It’s been almost two months since I left Arizona for Mississippi. These past two months have been a bumpier ride than I expected, but I think the road is finally starting to flatten out. If you’ve never made a cross-country move before, the physical miles traveled are really only part of the journey, but they are a good place to start.
There are 1425 miles between Phoenix and Vicksburg. Google Maps estimates the drive time at 20 hours. I pulled out of my driveway in Phoenix at 0500 on January 13th and had intended to arrive in Vicksburg sometime in the late evening of the 14th. I did not take into consideration the slower speed I would have to travel while pulling a 5’x8′ Uhaul trailer or the increased frequency of stops I’d have to make to gas up and walk the dog.
My very last stop in Arizona was at The Thing. I had no reason or need to stop at The Thing as I had gassed up and walked the dog only an hour earlier and can’t take the dog into the museum with me. But stopping at The Thing has become a thing since we moved to Phoenix in 2009.
It’s not too far from The Thing to the New Mexico border. One state down, three to go!
I would love to say the drive through New Mexico was uneventful, but it wasn’t. Despite downsizing drastically, I still was unable to fit everything I intended to bring to Mississippi in my trailer. I came to terms with leaving most of what wouldn’t fit, but I was adamant on taking my cat tree, so we tied it to the top of the trailer.
Every time I stopped I checked the straps to make sure the tree was secure. Being securely tied to the trailer however, did not prevent one of the top tiers from getting loose and flying off the trailer. But, it was still attached to the rest of the tree by the scratch rope that’s wrapped around the columns, so I was dragging it down the highway. I’m sure it was no more than a minute or two until I saw it and immediately pulled to the side of the road. Thankfully there wasn’t a car directly behind me when this happened. The shelf was attached to what seemed like 12 feet of rope, once I finally pulled it all toward me, I cut the shelf free from the rest of the tree and tossed it in the Jeep. Then I stood there on the side of the road wondering how I was going to get this huge cat tree off the top of the trailer by myself.
Fortunately the next exit was only about 2 miles down the road. And as luck would have it the truck stop had several large dumpsters, all with the lids open. So I pulled up next to one of the dumpsters, untied the tree, climbed up onto the wheel well of the trailer, ducked my head, and yanked the tree as hard as I could in the direction of the dumpster. Success! The tree fell right into the dumpster and didn’t hit me in the head!!!
Major crisis averted, I gassed up, caffeined up, walked the dog and got back on the road. A couple of hours later I passed into Texas. Two states down, two to go!
I have a love/hate relationship with Texas. I have very much enjoyed visiting the cities I’ve visited in Texas, but I hate driving through Texas. To be fair to Texas, the reason I hate driving through it is because I have yet to make it across the state in one day and I’m determined to do so. On this particular trip I wasn’t even able to take advantage of or enjoy the posted 80mph speed limits because I was pulling the trailer.
I finally stopped for the night around 6pm in Pecos, Texas. I had been on the road for 13 hours and had only driven 650 miles… what? According to Google Maps this drive should have only taken 9 ½ hours, even less so with my normal driving speed. Pecos, Texas is barely a spot on the map, but it’s a spot on the map with a pet friendly Motel 6 and I was exhausted and starving. I have stayed in many Motel 6’s over the years and have never been disappointed, until Pecos, Texas. I could write an entire post about all the ways this place was the biggest shit hole I’ve ever stayed in, and I’ve stayed in some sketchy places over the years. Instead I’ll just mention that it was so bad that even after changing rooms they refunded my money and I stayed for free, hardly a conciliation prize. I actually considered going elsewhere, but the next closest town was an hour away and I honestly didn’t think I could safely make it that far.
Because I was so jacked up on caffeine and in the world’s worst motel, I didn’t sleep very well, if I got two hours of sleep the entire night I would be surprised. I was caffeinated and back on the road before 0500.
It was pretty clear right off that I was not going to make it to Vicksburg by the end of the day, I was too tired and I wasn’t making the mileage I had hoped, so I set my sights on Tyler, Texas, 520 miles from Pecos. I have a friend from Michigan that now lives in Tyler so it was the perfect excuse to stop.
There’s not a lot to stimulate the mind while driving through Texas and when you start the day already exhausted, caffeine and cold outside air can only do so much to perk you up. By the early afternoon I was starting to feel like the undead so I decided to pull over at a rest stop and take a nap. I’ve never attempted to actually rest at a rest stop before, it wasn’t a bad experience, I’ll do it again. Because I was still so jacked up on caffeine I didn’t actually sleep, but I was able to lay there for an hour or so and at least rest. It was enough to get me through the rest of the day.
I rolled into Tyler somewhere around 5pm and checked into a hotel recommended by my friend. Compared to the night before it was like I had checked into a palace. My friend generously offered to bring me dinner, so I texted him my Burger King order and took a long, hot shower. By the time he arrived with the food I almost felt human again.
It had only been a year or so since we’d last seen each other, he came to Phoenix every couple of years and we always got together when he was in town, so it was a comfortable evening catching up. From Tyler it’s only 300 miles to Vicksburg. Since I didn’t have to be up before the sun I decided to take a couple of Benadryl and get a good nights sleep. I woke up feeling like a new person!
The final day’s drive was uneventful. I stopped for gas when leaving Tyler and one other time in Louisiana. I missed the Welcome to Louisiana sign. That Monday was a holiday so I didn’t even encounter any rush hour traffic going through Shreveport. I crossed the Mississippi River into Mississippi mid-afternoon.
I stopped at the visitor center before heading to my momma’s house so the dog and I could stretch our legs and to take a moment to allow the realness of this new adventure to set in. This may have been the end of the road but it is just the beginning of the journey!