8 things you learn on a cross country road trip with your best friends

Marcelina Grochulska

As spring break is just ending for us gophers here at the U, I was inspired to reflect upon my 10-day, 10 state road trip my friends and I took over winter break.

Here are 8 things I learned on my trip. Maybe you’ll come across some of your own lessons on your spring break adventures.

1)    There is absolutely NOTHING in Nebraska (especially after 1 am).

We took this trip in the beginning of January, so naturally it was FREEZING. We left Minneapolis in the afternoon planning on driving through the night our first day. Around 1am we stopped for gas, snacks and a bathroom break at a small gas station around Omaha Nebraska. We turned off the car to pump the gas and once we had all gotten our snacks of choice (sour gummy worms and a bag of jalapeño Cheetos for me – I’m the picture of health, I know), all six of us piled into the Honda Odyssey minivan that had lovingly acquired the nickname Gwen. But then when Eddie went to start the car, poor Gwen could only muster a few clicks before sputtering out. It was too cold to start. We went into the gas station to try to ask for help but the cashier only shrugged us off with an apology for our bad luck. Thankfully Keegan had AAA, we called and they told us that someone would get to us in 45 min. It was already 1:45 AM which meant that we would be stuck there for a while. 45 minutes later; nothing. An hour later; nothing. After multiple more phone calls to AAA a tow truck finally pulls in at 3:56 AM. All we needed was a simple start. Note to self: don’t stop in Nebraska.

All of us Freezing in front of Gwen in the Middle of the Night in Nebraska. pc: Noah Hanson

All of us Freezing in front of Gwen in the Middle of the Night in Nebraska. pc: Noah Hanson

2)    Everyone knows the words to Bohemian Rhapsody and All Star.

Climbing Green mountain in Colorado surrounded by a foot of snow with more falling around you, you might find that you need a little motivation, a little something to keep you going. That’s when we discovered that everyone, absolutely everyone (by everyone we mean our small relatively average sample of the population) knows the words to Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen and All Star by Smash Mouth. I don’t know how it started but somehow Mia and I started singing Bohemian Rhapsody and instantly Keegan and Eddie joined in. Soon enough we became a small but passionate Queen cover band and we passionately sang (butchered) the entire 5 minute thirty-six second song, complete with the guitar solo courtesy of Keegan’s talented vocal tract. Immediately, after Eddie started us on a round of All Star and once again, we killed it. We realized that those two songs were basically the only two songs we all knew the words to but man did we get into those two songs. (Note: we did end up reaching the peak– I think that the motivation of these songs made that possible)

All of us huddled under a boulder at the peak of Green Mountain – pc: Eddie Galindo

All of us huddled under a boulder at the peak of Green Mountain – pc: Eddie Galindo

3)    Split six ways, you can buy anything!

Traveling through Colorado without snow tires or chains is not a good idea. But that’s okay because even though they are relatively expensive you have six people to split the cost across! Split six ways; that’s nothing! Having to get a hotel room because your campsite is flooded/frozen? Split six ways; that’s nothing! Buying a pass to all the national parks you’re visiting? Split six ways that’s nothing! Gas for a ~3000-mile road trip?? Split six ways; that’s nothing! The moral of this story? The more people you have the better you feel about spending money. (Note: it doesn’t actually make anything less expensive)

Pc: Eddie Galindo

Pc: Eddie Galindo

4)    If the person in front of you falls and splits their head open on a hike you shouldn’t keep going.

So in Zion National Park (beautiful park 10/10 recommend you go there) we decided to do a relatively steep and strenuous hike. The most strenuous hike was closed due to Ice on the trail; so, we decided to do the next best one. Half way up it started to get very steep and very icy. We were inching along literally on our hands and knees when in front of us we heard someone fall and then a loud crash followed by a splash. Someone had fallen off a rock 10 feet into a shallow pool of water that had frozen over and they fell through the ice. We looked ahead and there was blood on a rock and a man in the freezing water. After making sure he was okay and giving him our first aid kit to bandage up his head we watched him and his group start their way down to try to get real medical assistance. That’s when Noah looked at us “You guys’ ready to go on!?” he asked. Keegan and Eddie were just about to agree to go ahead when I put my foot down. There’s no way I was allowing us to continue into the hidden canyons. We all turned around and returned to level ground (but not before Eddie twisted his ankle – that clutz).

5)    New Mexico is haunted.

After Utah we decided to swoop down to New Mexico to explore a little since the trail we were planning on doing in Arizona had flooded the night before. We drove to New Mexico and explored a tiny bit before we stopped at a small hotel in Santa Fe. The hotel was weirdly empty for its size. The hallways of the hotel were dimly lit, lined with wall length mirrors on both sides and going down the center of the hallways was a little crevice full of sand with real cacti growing in them. That night we all shared a hotel room so therefore only a couple of us were on beds and the rest of us were in sleeping bags on the floor. I was on the floor (thanks for being gentlemen @Keegan @Eddie). We all fell asleep around midnight. In the middle of the night though, I suddenly woke up from the lights in the room being turned on. I instantly sat up because I thought maybe someone had woken up. But as I looked around I realized that everyone else was sound asleep in beds or inside their sleeping bags and no one was even close to the light switch by the door. I quickly turned off the light and tried to go back to sleep. The next morning, I asked everyone if anyone had woken up in the night. They all said they slept fine. I asked if anyone turned on the lights in the middle of the night. No one did. New Mexico is Haunted.

6)    If you make too many jingles about the trip, your friends won’t really like you very much.

So apparently I have this bad (good??) habit of turning everything we do into a jungle. And by jingle I mean annoying repetitive sing-songy chant that gets stuck in your head. I don’t usually realize when I do this, but lemme tell ya, my friends do. In the Grand Canyon I made what I considered an especially good one. It went something like this “We’re in the grand canyon – it’s the grandest of all canyons – cuz it’s a canyon, and its grand”. But imagine that the word canyon is said like canyaaaaaan. Within minutes it was stuck in everyone’s heads. I can’t tell you how many times Shelby told me to shut up. So, on trips with friends; no jingles. (Although I think they all actually secretly  loved it because at least three of them used a part of my jingle in their Instagram captions so…)

7)    Speed limit? More like speed suggestion (especially in the barren desert of Utah)

When you have thousands of miles to cover, especially in the empty freeways of Utah with no other cars around you, staying at 60 mph is honestly just torturous. That’s why Eddie kept the cruise control at a steady 80 mph. Gwen is a real trooper and we got us to Arizona with an hour shaved off of our ETA. (Note: I do not condone speeding)

8)    Spending 10 days in a van with six people turns those six people into a family.

Cramming into a van with six people and camping and hiking gear and food for 10 days is no easy feat. Needless to say we all got really… close. But honestly I wouldn’t have it any other way. Those ten days were full of laughs and jokes and competitive rounds of “my cow”. We all probably got to know each other a little better than we expected. We all now know a lot more about diabetes (shout out Shelby), dad jokes (shout out Noah), vlogging (shout out Keegan), my cow (shout out Mia), and Taco Bell (thanks Eddie). We came into this trip as a couple o’ friends and came out a family <3.

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