Between my fiancé’s graduation in mid-May and my graduation near the end of the month, we drove our car and many of our possessions across the country to Sacramento where we’ll be moving for my residency. I had roughly planned out the route and the stops – we figured it would take about 7.5 days and we would have plenty of time to make stops at monuments and parks along the way. We picked up maps at AAA, loaded the car, and set out.
At first it was strange, but we quickly settled into a rhythm. I was the navigator, responsible for directions, finding lodging and meals, setting up and taking down the tent if we camped, and logging our costs for tax purposes. My fiancé did the driving, all 3,330 miles of it, with me as a pit crew, passing him snacks and water and gassing up the car. We would typically have a quick breakfast and lunch on the road and then have a more elaborate dinner in the town where we would spend the night. We tried to experience the quintessential foods for the states we were visiting – breaded tenderloin sandwiches in Indiana, fried ravioli in St. Louis, etc. After dinner we’d retire to our lodging – I favor camping but my fiancé prefers motels…we compromised and did a bit of both.
We visited Niagara Falls, saw a bald eagle in Ohio, camped in Indiana, visited the City Museum and saw the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, camped on the prairie in Kansas, saw some gorgeous views in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, went to Arches National Park in Utah, and spotted mustang in Nevada. Finally, after 6.5 days we arrived in Sacramento. By the end of the trip we were so eager to get there that we plowed through a few of the sites we planned to see in Nevada and California in favor of arriving early.
Seeing the country pass before our eyes was a cool experience. I got to appreciate the gently waving grasses of the prairie, the stunning red rocks of Utah, and the seemingly endless stretches of land in Nevada. I feel like I have a much greater respect for the enormity of the US and I definitely would like to visit more states in the future. Road-tripping was also a good chance to slow down and spend more time with my fiancé before residency starts. It was time consuming and sometimes challenging but I think that it was an awesome experience to have at the end of medical school. For other students who may be hoping to move cross country for residency, consider making the journey by car – it’s an experience you won’t soon forget!