Heading West Across America — By Car
Once again, I had stunned fellow frequent fliers and FlyerTalk members — many of whom already thought I was quirky as they were perplexed and felt compelled to ask quizzically: “Wait a minute…you mean you drove from Atlanta to Las Vegas?!?”
Heading West Across America — By Car
For a number of reasons, I decided to drive to Las Vegas to attend a meeting instead of fly as a passenger aboard an airplane — one of those reasons being that I was fed up with finding not-so-low airfares which turned out to be Basic Economy fares; or finding low airfares which with ancillary fees became not so much of a bargain after all.
Being based in Atlanta, I could have taken advantage of an $81.00 airfare offered by Spirit Airlines round trip — if I wanted to stay in Las Vegas for a week and carry only a small personal item with me so that I do not have to pay any extra.
I then thought of the lines; the airport security checkpoints; the delays and other potential pitfalls which might have awaited me — not to mention that although there are still some airlines I prefer more than others with which to travel, I am no longer fiercely loyal to a specific frequent flier loyalty program an airline.
Figuring that I could stop along the way for both business and leisure reasons, I decided to embark on the first major road trip in the United States which I have taken in years. I will never forget driving from the Seattle area to San Antonio by driving along the entire west coast of the United States — including Vancouver and Tijuana — before heading east. That was two weeks which I truly enjoyed.
I originally meant to take two weeks this time around as well; but other plans came up which shortened my trip by a day or two at both the beginning and end of the trip. Still, I rented a car for two weeks for $309.00 total — not bad at all — and ventured west.
Articles which include details of this trip will be written — likely not in order — but as I drove, I realized how much I missed being on the open road. Thankfully, places still exist where you can safely pass a slower car on a two-lane road; where highways wrapped along rolling hills like ribbons only to disappear towards the horizon of the vast expanse of land; where children attend school in small rural towns and play with their friends in playgrounds; where dozens of miles separate one town from another; where people will still hold a door open for you while smiling and wishing you a good day.
I had forgotten how driving alone on major road trips cleared my mind. “Looking out at the road rushing under my wheels”, Jackson Browne bellows out in Running On Empty from the 1977 album of the same name, which is one of my favorite songs of all time and is the quintessential highway song, in my opinion. That is one of 529 songs I have on an older .mp3 player which is otherwise considered obsolete.
Most refreshingly of all, only some elements of the trip were planned. I had to be in Las Vegas on one certain day; and Colorado Springs on another certain day. Some hotel properties were booked in advance; others were booked at the last minute if I decided to take a different route. If something caught my eye, I simply decided to stop. I was able to visit places and do things I had not yet done up until that point. This type of spontaneity is virtually impossible to experience with air travel — not to mention how much we miss when we are 35,000 feet above the ground hurtling through the sky at 500 miles per hour.
While nothing that I did on the road trip was anything I would consider incredibly extraordinary, I was still fascinating by the most mundane of things — I drove on plenty of back roads as well as Interstate highways — and I did throw in a few quirks into the trip as well…
Moulton, Iowa is one of the places through which I drove. Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.