For a lot of my friends who are skilled in driving, most would not really like long distance driving. My guess is that most of you don’t as well. Well, I maybe one of the few who loves to drive. I find freedom when I drive. That is, when I know that I can reach any destination as long as I have fuel and a map.
I occasionally take the steering wheel while in Manila. I’ve also gotten the chance to drive in Europe when we ventured to Amsterdam from Brussels. But I specially liked driving in the USA just as I did when I drove from California to Arizona. Also there one from within Texas. Here you drive on very smooth pavement and at high speeds on automatic driving.
In those previous trips to the US, some of the longest trips I’ve made was our 7-hour drive from the Grand Canyon to Los Angeles. But in 2014, I’ve pushed myself further by driving for around 10 hours straight.
In my short term client assignment in Atlanta in 2014, I’ve planned for a trip up north to the US capital of Washington D.C. during the 4th of July holiday. Planning ahead, I reached out to my friend Faith who lives a few minutes from the capital. And due to budget concerns, instead of flying or taking the trains, I decided that I will drive myself north instead.
And so I checked Google Maps to check the distance for which I’ll be driving to and the estimated time. It gave me an estimate of 10 hours driving time and about 600 miles in distance. I’ll go past the states of Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina until I reach Chantilly, Virginia. It will be a long and tiring but I know I will be able to appreciate the cities I’ll pass through.
And so with Google Maps on my iPhone and my car, I started early in the morning around 6 AM to drive out on my way north. But I first made a stop to an Exxon petrol station beside the Perimeter Mall for a full tank.
So I went ahead eastward on Interstate 285 and then headed north via Interstate 85 cutting through the state of South Carolina. I went past the city of Charlotte in North Carolina. Crossing through Virginia, I transferred to I-95 N upon reaching the city of Petersburg. I then drove past Richmond, Virginia’s capital. Then drove more on Highway 234 north through the city of Manassas until reaching the city of Chantilly, my final destination. That was such a long route!
Since this was my first time to travel on this route, I ensured that first I watch out my speed and tried to observe the surrounding that I was passing through.
I can still remember this section somewhere in South Carolina where the freeway was a bit hilly and lined only by evergreens. There was also this huge peach which I remember along the freeway before going past the Georgia-South Carolina border.
And just as enter then North Carolina border, I pulled over the shoulder to quickly have a selfie with one of the Interstate signs. When I did that I was surprised that a pickup truck pulled over behind my car. Well it was the highway service or something like an emergency support who thought that I just had a car trouble who may be needing help.
Also along the path I took some time to stop by the rest stops in North Carolina and Virginia along my way. And a lunch break stop at a KFC in Thomasville, NC just a few miles before Greensboro.
Upon arrival in my friend’s place in Chantilly around 6 PM that night, was I very tired. But we still had enough time for dinner where my friend treated me for a buffet.
Well I stayed with her place for 2 nights and got the chance to the Capitol the day after my arrival. The day after that, before I drove back to Atlanta, we drove ourselves to Virginia Beach which is about 4 hours drive.
It was another long distance drive before heading my way home and I had to drive on a convoy with my friend’s husband. And boy, was he a fast driver. From Chantilly, we drove down south along I-95 and turned east on I-295 and turned south on I-64. While on I-64, I got the chance to drive through a major US infrastructure. Upon reaching the Chesapeake Bay, we had to drive through the Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. It is made up of a very deep tunnel that goes under the bay and comes up again on a very long bridge. And then a final turn eastward on I-264 brought us straight to our destination.
During this drive, one key thing I remember back then was how fearful I felt while we were driving somewhere along I-64. That section of the freeway cut through the forest of evergreens. There were also only two lanes. We sped through this path where it was a bit congested but we were all driving at 80 MPH. Well, we took the passing lane overtaking other cars at high speeds with like a car in gap between. It was dangerous that if one of us makes a mistake it will cause a pile of cars. But, I have to keep up with everyone else.
I only stayed in Virginia Beach for a few hours only. After eating lunch, I took the wheel again at 1PM to take another 10 hour drive back to Atlanta. And unlike my trip going to D.C., on may way back I no longer made any pit stop except to just fuel up.
From Virginia Beach, I drove west on I-264 going past Norfolk then continued westward on Highway 58. When I reached I-85, I continued southward going past Greensboro and Charlotte. By the time I reached that short section of South Carolina, the freeway is not very well lit. Also there are not that many cars drive with. It was already dark. I sped off, not caring much about the speed limit as I want get myself back in Atlanta. I was on my toes on that part of my trip. The long drive was making me tired and driving in the dark at high speeds is a bit scary.
And so by 11PM, I finally reach my hotel and took a very well deserved sleep. It was a work day the day after.
One thing I got from this adventure is that, next time I’ll make sure I have someone else to drive with me. But it was fun and memorable. Plus, I got to have it to brag about, no matter how stupid I was to do it. 🙂
How about you, how far was the farthest you have driven by land?