May 1, 2005
Route 50 Road Trip: The beginning
Heading west when leaving Ocean City, on the Atlantic Ocean in Maryland, there is a sign that reads "Sacramento, 3200 Miles" (Approximately 3200, I don't remember the exact number). As everyone I know has recently learned, I used to see that sign when I was a kid on the way home from Ocean City summer vacations, and think how cool it would be to get on that road and go all that way, to the very end on the other coast. This year, upon the milestone of turning 40, I decided to do it. The plan was simple: rent a car, buy a plane ticket to get home at the end of the trip, take two weeks off from work for the drive. Everything else was to be pretty much impromptu. For reference along the way, I had three sources: a set of AAA maps, a short Washington Post article from September 21, 2003 describing a similar trip, and the section about Rte 50 from the website Road Trip USA. For inspiration, I had Blue Highways, by William Least Heat-Moon. On the map, 50's a red highway for most of its length, but it's close enough to blue for my purposes.
I had planned to document the trip in photos, but hadn't considered a journal until someone I work with suggested it. It wasn't long into the journal notes that I realized there was a sub-plot to the trip: My growing attachment to the car I'd rented -- a 2005 silvery-beige Ford Mustang. An iconic American car for a road-trip through the heart of America. It was perfect.