Week 1 was the first week I was on the road, so it involved a lot of driving, a tiny bit of photo taking, the tying up of many loose ends from Seattle, and a very tired Jamie and Fergie. (See my previous post for that).
We left Seattle on Monday March 3rd, and that first week we traveled to:
- Portland, OR
- Medford, OR
- Lodi, CA
- Palm Springs, CA
- Tempe, AZ
- Las Cruces NM
Approximately 2,000 miles in 7 days.
I quickly learned that checking into and out of a different motel every day, which involves unloading and then loading the car, pretty much completely sucks.
Tempe felt like a luxury because we were there for two nights, which was enough time to get some work done, have a shower and a good meal, and watch a TV show or two. I had the calendar open for road trip bookings in Phoenix, but didn’t have anyone sign up, a fact that I was so grateful for later on, because I was still in no position to work with clients. I also had just one non-travel day there, and desperately needed that time for other things. Alas, Texas would be the first state I’d work with clients in.
Highlights of week 1.
Portland, OR: I don’t know if this was a highlight, but it was something I was grateful for nonetheless. Fergie and I were headed from a Starbucks in north Portland through the Humbolt neighborhood to get to I-5 to head south to Medford, when I started hearing sirens and lots of them.
I had just driven through an intersection when I saw a police SUV careen around a corner to my left, nearly crashing into my car when he lost control of the steering. He straightened out and sped past us, narrowly missing the back corner of my car by a couple of feet (can you say instant heart-racing??). Up ahead about two blocks I could see many emergency lights and what appeared to be a pretty major ‘incident’. I immediately decided to make a u-turn and hightail it out of there, as it was clear to me this was no car accident. I was thinking ‘hostage situation?’, ‘shooting’?, ‘worse’? I settled on shooting.
The purple dot was us, heading east (to the left), and the red dot was the incident.
Driving away from the area south on MLK, I passed no fewer than 8 police cars that were racing to the scene through busy intersections. You could hear sirens coming from all parts of the city to head to that area.
I felt grateful that we didn’t drive down Killingsworth a minute earlier, or even 30 seconds earlier. You hear about unlucky victims being killed in drive-bys, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. It happened in Seattle last year, when a father and his family were driving through the CD, and he was shot and killed in his car while driving down the street. It wasn’t a case of mistaken identity, it was merely a case of ‘wrong place at the wrong time’. So I kissed my dog at the next stoplight, and prided myself on my quick decision-making abilities, something my past punk-rock street smarts instilled in me.
Also in Portland: on I-5 south, just south of downtown, I got my first rock chip from a gravel filled work semi! Grrrrr. The second day driving no less.
Medford OR: Stayed at the Motel 6 in Medford South on Alba Drive. The place was filled with drug dealers, meth heads and sketchy people, who all felt the need to stare unrelenting at me every time they saw me. I couldn’t wait to get out of there. I intentionally left my new $125 thermoelectric cooler in the room because it completely sucked. It wouldn’t even keep ice frozen let alone food cooled. I didn’t have the heart to donate it, knowing some other poor sap would go through what I went through. (I bought it on ebay and it was non-refundable).
Bought a new small swiss army knife for my keychain at an REI store, and did some grocery shopping at Trader Joes after buying a new (fantastic and huge) Coleman cooler that actually keeps ice frozen and food cold. In a stroke of genius I also bought a second small lunch-sized plastic Coleman cooler for day trips. It has come in very handy!
Visited a veteran’s memorial park the day we checked out, and Fergie had her first opportunity to run and play on the trip.
Didn’t have the best impression of Medford, but I think it was because it was super windy, and the Motel 6 really left a bad impression on me. Sorry Medford! I’m sure you have a lot more to offer than what I saw.
Lodi, CA: Best. Motel. 6. Ever. I’d go well out of my way to stay there again. It’s just 11 miles east of I-5, so clean, so quiet, and the rooms are huge and nicely decorated. I loved it and wanted to take it around the country with me. If you are driving up the 1-5 corridor and want an awesome and affordable dog-friendly motel to stay at, definitely make the 11-mile drive over to the Lodi CA Motel 6. It’s completely worth it.
Palm Springs, CA: Ahhhh, I love you Palm Springs! I don’t know what it is about the town, but it just gives me such a great feeling. If I ever become independently wealthy, I’m buying a vacation house there. Fergie and I hung out at one of my favorite places, the patio at the Ace Hotel, and had a delicious breakfast before hitting the road. We stayed just one night next door at the Motel 6, which was fine and quiet and cheap, although the carpets were the filthiest I’ve ever seen. (With Motel 6s you definitely get what you pay for. The higher the rate, the better the Motel 6, which I guess is kind of a no-brainer).
Tempe, AZ: Dear jackasses that stayed in the room above me at the Motel 6 in Tempe:
I understand that you thought it was totally appropriate to party outside in the public corridor that went past your room that night, allowing your 10-15 guests to take up all of the parking with their big trucks, leaving no parking for paying guests like me, and that you were fine with coming home at 3:45 am, stomping around above me, and that you thought it was totally normal to be drinking beer on said outdoor public corridor from 10am-11:15am the next morning, past checkout, and that you didn’t see anything wrong with watching me pack my car right below you, all staring at me in silence, drinking your beers until I went back inside so you could make your comments. I get that you had zero respect for the sweet male housekeeper who repeatedly and kindly told you that checkout was at 11am, and that you felt no need to stop drinking your beer and actually get your shit and go.
I just have one thing I want to say to you:
YOU GUYS ARE ASSHOLES.
I feel sorry for your girlfriends (if you have any, which most likely you don’t). I feel sad for your parents. I wish you luck in life because your behavior most likely causes all kinds of problems for you on a personal level. Try to start practicing some kindness, respect and consideration, and you might find that life gets a little better and a little easier for you. Try to stop living up to the term douchebag, and you might like yourself a little more.
(Side note: I did complain to the front desk staff, but what’s a young 20-something girl going to do with no security on site? Not much. I contemplated saying something directly to them, but they were the kind of people who would have just laughed at me, or said sorry and kept on with what they were doing. They were that kind of inconsiderate jerk.)
AZ redeeming experience: Phoenix AZ: On our way out of town, Fergie and I stopped at Papago Park, and had the most awesome experience. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, and we walked around the park for a couple of hours, taking pictures. I decided if I lived in Phoenix I’d force all of my clients to do shoots there. It was that amazing. It was one of the highlights of the whole trip thus far. My anger at the Motel 6 situation quickly turned to bliss as we explored the amazing park in the sunshine. I really want to find a way to go back again in August when I’m in Sedona.
Las Cruces NM: I decided that I’m not a fan of staying at motels that have indoor corridors as opposed to outdoor entrances, because it’s a massive PITA to unload my gear from the car. An indoor entrance room takes me about 60-minutes to get everything unloaded and settled. An outdoor entrance room takes me about 10-15 minutes to get everything unloaded.
In anticipation of car camping at El Cosmico in Marfa TX (all of their tents were fully booked), I stopped at WalMart and bought two 30 degree Coleman sleeping bags. I zipped them together to make one giant bag for Fergs and I. The forecast called for lows in the 30’s in Marfa, and I wanted to be sure both the dog and I would be warm.
Click just to the left of 00:00 to play the video above. The little ‘play’ arrow isn’t displaying.
Other notes: I was scared driving through El Paso TX, having read about the violence just south of the border in Cuidad Juarez Mexico. It’s funny how anxious I was driving down the highway. I think I was the most fearful of that than any other road trip plans, which is pretty funny. Of course, it was fine, and the one set of emergency lights I saw on the highway wasn’t fake police ready to kidnap Fergie and I as I had thought, it was just a broken down semi needing assistance from a real police officer. Whew! lol.
California drivers are CAH-rayzee! But they must be good at what they do, because I didn’t see any accidents. Now I’ve decided they are excellent defensive drivers, if not a bit too risk-taking with their speeds and complete disregard for stopping distance or use of turn signals.
The passes just south of Bakersfield CA on I-5 are effing terrifying to drive for the first time at night when you have bad night vision and are exhausted and trying to get to Palm Springs and it’s extremely windy out and your car is getting blown around and you are narrowly missing the truckers changing lanes and the 100mph BMWs trying to get from SF to LA. That was the most white-knuckle part of the drive by far.
Arizona drivers are quite polite, and actually appear to be somewhat poor drivers compared to California drivers, because of their slow(er) response times. I really enjoyed it though! By that point I was needing to relax a bit while driving.
Nowhere was traffic as bad as I’m used to in Seattle, even in rush hour. I thought the Sacremento and Phoenix rush-hour traffic was completely tame at 5:30 compared to Seattle. I guess what the news says is right- Seattle has some of the worst traffic in the nation. I’m hopeful that my home city has helped me prepare for the other areas that have awful traffic (the northeast part of the country and LA I’m looking at you!).
Everywhere I have driven has been very easy to navigate. Even being a Seattle native, I found the streets at home to be confusing. I can’t imagine what it’s like for people moving to Seattle for the first time. They must get lost constantly! Driving around towns that are laid out like a grid, where the roads aren’t constantly intersected by a lake, bridge, hill or other random obstacle, where the streets don’t frequently dead-end or become one-ways, is refreshing!
The Google Maps iPhone app is awesome for GPS! In the first seven days of the trip, I believe the Google Lady (what I call the voice nav on the iPhone Google Maps app), only steered me wrong once, which is pretty impressive.
I’m using a Satechi windshield-mount iPhone holder, and have my phone plugged into a long charging cable, which is working out perfectly.
Lastly, I love my car!! The White Lady so far is serving me very well, and performed admirably through her first four states.
More to come with week II highlights! Week II has more happiness and positivity! Mercury Retrograde finally wore off.
We’re in New Orleans now, so the next posts will most likely need to wait, as there are tons of things to do here!