One Pack. No Turning Back.

849 Miles in One Day

Day 18: Memphis, TN to Tampa, FL, 7.6.15


Number of miles driven today: 849

Total miles driven on road trip: 4,701

Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts? Finally, I may have found the spot where they are evenly represented! Four of each were spotted, so we'll call this a tie, breaking Starbucks' winning streak.

Starbucks' record (# of days Starbucks was more common): 17-0-1

Dunkin' Donuts' record: 0-17-1

Cheapest gas I saw today: $1.99 (!)

Number of states visited overall: 11

Number of red states visited overall (as of 2012 presidential election): 8 (Texas, Arizona, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Alabama, Mississippi, Georgia)

Number of blue states visited overall: 3 (California, New Mexico, Florida)

State with the most billboards proclaiming evolution is a lie and the return of Jesus: Georgia

Best name of a freeway strip club: Cafe Risque

If I was a character in the old computer game "Oregon Trail," I would have probably died within the first day.

"Brad has died of influenza" the screen would read after about three revolutions of the wagon wheels. (Aside: Why could they never figure out how to carry more than 100 pounds of meat back to the wagon?)

Seeing the way that people eeked out a living in places like rural Oklahoma has given me new respect for the character that they possessed, and renewed thanks for having been born in suburban Rhode Island in 1980. 

I faced the greatest driving challenge of my trip today: 849 miles from Memphis to Tampa. I stood outside my Honda Accord, pressing my heels into the ground to stretch my calves before beginning the ride. Thirteen hours of driving lay ahead with only coffee to sustain me. I had decided to forsake any PEDs like Adderall, determined to do this clean, the right way. There would be no asterisks above my name.

The drive was not nearly as bad as I feared. As someone who's been known to get tired pulling out of the driveway, I worried that I would not have the stamina to finish the drive. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by how much long-distance driving can resemble meditation. In recent years, I've found my own spiritual compass in Eastern philosophy and meditation, and have benefited enormously from the restorative power of doing (and thinking) nothing. 

As the multiple billboards condemning abortion and exalting rub-and-tugs (Exit Now! Spa!) streaked past my window, I remained in a state of blissful awareness, fully present with what lay in front of me. My Accord was no wagon and I-75 no Oregon Trail, but I felt healthy, sturdy even.

I would make it. 

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