The following post originally appeared on our RoadLoans blog, The Open Road.
After graduating recently from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, I was ready for my next life adventure working at Santander Consumer USA in Dallas.
The only thing standing in the way of that adventure was the 19-hour road trip from Chapel Hill to Dallas. I had mapped out the trip and decided that I would stop at my aunt’s house for the weekend in Mandeville, La., on the north shore of Lake Pontchartrain, and then go from there to Dallas on Monday.
The road trip was relatively easy, direction wise. Interstate 85 took me through the Carolinas, Georgia and Alabama. I went through the cities of Charlotte and Atlanta, and from there I-85 carried me into Alabama, where I was prompted to turn back my clock back an hour as I passed from the Eastern time zone to the Central time zone. I stopped for lunch in Montgomery, Ala.
When I hit Mobile, Ala., the temperature was about 70 degrees, compared to the 19 degrees in Carolina that morning (seriously). The smell of the southern pine trees and the warm southern breeze provided the perfect revival for the final stretch to Mandeville. The swamps, sunset and warm temperatures were all I needed as I cruised down that highway with the windows open and my country and classic rock music blaring across Alabama and Mississippi.
Twelve hours and 15 minutes later, I pulled into my aunt’s driveway in Mandeville.
The next day, my aunt, uncle, cousin and I headed into New Orleans, located just across the lake. Our first stop was Drago’s Seafood Restaurant, which is famous for char-grilled oysters. After Drago’s, we went over to the French Quarter to do a little touring. We went inside St. Louis Cathedral, and then we finally hit up Bourbon Street and Pat O’ Brien’s for a hurricane.
The next day was Sunday and my Ravens were playing the Indianapolis Colts in the NFL Divisional Round. To add to that, I was able to experience some authentic Cajun cuisine when my aunt’s neighbor made her famous seafood gumbo. The gumbo along with a few Budweiser’s was an awesome way to end my weekend stay in Louisiana.
The second part of my road trip was that Monday when I left my aunt’s house in Mandeville for my new home in Dallas. The route took me through Baton Rouge, La., which is where I crossed the Mississippi River for the first time by car. From Baton Rouge, I merged onto I-49, which took me to Shreveport, and I-20, which was my final route into Dallas. A few hours later, I finally arrived in Dallas, completing the journey from Chapel Hill after 1,335 miles of driving.
See video slide show of my road trip here.
This road trip is definitely one that I will remember the rest of my life due to the significance that it had to me. I was very happy to see some of my family that I had not seen in a while, and I was happy to have experienced a part of the country via driving instead of taking a plane. I hope one day that I am able to road trip the rest of the United States to see more of the beauty this country has to offer.
By Matt Holman