Nov-Dec 2011

Thanks to the Interstate Highway System, it is now possible to travel from coast to coast without seeing anything.
-Charles Kuralt


I live in Virginia, and I went to a holiday party in the Bay Area of central California, hosted by some friends of mine who used to live in the much more conveniently-located state of Delaware but who moved to CA in 2010. Rather than hop on a plane like a normal person (which is what I did last year for the same party), I’ve decided to take this opportunity to fulfill a fuck-it list item of mine: to drive across the country, coast to coast.

After discussing this with a different friend over beers (one of my primary sources of inspiration), I got it in my head to travel, not just coast to coast, but from one extreme point to another: the easternmost and westernmost points of the contiguous US (aka “the lower 48,” which doesn’t make much sense because Hawaii isn’t north of the continental US; and, while Alaska is, it’s more off to the northwest). These points are in Maine and Washington, respectively. A straight line connecting them – okay, actually a Great Circle route, or the shortest distance between two points on the surface of a sphere (and if you think the earth is flat, you’re reading the wrong blog) – would be about 90% in Canada. I have nothing against Canada, but I’m a US citizen, and wanted to see the US. Besides, border crossings are a major pain in the ass now, thanks to the War on Tourism.

Thus, I put together a semi-random route across most of the northernmost US states, roughly paralleling the US-Canadian border. Very roughly, that is; Michigan, for example, is left out because of certain other route considerations. Originally, I was going to hit Michigan, but yet another friend, this one in Ohio, made a Thanksgiving dinner offer I didn’t want to refuse. The US-Canadian border, incidentally, is the longest national border in the world.

To make things even more interesting and challenging for myself, I avoided the use of interstates on the journey west (see above quote). Also, I took the opportunity on this trip to visit as many microbreweries as possible: mostly, these were on or in close proximity to my projected route. I have an ultimate goal to visit every microbrewery in the US, but (this is apparently a source of confusion) I couldn’t visit them all on this particular trip. That is something to look forward to for future journeys. And by “visit,” I don’t necessarily mean sampling their wares; many breweries have limited hours, anyway.

Once I was done in California, I returned to Virginia by a different, and decidedly more southern, route. And that one used interstates (mostly I-40).

Some might ask why I did this. The best answer I can give is “because it’s there,” followed closely by “because I can.” Also, it’s something to talk about, which is why I’m blogging it. It’s not everyone who can be in a position to do this and since life is uncertain, I don’t know when would be a more opportune time.

Anyway, I trust this explains things. If not, feel free to ask relevant questions in comments, or email me at cathartes02-at-writing-dot-com (make relevant substitutions; I wrote it that way in an attempt to foil spambots).  I hope you enjoyed following along on this trip, and I look forward to sharing future journeys.

  1. Returning via a more southern route because your good friend Ter lives in a decidedly horrid southern state she cannot escape at the present moment and it’s always nice to visit friends? Yes, I prefer THAT explanation! But then I’m self-centered, too! :p

  2. So how close to my neck of the woods are you when you reach your destination in CA?

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