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October 8, 2006

The Longest Drive Ever

Boardman,OH to Seattle,WA
5 Days and 2652 Miles

The world is vast, wide and wonderful. Limiting ourselves to Boardman for over three years of our lifetime didn’t seem right. There is a lot more world to see and explore and there are many things we can do, than what we did in Boardman. To do more, we need to learn more. So, I decided to go back to school (college/university).

And then, we started our longest drive ever. I left for Seattle with Indira, Kittaya and our faithful 1997 Camry on the morning of Wednesday, the 6th September 2006. We had a detailed and clear plan for our travel. We knew how long we were going to travel each day and where we were going to stop for the night. We had made all our reservations for the hotels and verified with the hotels before we started the journey. We were excited and also a little nervous about our move. I was totally comfortable about the plan we made for the trip, because I knew how the drive was going to be and how I would cover it. My only concern was Kittaya, because this was his first long drive.

The Camry
The Camry

We headed out on the Wednesday morning from Boardman in our car and with Annamayya Keerthanalu sung by M.S.Subbulakshmi playing in the car stereo. Whenever we go on a long drive, we start with these keerthanalu. These spiritual songs with extraordinary voice of M S and the melodious music always gave us a great start. The car was fully loaded, but we had sufficient space for Kittaya and his carrier. We had planned to reach Madison, WI by the end of day. Journey was very smooth until we reached the city limits of Chicago. If you have ever traveled to the city you would know how the traffic would be. We spent about two hours just to cross the city, and even with this delay were able to reach our hotel in Madison before sunset. We were traveling west and hence we were gaining time. That was an advantage.

Chicago Traffic
Chicago Traffic

When we reached Madison, one thing was obvious. We had packed too much stuff in our car. So, we went to an Office Depot near the hotel and took few things out of the car, put them in a big box and shipped them to our new address in Seattle. Most of those items we shipped were large comforters, pillows, etc. After clearing these items, we felt more comfortable in the car and Kittaya had more space to move around. We had our lease application approved and had already paid a holding deposit for an apartment in Seattle and hence we were able to ship the box to the new address.

We stayed in hotels at Sioux Falls in South Dakota, Sheridan in Wyoming, Missoula in Montana and on the last day in Bellevue, Washington. When we reached our destination at the end of fifth day, trip meter in the car read 2652 and the odometer reading was 112539 miles.

On the morning of the sixth day, which was September 11, 2006, we went to the apartments’ office and had a tour of the unit and the building. We liked the location and the unit, and signed a lease agreement. There we were, in our new home in Seattle.

Kittaya was the first to get settled in the new place. I think he knew instinctively that we had reached our destination. For us it took about two weeks to unpack, arrange and settle comfortably.

The landscape was spectacular and the drive was nice. The never ending corn fields in Wisconsin, open planes in South Dakota, wild west scenery in Wyoming, the mountains and creeks in Montana - all are just spectacular. During our travel we had told ourselves at least a hundred times, “we have to come back and explore all these places leisurely”. During our trip we crossed mighty Mississippi and Columbia rivers. We also visited Mt.Rushmore and enjoyed the short drive off of the highway.

Mississippi River
Mississippi River

Columbia River
Columbia River

Mt.Rushmore
Mt.Rushmore

The View from Our New Apartment
View from Our New Apartment

I must say that the drive was an experience we will remember for ever.

Few things we followed during our trip:

1. Food - Limited to healthy selections, like salads, fruits and Subway (a fast food restaurant chain in USA) veggie sandwiches without cheese, etc. Particularly for breakfast and lunch, didn’t eat oily or greasy food items. Took a couple of bread slices or an English muffin with little butter, coffee and a fruit for breakfast.

2. Driving Speed - Kept at the posted speed limit or few miles below the limit. I maintained a constant speed of 65 mph almost all of the time. At this speed I got the best mileage possible (32 mpg - overall) and most importantly there was less strain on us and on the car.

3. Kittaya, the Cat - I took our Kittaya for a drive every day, for about ten days before the journey. I took him in the car and drove him around for about 15 to 20 minutes. By doing this, he got used to the car well and he was not surprised to stay in the car.

4. Start Early - We started early in the morning, around 7 O’ clock each day. We were getting up early, eating breakfast and hitting the road. By doing this, we were able to reach our destinations before sunset comfortably. Start early and reach safely!

Filed under: People, Places, Photography — Singari Vijay @ 1:24 am

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