Nearly 3,000 Miles, 400 Dollars, 3 Days, And A Dream

Nearly 3,000 Miles, 400 Dollars, 3 Days, And A Dream

I was on my 15th hour of driving. Driving up and down the roller coaster that was Highway 70 kept me from falling asleep at the wheel from exhaustion. When I finally made it to my Aunt’s house to rest up before continuing to Indianapolis for the next 17 hour stretch, I asked myself why am I doing this? The answer is a complicated one, but it’s also pretty simple.

I remember the clock ticking the hours at my last job waiting for the day to end. I remember handing in my letter of resignation because I was just over it; I wanted out, I wanted more and I wanted to feel like I was doing something that I was passionate about. As I left my job I applied to jobs in my previous career track with no luck, and to be clear it was not because I wanted to work in that field again, but because of a reason I’m sure all of you understandpaying off loans and bills. Looking back, having no luck landing a job was a blessing in disguise as it forced my hand to take an adventure that would bring me to Newhouse, and now I get to tell the story of how in three days I drove from LA to Syracuse with the tightest of resources.

According to my calculations I would need to have this much money to make it across the country:

  • #300 for gas (my car got 500 miles for a full tank and a full tank was around 40 to 50 dollars, I would have to refuel my car 6 times to make it across the country). Get a hybrid.
  • $100 for food (eat at Mcdonald’s or your favorite fast food chain).

I began applying to schools a while ago as the journalism bug initially bit me, I just never committed to the career change. When I was accepted to Newhouse I was not in a good financial position at all. I was living off savings, doing odd jobs to make money and pay loans. I had a little over three hundred dollars to make it across the country and the little money I had on my credit card would have to go towards a hotel in Indianapolis so I could sleep one night before completing the trip. I had to make the trip in a couple of days as the limited resources I had forced me to make the trip as fast as I could so that I wouldn’t run out of money. I also had to make it here by July 1st so I could have a day or two to get ready before boot camp began.

Opportunity is worth it’s weight in gold. Newhouse gave me that, so regardless of the limitations I was going to make this work. I packed my car with all the essentials and an emergency kit of red bull in case I got drowsy. I took a quick shower, kissed my parents good bye and drove en route to my first stop in Colorado. The 15 hour drive turned into a 17 hour drive as I departed Los Angeles at 4 a.m. and did not arrive in Colorado until 11 p.m. I only stopped for gas and a quick bite to eat at In and Out (it would be the last time in a while I would eat their good burgers), yet traffic did not make it easy. Also, heads up, Utah is not an easy state to drive through, stops were separated by at least 150 miles, so make sure you have enough gas and use the restroom if you need to. I finally got to my destination and was able to spend time with family that I haven’t seen in years. I woke up early to start driving but waited a little as apparently a storm hit Iowa and cows were floating. Better to wait a bit before heading out.

Indianapolis was next. This drive was smoother but more challenging as it took me 18 hours to reach my destination. Kansas was a challenging place to drive through as stops were rare and it looked like a tornado could hit at any moment. Oh, and cows could also float if I was lucky. However I will say this…the mid-west has some of the best classic rock stations ever. There’s nothing like driving long distances and listening to Led Zeppelin, Alice Cooper, and ACDC. By the time I got into Indiana, I encountered an animal that I would become very familiar with in Syracuse: deer. It almost hit my car, but luckily it didn’t. As I got into Indianapolis I just wanted to go to sleep (I remember it was around 2 a.m. as I checked into my hotel) so I showered, set my alarm to wake me up at 8 a.m. and slept.

Syracuse was my final destination. I got some McDonald’s, pumped some gas in my car, and headed down the 90 to make into Syracuse. I refused to go on toll roads to get into New York (big mistake) and drove through what could be described as an Amish paradise late into the night. I never knew New York had so many rural areas; coming from LA, I thought all of New York was like New York City. If you do this drive, pay tolls. It’s better than driving through rural roads where there are little resources in case of emergency. This also added about two hours to my trip.

Finally, I arrived in Syracuse and saw Syracuse University in the distance. I remember unloading my stuff late at night at around 11 p.m. I kissed my steering wheel and thanked my car for being a trooper. You really do grow attached to your car after these experiences. I went to Alto Cinco for a burrito, popped Superbad into my Playstation, ate, and went to bed. What a journey! After the journey ended, my challenging experience at Syracuse really began.

Jose Cuevas Jr
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