The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


The official student news site of Athens Drive High School


Athens Oracle staff writer drives for days *NOT CLICKBAIT* *TRAVEL BLOG*

Photos by Lee McNeese
Erin McNeese pictured with her childhood dog, Winnie. They visited her in Arizona on the trip.

Moving across the country is a hard enough ordeal as it is, but imagine driving over 2,000 miles to get to your destination. It is a difficult task. Then imagine doing so with three animals in your car. That’s what I dealt with over the summer of 2023 when driving from North Carolina to California and back, which created a lot of new experiences. 

On the way to California, me, my mother, and my boyfriend traveled along Interstate 40, which goes through North Carolina, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California. I enjoy taking pictures of state signs that welcome you into each state. My goal is to get all 50. I hope it is later in the future, however, because all this moving around I’ve done has made me so tired. 

The state sign welcomes you to North Carolina. This sign is on the border of North and South Carolina along Interstate 20. (Photos by Erin McNeese)

Traveling across the country by car takes three to four days on average. This means hotels are quite necessary for a trip like this one that lasts multiple nights. Planning out where to take breaks during the night is difficult and needs to be decided on before leaving to avoid stress. I stopped in Memphis, Tennessee the first night of the trip, Amarillo, Texas on the second, and drove right through to the destination in California the last day. This was not planned beforehand and was an impulsive decision by everyone in the car. (Mostly my mom, but she won’t admit it.) 

Day one of the trip was from Raleigh, North Carolina to Memphis, Tennessee and was approximately 750 miles across. This runs in at about 12 hours on the road including stops for snacks. Day two of the trip was from Memphis, Tennessee, to Amarillo, Texas, which was approximately 725 miles. This is about 10 and a half hours including stops. Day three of the trip was from Amarillo, Texas, to Newbury Park, California. This was the biggest day of the trip so it was approximately 1,112 miles. This makes this day about 17 hours of driving in the car with stops. 17 hours cramped in a car makes a great nap time honestly, I slept most of the day. 

When you have a long trip, you also have to factor in the weather. For the most part, the trip was pretty smooth, except for the second night. Texas was in the middle of a storm at the time and a tornado almost formed next to my car when we stopped for snacks. It appeared next to our car and sent trash cans flying. Luckily, it wasn’t a full tornado, just a wind burst. We brushed off the dirt and debris and carried on five minutes to our hotel. Weather is important to any trip and it is always recommended you take it into account before planning a trip.

All of this was made more difficult due to the pets that were going along with us on our trip to California. We had two cats and a dog in the car with us which caused the car to be cramped and very furry. On the first day in a car filled with cat hair, we found it difficult to calm down Rhodey, our cat that was very stressed and kept meowing. The second cat, Maze, decided her spot would be the center console and would exclusively lay there. The little rat terrier, Dobby, wanted to be on someone’s lap to keep him comfortable. Dobby and Rhodey had done the trip before, but this was Maze’s first time. 

Wrangling three animals into a tiny hotel room can be a challenge, especially with a litter box. Carrying items from the car into the hotel room was a team effort for sure. We would bring the animals in first, and then one person would stay with them to make sure they wouldn’t freak out while the others brought bags in once we were settled, we would rest and prepare to repeat the actions the next day. Luckily, I was the one who stayed with the animals, so I had no heavy lifting to do. 

After about three months in California, my mom and I decided it would be best to move back to North Carolina as our family and home was here. Thus repeating the drive, this time along Interstate 10 and Interstate 20. I have done this trip quite a few times, so I pretty much have the states memorized, which makes the license plate game easier. I-10 runs through California, Arizona, New Mexico, and Texas. I-10 splits to I-20 in Texas. I-20 runs through Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. We stopped three times. Once in Tucson, Arizona, once in Abilene, Texas, and another time in Birmingham, Alabama. 

On these days, I was able to visit my father in Arizona, and my best friend in Alabama. While visiting my dad, I was able to see my dog, who has been alive my whole life. When that dog dies, I will probably have a breakdown. Me and my best friend had a great time together and plan to see each other again soon. On the first day we spent about 530 miles (8 hours) on the road. The second day we spent 775 miles (12 hours) on the road. The third day we spent 820 miles (13 hours) on the road. The fourth day we spent 555 miles (9 hours) on the road. 

The journey was long and very interesting, but it was all worth it in the end. We are home now and I can go back to my Newspaper class and enjoy it even more. I reconnected with my boyfriend and my family at the end of the trip which was well worth it.


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