The Travelogue series recounts a seventeen-day-long cross-country road trip I took at age 21 with two college friends. We started in Charlotte, NC, and ended up two weeks and 8,000 miles later in Los Angeles, CA. The following is taken verbatim from a handwritten journal I laboriously kept on the trip. Names have been changed, but the rest is absolute, 100%, unedited truth.
Got up this morning at 8. Didn’t sleep great but not terrible. Both of them snore.
Ashley’s got this great dog Christopher.
Packed up all our stuff and had breakfast in Ashley’s kitchen. She doesn’t have to be at work til 11:00, so she was still around and made us coffee.
She recommended this super cute place, Barista Parlor, which is seriously the coolest coffee shop I’ve ever been to. It’s so hipster, but so charming. It’s a garage and they have some outdoor seating, a stage, and just leave the garage doors open. Oh, and we had PERFECT weather. 70s, slightly overcast. Got Nicaraguan coffee.
Went back to Sevier so Samantha could see it.
Woman there suggested The Gulch so that’s where we went after a bit. Kind of Richmond-esque. Union Station Hotel is this epic old hotel that obvi used to be a train station. Next to it is this building called Frist that we originally were just going to cut through. But we passed an info desk and Jessica asked if it was free. The guy working it was this sassy old man named Matthew who made fun of us but showed us around. It was a museum, but had originally been built in the 30s as a Depression works project, as an old post office. It was cool. Opulent, marble, aluminum, etc. Matthew pointed us in the direction of Union Hotel which is just incredible. I tried but failed to capture it in photos.
The Gulch is pretty close to downtown, so headed that way but ended up back on Broadway which wasn’t half as cool in the day. There was still music everywhere though. We popped in the Music City Visitors Center for postcards and the guy gave us some magnets too.
We stopped in another little gift shop then went down to a bar. Sam and Jessica split a beer and we had guacamole.
It was like 12:30 by the time we left. Got a block down the road and realized I didn’t have my wallet. Cue panic attack. Run back to the bar because I thought I might’ve made it fall out the way I had my bag on the chair. Samantha meanwhile had gone back to the store we bought the postcards from and not only was it there but no one had even noticed it. Crisis averted.
But the new problem was that our meter was about to run out, so we literally booked it back to The Gulch. Got there about 5 min. after our meter was out but luckily no ticket.
Headed out of the city but didn’t get far before we realized we were only 20+ miles from the border and had totally forgotten to film our Tennessee portion of the music video for “California” by Phantom Planet. We did NC as driving scenes so didn’t love the idea of doing that again. Found a state park at mile marker 11 which turned out to be so cool. It was a part of the original Trail of Tears and was right on a river. Pretty beautiful. They tried and failed to teach me how to dance.
Got back in the car, 20 min later got back out again at the Kentucky sign to take pics and video on the side of the interstate.
KY was a decent drive but we didn’t stop until Illinois. The state sign was at the edge of a bridge. Couldn’t stop there safely so stopped at the welcome rest stop. Hilarious Superman statue we took pics/video with.
Read some more James and Samantha brought out On the Road. So we read the first 3 chapters of that. I like it, and it’s so fun to read while we’re on our own road trip, but neither of them are great at reading out loud so it’s kind of hard to follow.
Samantha drove us into Missouri. The road in to St. Louis was stunning, especially after the flat farms of IL. You come over the Ohio River which is huge, and you can see the arch from forever away. It was just beautiful.
Had a bit of trouble finding the hotel, which Mom got us in clutch, but we were all already in love by the time we got out. Checked in; I showered and Sam and Jess went to the complimentary concierge lounge for free wine and snacks.
Left around 8 for dinner. The hotel is in the heart of the city, so there was a ton of stuff. Found a sushi restaurant on 10th Avenue that was perfect for us. We were all feeling the day though and by this point were very tired.
Walked to the arch which was close. It was beautiful, kind of trippy up close. Just an incredible feat of architecture. All the buildings here are cool. It’s distinctively midwestern. Old, but classy, clean, cute. Took pics. Were all a little rude at this point.
Went back to the hotel. It’s only 11:15 now and I’ve been writing for a while. But we’re all exhausted. I hope a good night’s sleep does good for us because either I’m especially moody or Jess and Sam are snappier than they’d like to admit. Probably both.
Also, just remembered there was an episode in Illinois where we almost ran out of gas. Seriously about 40mi with NO gas stations. Hit E about 2mi before an exit with gas, so were totally fine, but SCARY.