America. / Army 101 / Histrionics / PCS

Ain’t that America


Monterey Beach

It did not go perfectly, but we made it.

Two days into our cross-country drive, we got snowed into Cheyenne, Wyoming, where it was -15 degrees. In related news, if you’ve ever wondered what happens to dog poop in minus-15-degree weather…it freezes almost immediately, and your dog will be very confused about what’s happening to his butt.

After all I’ve said about the Midwest, our drive through it before the snow and ice began was relatively kind. Iowa was unexpectedly one of the most beautiful places I’ve seen through a car window, and Nebraska, at least, had a sense of humor.


Inside the shop I found a cold weather face mask decorated like an American Flag; my temperature indicator had just hit zero degrees, and I stood in that shop for five minutes trying to gauge how angry Jonathan would be if I spent $20 on an American flag face mask.

Jonathan and I spent our time in Cheyenne watching Loxley try to negotiate a comically oversized dog bone we got him as a road trip gift, and browsing the Monterey Bay “rants and raves” section on Craigslist to get an idea about the kind of people who we’ll soon call our neighbors. (So far it’s mostly people who believe aliens are abducting humans with only good intentions, and Australians who miss kangaroos.)

Comically oversized dog bone

Fun road trip fact: La Quinta hotels are almost exclusively pet friendly. Fa la la La Quinta.

A day delayed, we then headed to our next pit stop: Winnemucca, Nevada. This is where things got a little…stressful.

We never made it to Winnemucca, Nevada. Long story short, my car (and my anxiety) cannot handle driving in winter conditions. I made it through seven or eight hours of drifting on and off the interstate through wind, ice, and uncontrollable sobs, before forcing Jonathan and his SUV (both doing arguably better than I was) to call it quits in Salt Lake City and delay our trip another day.

A few other crises and one day later, the road conditions got better and we decided to drive straight from Utah to California. It went fine, until I was THREE HOURS away from our destination, driving through the mountains in California. At which point a large chunk of a semi-truck tire flew off the truck’s wheel and collided immediately with my car.

I want to take a moment to recognize my good fortune in this situation. Had the flying debris hit me six inches higher, it would have crashed through my windshield. Had the event occurred 60 seconds sooner, it would have happened just around an exposed bend of the mountain, where the afternoon sun was causing poor visibility. Had the following events transpired five minutes slower, the nearest auto-body shop would have been closed.

Naturally, I sold the full story of this trip to the highest bidder, so for more details check out my article for NextGen MilSpouse.

For now, Jonathan, the dog, and I are safe in California. We’re spending the next month in a hotel, waiting for our permanent housing to become vacant (that’s another story in itself, but I’m saving it so that I can accumulate all my PCS mistakes into one big list of self-loathing). Jonathan saw the Pacific Ocean for the first time. Loxley is three-quarters of the way through his comically oversized dog bone. It is 60 degrees today in Monterey, and they sell Vodka at Target.

And for your viewing pleasure, here is a series of photographs I’d like to call “America through car windows, some of which were very dirty”:

Maryland sunset

Maryland sunset



Wyoming windmills

Wyoming windmills at sunrise



Salt Lake City

Salt Lake City at sunset



Utah mountains

Utah mountains

Entering Nevada

Entering Nevada





25 thoughts on “Ain’t that America

  1. I was so excited to see this post pop up on my reader this morning. It’s weird how you “meet” bloggers and wonder how they are doing. So glad you made it safe! Can’t wait to hear about more California adventures 🙂

  2. The whole truck tire incident would be enough to rattle me for quite awhile. You’re recount of all the possibilities from different circumstances makes it all the more unnerving. Glad everything worked out in the end. Great pictures!

    ‘It is only in adventure that some people succeed in knowing themselves – in finding themselves.’
    Andre Gide

  3. Is there any way Nebraska is all hippie new-age-y? Maybe that’s a meditation joke “you are now here”?? JK I think?

    Love the SLC picture especially – I had no idea it was that beautiful! I think the western states are trying to undersell their beauty so we don’t all rush out there? Except for California, of course.

    Glad you made it safely, ultimately!

  4. Glad you made it in one piece! I am driving from VA to TX next month with my (super anxious) dog, Jameson. Any tips for traveling with dogs over long distances?

  5. I’m glad you made it (mostly) unscathed. The tire thing reminded me of one time when I was driving back from Virginia Beach on a three lane highway, and all of a sudden there was a WHOLE TIRE rolling directly at me from ahead and slightly to the right. By the time I had processed that yes, this was actually occurring, I barely had time to yell some choice obscenities and swerve out the way. On the bright side, this was not on a mountain road.

    PS I’m sorry that you had to stop in Cheyenne. I went through it once on the way to SLC in 9th grade, and though it was a fleeting impression from a long time ago, I distinctly remember thinking that it looked like an uninhabitable shit-hole. And I’m from Buffalo.

  6. Those pictures are beautiful! And Iowa is a wonderful place! I lived there for three years, and it is definitely a hidden gem that most people overlook. Glad you made it safe!

    • Thanks, Stephanie! I’d never really given Iowa a second thought, but I’m making up for it with memories of the drive. Weather and car troubles aside, the route we took was a gorgeous view of the country. So many beautiful states I may never have seen otherwise.

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  8. Your pictures make me want to road trip across the States so badly. Glad you, Jonathan and Loxley are okay. Safe to say the world would not be a better place without the lot of you.

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