American Road Trip Memoir


I rented a car in Seattle with the intention of driving the Pacific Coast Highway all the way down to San Diego then twisting back up to Seattle hitting National Parks on the way. It was an aggressive itinerary for a solo traveler to accomplish in 30 days, but that was the plan. I visited friends along the way—some friends visited me—and evaluated my relationships with these dear people, my relationship with those not on the road with me, and my relationship with the world and myself. 

Eleven years before I went on a sixteen-day road trip with my mother, one of my aunties, and my (divorced) grandparents. We drove around the heart of America—from Arkansas north to the Dakotas, west to Yellowstone National Park, and down to the Grand Canyon, taking Route 66 back east. I was nineteen years old and filled my journal with romantic fantasies of living in the Wild West, laments about my high school boyfriend who stopped loving me the way I wanted him to, and fanatic support for John McCain and Sarah Palin. 

I compare the 31-year-old flirting with the Pacific Ocean and the 19-year-old in the third-row of her auntie’s Chevy Tahoe, their respective journals revealing echoes of silliness and want for purpose and revealing an opposition, faith in family and political beliefs wholly altered from what they had been. 

This memoir is outlined to be 14 chapters/ essays that dive into themes such as:

  • The conflict between my desire to keep moving and exploring and to be still and purposeful
  • The difference between the family you were born into and the family you collect while living.
  • The beauty of America (and how much I sort of hate Bill Bryson).
  • My parent’s anxiety and how it impacts my own mental health and my perspective of the world.
  • The evolution of my politics from a Sarah Palin fan to Bernie believer.
  • The joy I found on the journey. 
Photo credit: Molly Koeneman