit Pet Lodge, we headed out early in the morning on Saturday, May 8, 2010. We drove for 7 days, a little over 3000 miles through 9 states, and spent about 80 hours in the car. We took gravel roads and US highways along the southern part of the country – Kentucky to Tennessee, through Mississippi, Louisiana & Texas, then across New Mexico & Arizona, and finally into California.

We saw incredible landscapes and wildlife throughout the trip. Marshes, mountains, deserts and forests. Cows, horses, javelina, lizards, deer and birds of all shapes & sizes. We saw oil derricks and wind turbines, cacti and boulders the size of the Civic. We stayed in cute bed & breakfasts and ate amazing food in restaurants off the beaten path. We got stopped by US Border Patrol guards…3 times.

As for the hours and hours…and hours in the car, we passed the time by listening to Scott’s eclectic mix of music – rock, country, & rap. And we talked…a lot. We talked about politics and religion and thoughts on kids and marriage and stuff that you just don’t discuss in polite company. But what did we have to lose? We were breaking up at the end of the week anyway. [For the record, it’s a little weird to know the exact day and time you’ll be breaking up.]

When we couldn’t come up with topics on our own, we went to some question books. Looking for a heavier topic, like “Would you accept 20 years of extraordinary happiness and fulfillment if it meant you would die at the end of the period?” For those, we went with The Book of Questions. Looking for something a little sillier, like if you really have to *go* do you walk for 20 minutes or run for 10 (because nothing brings you closer than talking about poop…)? For these lighter topics, we went with Would You Rather…?.

By the end, we’d been together 24/7 for 7 straight days, about 80 hours of which were in a Honda Civic – which probably sounds just dreadful to a lot of people. The amazing part though, is that we never fought or needed to say “would you please just shut up for awhile?” We actually still liked each other at the end – perhaps even more than at the beginning! Nevertheless, when we went to airport for Edie to fly home, we still broke up.

But Wait – Aren’t You Together Now?

Well…it turns out we weren’t very good at the whole breaking up thing. We kept talking and emailing…daily. And we scheduled a visit for 4th of July weekend, only 7 weeks after “the break-up” and wound up getting back together. 13 months and a long-distance relationship later, Scott moved back to Louisville and into Edie’s apartment. Only 4 months later, we set off on the road.

What We Learned

You can’t go on a trip like this without learning something. Our first little adventure together taught us a lot – not just about each other, but about the US and road trips in general.

  • Every place in the US has beauty; sometimes you just have to view it with a fresh set of eyes.
  • The US is a rural nation. If you live in a city, it is easy to forget this.
  • Taking a road trip for the journey instead of the destination is an incredible experience that everyone should have at least once. Taking back roads to do this is better than taking interstates because you get to see amazing scenery and wildlife and experience small towns, great food and interesting people that you might otherwise miss.
  • Whenever possible for your lodging needs, stay at a bed & breakfast. The proprietors and the other guests are going to be more friendly & entertaining than at a chain hotel, and the room will definitely unique!
  • Stepping out of your comfort zone and trying new things is the best way to grow as a person and learn who you are…or who you really want to be.
  • Pick the right travel companion. There are few people you will still enjoy, respect, admire and care for after 24/7 togetherness for a week, most of which is in a car.

That first trip also put the bug in our ear to try this road trip thing on a more long term basis. Thus, we are where we are today.

Here’s a look at some of the pictures from that fateful journey out to San Diego. The pictures make it clear how much fun we had!