Cross country sinners

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Yes, it was my choice to road trip across the country. However, I didn’t think two nights into the trip I would be getting into an argument with my travel companion, Jessie Warren.

 
It was pitch dark and we were somewhere in North Carolina in a field. Our GPS had got us lost, again, after trying to find a campground off the highway. Jessie, the driver, was exasperated and was ready for bed no matter what. I admit, it was my idea to just say “screw it” and try to pitch a tent in an overgrown field in the dark.

 
Jessie was crying because I couldn’t find the stakes to put the tent down and it kept collapsing. We were getting bit by all sorts of bugs, and they were infiltrating the Jeep.

 
I threw the tent down. “I’M SLEEPING IN THE JEEP,” I said. She bantered with, “NO, IT’S TOO HOT TO SLEEP IN THE CAR TONIGHT.” This went on for a short amount of time because I was already packing the car back up.

 
She reluctantly agreed, and we drove down the dirt road looking for the nearest church parking lot. Not ideal for two sinners, but quiet and less bug-ridden.

 
This church looked like a small mansion with its multiple stories, windows, porches and doors. We parked in the very back and wrangled all of the moths out. Our Jeep Patriot was packed so much that the back bed only gave us room enough for my five foot, zero inch body to barely fit. North Carolina at night was in the high eighties, and left us sleeping with barely any clothes. Again, we are sinners here.

 
The next morning we were able to laugh off our misfortune with “camping,” having found the tent stakes after we disassembled the whole tent and packed the car.

 

 

We were making very good headway throughout the next day and estimated that we would make it somewhere in the Bible Belt. When they say road tripping in the car gets boring fast, they weren’t wrong. Jessie and I counted the number of abandoned cars along the highway (which was in the hundreds), played Would You Rather, and ate a lot of snacks out of boredom.

 

 

Days before, I had received a call while parked outside of Burlington International Airport saying that we weren’t able to take the rental car we had booked for over a month for our cross-country expedition. “You can’t take the rental car outside of Vermont,” they told us.

 
I had instantly panicked. “We are not taking my car,” I thought to myself, picturing my beat-up wannabe SUV with the duct tape patch on the back.

 
Jessie Warren got in my car and we had sped to Hertz on Shelburne Road in Burlington, Vt., hoping we could get anything at that point. After fifteen minutes, I watched Jessie walk out with a set of keys and inspect a 2016 cherry red Jeep. She got in and started driving in the direction of home. We still had to pack the Jeep and start out that afternoon.

 
I had already been laughing about our misfortune. No doubt it was going be like this the entire trip.
We ended up in Alabama that night at a Piggly Wiggly that didn’t exist. Our GPS had taken us to a small plaza with an auto parts store, a chicken shack, and what appeared to be a walk-in clinic. Too tired again to do much, and not really knowing where else to go, we decided to park in the lot of the clinic.

 
At this point, we were experts at breaking the car down and getting it ready for bed. This consisted of putting down the seats, moving the cooler and smaller items to the two front seats, and unrolling the sleeping bags and car windows.

 
It was another disgustingly humid day, and we both stripped down to just undergarments. No sooner had we done this than a pack of young adult men rode over to our car and started peeking in to see if our car was locked or abandoned.

 
This made the hair stand up on both of our necks. After keeping an eye out for other potential visitors, we calmed down and tried to sleep. A train’s horn sounded, and soon the train passed.

 
Jessie groaned: “Of course we would be parked next to train tracks.” The tracks weren’t visible in the dark, except when a train went by with a few lights on. I reassured her that only one train would probably go by in this tiny town, but I was wrong.

 
We soon realized the propane we had bought also did not fit our pocket rocket (a small device used to hold propane and your dishware), which we forgot to test prior to departure. Our only options were to get take-out and what few groceries we could rely to keep in the cooler, instead of trying to find the oddly specific brand we needed from an REI. We began living on sandwiches, fast food fries, and salad kits from Walmart.

 
Here was the home stretch: We were only a few hours from Houston and would be there by lunch time. The thought of a shower became salvation and the views of the bayou in Louisiana were charming enough to pass the time. Soon we were past Louisiana and on the last highway stretch to get into Houston.

 
The traffic was miles and miles long, and Texans were speeding and swerving in four-lane traffic without a care in the world. Attempting to keep up, Jessie tried to weave in any lanes that had openings. A fancy Dodge Charger passed us and kicked up a rock with his departure, which flung and cracked our windshield right in the top middle.

 
Swearing proceeded as we both stared disbelievingly at the windshield. Already the crack had spread a tiny bit. The calculations of the cost appeared on Jessie’s face and, as the passenger, all I could do was laugh.

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