We set off at midnight. I'd tried to get an ample amount of rest beforehand, but that didn't go too well. Still, on top of the one hour of napping, I had spent 2 hours laying down with my eyes closed, so maybe that would count for something? My car was already packed and all that was left to do was to say my goodbye's--see-you-later's as my grandma would have preferred. This part wasn't as hard as you may expect, considering I had left home for school in California 4 years before. In my eyes, that was when I 'moved out' and this past summer was just me visiting home again. Either way, my mother was there to see me off.
I've always been bad with directions. This little fact combined with a week old license and a car that had been in my possession for the same amount of time ensured that I'd get nowhere without a GPS. That day I had gone out and got one of the TomTom's. I set it up meticulously and then went on my way. I had never driven at night alone before, so I tried to pretend TomTom was that side-seat driver. All was going well until I took the wrong exit en route to the airport to pick up Johanna. Of course, it quickly re-calibrated and told me which way to go, but it felt like it was taking me in circles for a long time after that. Seems I had spent 10 minutes trying to get back to a mile before the exit I had wrongly taken. Johanna's flight was delayed, so it all worked out anyway.
Johanna drove the first leg. It had been her idea to start off early so that we could get to Chicago in the afternoon and spend the rest of the day there. She'll probably be mad that I told you all this, but she got a speeding ticket within the first hour of the trip. She was shocked to discover that the speed limit had been 55 instead of 65. Needless to say, she drove 5 miles under the rest of the way, but it was the first and last ticket of our journey, for both of us.
At 900 or so miles, the drive from DC to Chicago is about 13 hours, give or take a gas station and breakfast stop. The first few hours of driving in the dark was pretty uneventful, but a smooth ride going at 50 mph. Around sunrise, it started getting light outside (I promise I'm not slow for that statement) and we stopped for some breakfast at Denny's. It would be my turn to drive next so, naturally, I had about 3 cups of coffee: I was only going off of two hours of car-sleep.
While at the diner, we met a cute middle-aged-making-their-way-to-elderly couple who were also traveling to Chicago. When we told them we were doing cross-country, they said that they had before as well and had taken almost the same path we were destined upon. It was a nice little conversation, knowing that you weren't the only crazies on the open road, at 6 am no doubt. The breakfast was good, too. Honestly, I forgot what I had, but I remember that it was good.
While I drove, Johanna took it upon herself to take pictures to chronicle our journey. I tried making it so that these pictures are beside eachother, but that didn't work. If anyone knows how to, please leave a comment.
And, I swear, we came across two of these set-ups along the way, about 2-4 hours apart! From the gas station, to the Hardees, to how the huge bathroom was set-up inside (that was the freaky, I-must-be-in-the-Matrix part), these two locations were IDENTICAL. PS: Ignore the date on these photos, that's just a result of me not fixing the settings on my camera.
Soon, as heavy fatigue and road-grumpiness was starting to set in, we began to see signs of the big city. And this is where part 1 of day 1 ends and part 2 will commence.