Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper

The Spokesman-Review Newspaper The Spokesman-Review

Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
Partly Cloudy Day 42° Partly Cloudy

Going Mobile

Strategies for dealing with long-distance driving

What’s a road trip without driving? The romantic notion of heading down the highway, a perfect playlist blasting. Getting from Point A to B, C and beyond is a part of the pleasure, right?

Well, we’ve got a split decision on that matter in the Kelly-Nelson crew: John is a champ behind the wheel while Leslie’s a chump. HA! Those are her words.

For this edition of Going Mobile, we’re putting LK in the driver’s seat to serve up some sage advice on how to best handle the stress of putting the pedal to the metal.

Leslie says: This year of our grand tour is significantly different because we’ve added a second vehicle, our 2004 Camry. Some RVers call it a “go car” or the “chaser.” No, we can’t really tow that beast. Well, we probably could, but we don’t want to deal with buying a towing trailer.

I’m usually in the passenger seat, acting as navigator and snack server, but for this new chapter, I’m flying solo in the sedan and that’s just fine as long ... as we’re not driving too far. I’ve been on many epic marathon drives in the past and it leaves me wrecked for days. So, here’s how we now roll.

Breaking it up: Our reservation specialist -- Johnny -- spent a huge chunk of time in the spring and summer plotting our route south so we’d never be driving much more than 250 miles a crack. So far, the longest haul was from the West Side to Spokane, a drive we’ve made countless times and it always seems like we should be there by the time we get to Ritzville! 

Taking a break: You’d think we’d have a pact to pull over every so often, but we’re pretty focused on getting there. Once we land, we make a point of staying a minimum of two nights so we can rest and soak up the experience of being there. Pulling in during mid-afternoon has served us well at state and national parks, where we hit the trails after most of the crowds have called it a day.

Along the way: Our Camry’s sound system leaves a lot to be desired, the CD player busted way back when we actually owned compact discs. But I’ve loaded the exceptional Libby app on my iPhone and have been listening to audiobooks, which makes the time fly. So far, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed celebrity memoirs by Bryan Cranston, Cary Elwes and Willie Nelson, as well as BBC radio dramas and John McPhee’s reading of the history of shad, a tome called “The Founding Fish.

Sips and nibbles: We’ve got the breakfast burrito dialed in for a protein packed start to the day. Snacking in between meals usually involves something simple like almonds or sliced apples. For longer drives, we make a point of stopping along the way for a meal in the rig. Sometimes, it might even involve a hike or a trip to the supermarket. Before hitting the road, we make sure John has enough coffee and I’ve got a full cup of chai, plus a bottle of water. No rest areas along the route? No prob. We’ve got a bathroom in our tiny home on wheels.

Fueling up: Yes, it’s more expensive to travel with two vehicles, but the car has given us so much more flexibility. It feels good to park the RV and leave it set up while using the Camry to run out to remote trailheads and to run errands. We’re always on the hunt for good fuel prices, searching on the Cheap Gas app, but these days, bargains are few and far between. Sigh. To maximize fuel efficiency, we follow the advice of our friend and fellow former Spokanite, Ken Sands who often preaches the gospel of cruise control. Amen!

Celebrating the miles: We’re a month into our journey and a long way from home. We regularly take stock of the radically changing landscape and feel grateful that we’ve been able to travel so far in such comfort. Instead of paying for cheap motels along the way, we get to sleep in our own bed every night. That certainly makes the long hours behind the wheels a lot more tolerable. 

Leslie Kelly
Leslie Kelly is a freelance writer.