The Long Road West

Updated: Jun 12, 2018

For the past six months, I’ve been “planning” a summer road trip out west. I use the word planning pretty loosely, as I’ve come up with only a general route and sense of timing. The specifics will be decided on as I go!

I have never taken a real ‘vacation’ from life before–sure, I’ve done short camping trips over long weekends, a 4-day trip to the coast, etc., but that’s about it. I felt it was time! I’ll be driving, running, hiking and biking my way across the United States and back again. See below for my road trip route and more details!

I’ll be leaving on July 9th, 2017, and returning on (approximately) August 16th, 2017.

Background: The only place I’ve actually been outside of the east coast is Albuquerque, NM, and I never left the city, so I’m excited to be seeing huge sections of the country for the first time. Once I get west of NY/PA, it’ll be the furthest west I’ve really seen. This road trip is something I’ve always wanted to do, but always seemed a bit out of reach for various reasons. In recent years, I’ve thought about something as simple as driving out to Colorado, staying for a week or two, and driving home. This year, I just decided to go for it!

Cost: While I signed on to do tutoring and work two weeks of summer camps to help pay for the trip, the goal is to do this as cheaply as possible. It’s going to run between $500 and $650 for gas and oil changes, depending on how much extra driving I do outside of the general route. I also had to buy new tires, as mine were about shot, but that was a planned expense this year anyhow. My personal goal is to spend less than $250 on lodging and dining for the whole trip. See below for my shelter and food plans and tell me whether you think it’ll work! The ultimate goal is to have less than $800 of extraneous expenses, or expenses I wouldn’t have if I just stayed at home. Since I’d spend $300 in five weeks on gas and food just staying around home anyway, that gives me what I think is a realistic goal of spending less than $1100.

Shelter: I have three options for shelter each night.

  • Prius “HabiTent”

  • Backpacking Tent

  • Couches

The HabiTent is pretty neat; it’s a tent that attaches to the back of my car. I’ve slept in my car many times before, but it got either very hot with windows shut, or very buggy. I kept thinking about designing a screen to fit over a window, held in place by magnets, but much of the trim around the window is plastic. A few helpful friends linked me to these tents, and I ended up ordering one. It will let me sleep just about anywhere it’s legal to park. Wal-mart is the famous choice of economy-minded RVers and folks that are down on their luck, so that will be my fallback option. It’ll also make traveling to races MUCH more comfortable in the future.

My backpacking tent is a MSR Flylite 2. It is incredibly light at less than 2lbs for a 2-person tent. It uses trekking poles to save weight. It’s a bit more labor intensive to set up in order to have good ventilation, but it’ll be a great backup.

I’ll also be bringing my ThermaRest NeoAir XLite pad, an Enlightened Equipment down quilt (35º) and a Grand Trunk  bamboo sleeping bag for very warm nights. I may borrow a larger, full-length pad from my parents specifically for the car camping, as it’ll be a bit more comfortable.

Lastly, several people I know have offered their couches for me to crash on as I swing through. Frankly, even just a more secure place to set up my tent (or put my pad and bag on a living room floor) helps a lot!

Food: I am planning on cooking for myself as much as possible to save costs. I am bringing my Jetboil Minimo stove (you can adjust the flame to a simmer now!) as well as my Biolite Camp Stove and grill, which burns wood and charges your phone at the same time! I have been watching the discount stores for a few months to stock up on food, and I have a pretty good stock now. I’ll be prioritizing quinoa over pasta as it’s higher in protein, but sometimes you just need comfort food, aka mac and cheese!

  • 9lbs of Quinoa (48 servings, should be plenty!)

  • 12lbs gluten free pasta (36+ servings)

  • 15 servings Gluten Free oatmeal (I’ll buy more, this was all they had discounted)

  • 50oz Turkey Jerky (I’m pretty sure that’s several turkeys)

  • 6.5lbs Gluten Free crackers (they were so cheap I bought them all; 70% off and not expired)

  • 7lbs Honey Nut Cheerios (does anyone really count servings on cereal? Ok it’s at least more than 7 servings)

  • Nutritional Yeast – 20oz (for protein, flavor and to reduce my reliance on cheese)

  • 2lbs peanut butter

  • 2lbs of covfefe (with my grinder and french press)

  • 1 metric ton (approximate) of expired Kind bars (which still taste fine)

  • Olive oil and sprayer

  • Some spices including chipotle, smoked paprika, and salt, coriander and pepper grinders.

  • Running fuel. I’m not big on running specific fuel while training, but I’m bringing:

  • Generation UCAN Fuel

  • Generation UCAN Recovery Mix

  • Vega Sport protein powder

  • Packets of peanut butter

  • Maple syrup (a pint container and a gel flask to put it in)

During the trip I’ll have to shop for milk, cheese and vegetables, as well as chicken or other protein when I get sick of turkey jerky. I will likely have a few meals out, especially if I meet up with folks, but I’m hoping to keep that to a minimum and do it only when I want to, not because I need to. I know I have 50% more food than I need at least in terms of calories.

Gear: (not an exhaustive list by any means)

  • Shoes: Altra Escalante, Altra Superior 3.0, Altra King MT, Altra Torin 3.0, Hoka Clayton 2, Hoka Challenger ATR 2, Salomon Sense 3 Ultra, Topo MT2, Birkenstocks.

  • Mountain bike and bike shoes (hopefully I can fit this inside my car while I’m sleeping… TBD!)

  • Salomon S-Lab Skin 12 Vest w/ reservoir and bottles

  • Salomon Hydro Handset – far and away my favorite handheld.

  • Hillsound Ultra Crampons – Just in case!

  • Watch: Garmin Fenix 5x. Maps on the device so I won’t get lost in new places! Look out for a review of this coming soon!

  • Clothes:

  • Running shorts – 8x (3 tight, 5 loose)

  • Shirts – 13x (4 singlet, 7 short sleeve, 2 long sleeve, not all running)