Driving NYC to Dallas: 4 Days of Ups and Downs (and Fire!)

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I set the date, said my goodbyes, and cut the ties. 

The move to Dallas has been a long time coming. I picked Memorial Day weekend to drive from Brooklyn to my new place in Dallas.

Now I’m here and it’s been about 4 weeks. Everyone kept talking about “getting settled.” Pssh, I don’t need to get settled. I’ll just pick right up.

It’s been a crazy few weeks:

  • 2 new Airbnbs
  • Buying investment property #2
  • Unpacking boxes
  • Werkin’
  • Getting acquainted with a new city
  • Visits from friends (already!)

In short, I guess, yeah, I did need time to “settle.”

The drive down took 4 days. I thought it would take 3. Here’s how it went down and why it took longer.

Day 1 – Brooklyn, NY to Winchester, VA

  • Miles driven: ~308

By far the longest day.

I swept the apartment and wiped everything down one last time.

The movers took everything 2 days before. I slept on a pallet of comforters and quilts that last night.

At 3am, I woke up, packed the last items in the already packed-to-the-gills car, and set the keys on the counter. Took one last look and shut the door.

That moment, that feeling – I won’t soon forget how it felt to leave New York.

Closing the New York chapter with the close of a door.

Loaded up the dog and drove in the dark across Staten Island with a plan to fuel up at the first gas station in New Jersey where gas prices are much cheaper than in the city.

They’re all full-service, so I told the attendant to fill ‘er up. It was before 4am and I wanted to get as much driving done as I could before the city traffic roared to life.

But then, the car wouldn’t start.

swear my heart skipped a beat. The car full of everything important to me and with the dog inside.

The attendant jumped the car and we drove to the nearest Subaru dealership in Morristown, NJ. We got there around 5am and they opened at 7am. For 2 hours, we sat there, waiting. I tried to sleep sitting up while I could.



Fast forward 4 hours and ~$800. I have a new alternator. And they tell me the car is good to go – all the way to Texas. I’m grateful for the quick turnaround and ready to get back on the road.

It’s afternoon by this time and all I’ve eaten is a gas station breakfast sandwich. So when we saw some restaurants off the highway in Hamburg, PA, we pull over to grab a bite.

As we headed inside, I turned around and noticed smoke coming out of the hood of the car.

So I pop the hood, and not only is the car smoking – the engine is ON FIRE.

Yes. Actual fire.

My burned-up, white-hot, still-smoking engine

My burned-up, white-hot, still-smoking engine

Not like a roaring, out-of-control blaze, but lit up like a freaking birthday cake.

At this point, I feel so physically ill from the car trouble I think I’m going to collapse. So I call USAA (my car insurance company) and get a tow to the nearest Subaru dealership in Allentown, PA.

Getting towed in Pennsylvania

Getting towed in Pennsylvania

I’ve never had trouble with the car since I bought it in February. I even drove it to Philadelphia and back the weekend before with no problems whatsoever. And had it looked at ~2 weeks before setting out and was given the all-clear.


Fixing the damage

At the next Subaru dealership, they said the alternator wasn’t correctly attached and the cables had burned out – literally.

Another few hours of waiting.

Luckily, they agreed to bill the first dealership for the repair. And I called Amex (I used my Amex SPG card to pay for the previous repair) to dispute the alternator charge. That’s still pending.



After all of this, I’ve been up since 3am and it’s about 5pm. I make up my mind to drive as far as I can without breaking down. At this point, I just want to be as physically far away from New York City as possible.

I drive until dark and make it to Virginia. It’s so dark I can barely see the road and I’ve been up for hours dealing with car repairs. At this point, there are no more problems and the car drives perfectly.

I pull over and see what my options are. All the Hiltons are booked up. There are no Hyatts. But there’s an Aloft hotel ~30 miles south in Winchester, VA. I book it on the mobile app and head there. It’s so cheap I just pay for it. So ready to sleep.

Fenwick at the Aloft hotel in Winchester, VA - he loves to look out the window!

Fenwick at the Aloft hotel in Winchester, VA – he loves to look out the window!

At this point, there isn’t a lot left of me.


Earning SPG points for Uber now

On the plus side, this was my first paid SPG stay this year, so I can earn SPG points with Uber (even though I prefer Lyft now). And I got 500 SPG points for booking via the app.

We check-in and sleep so hard.

Day 2 – Winchester, VA to Murfreesboro, TN

  • Miles driven: ~604

Thank gods this is a fairly uneventful day. Great weather, hot. Car drives great. We scoot into Nashville shortly before sunset.

My mom lives in the Memphis area, which is about ~3 hours from Nashville. I decide I can’t go another 3 hours – the day before still has me exhausted.

Days of this

Days of this

But, we avoid Nashville Memorial Day traffic by staying at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Murfreesboro, which turned out to be fantastic (review soon).

We have a few drinks in the hotel restaurant, shoot the shit with the server (she was excellent), and enjoyed a big, free breakfast the next morning. Just what the doctor ordered.

Day 3 – Murfreesboro, TN to Horn Lake, MS

  • Miles driven: ~250

I toyed with the idea of driving the ~10 hours straight through to Dallas and stopping to grab lunch with my mom.

But when I got there, she convinced me to stay. I ended up spending the afternoon with my grandmother in Memphis and then spending the night at my Mom’s house.

Lots of elite status perks, including:

  • Southern cooking that only moms can do
  • Free freshly cooked breakfast
  • Check in and out any time
  • Unlimited free shuttle rides to anywhere in town 🙂

It was great to see the fam. I even got to see my little brother, who is now 23 (!).

I hadn’t seen him in a while – and it was a strange and cool experience to have margaritas with him at Maria’s Cantina in Southaven, MS (a rewards network resto so I earned Alaska Airlines miles on all of it).

Day 4 – Horn Lake, MS to Dallas, TX

  • Miles driven: ~472

We woke up early, said bye to my mom, and hit the road. Within minutes, we were crossing the Mississippi River into Arkansas.

The “home” stretch. Honestly, it flew by. We stopped in Texarkana to grab some lunch and then floored it the whole way through. Thankfully, the speed limit is 75 on the I-30 in Texas.

I was so ready to get in, unload, and end the journey.

And ~7 hours later, we finally pulled up into the new place in Dallas.


Hammock put together, surrounded by boxes

I got a hammock for the balcony, a new couch, and a few other pieces of furniture. A few days later, the rest of the boxes came in from the moving company.



Since then, I’ve been “getting settled” as they say. Work scooped me right up.

After the long drive, I’m here and ready to rock ‘n’ roll!

Bottom line

  • Total miles driven: ~1,634

So that’s been my past few weeks. I underestimated the amount of work it would take to fully relocate!

Now I’m officially in Dallas – a Texan now! – and continuing my entrepreneurial pursuits and the type of FIRE that doesn’t burn car engines.

I’m happy to be here and to get started on the next phase of life, work, and travels.

On another note, the tagline around here has always been “Investing. Positivity. Oh, and travel.” Maybe now I can get to the investing stuff a little more, as I close on a new investment property in a few weeks.

I will think about how I can guide the direction of Out and Out. I’ve missed writing so much and truly feel this little blog is where I’m meant to be for the next chapter.

But for now, life is good, I’m settled, and happy to be back!

A huge thanks to my readers for sticking by me throughout this move. You guys are seriously the best. Thank you for your emails, comments, and continued support. Thank you thank you thank you!

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About Harlan

Just a dude living in Memphis, traveling, and working toward financial independence.

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    • Hey, thank you!

      I did write about leaving NYC in a post called “Goodbye to All That”: http://outandout.boardingarea.com/goodbye-to-all-that-in-a-month-dallas-here-i-come/

      I still have 2 Airbnbs there, and they’re still doing fine (for now at least). I’ve seen that Dallas Airbnb article before. And my thoughts are…

      If you look for horror stories or worst-case scenarios for just about anything, you can find them on the internet. What happened to that woman sucks, but it doesn’t sound like she was actually living there. And at least she was just told to leave – landlords in NYC would’ve taken her to court.

      All that said, the risks in Dallas are MUCH lower than in NYC. For the most part, it’s still a bit underground here.

      All-in-all, not too worried about it. The risks are low enough that it’s worth a shot.

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