The sun was up, and so were we! Out of the driveway by 7:30 a.m., we started logging the miles as we zipped across the country, from Redding to Susanville to Reno, NV, to I-80 east. The miles were slipping effortlessly in Ray’s nice new car as we switched driving duty back and forth a bit which made it even easier.
What I ended up discovering that first day on the road was that Ray thought we should get to Attica, NY, by Tuesday afternoon, instead of Wednesday afternoon. I wondered how it would feel to drive two full nights in a row. I knew I needed more sleep than what that meant, and didn’t know how we were going to accomplish this new goal. Ray hadn’t seen his woman friend, Patty, for several months, and he wanted to get there as fast as he could.
We managed to drive all night the first night without too much dozing at the wheel – we switched back and forth on driving duties, but it is impossible to sleep for a short two-hour break in the night when you’re worried about the driver perhaps falling asleep at the wheel. When dawn broke, it was a relief to see the day. We were just west of Cheyenne, and stopped at a truck stop to refuel and have breakfast and stretch our legs. From there we headed south to Fort Collins, Colorado, for me to visit me dear friend Judy who was coming up from Boulder to meet me. Ray went to his niece’s in the same town for a visit.
It was wonderful to be out of the car for 4 hours and walking around the streets and parks of Fort Collins in the colorful Fall foliage. It’s a beautiful town with a lot of history, and Judy and I enjoyed reading the museum write-ups on the old buildings, and sitting in the sun while we caught up with each others’ lives.
Ray met back up with us at 1 p.m., and we were off on the marathon ride again. The difference this time was that Ray had nabbed an hour and a half of sleep at his niece’s, and I hadn’t gotten any during my visit with Judy. This time he drove a lot more than I did, while I tried to nap and catch up and be ready for the night driving.
The states zoomed by, and we were extraordinarily lucky with the weather. Sunny blue days and light puffy clouds floating here and there. Darkness fell and we kept going. We drove as deep into the night as we could, and finally we had to pull into a rest stop and sleep. We each slept in our car seats, tilted back, trying to find comfort. We slept 3 hours and then awoke. Ray took the wheel and we were off again.
Illinois and Iowa passed by, more clouds formed and the weather looked a little heavier. It still wasn’t bad, though. We zoomed up through Pennsylvania and finally into New York. At this point Ray was wide awake as we were getting closer and closer to our destination. We arrived at Patty’s house in Attica around 11 p.m. on Tuesday night. Fortunately Patty invited me stay overnight, at Ray’s suggestion, and I had a beautiful room all to myself. I slept like a log and dreamed wild cross-country journey dreams.
None of the couchsurfing.org requests for couches to sleep on in Buffalo for the next couple days had panned out, though, and I was looking at very few options for the next leg of the journey to Watertown, NY, where my girlfriend Carol from Gananoque, Canada, would pick me up on Friday. I had three days to go about 120 miles, and no idea how hitch-hiking in New York would pan out, nor where I would stay overnight. I didn’t want to spend the next two nights in a hotel, and didn’t have any ideas nor friends in the area.
The next day, Wednesday, after waking up at Patty’s house and visiting awhile, Ray and Patty dropped me off on the on-ramp to Route 20 which runs east-west paralleling the Interstate. Once again, I heaved and hauled my backpack to the main road and stuck out my thumb. “This is getting old,” I thought. But just then, it all became new and fresh again.