Having recently wrapped up the most epic of epic US road trips, I’ve had a hard time trying to get my head around just everything I’ve done, seen, and driven through over the past 7 months. I don’t mean this in some kind of grand “what does it all mean” way of getting my head around it – it’s more like I’m trying to figure out what memories go on shelves of my mental library (and I still don’t understand the Dewey Decimal System) and what gets tossed into the mental shredder, never to be thought of again.
I’ve been thinking about this for some time now, and the only thing I can do is the same thing I do whenever confronted with a seemingly too-tall task: break it down. So here, for your reading enjoyment, is a by-the-numbers breakdown of my life for the past 7 months:
Days that were spent on the road, driving all over the United States. 217 days equals 31 weeks exactly and 7 months, exactly. I don’t think this exactness means anything, but it’s gonna be cataloged under “pointless facts” that will most likely only interest me.
Nights spent camping. At this point, I’m pretty sure I can set the world record for how fast to break down a tent. I actually had someone time me at one of our events, and I think I clocked in around 1:32.
Nights spent camping in bear country. If there is a region of the U.S. that has bears, there’s a good chance that we camped there.
Numbers of bears seen. I’m convinced that Kim has developed some kind of mental super power that allows her to telepathically communicate with bears. I’ve always wanted to see a bear, but my want is no match for SuperKim’s power that allows her to send subliminal messages to the bears asking them to please stay out of our camp.
Campsite animal encounter. I spent hours one night chasing off 3 raccoons in my underwear wielding nothing but a broom and a jug of water (my weapons of choice when battling small woodland creatures). It wasn’t a pretty site, and some granola bars were lost, but I eventually won the battle of wits with the sly little bastards. I let the skunk that waddled through our camp shortly thereafter go through undisturbed.
Nights spent in hotels. I’ve determined that the surgeon general should issue a warning about people staying in hotels too frequently. Why, you ask? Well, I started choosing hotels based upon the quality of their breakfast, which, if you’ve stayed in many hotels around the U.S., is like asking someone what smells better: rotten eggs or dog diarrhea.
Nights spent with friends or family. At this point, I’m either the best or worst houseguest in the world because I immediately make myself at home in whatever house I find myself in. I’d cook in their kitchens, clean stuff, and basically treat people’s houses as my own. I thought this was much better than tip-toeing around asking if it was OK to make a cup of coffee or use a bit of butter.
Different friends or family members we stayed with in 10 different states. We’ve left a trail of favors to be called in all over the country, which, depending on how you feel about my actions above, could be great or mean I’m gonna have a ton of house-guests with revenge on their mind.
Approximate number of thank-you cards sent out to people for letting us stay with them, getting dinner or drinks with them, or just being nice and accommodating people to us when we came through their town. Whenever we finally settle down, I’m going to need a well-paying job because I owe a lot of people a lot of beers.
Miles driven during those 217 days. At the equator, the Earth is approx. 24,900 miles in circumference, which means we drove the equivalent of 1.32 times around the Earth. My butt goes numb just thinking about how much time I’ve spent in a car lately.
Average miles driven per day. The next time I sit behind a steering wheel, I’ll probably throw up a little in my mouth – that’s how sick I am of driving.
Number of speeding tickets. I definitely drive like a little old man, rarely going over the speed limit, but at least I can still see over the steering wheel and read all the street signs.
States visited. Of the lower 48 states, I only missed out on visiting Rhode Island, although I would say I’m not “missing” anything.
Times we changed time zones. Luckily, there was only one time we forgot about switching time zones, which only made us nearly late for our job.
Number of state borders crossed. I gave up getting pictures at each state border a loooooong time ago.
National parks visited. We were able to visit Acadia, Arches, The Great Smoky Mountains, Glacier, Joshua Tree, and Yosemite National Parks. Aside from getting to spend so much time with friends and family, these were the best moments of the 7 months.
Approximate amount of feet of Subway sandwiches eaten by me. It’s hard to eat well when you move around so much, and Subway was pretty much the only thing to eat if we wanted to eat fresh vegetables on a regular basis. But still, 62 feet of sandwiches is a lot – that’s the equivalent of 8 Andre the Giants standing on top of each other, and I’d still have a few feet to spare.
Number of sunglasses I broke. At least I’m getting better – I’m down to averaging one pair every 3.5 months, instead of one pair every 1.1 month.
These numbers might seem a bit hard to take in all at once, so I’ll put them in a little bit of context. Here’s what an average two-week period looked like:
6 nights spent camping (2 of which would be in bear country), 5 nights spent in a hotel, 3 nights spent in 1 friends house. We’d have visited 6 different states, be in 1 new time zone and driven 2,117 miles. I’d have eaten 8 Subway sandwiches (about half an Andre the Giant) and dinner or drinks with 2 people. I would still be wearing the same pair of sunglasses and seen no bears.
I still don’t know what to make of this road trip – even thinking about it makes me tired. Like every big event in life, it takes time to fully process everything. For now, all I’m gonna do is catch up on my sleep and soak up the sun on a Mexican beach. A few margaritas and fresh guacamole will help put everything into perspective, right?