Of all my memories, that of my sister and I driving across the country together is one I’ll never forget. I’d love to say that it was because of the beautiful and majestic landscapes across which we traversed, but mostly it was because of the scary, enlightening, and hilarious stories that we came home with. We left on August 10, 2010 from Monterey, California. My sister, Bethany, had spent the summer there on an internship for the Naval Research Laboratory, and I had flown out to help her drive back to our home in central Illinois. Our first order of business after my arrival was to visit the island of Alcatraz, about two hours north in San Francisco Bay. The adventures all started when she locked her keys inside her car, and had to drive 90 miles per hour just so we could make it on time to Alcatraz! I was convinced we were going to die. Fortunately, we survived to be able to see the Golden Gate Bridge and drive along the beautiful Highway One. The next day we groggily and begrudgingly left at 4 AM. Our destination was Flagstaff, Arizona. She drove for about six hours before she decided to let me drive so she could sleep. She told me to not worry about directions, so, naturally, I didn’t. I just kept driving. My poor sleepy sister woke up three hours later to find us in the middle of the desert! It turns out I had been following the same road when I was supposed to switch (something she conveniently left out of the directions!) and we were now in the middle of the Mojave Desert. We pulled into an old gas station and turned around. Three hours later, we were back on track. When we finally made it to Flagstaff, it was too dark to see where we were going. We ended up staying at a Comfort Inn, and woke up in the morning only to find that it was perched on the side of a mountain! Growing up in the Midwest, these mountains were beyond majestic to me. The next day consisted of the Grand Canyon. What a beautiful sight! I was convinced that it was going to be nothing but a giant pothole, but it stretched for miles and miles. We left Flagstaff the following day at 3 AM, en route to Denver, Colorado. Around 6 in the morning (still too early to be functioning), we pulled into a gas station. Unfortunately, we left with the gas station still attached! My sister had forgotten to take the pump out of her car, and we sped off hastily before anyone noticed. Ten hours later, after a beautiful drive through the mesas and mountains of the Four Corners region, we stopped at a dilapidated gas station. I hopped out to use the restroom, only to be informed that the key was in another building, the post office. So I went off to the tiny post office. I had forgotten to tell my sister, and was informed of this by her running through the desert screaming my name and trying to get cell phone reception. What a sight! Fortunately, the rest of the trip went off without a hitch. We made it through the beautiful state of Utah and to Denver. And we also managed to survive the 15 hour trip through the “nothingness” we call Nebraska. Overall, we learned a lot about each other, the country, and the scary things that can happen on a road trip.
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