Completed: My Solo Road Trip from Arizona to Massachusetts [PLEASE READ]

Camper Van Road Trip Articles

Hey everyone,

So before I made my departure, I was really glad that there was a forum like this where people can help each other with their long road trips across the country. I wanted to say thank you all for the help you gave me, your advice was extremely helpful! Planning thread is here. I promised when I would finally have the time, I would come back and tell you all about it!

I left on Memorial Day around 8:00 in the morning, packed up everything the night before for the move. Like a moron, I already got my first speeding ticket just before entering the Heber/Show Low area. I even had a radar detector but the officer had his radar off! So not the smoothest start that I wanted but oh well. Since then, I cruise controlled it 10MPH flat over the speed limit and never wanted to take my chances again. I have to say that I’m not the ordinary person, I really wanted to complete my trip as quick as I could. So, I packed up a little cooler with water, red bulls, and apple juice; I’m a fanatic when it comes to apple juice. As for food, I had pounds of beef jerky. So as I said earlier, I wanted to complete my trip as quick as possible. When I had to take a leak, I only used rest areas because they were the quickest way in and out. Every time I got out of the car, I looked like a jackass running to the bathroom with my legs flying up and down doing butt kickers. I had to do something physical with my body with the little time I only wanted to utilize. I stretched while doing my business and butt kicked it back to the car.

On my first day, I did a whopping 15.5-hour drive (according to Google Maps) in just 16.5 hours. I arrived in Tulsa, Oklahoma around 12:30 in the morning and stayed at the La Quinta, which was phenomenal. Front desk lady didn’t mind me requesting to get a room at a late hour and was impressed with my drive from Arizona. To be honest, it was nice to get some love for my epic first day. From Scottsdale, Arizona to Tulsa, Oklahoma, the trip wasn’t that eventful for me besides my speeding ticket. Albuquerque was the easiest city to get through, I got in and out of there in a matter of a half hour, I think. I’m trying to remember how it all went down. As for going through Oklahoma City, I hardly saw a thing for how dark it was but it was nice going through two major cities without any traffic.

I woke up to my alarm in Tulsa at 10:00 in the morning, suited up, grabbed the last pastries from the breakfast they were serving, and hit the road. I felt great for what I did the day before and I got wonderful sleep at the hotel. I was re-energized and ready to see what day two brings me. For how inhumane I already thought doing a 16.5 hour road trip the first day was, I was logically trying to think of how long I can go for on day two. I set my goal for a 12-hour trip (according to Google Maps) to Columbus, Ohio. On my way there, entering Missouri, I had to drive through about 30 minutes of the heaviest rainfall I think I’ve ever seen in my life. My visibility was probably 15% at one point, it was absolutely a wild thing to experience. After that 30-minute period, I had alternative weather conditions from sunny to rainfall going back and forth for another good 30 minutes. Once that whole hour went by, it was nothing but mostly clear skies and I was back at going at least 10MPH over the speed limit. I have to admit, I did have moments of going about 20MPH over when I was able to see what’s in front of me for a good half mile. I guess I regained my trust with my radar detector after seeing how well it was working after my incident back in Arizona. When I entered St. Louis, I was a worried about the traffic I was going to hit because I was coming in during rush hour. Fortunately for me, I only had to deal with about 15 to 20 minutes of traffic. Once I got out of that, it was smooth sailing. Now fast-forwarding, you guys won’t believe this but like I said, I’m not the ordinary person. I ended up pushing my second day all the way to Erie, Pennsylvania. According to Google Maps, a road trip from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Erie, Pennsylvania is 15.5 hours. I arrived at my hotel in Erie just a little after 2:00 in the morning.

I woke up the next morning exactly at noon. Snagged myself a whopper from Burger King right next-door and once again, I hit the road. Since I completed about 32 hours of driving in just two days, I really wanted to stop in a city I used to live in for about three years when I was a child in New York. Growing up, I attended kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grade in Cortland, New York. When we left to move to Scottsdale, Arizona, we never went back. I always wanted to see the old place again. I decided to go for it and it was the best decision I ever made in my life.

As I entered Cortland, I saw the A&W with the miniature golf course that my sister and I always went to. I had my sister on Bluetooth as this was going on and I was instantly freaking out at all the things that were still there from when we were kids. I kept driving and noticing things that I was able to remember and then I finally decided to go see the old house. I turned on my street and it was insane. I had goose bumps all over me; it was something of a feeling I couldn’t explain. I pull up to my old house and couldn’t believe I was back.

Then the most incredible thing happened. A woman came to the giant rectangular window that had its curtains wide open and she was staring right at me like, “What the hell are you doing staring at my house?” I felt compelled to say something so I rolled down my window and mouthed out the words, “I used to live here!” The woman’s face lit up with a smile and she was extremely excited. I went down the street to look at the cul-de-sac where we used to play and turned around to see the woman outside of our old house waiving at me to come to her. I went right back to the house and she introduced herself to me and invited me in. I honestly couldn’t believe it. I was going to be going inside my old house that I haven’t been in for about 17 years. As I entered the home, the husband and son were standing there and we introduced ourselves to each other. Had a long conversation about what I was doing with the road trip and all and the mother loved it.

She asked me, “Do you notice anything different inside the house from what you can remember?” I actually did. When you enter the house, there were walls to the right that went up to about waist level to separate the hallway to the main living room and there used to be little fake plants on top of them. I told them I remembered the plants because I used to play with my little green soldiers in them. Right when I told them this, the whole family went insane. To save my life from typing more, here is what she wrote on her Facebook page to let everyone know the incredible story.

“At some point long after we moved into this house, Lola discovered something lodged in between the baseboard and floorboard. We pulled it out and discovered a little green soldier. We all wondered who that toy belonged to and we never threw it out. Today through our big picture window, I see a young man sitting in a car outside of our house. He rolled down his window and I could read his lips. “I used to live here!” I motioned for him to come inside. We shared stories about the house, the huge tree smack in the middle of the backyard, he showed us his old room and he started talking about these little green soldiers. Rob ran to get the treasure while we all tried to not lose our minds, and we gifted this grown man’s childhood toy soldier back to him today right in our living room. It was absolutely amazing! Nick is making his way from Arizona to Boston for a brand new job and we wish him all the best in starting his new life. We are so happy he veered two hours off course to come back home!“

They were the nicest people I’ve ever met and just typing this to you all has gotten me a little emotional. To leave my friends and family in Arizona to start my adult life in Boston and being able to reunite with something from my childhood like that was nothing like I could ever imagine. I’ll remember it for the rest of my life.

I had to tell you all about that story, but now to get back to the road trip. As much as how unordinary of a person I am, there is a breaking point in every human being. On my third day, I was only able to go as far as Springfield, Massachusetts. According to Google Maps, a road trip from Erie, Pennsylvania to Springfield, Massachusetts is a little over 7 hours. I got to my hotel at about midnight, picked up a six pack of beer, could only stay awake to drink one, and went right to sleep.

I was starting to get a very weird reaction to my body as I was entering Springfield, Massachusetts. It was a feeling of exhaustion from every part of the body. My eye muscles were weak, my hands were cramping from gripping the steering wheel, my head felt heavy, and my back was giving out. There truly is a breaking moment in everyone and concerned for my safety and others, I got off the very next exit to the closest accommodating hotel I could find, which fortunately for me, was extremely close.

The next day was an easy ride into the city and to finalize my results, I was able to complete my road trip from Scottsdale, Arizona to Boston, Massachusetts, in about 3.2 days. To this very moment, I still ask myself how I was able to pull it off. Though now I’m here and I want to again thank you for all the people on this forum who help everyone out. You’re all truly amazing and helpful individuals!

I never thought I would ever type out so much for a post on a forum, but thanks for those who read it, it took me a long time!

Thank you again to everyone!

Nick

The Great American RoadTrip Forum – RoadTrip Field Reports