In 1848, the first gold flakes were found at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, setting off the California gold rush. People crossed continents, in the days when dying of dysentery on such a trek was a common hazard, and not a joke from an old computer game, to seek their fortunes in this last frontier.
That’s kind of been California’s deal ever since. Of course over the course of 170 years, California has become famous for countless things other than what can be dug out of its natural landscape, and sure, the details may have changed; spec scripts and mixtapes have replaced pick axes and claim jumping, but everyone from Walt Whitman and Joan Didion to the Beach Boys and the Fresh Prince knew that there was more to a trip out west than just the scenery. California is where people go to make it. So when we decided to pull up stakes and head for the golden hills of Los Angeles, a classic cross-country road trip, in the true pioneer spirit, was really the only way to do it.
Since the open road adventure has been a staple of the popular culture landscape forever, we were prepared for anything: UFOs, honky-tonk brawls, scorpions taking up residence in empty shoes, questionable egg salad sandwiches, even more questionable public restrooms, blizzards, Chupacabras, missing the cutoff time to get drive-thru breakfast, you name it. In some cases we may have even been too prepared; it seems movies may have overestimated the frequency with which travelers encounter mutated, territorial, backwoods cannibals. (Not that anyone is complaining about that last one.)
When you get down to it though, a road trip isn’t about all the potential “what if” stumbling blocks. A road trip is about adventure, about declaring, “here goes nothing,” getting out there, and putting down footprints in unfamiliar places.
The snow that saw us off in Boston was familiar enough, and persistent enough to make stops in New York, Cleveland, and Chicago feel a little like home. Then it was onto St. Louis for a remarkable sight, a geographic locale that lived up to its nickname, ‘the Gateway to the West.” Once we passed through the arch, Kansas, Colorado, and Utah brought the desktop backgrounds of a few million computers to life. Here’s a fun fact; it is a lot easier to appreciate canyons and mountains without a bunch of folders in front of them. After all that natural splendor, it was time to take in some manmade sights, Viva Las Vegas. Believe it or not, no one lost any money or shoes on high stakes roulette or blackjack. Just the last stop to go now; but you know all about that.
Or maybe you don’t.
Besides adventure and self-discovery, road trips can also have a practical side to them. In our case, that would be getting the boxes full of footwear, apparel, and accessories that were loaded onto the back of a truck in Boston to a brand-new retail location in Los Angeles.
After twelve years of experience and 3,000 miles of driving, we’re ready.