When my husband was still in the military, we found ourselves having to make frequent coast-to-coast moves across country. It seemed that the Navy wanted us in California for a couple of years, then in Rhode Island, and then in California again. Sometimes Virginia was where they took us. Either way, whenever it was time to move, the move was always a big one. No moves across town or into the next county. Never even just a matter of packing a truck and driving to our destination in one day. Our military moves were huge, life-changing events that took us to a different climate, a different type of city, and practically to a different country. Many of our friends and colleagues, also in the Navy, chose to ship their cars, along with their furniture and other belongings, and simply fly to their next destination. This made a lot of sense. Driving, or taking a train or a bus across country took many days, while flying could get us there in a matter of hours. Yet, the change was so big, it seemed to us that we needed to ease into it gradually. Thankfully, my husband was always given nearly a month off from work in order to move, so we chose to drive our way across the country from one coast to the next.
Driving from the East to the West coast was always a thrill for me because I grew up in the West. As we first headed out, navigating our way past New York City, we enjoyed spotting the city skyline, but that was pretty much where the fun ended for a couple of days. We then drove through Pennsylvania, which, in my western eyes, was simply a state full of trees which blocked our view. By the time we had traveled through Ohio, Indiana and Illinois, I was ready to see something besides the lush trees of the eastern half of our country. That was about the time we came to St. Louis, saw the incredible Mississippi River, and of course the St. Louis arch. After traveling for at least another half day, we came into Oklahoma where we met Interstate 40, which would take us all the way to California. Partway through Oklahoma, the trees began thinning out considerably, and the West began calling my name. By the time we hit Amarillo, Texas, we were in wide-open grassy plains. Heading through the sometimes desolate-looking deserts of New Mexico and Arizona were like music to my soul. I could see the horizon and I felt free. When we drove into San Diego and still felt the desert like climate, but with palm trees and a blue ocean to boot, I was in heaven.
My husband, an East Coaster at heart, was always excited when we went the other way. He preferred that we took the more northern route through Wyoming and South Dakota when we traveled from east to west, so we set out from Southern California heading back across Arizona and New Mexico, but then we turned north at Albuquerque, up Interstate 25. We drove through beautiful Colorado and the wide-open spaces of Wyoming, where I could enjoy my West just a bit longer. We saw Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, as well as the badlands, until we finally headed into Minnesota and Wisconsin, where the trees began showing themselves to be more plentiful once again. My husband would get excited about the trees, and if we were lucky, we moved in the fall and were able to enjoy the fall foliage, which is at its best in the eastern half of the country. After skirting down through Chicago, we headed back onto our original route, going back through Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania, the Tappan Zee Bridge in New York, and then across Connecticut and back into the tiny state of Rhode Island.
I would strongly suggest that anyone moving across country take the time to drive it. There is no better way to see and get to know our great country, than by driving across, seeing everything up close and personal. The change in scenery will prepare you for what’s ahead, and remember, getting there is half the fun!