Cross Country Sojourn

All posts in the Cross Country Sojourn category

Cross Country Day 1: From Rochester to Ohio

Published February 15, 2017 by Susan Woodward

The first day on the road was scary…and I hadn’t even left the garage yet!  Last minute jitters had me taking deep breaths, telling myself that I could do this.  I had planned and prepped and prayed.  I just had to believe and put it in gear.  I also looked at my passenger seat and remembered that Mom was with me for the long haul.

In order to make sure I would not chicken out, I made plans to meet a friend from high school in Erie, Pennsylvania for breakfast.  Nothing like having a commitment with a live person to motivate me to get on the road by 5 AM in order to get there by 9.  It was a beautiful day once the sun came up, and having the sun at my back, lighting my way westward, gave me confidence.  img_20160629_202748

It had been about ten years since seeing my friend, Greg.  It was great to sit, once again, in a diner drinking coffee and eating breakfast food!  Your Host was the diner where we hung out during our high school years (even though we went to two different schools).  It was like old times, and we had so much to catch up on.  Plus, Greg was just the person to give me that extra boost of confidence that everything was going to go perfectly for my trip and that I had nothing to fear.  Thanks, Greg!

From Erie, my next destination was Serpent Mound in Ohio.  Since anything to do with ancient peoples fascinates me (especially their myths/legends), when I learned that there was a quarter mile mound in the form of a giant snake nestled in the hills of Ohio, I had to go!

I had carefully calculated the mileage using Google Maps and the time estimates for getting to where I was going for the entire trip.  Let’s just say that the timing was NOT in alignment with the claim by at least two hours, even though I was doing the speed limits and following the maps.  But at least I got to where I was going!

Serpent Mound is most definitely NOT anywhere near any main highways, and the roads there wound through hills and forests. It was a beautiful drive, and I found myself sing20160629_175028ing “The Long and Winding Road” over and over.  It was early evening when I finally found the place, and I felt a sense of accomplishment just for getting there!

In order to best see the mound, there is a large tower to climb.  With my bad knee, I was terrified that it might give out while climbing.  Then I told myself that if I DIDN’T climb up there, I would always regret it by saying I had the chance and got too scared to do it.

So I climbed.

20160629_181113When I finally got to the top, I was glad I had gritted my teeth through the pain.


The view was wonderful, and the pictures do not do it justice.  I hiked along the path around then entire mound.  There were only a few others there, so I felt more or less totally alone in this peaceful place.  This park is where I placed the first of my crystals.  Every time I dropped or planted a crystal, I offered the following song:

By the Earth that is her body,

By the Air that is her breath,

By the Fire that is her bright spirit,

To the living Waters of her womb,

May the peace of the Goddess

Be forever in your heart!

The circle is open but unbroken,

Merry meet and merry part!

Once I was ready to leave Serpent Mound, it was time for me to find the campground I had booked nearby.   I was not at Rocky Forks State Park very long– only long enough to explore a little, fix my dinner, get a hot shower, and go to sleep– but it was a beautiful place.

20160629_201408 20160629_201419 20160629_205046On my first day on the road, I learned no to be afraid to to just trust that the Universe held me in its hand.  I needed to simply enjoy.  Sleeping in the van was surprisingly comfortable, and I felt blessed to have made it through that first day. If I can do one day, I can do any day!

Blessed Be!


Physical Preparation: Van Sweet Van!

Published February 15, 2017 by Susan Woodward

When planning to drive across the country alone, and camping in a van along the way, it is imperative to make sure that you have everything you need.  And trying to make sure that I had it all AND make room for myself to sleep in the van was like a giant puzzle.

I had a very large plastic tub to hold some food items and necessaries that would not be needed every single day (like my back pack, my extra shoes, books, plastic bags of all sizes, and things like that). That tub would also serve as a table when I was resting inside. It was big enough to hold my picnic set/dishes, my CPAP machine, and also act as a nightstand for my glasses and phone.

I had two large coolers: one filled with water bottles and the other held more water and my “refrigerated” foods (yogurt, lunch meats, cheeses, hard boiled eggs, and fruit).   I made sure that the food cooler was kept near the side door behind the wheel so that I had easy access to it, as well as easy opportunities to drain melted water and add new ice every day.

One of those small plastic “dressers” that has three drawers served as my medicine cabinet, a storage unit for small things that I would need access to easily, like hygiene items.

Two large water coolers in the event the engine needed a drink, or I needed to wash up without having a sink nearby.

Two suitcases for clothing, and I made sure I brought a variety so that I was prepared for any possibility, including dresses.

A single sized inflatable mattress with the pump, a set of sheets, my sleeping bag, and a set of towels.  I also remembered to have a 30 foot extension cord so that I could run it out the window at the campground and plugged it into a power strip in order to use my CPAP and to charge my phone.  If I had really been thinking, I realized I could have brought a coffee maker!

On top of ALL of this, I had promised that I would bring my ceramic Christmas village for my daughter who has a house big enough to set it up in.  Since I downsized to an apartment, I no longer had room to set it up.   That added five boxes to the stuff in the van!

When I told folks I was going to be sleeping in my van, I was warned to make sure that I had ventilation during the night, which would mean leaving a window open a bit.  I was not feeling that!  Especially since I did not want any creepy crawlies to get into the van while I was asleep!  After looking that van over, I realized that the rear vents opened outward.  They were also too small for any miscreant to reach in and unlock the van!  The only thing they needed was screening to keep out the bugs.  I went out and bought some cheap screening at KMart and a roll of duct tape.  That worked like a charm!  When I was at the campgrounds, I was able to get fresh air, listen to the night sounds, AND be bug free!

I even thought to buy a cheap plastic waste basket and some liners in the event of a bathroom emergency!  Happily, I never needed to use it, but I was glad I had thought of it!

The final touches included AAA travel books and maps, a GPS gift from my Aunt Nancy (Garmon was AWESOME), a selfie stick, a tripod for my camera, sun shades for all the windows, and my laptop.

Finally, everything was ready:

20160629_194019 20160629_194054 20160629_210249

With my mechanic’s blessing, saying he would take my vehicle anywhere, I was off!

Spiritual Preparation

Published February 14, 2017 by Susan Woodward

I have to admit that as the time to leave for my cross country trip neared, I was feeling nervous.  A 54 year old woman driving alone across the continent, and mostly sleeping in her van.  I am thankful that I fought back the fears and did it anyway!

The Summer Solstice was the perfect preparation day.  Not only was it the solstice, but there happened to be a full moon that night.  That would be the best for cleansing and charging my crystals with energy for distribution across the country.  My hope was not only for personal healing, but in healing our nation as well.  Let’s face it– things are not so great right now, and we need all the help we can get.

Anyhow, I had a reiki treatment20160620_164704 that afternoon, and my friend blessed my bag of crystals during the ritual. Afterwards, I took them to a nearby creek to be fully cleansed in running water.

Running water has always been soothing for me, and so I sat there thinking about all the places these crystals were going to be planted, and I became more and more excited about the trip.  I guess some element of fear is natural, and probably necessary so that I don’t become oblivious to my surroundings and get into trouble.  For ten days on the road alone, I needed to be sure to have my wits about me!

When I got home, I laid out a Tarot spread, which added to my confidence!

20160611_095815The last thing I did for spiritual preparation was to arrange my crystals on a platter and lay them out in the Solstice sun to absorb the energy of the Sun God.  Because it also happened to be a full moon that night, I left them out in the moonlight to absorb the Goddess energy as well.  In that way, I felt that my heart, mind, and soul were ready to take on the adventure of my lifetime!



It Has Been a Long Time Coming

Published February 14, 2017 by Susan Woodward

Two years.  I have had writer’s block for over two whole years.

I could tell myself that I was just too busy to write, but that isn’t the truth.  I just couldn’t do it. While nursing a long term knee injury that held me back quite a bit, I pulled away from everything that I had once been involved in.  Sad and angry with myself for the injury, I comforted myself with Netflix and just TV in general.

And then I turned 54.  That was a year ago, but in that year, I had lots of planning to do, moving to do, and traveling to do.  54 was a big wake up because that is the age my mother died from a blood clot after breaking her ankle.  I knew I was going in for a total knee replacement surgery, and my mind kept making all kinds of gloomy correlations.  However, I was determined to do something that I know my mother always wanted to do, and she never got the chance.

She wanted to travel.

I made it my mission that the summer of 2016 (the 20th anniversary of her passing) was going to be in her memory, and I planned to drive across the country in my van.  Of course, I had to buy a van, so I traded in my Elantra for a Town and Country, and I started planning.  I also decided that I needed this to be a healing experience for me, both spiritually and emotionally.  This gave me the idea to plant healing quartz crystals along the way; this was also my way of trying to add energy to heal our country because it sure needs it.

After months of planning, I came up with my itinerary:

Itinerary For Cross Country Sojourn 2016

June 29-August 12


  1. Rochester, NY to Erie, PA         163 miles      3 hours


  1. From Erie, PA to the Serpent Mound, Ohio         331 miles      5.5 hours
  2. From Serpent Mound to Rocky Fork State Park, OH       17 miles      25 minutes


        Rocky Fork St Park, OH to Kickapoo State Park, Illinois         266 miles      4.5 hours


        Kickapoo State Park, IL to Rockford, Illinois         208 Miles      3 hours


        Rockford, Illinois to Sioux City, Iowa         396 Miles      6.5 hours


  1.  Sioux City, Iowa to Chadron, Nebraska         383 Miles      6.5 hours
  2.  Chadron State Park to Alliance, Nebraska (Carhenge)     48 miles    1 hour



  • Chadron, Nebraska to Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota        115 Miles    2 hours
  • Return to Chadron State Park         115 Miles    2 Hours



        Chadron, NE to Salt Lake City, Utah        603 Miles       9.5 hours


        Salt Lake City, Utah to Lake Tahoe, CA       575 Miles      8.5 Hours


  1. Stateline, Nevada to San Francisco, California         190 Miles    3.5 hours


  1. San Francisco, CA to Modesto, CA        92 miles    1.5 hours
  2. Modesto, CA to Fresno, CA       96 miles    1.5 hours

FRIDAY, JULY 8 (stay in California till August)

        Fresno, CA to Murrieta, CA       300 Miles      5 hours


        Murrieta, CA to Las Vegas, Nevada       265 Miles      4 hours



  • Las Vegas, NV to Hoover Dam         35 miles    1 hour
  • Hoover Dam to Sedona, Arizona     356 miles    6 hours



        Sedona, AZ to Albuquerque, New Mexico      349 miles    5.5 hours


        Albuquerque, NM to Oklahoma City, OK      541 miles      8 hours


        Oklahoma City, OK to Memphis, Tennessee      467 miles    7 hours


        Memphis, Tennessee to N. Charleston, South Carolina    670 miles    10 hours



  • Charleston, SC to Foamhenge, Virginia      424 miles    6.5 hours
  • Foamhenge to Natural Bridge Caverns     1 mile    5 minutes
  • Natural Bridge Caverns to Lexington, VA      15 miles    16 minutes



        Lexington, VA to King of Prussia, PA       378 Miles     6 hours



  • King of Prussia, PA to Hershey, PA        95 miles     2 hours
  • Hershey PA to Penn’s Cave, PA       172 miles     4 hrs
  • Penn’s Cave to Rochester, NY       226 miles    5 hours


Along the way, I buried or dropped crystals that I had prepared for the journey.  Click on the map to see where I dropped them:

usa_flag_map-svgAfter making all the reservations at camp ground (where I camped in my van) and motels, I set about making personal preparations to prevent my scared self from bailing at the thought of driving across country alone for the first half of the journey. I knew that the time to do it HAD to be now, and so I pushed down my fears and kept planning.  I owed it to myself to just DO it, and I felt I owed it to my Mom who never got the chance.  This was for both of us, and I couldn’t back out.

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