Sunday, July 14, 2013

My Biggest Writing Regret

By Sarah Herlong

I‘ve never written a story about my first epic road trip. I remember the route, but not all the fresh insights of seeing this country for the first time. We were just out of college and I had the trip planned to Arizona. With my boyfriend Eric, we pieced together the rest of the trip on the fly. We drove 10-12 hours a day. We were busy stopping at national parks and monuments, and roadside attractions. We were poor, so we stayed at hostels and Motel 6’s along the way. So here is the story of my epic road trip in 394 words.

We traveled through 26 states in 15 days. We left Charlotte having been paid by my boyfriend’s mom for making her a sequined Christmas tree skirt. Weird, I know. We sped away from an angry mob in New Orleans, where we saw burned out cars. Stayed in El Paso in a hostel full of cowboys. Then to Tucson where we saw the most beautiful sunset ever amongst the saguaro cacti. Then it was on to the meteor crater. That’s in Arizona along with the little known place called the Grand Canyon. If you have a choice, go to the meteor crater, seriously.

At this point I was faced with driving through the desert at night up into the hills and then over the Hoover Dam. There were lots of white crosses with messages warning about hell that added to the ambience of fear. Then we rounded a curve and there was Vegas laid out beneath us, lighting up the sky. It was breathtaking. We stayed in a Motel 6 off the strip with lots of people clutching briefcases, and wearing desperate looks on their faces.
It was disconcerting.

The next day we drove the length of Nevada, which is all desert. We crossed over the Sierra Nevadas and made our way to San Francisco. We were totally overwhelmed with its beauty, and promptly made our way through the tenderloin district on foot. I looked as tough and mean as I could. Eric did too, but he was wearing a sweater vest, and that look is hard to pull off. We made quite the bizarre pair alongside all the crack heads.

Then to Yellowstone where we made the acquaintance of some menacing buffalo surrounding our car, with us still in it. And we saw a moose minding it’s own business. We went to Thermopolis, a town with an old hot spring spa turned hostel. I remember a scary lady staring out at us from her window, never taking her eyes off us. It was a little Bates Motel. We had to use a payphone to contact the manager to actually let us in, which we were having a considerably hard time doing. This was before cell phones. I swear some places are just built scary, like that’s what the architect had in mind. Then after some more adventures, it was time to go home.


Anonymous said...

There's an Alfred Hitchcock script hidden in your adventure.

Laura Puccia Valtorta said...

As you write about this, you may remember more. What was the most striking part of the trip? I'd love to read about it.

Rebecca Martin said...

Oh my goodness, Sarah, what a great idea! I took a cross-country road trip five years ago. I blogged about it, but I never thought to write a short story about it! Thanks so much for this blog entry.


Leigh Stevenson said...

More, please!