Road Trip Safety Cover (Photo Credit: Sara Rose 2021)

Road Trip Safety-Dealing with Natural Disasters in the USA || 16 States in 16 Days

When I drove my first road trip away from the West Coast, I decided to go big! However, so did the weather in several areas. To be honest, at a certain point, I was scared. Why? I was unsure of the safest thing to do. Disaster movies came to mind with visual recollections of characters tying themselves to metal posts in tornados or being swept away in a tropical cyclone. What of these, previously entertaining moments, were factual, if any?

Listen to a podcast of this travel blog here: https://anchor.fm/theregoessararose/episodes/Ep-10-Road-Trip-Safety-Dealing-with-Natural-Disasters-in-the-USA–16-States-in-16-Days-e158251

My summer 2021 road trip, “16 States in 16 Days,” totaled about 6,000 miles, and I bumped into everything! In Louisiana, the trip found itself caught on the edge of Tropical Storm Claudette on June 18th just as the drive headed toward Tennessee (the storm lasted in Louisiana for a few days). Just a day later, my phone alerted me I was in a, “dangerous +2 lightning storm,” while headed to St. Louis, Missouri. Both of these drives had rain so hard, it was difficult to see the road, cars, or anything but water. During the evening stay in St. Louis, there was minimal rain. However, the lightning shot across the sky from all around and sometimes struck the same spot several times within a few seconds of each other.

Windy, of course, and drizzling most of the next day in Chicago, that evening turned for the worse. I spent 2 hours in a hotel stairway that night, accompanied by rain, sirens, a lovely couple who had just gotten married, and an F3 tornado raging about 15 miles south of our location. This was easily one of the most scared moments I have had in my life, fascinated by the science, hopeful for others caught in the path of the “finger of God”. As much as I loved Chicago, (trust me, there was PLENTY of time to see things in the city!) I nope’d right out of there the next morning. If that wasn’t enough, several fires raged across the USA with the worst in Colorado, and, well, it even rained in Las Vegas. Yes, it does rain in Vegas. Seeing events like these firsthand humbles you and makes you really appreciate first responders and the helpfulness of a fellow being.

Every time you go on a road trip you run the risk of hitting some kind of weather event or natural disaster, whether it’s a major storm, wildfires, landslides, earthquakes…so, what do you do when it happens? I was of more extreme weather changes in the mid-West but did not realize the intensity until being present for them and checking online weather reports. Let’s look at things that can happen in all three major regions of the U.S. to keep YOU and I safer on our adventures!

West Coast

Yes, we do have earthquakes. Thankfully, our infrastructure is built for them and it’s relatively rare for one to do real damage. But we have some other issues, too. Here’s what to do in each of them.

  1. Earthquakes. If the road starts to shake, you should carefully pull over. Do not stop under or on a bridge or overpass, or under trees, light posts, signs…anything which might fall on your car. The safest place to be is in your car. When you resume driving, keep it slow and watch for breaks, cracks, potholes, fallen rocks, and damaged bridges. If you’re at the waterfront and the sea starts to leave, get inland and onto high ground quickly. Receding sea can be the first sign of a tsunami.
  2. Wildfires. Unfortunately, fire season has been particularly bad over the last few years. If you are in an area with smoke, keep your windows rolled up. Stay in your car. Close your air vents. Continue driving, but avoid heavy smoke if possible, keeping your headlights on. Obey road closures and detours and always let firefighters past. Be flexible with your plans.
  3. Storms. Hailstorms are pretty common in the mountains, and can sometimes trigger rock falls and landslides that block passes. Try to avoid a schedule that will cause issues if a pass is blocked for several hours.
  4. Excessive heat. Southern California gets pretty hot, and this is also a note for the southwest desert states. If driving through the desert, make sure to have plenty of water in your trunk and also take salty snacks. Park your car in shady areas if possible.

Central

We’re not going to talk about those Midwestern winters because that’s not when you’re going to be taking your road trip. Leave that to the people who live there.

But there are some things to worry about even in the summer.

  1. Tornadoes. A tornado warning means that conditions are possibly suitable for a tornado. A tornado watch means that the storm is producing potential tornado conditions and/or a tornado has been sighted. In towns where tornadoes are common, you may hear sirens…if you do, go into the nearest open building and go to an interior room or basement. Find out if your hotel has a tornado shelter or a basement area. If not, the safest place to be is the bathroom. Do not go anywhere until the tornado warning has passed. If you are on the road and the tornado is distant, turn at right angles to its path and drive until you find a sturdy building. If you’re actually caught in high winds, pull over, park, and tuck yourself in the bottom of the car….or leave and put yourself in a ditch. Don’t shelter under a bridge.
  2. Lightning. If you are driving during a lightning storm, stay in your car. Even if your vehicle is hit, you are likely safe as the metal frame conducts lightning past you. Make sure any sunroof is thoroughly closed. Pull over if visibility is too bad to safely drive.
  3. Excessive heat. In the central south, you have the same heat issues as in the desert. However, the further east you go, the higher the humidity. Check not just the temperature but the heat index and avoid physical activity during the hottest part of the day.

East Coast

In general, the East Coast has less severe weather than other areas, but the biggest concern is hurricanes. Unfortunately, hurricane season overlaps with the summer vacation season. You might, though, consider scheduling your trip earlier in the summer. While hurricane season starts on June 1, it’s rare for there to be severe storms before August.

  1. Hurricanes. The nice thing about hurricanes is that you can see them coming. The bad thing about them is they last for days. If you are planning a trip during hurricane season, be ready to change your plans. If you’re booking stuff in advance, consider travel insurance. Don’t stick around…make sure you have a full tank of gas and get out. Every year, some idiots get hurt trying to watch a hurricane.
  2. Lightning and thunder. East coast storms tend to be shorter and less intense than those in the Midwest, but dangerous summer storms are not unknown.
  3. Excessive heat. High heat and humidity are an issue everywhere from Maryland south. Avoid scheduling heavy activities for the hottest part of the day and keep plenty of water in your car.

The most important thing is to be flexible. You never know what might happen and you need to be willing to accept a bit of a detour. Sometimes it can be more exciting than your original plans! To find out more, contact There Goes Sara Rose today.

Route 66 Sign in Santa Monica (Rose, S., 2021)

History, Art and the Free Spirit on Route 66 || 16 States in 16 Days

You know about US Highway 66, not because you are deeply invested in highway systems, but because of the yearning for freedom. Though it wouldn’t be completely paved until 1938, US Highway 66, commonly known as Route 66, entered the US Highway System in 1926. Its significance takes many forms. It was the first all-weather highway between Chicago and Los Angeles, two massive economic focal points of the American West. Its development from dirt-road-to-superhighway epitomizes economic development and the remarkable geographical links brought about by a robust national public highway system. Its birth and development came at a time of immense turmoil and economic upheaval, yet it persisted.

Listen to a podcast of this travel article here: https://anchor.fm/theregoessararose/episodes/Ep-9-History–Art-and-the-Free-Spirit-of-Route-66–16-States-in-16-Days-e1570m1

As a result, it became the romanticized highway we know today, coming to symbolize the optimism that fell over the American people after WWII. Bridging the Rocky Mountain divide and stretching to the Pacific Ocean, Route 66 represents the free-spirited ideation of a country already firmly built on free-spirited ideation. Pulling on the history of the USA with its free-spirited energy, and embracing what it means for my own adventures, is why I’m going.

Why is this trip so pivotal? This is the first time I have left the West Coast, the first time I have traveled on such a road trip, and the first time I have gone so far with the specific goal of collecting and sharing what I can with all of you (translation: Taking more tech supplies than clothes!). This is the moment I set out on my professional path, one I carve out for myself, and I welcome you to come along as, “There Goes Sara Rose”!

How to Road Trip on Route 66

“Historic” vs Interstate

In 1985, Route 66 was removed from the United States Highway System, as its utility had become unnecessary in the wake of the successful Interstate Highway System. After it was decommissioned, numerous organizations worked to preserve significant structures, features, and artifacts of the road. Their work has resulted in the “Historic Route 66” that we know today. This is not to be confused with Interstate 66 (I-66), which is not connected whatsoever to the original Route 66. 

VW Bus Tourist Stop next to The Copper Cart in Seligman, Arizona. Photo: Rose, S. (2021)

The modern version of Route 66 we know today isn’t entirely drivable, as it no longer needs to serve as a functional highway. Instead, the drivable portions serve as monuments to American history. Some of these spots have been turned into historic locations with informational posts, signs, and more! You will see many on my socials and here at ThereGoesSaraRose.com.

Navajo & Hopi Indian Arts and Crafts Center in Winslow, AZ Photo: Rose, S. (2021)

Packing Your Clothes

Compression travel bags, such as the Hefty Shrink Pak Travel Bags I used, are an excellent way to pack for a road trip when organized correctly. A packing tip section may sound simple, but these bags and this method saved me hours of frustration:

  1. Keep your clothes CLEAN! You may try to keep dust and dirt out of the car but the windy air will not allow it!
  2. Keep your clothes EASY TO ACCESS! With one bag per day for clothes, you can skip taking the suitcase into your lodgings except when it is time to wash. Traveling with friends? Still consolidate outfits into one bag per day.
  3. Keep your clothes ORGANIZED! Folding and keeping bags flat as possible before compression leaves room for important extras such as swimsuits, extra socks, a windbreaker etc. to help with various weather plans.

You will want to map out a plan regarding when you will clean your clothes and take change and laundry soap; do not assume you will have clothes cleaning services nearby! Having a windbreaker, rain poncho, and/or warm weather gear when traveling in winter is a key part of being prepared for anything.

Route 66 Highlights-Subscribe for More!

The love for nostalgia is evident in the care that has been taken with preserving these pieces of history, a moment in time saved to share a story. Many of the stops have several signs touting a landmark of some type, beaming with pride at passing drivers, enticing them to “taking the next right!”. The unplanned stops became my favorite; the finding-of-the-unexpected just as appealing as a curated museum. A friend and I spent almost an entire 16 days photographing, recording, and taking notes of various parts of the United States, from the Mojave Desert to New Orleans, from Chicago to Las Vegas. Makes sure to subscribe and follow this blog to be the FIRST to get these stories, photos, and more!

Here are a few excellent attractions along Route 66 I missed I planned to return back to, such as:

Delgadillo’s Snow Cap Drive-In

Located in Seligman, Arizona is a historic eatery that was built in 1953 by Juan Delgadillo. It stands out from the crowd quite literally as it was built mostly from scrap lumber. Flamboyant and humorous, featuring menu items like “Dead Chicken” and “Cheeseburger With Cheese”, Delgadillo’s is a delightful stop on Route 66. 

Cadillac Ranch

A public art installation in Amarillo, Texas, Cadillac Ranch is one of the many quirks of Route 66. Buried in the desert sand are ten graffiti-covered Cadillacs. Visitors to the installation are welcome to contribute to the artistic display with their designs spray-painted onto the Ranch’s vehicles.

The Wigwam Motel

A curious motel in Holbrook, Arizona furnishes guests with the chance to sleep in wigwams for the night instead of traditional motel rooms. While the rooms are shaped like tipis as opposed to the more hut-like wigwam, this kitsch motel is still a great place to lay your head.

Join The Adventure!

The dream of travel, seeing places never seen, and turning that into art, is the whole reason why I write this blog. If that’s something you’re dreaming of too, I hope these posts help inspire you towards taking your own journey. Want to get your kicks on Route 66? Come along with me for the first major leg of my travels in “16 States in 16 Days”! Follow me on social media for updates as they happen and subscribe to my blog for stories on my adventures. Thank you for coming on this journey with me.

Sara Rose at the Grand Canyon, Arizona. (Photo: Neri, M. 2021)
Sara Rose at the Grand Canyon, Arizona. (Photo: Neri, M. 2021)

P.S. Notes while traveling are key! Purchase Word Vomit: A 90-Day Expression Journal to give yourself space for mindless doodles, inspiring art, and processing unfiltered emotions! This is a great way for you, your friends, or kids to prepare for a blog of your own or just word vomit!