Country roads - West virginia
Baltimore Airport to Harrisonburg, VA -167 miles, via I-66W and I-81S
Here’s the first part of my diary across the USA. I’m going to break down the costs, locations, recommendations and give as much overall advice for compiling a U.S road trip as possible on these articles, as I feel that there are limited resources to find tailor-made information in a simple and (hopefully) affordable way. Lemme know if there are things that you feel I should include, things that YOU’d like to know, as well as any general feedback on my thoughts, insights and imagery! Welcome to West Virginia!
Well.. Imagine driving through some trees. Imagine multiplying the size of those trees by ten. Imagine multiplying the volume of trees around you, by ten. Imagine mountains covered in trees. Imagine pickup trucks filled with tree branches. Imagine sign posts everywhere covered in trees. Hell, I was surprised there wasn’t a tree sitting down in Starbucks enjoying a hazelnut latte, when I walked in.
Somewhat of an unknown quantity to Nicole and I, West Virginia really caught us off guard. The vast landscape of greenery and beautiful richness of colour in the area was unavoidably prominent. I felt completely surrounded by the wild.
We flew into Baltimore from the UK, as we had discovered some fairly inexpensive flights via Iceland (at the last minute with WOW Air via SkyScanner) and thought that it would be worth our while to start on the East Coast, to head all the way through the Deep South, Midwest and Pacific Coast before finishing our journey in Alaska. We arrived fairly late in the evening & decided that the best way to begin would be to hit the road quickly, making up as much ground as we possibly could. I’d hired us a car from Alamo, as I’d heard their Gold Package rental deals were probably the best on the market in terms of driving fees for people under 25, along with their pretty decent rates for a 1-way trip, as we were leaving our car at the other side of the country! We snagged the car for 21 days at a rate of around £1000, which is pretty damn good for a one-way ride over 15 states for two people, especially since at the time, Nicole was 23 and the usual rates are calculated for drivers over the age of 25.
Baltimore’s freeways were fairly busy, despite our late arrival time of 10pm. I found that the most effective way of travelling on the roads at speed, is to operate as a team, staying one or two steps ahead, rather than relying on the driver navigating their way on the Apple Maps while driving. The slight lag in location services can hinder the effectiveness of the app at times and I just felt that we’d make our lives a whole lot easier if I kept Nicole right, rather than just leave her to get on with it on her own. It took us a few minutes to get into the swing of things, with the car being a left-hand drive and the transmission being an automatic, entirely opposite to what we are used to!
Our first waypoint on the map was Nashville, Tennessee. We figured it made sense to drive straight toward there and stop off along the way, to rest and eat. The drive to Nashville from Baltimore was 10 hours long, so we knew it would take us roughly two days to get there. We drove to a small town called Marshall, where we stopped to get pizza. It was rubbish. We got bacon-cheese fries. They were great. We carried on. Another hour down the road found us staying in a small motel in Harrisonburg. Finding motels and hotels on the road in the U.S is incredibly easy. I used HotelTonight, TripAdvisor and Booking.com to find our places to stay/eat/see and we always had a fairly easy time finding stuff at reasonable prices. Our first night found us staying in a Ramada Motel, a chain of budget motels that we’d go on to see throughout the country, always scoring fairly high on review scores with customers across the board. We drove for around 3 hours, reaching Harrisonburg at 1am, we were exhausted, it had been a long day. The man behind the reception desk upgraded us to a nicer room, as he said we looked “nice” which was a pretty sweet thing to happen to us on our first night. We’d had a long day.
Morning came and we decided to go shoot some photos. I’d been asked by my friends at AllSaints to come up with some original imagery for their #ItsUpToYou campaign and I felt that the gas station across the road provided a pretty cool backdrop for the first set of images. We snapped some pics over the course of half an hour and jumped back in the car, headed for Tennessee..
- Ramada @ Harrisonburg - $100
- Pizza - $10 (Regret $10)
- Fries - $8
- Gatorade x 2 - $6
- Car Hire for 21 days - £565 via AutoEurope & Alamo (Not including one way fee)
- Full Tank - $24 (600 miles) (Yes, I know)