Diversions

Spontaneity at its Finest: My Cross-Country Road Trip

By Caroline Byrd, Contributor

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I have a problem with impulsivity. I don’t bungee jump off of buildings or anything, but I do tend towards spontaneity: I go to Australia, leave class to climb mountains and contemplate changing majors my senior year of college. Two weeks before the semester began, I went into my friend’s room and she told me she was about to embark on a two-week trip across the country to spend one day in Los Angeles.  Most people would think the idea was crazy, but in that moment, I couldn’t think of anything I wanted to do more.  I knew I wasn’t going to spend the entire two weeks driving, because I had to sleep at some point, but I thought if there was ever a time to be young a dumb and drive 34 hours across the United States, now was the time.   Once I decided the trip was a go, we convinced our mutual friend’s boyfriend to join us on our expedition, changing this one-man trip to a three-person journey.  

The trip went from Greenville, S.C. to Atlanta, to Birmingham, Ala. to Little Rock, Ark., Oklahoma City, Okla. to Amarillo, Texas to Albuquerque, N.M, to Flagstaff, Ariz. to Needles, Calif. to Los Angeles, . Normally on road trips people stop to camp along the way, but somehow we drove the entire 34 hours straight (with the exception of bathroom breaks, gas refills, and food stops). We were planning to get to California three days after we left Greenville, but we made it in exactly 2.  

The first real stop we made was in Amarillo, Texas.  Apologies if I offend any Texans, but Amarillo, Texas made a bad first impression; mental breakdowns were abundant. My friend and I ate oatmeal beside a ditch that was labeled as the only “park” in the city.  All I can remember from the drive through Amarillo was thinking the Texas Welcome Center was a football stadium, because apparently everything is bigger there. As I was slowly losing my mind, the three of us kept on to New Mexico.  From there, we traveled to Flagstaff and finally to Needles. Needles, Calif. was our most interesting destination because we learned that Needles is the hottest city in the transcontinental United States; we left quicker than any sight of rain the city may have seen in decades.  

What did we do with our one-day in Los Angeles? In consistency with my need to be a spontaneous human I aimed to do two things: eat a burger at In-N-Out (I’m a vegetarian) and get a tattoo. To my stomach’s regret and my parent’s misfortune, I did both.  

I drove across the country in two days sleeping maybe three hours along the way, destroying my diet and camping inside of a car. I learned to boulder and rock climb in Joshua Tree National Park and accidentally hiked 6 miles through the Grand Canyon. I made three new friends who feel more like siblings now and I got a permanent reminder of the world’s vast changes on my wrist. If you ask me why I did it, I will tell you that I acted on an impulse.  I went with my gut because college is the time to be spontaneous, and I only have one year left.  

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