Today, I did one of my longest solo drives I’ve done of about 958 miles from my suburb just north of Cincinnati to Mesquite, a suburban city just east of Dallas. For wrestling. Of course.
In fact, now that I think about it, that is the furthest I’ve traveled solo in one day. Prior to that, my longest solo drive in one day was to New Orleans, Louisiana, at about 838 miles, and East Rutherford, New Jersey, at about 634 miles. Just shy of that, I used to drive roundtrip in one day (but not solo) from my house to the the half-way point between a city in Pennsylvania and a city in Connecticut at about 762 miles.
Now, the longest solo driving I’ve done overall was to Glenwood Springs, Colorado for my newspaper internship in 2015. I obviously had to split that up over two days because it was 1,343 miles, so I did about 10 hours worth of driving for two days in a row to get there.
I don’t mind driving. I guess I’m the stereotypical Midwesterner who thinks, “Meh, if it’s no more than 10 hours, that’s not too bad.” Granted, I technically broke my rule here, but I figured, if I’ve done 12 hours-ish before, what’s another two hours?
The positives of driving include:
- It gives me a chance to listen to more podcasts, and listen to audiobooks (which I’ve recently begun embracing more and more). If they hit right, the help to keep my brain engaged.
- Also, I really, really don’t like flying. Don’t me wrong, I love flying — the actual fact of flying is a marvelous manifestation of human ingenuity we should never cease to be awed by — but I hate the process of flying, so if I can drive, I’m driving.
- Both a pro and a con is my one kidney leading to more stops to pee; however, the positive of that is, it’s only me! I don’t have to coordinate with someone. I can do whatever I want and stop whenever I want.
- I’m going solo! Related to the above, I’m not trying to get anywhere at a specific time. Not that I want a 14-hour trip to turn into an 18-hour trip, but there is no pressure to get to the destination or coordinate with others.
- Unlike with a flight, I can take whatever I want without having to worry about security.
The downside to driving, especially now that I’m getting older (yes, I’m only 31) include:
- I feel like my body starts whining at me quicker. For this trip, my butt and thighs were mostly whining. Which I will take compared to previous drives where my neck and back were in legitimate agony.
- I munch too much! I loaded up on some snacks, including bite-sized Oreos, gummy worms and such. And I just can’t help but munch. It’s not even a hunger thing. It’s a … it’s there thing.
- Obviously, typically, driving with someone else is nice to take the load off of all of the driving and keep you company.
- The con of one kidney, I certainly stop more often to pee! I stopped probably four or five times, I think? Sure, two of those times I needed to go ahead and re-fuel on gas, but still.
- Sleepiness is obviously difficult to combat. Fortunately, I didn’t face it too much this go-around. Between the initial adrenaline, a pitstop for coffee, Red Bull, and the intrigue of one of my podcasts/audiobooks, plus the final stretch adrenaline, I was able to make it largely without any creeping brain fog sleepiness.
Related to the latter, something else that might surprise, and raise an eyebrow of those reading: I waited until the morning of my drive to pack. Because I don’t know. It’s just me! And I have it down to science. I know exactly what I’m bringing, and it’s just a little fold here, a little tuck there, badda boom badda bing.
For whatever reason, I couldn’t quite sleep. I had set my alarm for 5:00 a.m., falling asleep around 10:00 p.m., but I ended up waking up at 3:00 a.m., and I figured, okay, I’m up. I packed. I coffe’ed. I ate. And I did a little yoga stretching. Then I left. I’m honestly surprised I wasn’t more tired.
For the most part, it was a relatively easy drive. I ran into some consistent light rain, some torrential rain, and a fair bit of traffic in Tennessee and Arkansas. The traffic seemed mostly caused by construction rather than any accidents. I was also pleasantly surprised that some of the stretches through the south included 75 mile-per-hour speed limits. In Ohio, at best, it gets up to 70, but is usually 65.
I thought I made pretty good movement on gas as well. I’d estimate that it took me about a tank and a half-ish? Not too shabby.
And yes, I did gobble up all of the gummy worms.
What’s the longest solo drive you’ve done? What are your tricks for “weathering” a long solo drive?