How a Destination Becomes a Waypoint

Ah, the fabled land of Berkeley, California. Home of the top public university in the world, a summer hotspot for Irish youth, and also a victim of the housing crisis it shares with its older brother: San Francisco. Due to a combination of planning and happenstance, I had the pleasure of subletting a room for two and half months, from June 1 to August 15.

I didn’t plan to wind up in Berkeley; ever since my visit outlined in San Francisco: Take 2 I’ve had a yearning to take in more of the Bay Area, so much so that instead of visiting again (like a normal person) I decided to try my hand at packing up and settling down there. And although some bumps along the way followed, I did manage to snag a sublet. In a double. With a house that holds thirteen people. (Did I mention the area is experiencing a housing crisis?)

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(This is a common type of ad you’ll see and I’m posting it only because I couldn’t find the one of a shopping cart for $100 / month. Yes, I’m serious.)

But for today’s post, we’re rewinding to where I was before I tumbled into this sublet. I had packed up my things and drove to San Francisco (detailed in the post 5 Things I Learned Driving Across America (Again) to a small studio I had reserved in South San Francisco. Because I was on the other side of the country when I booked it, the result was predictable: I got there and was not liking what I found. The neighborhood was really sketchy, there was no parking for my car, and the woman running the place gave me a really hard time.

That’s all well and good, and maybe I may have taken the place despite my misgivings, but something happened that pushed me over the edge. To make a long story short, I opened a Chase Bank account (because there are no TD Bank branches out west) and transferred the first month’s rent via mobile deposit from TD to Chase. I did this on a Wednesday and on Friday when I was in Chicago I got a message saying that due to “fraud” I would not be able to access those funds until Tuesday, with the rent being due on Monday. Surely this was a mistake. Surely Chase would understand if I showed them the actual check I used and that it wasn’t fraud, right?

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(“Sorry, sir. The guy at Chase’s Fraud Department is on a TV break. Oh well.”)

For those of you that said “yes” I would encourage you to buy a passport and visit America one day. Parts of it are really pretty. Safe too! But for the rest of you Yankees who understand that part of “Adulting” (as the millennials call it) is doing everyone else’s job for them you won’t be surprised to learn my visit to a Chase branch in downtown Chicago resulted in them saying there’s nothing they can do after I laid everything out and told them how badly I needed the funds.

My only option was to arrive at my building in South San Francisco and try to appeal to my landlord’s sympathies. I wasn’t too worried because after all, what was she going to? Let go of the room she’d held onto for weeks because she had to wait an extra day to be paid? I had the deposit in cash and MOST of the first month’s rent! In addition to the email saying what happened! AND I could show them on my phone how the funds were pending clearance! Everything would be fine, right? RIGHT!?

Smug office woman CHASE

(Was I really asking too much?)

Yeah. NO. The room I reserved was in a hotel renting out rooms to long-term residents and because they INSISTED on cash only, it sent my legality sensors (tack-sharp from working for small businesses on Staten Island) buzzing. But it got worse: the neighborhood seemed really sketchy and there was nowhere to park my car; on the contrary, the landlord took me to the second or third floor and pointed to a parking garage (known as a parking “structure” in CA) and said that for a monthly fee I could park it in there and walk like 20 minutes or however long it was to retrieve it, every morning.

Yeah. NO. Then came time to look over our shoulders for feds and slip the cash under the table in an unmarked envelope pay my rent, pay my deposit, and sign a 6 month lease. But before I did anything, I made her aware of the situation, and it didn’t go over well. Because I didn’t have the full amount in cash, she couldn’t make an exception and let me stay the night. I tried to grease her palms by offering my luggage and valuables as collateral for the night, but she wouldn’t budge. Not even letting her hang onto my credit card or writing her a check worked either, so I had no choice but to walk out into the cold with my tail between my legs with no place to go, exhausted from driving for 5 days straight.

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(Oddly enough she kissed me on both cheeks before letting me go. Huh.)

I needed a second to think. So, I put the coordinates for Buena Vista Park into my GPS and drove for 25 minutes. My insides were about to fall apart, but I coached myself to keep it together until I arrived. Then I could howl about my troubles like the rest of the homeless people there!

Kidding: that park was free of the homeless. Anyway, I sat on a bench and thought about what to do next. Then my grandma called and offered me to stay at her place in Las Vegas. I told her I’d consider it. Once I got bored of the park I went to the library in the Richmond district to charge my phone and try to look up an Airbnb or a cheap hotel. I had never used Airbnb before and I couldn’t find anything suitable for THAT night. The best I was able to do on such short notice was to find a room at the CitigGarden Hotel near the SFO airport for $89 before taxes and fees.

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(No jokes here. CitiGarden offers competitively priced lodgings with a friendly staff and complimentary breakfast. #Recommended.)

The library was closing so I headed to Ocean Beach, located along the western side of the SF peninsula, to do more thinking before driving over to the hotel. It was my first visit, and unfortunately it wasn’t the rollicking good time filled with surfing and bonfires like most people probably experience. Seated in my car while a large Mexican family played on the walls separating the parking lot from the shore, I understood that despite all of my planning and good intentions, I was in a really bad spot. In some ways, my adult life always had an element of unpredictably attached to it. Blame it on my fear of commitment or my hunger for novelty if you want, but I always had this “map” in my mind that spelled out the next step.

Only this time said “map” screwed me over. In that moment I entered a rare moment of poeticism and thought, “I followed the map and the map led to the edge of a cliff.” Because it kinda did. The heat was on to find somewhere else to live and with hotels running $100 (on the cheap side!) I had to accept that, in that moment, San Francisco was now a waypoint and not a destination, so I called up my grandma and told her I’d be staying with her in Las Vegas until I could set-up a new living situation.

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(Actually, “inner compass” is more accurate than “map,” don’t you think?)  

I hit the road again, taking the scenic route down to Santa Cruz on my way to Las Vegas. I figured I might as well, since it was on the way. Sure it was a weekday so it was really just me and groups of high schoolers playing hooky, but I went on a few of the more famous rides (like the fireball) and took in the beautiful beach scenery before making my way out of California and into our great nation’s driest state.

What followed was a month of deciding what to do next. I swung between spending more time in Vegas or figuring out a way to make a life in the Bay Area work out, somehow. Every day I tried to decide what I wanted to do and what would be the best choice. But in the meanwhile, I kept busy with my writing and everything attached to it: I continued to solicit agents with the book my editor and I finished months prior and worked on the sequel to said book as much as I could. But even so, my heart had no peace, and I knew I had to get to California, even if it was for a little bit. I knew it was within reach. Waiting for me. I just had to figure out how to get there.

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(Like a cross-dressing Disney princess I was determined to reach my goal no matter how many times I failed.)

So I did what most people do when they need a place to live on short notice: I looked online. Hunched over a computer screen in my pajamas during the middle of May, I found an ad for a sublet in Berkeley, around the corner from the school sharing the same name. The photos showed a messy version of the room with all sorts of textbooks and clothes strewn about, but something about the ad caught my eye.

Probably how cheap the rent was. And it being a sublet meant little commitment on my part. I was sold, so I wrote the best email I could to the college sophomore who posted the ad and hoped for the best. She responded in a timely fashion and we emailed back and forth, eventually graduating to a phone conversation where I asked any lingering questions. And through the power of the Internet I signed and submitted a sublease agreement, taking the first step in an experience that would have a profound influence on my life.

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(OH…EM…GEE, Mom. I totally found a subletter for the summer! Go Bears!!!)

Berkeley awaited, ready with its slew of new experiences and challenges. At the time I couldn’t have known what I was in for, but I did know it wouldn’t be a vacation and that more hard choices would be made. On the morning of June 1 as I packed my little Toyota yet again, I told my grandma that I wish I could have stayed with her longer, but I had to leave; for better or worse, California was just a place I needed to spend an extended period of time in, for reasons I wouldn’t learn until I was in the thick of it.

With that said, I’ll cut the post off here. Next up is The Best of Times, The Worst of Times where I breakdown the experience and give my views on it. (Hoping to get it up next week) But otherwise, you know the drill: be sure to SUBSCRIBE by email so you don’t miss any future posts; if you think anyone could value from the information be sure to SHARE it online; and if you have anything relevant to say, be sure to leave a COMMENT below.

See you next week,

J. F. Seegitz

P.S. Anyone else notice that all the pics this week featured women? IN YOUR FACE, BECHDEL TEST!

Posted in California, Self-Development, Travel | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Just A Moment, Please

It’s been over a month since I’ve posted on here, yes, but it’s not because I’ve been asleep at the wheel. I’m preparing a set of large posts on my summer experience in California.

Unfortunately, I came down with flu-like systems the past week and that threw a monkey wrench in my scheduling. But sit tight, and I’ll get your content to you shortly.

I’m hoping to upload the first one before the month ends. Thank you for your understanding and patience.

J.F. Seegitz

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Let Her Rest

I’m all for trying out new things on this blog and not sticking to a format, so today I’m going to do something new, and that new thing is to cut right into a story to help me illustrate a point.

The story in question comes from the long-running serialized comic One Piece and contains light spoilers. If you have never heard of One Piece before, it’s about a young pirate captain who gathers a small crew and brings them on his fun-filled quest to circle the globe and claim the ultimate treasure, the One Piece. He runs into all sorts of challenges en route, but overcomes them in his own way, and has a blast while doing it.

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(Just look at the latest cover! Who wouldn’t want to be a part of this much fun?)

So here goes. About 30 or so volumes into this story (yes, One Piece is freaking LONG) the crew realizes that their pirate ship, the Going Merry, needs to be repaired, and as luck would have it, they have docked in a city that features the greatest shipwrights in the entire world.

Wonderful, right? Except not really. The damage to the ship is assessed, and the captain is told flat-out that the ship cannot be repaired no matter how skilled the shipwright is. This is because the foundation of the ship, its keel, is damaged, and replacing that is no different from building an entirely different boat from scratch.

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(“Now if you’ll excuse me I must transform into a giraffe.”)

In short, the crew must buy a new ship if they want to continue their adventuring. On the surface, this is not a problem because they have a TON of cash from a recent trip to a long lost city of gold, but in reality this is a source of great conflict due to the ship’s sentimental value to the crew.  Furthermore, its owner (who is not the captain) does not have a say in the matter.

And so begins a long series of conflicts that divide the crew and endanger their lives, all because they can’t bear to part with the ship that has meant so much to them and has carried them so far. But in the end, no amount of stubbornness or money can save the ship. Many chapters later, the ship is patched up and pushed past her limit for one final rescue only to fall apart in the middle of the sea. The president of the ship-building company is present to witness this, and the captain begs him to fix the Going Merry, but he refuses, instead softly doling out the harsh truth. He tells the captain that if he truly loves the ship, he will do the right thing. He will let her rest.

(<<<<<<<<<Read from right to left / Top to Bottom<<<<<<<<<<<)

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(Even with the president’s world-class skills, the most he could do was buy a little time.)

And they do. The ship had gone past its limits and had outworn its use, and although it’s painful, they say goodbye and give it a Viking funeral. Only then is the crew able to reunite, find a new ship, and continue their journey, stronger than ever before.

Why do I bring this up? Because it’s a wonderful story about the good and bad that comes with trying to hold onto something for too long. And that unwillingness to not let go can cause a lot of pain, but when you finally do let go, because there is no other option, you’ll soon find a rush of relief, often emerging stronger than before.

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(Like Katy Perry in the Roar video. Note: obedient tiger and servant monkey not guaranteed.)

And this circles around to a recent breakthrough I had in my own life. Ever since I was in high school, it’s been my dream to publish a book series, and that desire came with a lot of benefits: it gave me a sense of purpose that got me through many hard times (you guys know I’m from Staten Island, right?), helped me pick my major in college, and in my quest to get published I got to meet and work with people I wouldn’t have otherwise.

But for me, the desire to write a series is my damaged ship that needs to be put to rest. Not to be a writer, not to get a book published, or even just use my creativity. Again, I want to be clear: it’s the very specific desire to write a series that I’ve held onto for most of my adult life that has caused a great deal of pain, despite its benefits.

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(“Wow, If I didn’t have my potential books series to distract me I might just realize I’m forced to boat to my day job like some sort of employed refugee. Oh well!”)

But I’ve come to the point where I must lay this desire to rest. It has run its course and no longer serves me. Allow me to be more specific. Currently, I am submitting a book that I would very much like to be the first book in a series. Not a long series, like Harry Potter (7 books) or Game of Thrones (7 or 8; who knows at this point) and certainly not Wheel of Time (12 books) but more like…four? Maybe five if I can’t wrap everything up?

Regardless, I’ve worked on it for 2 years on my own then spent another 2 years working closely with an editor to create an amazing piece of work, one that we’re both proud of. So now it’s under submission, and let me tell you, it’s quite a grind. In case it wasn’t clear from my post “Nobody Likes Rejection” this process has really taxed me mentally and emotionally, but it shouldn’t cause as much stress as it does.

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(To be accurate, it’s more “overwhelming existential pain” than stress. Moving on…)

This is because most writers submit stand-alone novels. And while THAT stand-alone novel is on submission, they work on ANOTHER stand-alone novel. My mistake, for years, was I would write a book and would (wait for it) write a sequel to that book, a sequel whose future was up in the air.

Am I starting to make sense? How about this: In the past when I’ve gotten rejections, they would sting twice as hard, because that agent is effectively denying both the book I submitted AND the sequel I’m writing on to pass the agonizing months it takes to hear back on the submission.

But no longer. My pain levels had reached a breaking point, and the pressure had built so much that I popped, deciding to set aside the sequel I’m working on, and instead have been breaking ground on a new, stand-alone novel.

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(Even so, my editor was on me about not forgetting the book we worked on and to keep on top of the submissions process in this email and others.)

It’s hard to pinpoint what caused this shift. Was it the never-ending slog of submission? Was it all the skill and experience I’d gained over nine years of writing fiction? After all, with the level I’m at now with my skills and connections (I have an editor and know agents) writing a stand-alone is extremely doable. Anyone will tell you it’s writing a series that’s the hard part!

But regardless of the reason, I’ve come to a big turning point, and realized that my desire to write a series no matter what had cost me time, energy, and a lot of unnecessary pain. So I have put it to rest, and let me tell you, I have never felt better.

(<<<<<<<<<Read from right to left / Top to Bottom<<<<<<<<<<<)

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(Yes, the boat can speak. But only to deliver the most gut-wrenching lines in the series.)

I’m only a week of writing into the stand-alone (the details of its plot and title I’ll keep secret for now) but it has been a great experience and the book is turning out well so far. At the rate I’m going, I can see the rough draft done by Thanksgiving, and the second draft ready for my editor in very early March, so if the book that’s on submission now fizzles out (which doesn’t seem likely; submitting is just a long process) then around this same time next year I’ll have this stand-alone primed and ready to go. And let me tell you, it’s an excellent feeling. A huge relief.

I’m going to end this longer blog post here, but I really want to drive home how tremendous this is before I do. For almost a decade I’ve felt married to writing a series but now that I’ve switched to my first stand-alone, it opens up so many possibilities. And I just feel, well…freer. I no longer feel that I’m placing all my eggs in one basket (hate that expression, but it applies here) and instead feel my options opening up. If I want to try a different genre, I can. If I want to try a different age demographic, I can. My horizons have never expanded so much in such a short amount of time!

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(The possibilities are endless! Endless, like the forms mystique can assume. #relevant)

I’ll stop now. I want to thank you for stopping by, and also invite you to leave a COMMENT if you feel like contributing a similar experience, or if you just feel like saying hello. As always be sure to SUBSCRIBE by email so you don’t miss a post. (Looks like I’m on a monthly posting schedule. Oh well.) And also, if you know someone that can benefit from this info and doesn’t mind long blog posts, feel free to SHARE this with them.

See you next time,

J. F. Seegitz

P.S. I totally didn’t cry at any point while writing this.

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Atmospheric Reentry

In case it wasn’t obvious from my last post about driving across the country, I have left Staten Island and the New York City area to move elsewhere. Specifically, California and the Bay Area. But today’s post is not about my reasons for doing so; I’ve been in the Golden State for about 3 weeks now, and experienced a psychological phenomenon I feel is worth sharing.

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(No, it’s not “unspeakable joy” but that’s a good guess.)

I have no idea what the scientific term for it is, but I’ll refer to it as “Atmospheric Reentry” because that’s what it reminds me most of. Atmospheric Reentry. You people know what that is, right? It’s when a spacecraft enters the earth’s atmosphere and because of the ship’s speed and the friction of passing through the atmosphere’s gases it starts burning up. It’s also why a meteorite deteriorates a great deal on its way from outer space to a park somewhere in Middle America.

And in many ways that’s how I felt during my first week or so in my new state. I was away from my family and friends, away from my home, and away from my normal routine. I was waking up in a new environment every day, and my brain was going through a change as well.

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(Mafia and gypsy culture out, hippie and tech bro culture in.)

Gone were the familiar and therefore comfortable neural pathways it tapped into every day. Now it had to construct new pathways, a painful process that caused it to waste energy exerting itself. And like an addict suffering withdrawal from the comfort and stability of where I’d left, I fought against my brain and its need for the familiar.

But I knew it’d pass. Just like a spaceship entering the atmosphere I had to wait out the burn of entry and if I could make it intact I’d be on the other side safely. And I had the confidence because I’ve been in similar situations before: starting new jobs, living in other places for brief periods (like Las Vegas and Spain), and graduating from school. Basically, whenever I had gotten used to a certain routine or way of living for an extended period of time, and a change occurred, I would suffer the pain of “Atmospheric Reentry,” and in my experience it lasts a solid week. Two tops.

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(I know, I know. It’s been weeks since you had NYC pizza and you’re about to snap, but keep it together. You’re stronger than your addiction!)

And now I’m here, a few weeks later, feeling much more comfortable. The first few days in California I was amazed at how awful I felt, thinking, “I’m in this beautiful environment, with lots of wonderful people, and the possibilities are endless. Yet I can’t enjoy it!”

But because I was aware of the pain my brain was experiencing as it adjusted and settled in, I knew I had to be strong, but I also knew I needed support. So every day I called people. I called my family, obviously, but I also called friends who lived in cities different from their parents, to get their perspective and support. And it worked!

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(“Gee, I wonder who’s calling at this hour?”)

I’ll end today’s short post with a final, honest thought: I’m tired of moving. When I think back to my twenties (even though they’re not over yet) I realize how grateful I am for the opportunity to catch up on all the traveling I didn’t get the chance to enjoy growing up. However, I feel I’ve gotten my fill of “adventure” at this point, and want to settle down in a place I can call home, and stop always looking to move elsewhere.

Ideally, everything will work out and I stay put, because at this point, the only way I can see myself moving again would be due to an outside influence. Like, say I got married and my wife wanted to move back to her home state for a job or something. Or one of my parents got sick and needed tending to. Okay, knowing them that’s unlikely but you get my point.

That’s all for today. Be sure to SUBSCRIBE by email so you don’t miss a post, and if you’d like to share your experiences moving somewhere new, I welcome you to post a COMMENT below.

Thanks for stopping by,

J. F. Seegitz

P.S. Here’s a photo of what “Atmospheric Reentry” looks like in case you’re unfamiliar and don’t want to hit up the Google:

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5 Things I Learned Driving Across America (Again)

Back in 2011 I spent about 3 months in Las Vegas and I got there by driving my car all the way from New York. I remember it as a very adventurous experience and mostly positive, and felt the same when I also drove back home. But cut to five years later and I find myself driving across the country again. Air travel these days is so cheap, and driving across the country requires entire DAYS of driving, often with little to nothing to do, so I really would have preferred to buy a one-way plane ticket, but I have a car, and must bring it with me.

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(So cross country road trip it is!)

So I took the trip and I was on the road for six full days. Far be it from me to keep that experience all to myself, so here I am to share five tips that I learned on my third time driving across the country, starting with:

5) Forget the Cloud

Driving across the country can be a slog, no question about it. Even if you’re driving with a buddy, you will eventually exhaust all topics of conversation, and with long stretches of nothing on the interstate highway system, there will be virtually nothing new to comment on. Unless of course you count the HORDES of livestock like cows and such just chillin’ off the side of the road:

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(Never mind, that’s actually children. Delicious children…)

I knew this beforehand, so I figured I stream stuff like music, movies and podcasts off my phone. And for the most part that worked. I streamed my music from the Amazon cloud, and was able to catch up on my podcasts. I tried to mount my phone and watch Netflix, but the Bluetooth caused the sound to lag. So I just put the phone away and listened to comedy specials without the visuals. Fine. But as I got deeper into the country (specifically west of Chicago) I started entering a lot of Dead Zones and couldn’t get any internet whatsoever, leaving me with long drives of silence.

So don’t rely on the cloud for you entertainment. Either bring a bunch of CD’s or download whatever media you’ll be using to the unit itself. And speaking of doing everything through your smartphone, that leads me to the next tip:

4) Don’t book your motels online

This is something that can be counter intuitive to anyone that doesn’t take long trips across the country, so allow me to explain with an example. On my previous trips across America what I would do after a long day of driving was drive into some town in the middle of nowhere and check into a Motel 6 or some other cheaply priced motel. These motels are usually all clustered together and it’s rare for all of them to be full.

But on my first night of this trip, I got a bit anxious and booked a Motel 6 on my phone. Pretty prudent thinking, right? WRONG. I reserved the room and when I showed up, what did I find? What’s that? An active construction site, you say? Wow, talk about a lucky guess!

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(Photo evidence above.)

So here I was, walking through the front doors of a building under construction, and unsure what to do. I called the phone number on the site and sure enough, the automated machine gave me directions to where I was standing. I chalked it up to a computer error and left the premises, searching for another place. I didn’t call the front desk, because, well…I was there! And there were no humans present. So why call the front desk at 9pm or 10pm? (I forget the exact time)

I also made another mistake in thinking that if I didn’t show up to my room and check in, they wouldn’t charge me. After all, why is it policy to put a hold on your credit card until you check in? Oh, how naïve I continue to be of capitalism’s ways!

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(“And you grew up in New Yawk? What a ****ing clown! Ha ha ha!!!)

Sure enough I was charged and when I disputed it, they said there was a second Motel 6 down the street, and that the online address matched, even though it didn’t and there ABSOLUTELY was not another Motel 6 in the area. This resulted in HOURS of back and forth between Motel 6, priceline.com, and booking.com, over a measly fifty bucks. So take it from me: book your motels in person! You check in right then and there and you can verify the building exists.

Sheesh! Where are the police where you need them? Well, actually…

3) Brace yourself for Law Enforcement

If you’re driving a long distance across the country you are going to be pulled over. Your out-of-state plate is an exotic piece of bait that no bored cop can resist, so unless you are driving perfectly as everyone else zooms past you, honking in frustration, expect to say hi to Casper, Wyoming’s finest.

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(You may see a piss-gold plate but the state trooper sees a bullseye.)

Most normal people do anywhere from 5-15 miles over the speed limit, depending on how high the sign allows, and I distinctly remember doing 80 in a 70 when a truck with Wyoming plates comes barreling past me. He was doing 90, easy. He leaves me in his dust and gets in front of me. Then a few minutes later a police officer in the opposite lane whips around and turns his lights on. At this point I have yet to learn that as an outsider I am bound to a different set of rules, so I again naively assumed the cop was going after the other guy. But I was wrong. Isn’t learning fun?

So Officer Scheel pulls a New Yorker over and is licking his chops over the anticipation of seeing the face of a fancy millionaire who spends his weekends golfing with Donald Trump. I don’t say much to him because I know he has me: He clocked me going over the speed limit and the only way to fight the ticket is to show up to court in August, which he knows will not happen, so I don’t fight it. I just ask him what the acceptable speed is and he tells me that 1-5 over gets a warning and 6-10 over gets a ticket. Yeah. Try telling that to all the other people who almost blew me off the road as I did 5 over for the rest of the trip.

I would have liked to make it 3,000 miles without getting pulled over. But you can’t think that way when you’re driving across the country, which bring me to the next tip…

2) Be Grateful for What you CAN Get

There is no perfect time to drive across America. None. Attractions open and close depending on the season, sometimes stuff will be shut down or inoperable. It happens, people. A few examples:

Chicago: The last time I drove across the country, I really wanted to go to the top of the Willis Tower, one of the tallest buildings in the world, and check out the view. But I came in the afternoon. The lobby was packed, so it was unlikely I was going to get in before it closed. I was also on a schedule, so I left, promising myself I’d return one day.

And return I did. This time around I came first thing in the morning and there was no line. About five employees of the tower warned me that due to the weather the visibility was zero, and that tickets were non-refundable. But I was just passing through that day, so I figured that even if it was hard to see, at least I’d be able to walk around the top of the roof, right?

Except there is no roof. You are in a windowed enclosure. And those windows were pure white. Take a look:

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(Another lesson learned. Ugh.)

Mount Rushmore: This example is less painful. I pulled up to the landmark at around 1pm or so on a weekday, and there were no complications. There was a clear view of the four presidents, a helpful staff, and courteous fellow visitors. But the trail leading super close to the mountain was roped off due to the weather. It was April and there was snow on the ground. But I guess that’s South Dakota for ya. (Yes, Mount Rushmore is in South Dakota, not South Carolina!)

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(“Quick question, guys. So if we’re at Mt. Rushmore that means Myrtle Beach is only an hour or so away, right? RIGHT? Um…hello?”)

Santa Cruz: And a nice third example to round this tip out. This place wasn’t on the original agenda, but I was close so I decided to stop by. I got there in the late morning, but unfortunately none of the rides open until noon, and not all of them were functioning. But the most famous one, the Giant Dipper, was open. I went on that along with the Fireball, and on a perfect visit I would have spent the day there with friends, but since it was an impromptu visit, I settled for the dozens of local high schoolers playing hooky.

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(“Don’t worry babe, I set my insta to private – teach will never know we were here!”)

And that was all. Just two rides and a quick lunch before I was on my way. I had places to be! I had time to make! However, while it’s good to have that “go go go” mentality during your drive, I firmly believe that’s not the best way to go about it. Which brings me to the final tip:

1) Take your time

Absolutely. America is a beautiful country, and like so many other beautiful things in life it deserves time to be appreciated. During all three of my cross country trips I was moving house. At times I was alone, and at other times I had company, but that is NOT the way to do it. My building was expecting me at a certain time and I didn’t want to be late, so I rushed, passing by so much cool stuff that I shouldn’t have. And I made plenty of stops!

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(Oh, Interstate Roadside Rest Areas. You truly are the closest thing I’ve ever had to a guardian angel. #blessed #freedom)

Driving across the country is also not for everyone. It can often be a slog like I’ve mentioned above, with nothing to do, and at times I felt like a kid stuck on an amusement park ride, begging his parents to let him off. But the open road is a quintessential American romanticism. All that highway. All those fields. And all those states passing by, your old life in the rearview mirror and a new beginning just over the horizon.

Take a deep lungful and breathe in that raw ‘Murica outside your window. The invention of the car and the road is an emblem of our culture, just like:

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(Apple pie. One slice, please!)

and

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(Baseball. Go Team!)

And

 

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(*sound of needle scratching record*)

What the %&*$ is THAT doing here? Get that #$%^ out of here!

No. NO!!!

Here I am trying to pay tribute to my country and someone throws that in the mix! Don’t they know anything about what happened to me last year? That experience made me appreciate America in ways I couldn’t thought possible, and I don’t plan on crossing the border anytime soon. I know what can fix this: GOOGLE! BRING ME A BALD EAGLE ARMORED IN OUR GREAT NATION’S FLAG!

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(Even better. Even. %^&*ing. BETTER. ‘Murica. ‘Murica Forever.)

Phew. Well that’s all for today. I’m going to lay down for a bit. What’s that? One last patriotic image? Fine. George Washington aiming a rocket launcher while riding a bald eagle, you say?

DONE.

george washington, bald eagle, flying, missile launcher

(My country ‘tis of thee, sweet land of liberty…)

I’ll end this post here. As always be sure to SUBSCRIBE by email so you don’t miss a post, and if you have any experience driving across America or just with long drives in general, feel free to leave a COMMENT below.

Thanks for stopping by,

J. F. Seegitz

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