Having driven cross country a handful of times and ridden across once, I wasn't too interested in making stops along the way. I just wanted to get to Seattle and have the drive be done with. Another reason I didn't really want to make stops was that I didn't want to leave my car (with almost all of my worldly possessions) and the three bicycles racked to the back of it unattended for too long. I'd only recently gotten Tibor back and I wasn't ready to lose him again. So instead of making it a 2,800 mile sight seeing leisure tour, I turned it into a grueling marathon of discomfort. I really don't recommend that approach. I also don't recommend riding your bicycle on Interstate 70, but sometimes you don't really have a choice.
While I had made the decision to not make stops, I wasn't going to let that prevent me from seeing new sights. That in mind, I chose the Northern Tier as my route. I'd never been to North Dakota as an adult (but I love South Dakota), only been around Glacier National Park in Montana (and it was gorgeous), and had never been to northern Idaho (I heard it was like Montana). There was no way around the boring start of PA > OH > IN > IL, but at least I was giving myself something to look forward to for the second half of the drive.
Google Maps said I had about 43 hours of driving ahead of me. Looking at my overloaded Chevy HHR with an early-80's Sears X-Cargo roof rack and the three aforementioned bikes hanging from the rear, I assumed a few more hours would tack themselves on while driving below the speed limit in order to keep my RPMs out of the red. At most, like 48 hours of driving, right? I could knock that out in three days. Totally. Truckers do it all the time. I hopped into my car a little before 10:30am EDT on Wednesday.
A little over 74 hours and 3 gallons of coffee later, I pulled into Seattle, my ankles swollen like a pregnant lady's and my roof top carrier an insect graveyard. Exhausted and atrophied, I peeled myself off of the front seat, happy to know that the trip was finally over and I could finally elevate my legs. I really had no idea the whole ankle thing could happen. I'd been sleeping in my car at rest stops, and all that sitting must have trapped a ton of fluid down low. Like wearing squishy ankle weights.
|Bug splatter spanning ten states.|
Aside from the ankle issue, here are some other things I learned:
- If you know anyone in Minneapolis, you'll see them no matter how briefly you're in the city.
- Pickled eggs are just as good in the far north as they are in the deep south.
- North Dakota is proud of its oil. They have postcards saying so.
- Fargo is the halfway point between Philly and Seattle, that's why they're all sister cities.
- Ronna and Beverly are the best.
- There are Badlands in Montana, not just the Dakotas.
- Wisconsin has tall rock formations that I assumed could only be found around Utah, but I'd forgotten about glacial lakes.
Anyway, now that the drive is done, I'm a Seattleite. Come visit.