9,557 Miles of America: Summarized!

For my AAUW writing group, Talking on Paper, I thought I would sum up our Road Trip for those who don't follow the blog. Enjoy the summation!

For 94 days, Steve and I menadered across our vast Country, traversing 22 states and hundreds of small towns. Looking back, it's difficult to fully explain just how extraordinary this Road Trip was. I have found only one quote that fully captures my sentiment about traveling the open roads which was written by Victoria Erickson:

"Road trips are the equivalent of human wings.
Ask me to go on one, anywhere.
We’ll stop in every small town and learn the history,
feel the ground and capture the spirit.
Then we’ll turn it into our own story
that will live inside our history to carry with us always.
Because stories are more important than things."

So I'll share with you a brief recap of our story, month by month.

We departed a few days after our younger son's wedding in our backyard. We hopped on Highway 50, deemed "The Loneliest Highway". While the towns were certainly few and far between, the unique terrain and quaintness of each city we stopped in, was worth the drive. Our first evening was camping in Eureka, NV. What made it special was our campsite was at a pioneer cemetery, a wonderful place to discover a town's history.

September's travels found us at the National Parks of Arches, Mesa Grande and the Great Sand Dunes. It had us exploring old forts, four different states, seeing zebras in a field, and we even "Got out of Dodge" (Dodge City, Kansas that is). We went to the birthplace of Elvis, learned of the legacy of Jimmy Carter, were entertained by the hysterical author, Carl Hiassen, explored historical cemeteries in Savannah and we played at East Coast beaches a few times. Our first month on the road ended with an unforgettable Barn Jam and a beyond amazing Big Fake Wedding. Knowing we would never get to a southern wedding in a 300 year old Charlestonian home, we jumped at this timely opportunity. 'Diverse' is probably the best adjective for the month of September.

October had us learning about monks and attending Peanut and Italian Festivals. We even donned lederhosen for an Oktoberfest in the darling town of Hickory, NC while escaping the wrath of Hurricane Matthew. We explored nature preserves and Civil War battle sites, most impressively Gettysburg. Steve got to bond with other NASCAR fans as we attended two events at Charlotte Speedway. We connected with my big brother in Virginia where we volunteered for his wife's annual charity rummage sale. We worked hard for three days and were rewarded with some great finds. While there, we house sat for him while they spent their 70th birthdays in Venice. My brother has a farmette, five acres of gentleman farming complete with eight chickens, two bunnies, one cat and three Jack Russell terriers. We had our work cut out for us. Since their large home was relatively empty while they were gone, we had some Tahoe friends stay with us which was the catalyst for traveling to Washington DC and beyond for explorations. We delighted in discovering, together, all the region had to offer. This included attending a very special garden party in a Georgetown estate celebrating its bicentennial, getting our library card from the Library of Congress, touring the Capitol Building and the White House and just being in the DC area during election time, which had an electricity that is impossible to explain but certainly made the trip uniquely memorable.

November's beginning was at Disney World, the "Second Happiest Place on Earth". Here we met with Florida and Tahoe friends for four days of exhaustive fun. I love all things Disney so this certainly was one of the highlights of our Road Trip for me. After being a kid again, we recuperated at my last remaining aunt's home. Four generations live together there, so we were able to get quality family time in before heading to Port Canaveral and an unbelievable visit to the Kennedy Space Center. I am the queen of googling "what to do" prior to arriving at a destination. I found that a new exhibit was opening and we planned our visit accordingly. The "Heroes & Legends" ribbon cutting was attended by 24 Hall of Fame Astronauts and we were in their presence (including Buzz Aldrin and Jim Lovell). It was beyond amazing and certainly a once-in-a-lifetime event for us.

Port Canaveral was also the jumping off point for our eight day cruise to the Southern Caribbean. CuraƧao, Aruba and Grand Turk allowed us to become Island Steve & Denise where we frolicked at breathtaking beaches, explored the unique local history and just enjoyed being somewhere so new to both of us.

Beignets, Hurricanes (the famous Pat O'Brien's libations) and historical sites were enjoyed in New Orleans, as we began our trek West and ultimately home. Bayou back roads through small towns, allowed us to see a different, wonderful South. Driving 431 miles of Interstate 10 opened our eyes to exceptional sights. It delivered us to San Antonio so we could "remember the Alamo". It took us to Tucson so we could learn about the Titan Missile Project. It even allowed us to discover, after miles and miles of advertising billboards, The Thing? And lastly I-10 led us to the Yuma Territorial Prison for a very interesting history lesson.

Once we crossed the Colorado River and we were in Southern California, we were very aware that the trip was coming to an end. The last few days were spent connecting with as many family and friends as possible as we made our way North. In our old hometown of Temecula, we were able to attend a Sister City Dinner along with numerous local friends and even several from Japan. They say timing is everything and this certainly was a common theme through the 9,557 miles.

We spent our final days with our sons and their gals, sharing the stories of our adventures and learning of the ones they had made in our absence.

Ours was a voyage of discovery. While we covered so much distance rather quickly, we did absorb the spirit of each place and took away many great stories, needing to be told. I eagerly await being asked to go on another Road Trip. My human wings are rested and ready.

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Nick and Deb's Excellent Adventure said...

What a fabulous story! Each trip you take you make the best memories and we love getting to be part of them!


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