The final tally.
- South Dakota
- New York
- West Virginia
- North Carolina
- New Mexico
The National Park System
- Lassen Volcanic NP
- Lava Beds NM
- Crater Lake NP
- Craters of the Moon NM
- Grand Tetons NP
- Yellowstone NP
- Devil’s Tower NM
- Jewel Cave NM
- Wind Cave NP
- Mount Rushmore Nat. Memorial
- Badlands NP
- Cuyahoga NP
- Gettysburg National Cemetery and Military Park
- Shanandoah NP
- Great Smokey Mountains NP
- Petrified Forest NP
- Montezuma Castle NM
The Monuments/Memorials While in D.C.
- Martin Luther King
- Jefferson Memorial
- Lincoln Memorial
- FDR Memorial
- Washington Monument
- WWII Memorial
- Korean War Memorial
- Viet Nam War Memorial
- Statue of Liberty (Saw, but didn’t visit)
- Old Post Office Pavilion Protected Area
Ways in Which My Sister Tried to Kill Me
- Personal water craft
- Stand Up Paddleboard
- Segway tour of the Washington D.C. Monuments
- Walking tour of NYC
- The Book of Mormons in NYC
- Driving an Aerial Atom (ok, it was just in the driveway, but…)
- Phillie’s game (They were ahead by one with three outs left and lost…)
- Crew (I didn’t do this, but I watched my sister do it and the river STUNK!)
- Observed two veterinarian surgeries
Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago at 8:54 am. Add a comment
Five weeks and two days, 8674.5 miles, 29 states, 17 national parks and monuments, 10 national monuments in Washington D.C./NYC and one great trip to fulfill a dream. It started while on five day throw away trip to Utah. I visited Bryce Canyon NP, Cedar Break NP, and the north rim of the Grand Canyon. Somewhere on the road, my sister posted on Facebook that I was already half-way to Delaware, so I should just continue the trip and see her.
Other than the idea that my sister is geographically challenged, there was a thought in the back of my mind that maybe the trip was doable. One small problem. I had surgery to remove a cancer from the back of my neck. Nothing serious, but it was scheduled and the follow-up was a week later. So, I had to go home.
The surgery time also gave me about two weeks to plan, pack, and prepare for the trip. Sandy (my FJ Cruiser, more about that in a future post) needed some modifications. Plus supplies had to be bought and packed. It was time well used.
The start was scheduled to be the morning of the 7th of July, but the stitches came out on the 5th. Sandy was packed and the trip planned, so why not leave two days early? That’s what we did.
This trip, years ago, was planned to be a loop up the 395, east through Nevada toward Utah, north through the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone, and back to SoCal. This took a little bit more planning and a northern detour after Mono Lake.
The planning didn’t detail roads or highways, just general routes. I used AAA maps and highlighted the places I wanted to visit and the main roads between them. It was not my intention to follow those routes, but to use them as a guideline and find a more specific route as I traveled.
I installed a RAM mount for my iPad in the cockpit area of Sandy and each road traveled was usual found on my iPad as I went. There were times when I had to stop at an intersection and spend some time zooming in and out of the app I was using to determine which road took me in the direction I wanted to go. Most of the time I was right, sometimes I was wrong and I’d have to backtrack or a new route had to be found.
The end result was a life changing trip of a life time.
I have made corrections (mostly spelling and grammar) on past posts and will be reviewing the trip, equipment, thoughts, ideas, and lessons learned during the trip.
Posted 5 months, 2 weeks ago at 9:12 am. 1 comment
150 years later it seems to still bear the scars of battle. Open space where maybe there shouldn’t be. The unheard silence quashes the sounds of nature. Visitors speak in hushed, reverent tones.
Nothing prepares you for the emotions that rise up to almost choke you when visiting a site with so much importance, so much history, and so much of our country’s blood shed to defend two opposite ideals.
7,863 men lost their lives and over 27,000 were wounded. To walk among the grave markers in the cemetery, reading the names of individuals who fell 150 years ago, thinking about who they were, what they did, and how they lived, makes you look inward at your own life.
Sprinkled throughout the names are the unknown. A marker representing an individual who was unrecognizable or unable to be identified. In addition to all of the above questions, you ask yourself if their family ever learned of their sacrifice or if anyone even missed them at all. It’s a sobering thought, the idea that you could lose your life for a belief and no one would ever know.
You have to wonder about about what we lost. Was their death also the death of a new idea or a cure for a disease or a future leader? Who did they leave behind? How did their families fare after they were lost? Every marker represents a past, a unique history, a different story. But they all have one thing in common.
Some states lost many.
And some not so many.
For some, we’ll never know.
But they all fell here at Gettysburg.
Posted 7 months, 2 weeks ago at 7:35 am. 2 comments
It was wet last night. Very wet. When I say wet I mean the creek we camped next to was dry when we went to bed became FULL and dangerously flowing by the morning. It rained and it rained hard. For over eight hours or at least that’s when I finally went to sleep.
The Howling Moon RRT was great and kept us dry. Kinda. It didn’t leak, but it was still moist because of the humidity and the moisture we brought in on our clothes. No problem. It was a good test of the tent and it passed with flying colors.
After getting up, drying as much as possible, and packing, we hit the road for…Jamestown, PA. Why? What’s in Jamestown you ask?
The Desilu Museum. Yes, that’s right the home of I Love Lucy!!
Ok, I thought it would be a bit hokey and a quick “Ya, there’s some Lucy crap. Lets go.” type of thing, but NOOOOO! It was interesting. They had the sets, the costumes, props, and other memorabilia on display. Everything reminded me of episodes and jokes. The sets were really cool because you could see the size and such. Seriously, it was a surprisingly pleasant experience.
After that we drove south through Pennsylvania toward a more sobering visit at Gettysburg. That’ll be interesting too. And thought provoking.
I always thought the kitchen was yellow.
The set when they were visiting Hollywood and staying at the fictitious Beverly Palms Hotel.
Some of the costumes and props from the show.
Posted 7 months, 3 weeks ago at 7:37 am. 1 comment
It’s raining. It’s been raining all day. We woke up, packed up, and hit the road. Immediately, there were wet spots on the windshield. They continued through the day, into the evening, and it’s still raining as I lay in bed writing this.
I looked at the radar in the early afternoon and the storm is following us. I think it’ll pass over sometime during the night. At least I hope so.
Today was another travel day with a couple diversions. We started in Ohio, headed northeast through Pennsylvania, and are camped in southwest New York.
Along the way we stopped in Canton, OH to visit the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I was so impressed with it, that I didn’t get a single picture. Seriously, it was nice to read about all of the players I’d heard about or seen on TV, but in all honesty, it’s like looking at a bunch of jerseys that you could buy on the gift shop.
Next was the Cuyahoga Valley National Park. Again, I was so underwhelmed that I didn’t take a single picture. Seriously. It’s green. It’s a canal. It’s nice. It’s not a National park. Not after seeing Yosemite or the Grand Tetons.
Tomorrow is another exciting day. We’re going up visit Desilu Studios and the Lucille Ball Museum. Not my idea, but I’m looking forward to it.
WE ARE SPARTA!!!
Posted 7 months, 3 weeks ago at 5:30 am. Add a comment
Travel day. But a good one. Rockville, Indiana to Shreve , Ohio. Ya, those are two names that you know so well. Not!!!
No. Those are the two places we decided to stay for the last two nights. They’re just two campgrounds on back country roads that were convenient at the time we wanted to stop. Remember, Tour de ‘Merica. No interstates.
I’ve learned a lot on small roads. Driving past people’s homes. Past their place of work. Past their playgrounds. Looking at their houses, their yards, their gardens, and their junk. And let me tell you, there is a LOT of junk!!!
I’ve seen more crap in people’s yards and shit for sale than I ever need to see. I’ve seen the usual cars, trucks, trailers, and RVs. But some of them were in TERRIBLE condition. I’m not even sure they ran or were safe. But they were for sale.
I’ve seen boats for sale. With and without trailers. I’ve seen canoes, swing sets, beach chairs, swimming pools, boat motors, and trampolines. People are trying to sell washers, dryers, ovens, and refrigerators. There are auto parts, wood, tax services, pool maintenance, and house cleaning, all advertised on the side of the road, in front of someone’s house, in their yard.
But my favorites are the farm equipment. I’ve seen combines for sale. Who drives down the road, sees a combine, and says “That’s just what I’ve been looking for!!!” They can’t be cheap. I’m thinking upwards of 150k to 250k. Who does that? Combines, tractors, tilling machines, back hoes, irrigation equipment, almost everything you need to run your farm. It’s for sale on the side of America’s highways. And it amazes me every time.
We’ve got about 350 miles to go before we reach our destination. All on back country roads. I’m still excited to wake up every day to see what’s around the next bend. What does the next turn have in store for us? What does America want me to see next?
Driving through Indianapolis.
Posted 7 months, 3 weeks ago at 5:05 pm. Add a comment
After 16 days on the road, I’m just not used to city life. The entire time I was in Springfield, the number of people bothered me. I’ve gotten used to the back country roads and small towns with their friendly people.
We started with a quick visit to the Lincoln Museum. It really wasn’t quick. It took two hours and forty-five minutes to view it and I don’t think I saw everything. The museum portrays Lincoln’s life from start to end very well. It has good visuals, great theater presentations, and tells the story with an infectious passion. I wholeheartedly recommend it to any history, Lincoln, or civil war fan.
One of the highlights for me was a large animated screen that showed the timeline of the civil war with the territories of the north and south shown on the map as the time progressed. Also shown was a running count of the casualties. Over 1.3 million were killed or wounded, captured, or fell to disease. Theses men sacrificed their lives for an idea. The rest were witness to some of the bloodiest fighting Americans have ever seen. They all gave for their ideals. It’s s sobering thought.
After that we got the hell out of Springfield. So far we have stayed off the interstates. State highways are ok, not desirable, but acceptable. How do we know the difference? An interstate is divided and has exits. A state highway may be divided, but usually isn’t and doesn’t have exits. It has cross roads or intersections, but no exits.
We’re traveling ahead of schedule at about 55-65 mph. I’ve found our gas mileage has also gone up as a result. I’m not sure of the final calculations, but it’s looks like it’s around 19 mpg. Seriously, it’s fun not seeing a car except every 15-20 minutes sometimes. And every time we tell someone what we’re doing, we get this “Why would you want to do that?” look. I enjoy that.
On a side note, I saw my very first firefly this evening. I’ve known about them since I was a kid, but I’ve never seen any. It made my day.
Posted 7 months, 3 weeks ago at 5:45 pm. Add a comment
Find the Illinois’ armpit. Check. It’s the capital, Springfield. I have NEVER seen a seedier, less hospitable place. The people are rude, the drivers aggressive, and the businesses are less than well kept.
No. After 481 miles, this place is not the welcoming destination I’ve come to know on this trip.
Ok. The trip part was great. We stopped at The Field of Dreams and looked at the site the movie was filmed. That was cool.
We drove next to and over the Mississippi River. I’ve never seen that before. That was cool.
We drove past corn. Lots of corn. We’ve driven past corn for the last 2 1/2 days. There’s a lot of corn in the U.S.. That’s not as cool, but in a way, it is.
And then we drove into the cesspool. This place sucks and if it didn’t have Lincoln’s museum, I’d be long gone by now.
Old Man River
Posted 7 months, 3 weeks ago at 9:21 am. Add a comment
Badlands NP is hot at seven in the morning. And it doesn’t get cooler. We left before eight for an epic drive out of South Dakota, across Nebraska, and part way into Iowa. Almost 500 miles and it wasn’t that boring.
We traveled through Nebraska on highway 20. It looks straight on the map. It isn’t in real life. It winds through the country side like a snake going through a dance floor. Right turns, left turns, left turns, and right turns. And all of those turns through what seemed like miles and miles of corn.
In fact, it was miles and miles of corn. Like over two hundred miles of corn. All those fields with farmers on tractors, or in their yards, or fixing equipment. Whatever they were doing.
The thing is that I had a lot of time to think. This is going to seem obvious and probably self righteous and condescending, but it’s the reason I made this trek.
I watched all of the people as I drive through the small towns and past their fields. I talked to them in gas stations and held the door for them as we left the cashier together. I chuckled inwardly at their Mossy Oak camo hats and John Deer shirts. But I also realized they were laughing at me as well.
I looked at their trucks. Real trucks. Work trucks. None of that bullshit, raised, blinged out, mall crawlers that never see a dirt road outside of some landscaping runoff. These were trucks that were used as trucks. Driven by people who did the same thing as me. They worked. They worried. They lived.
I’m sure they all had different views on life, politics, religion, family, and even fun. But they were living their lives. They were doing the same thing we do everyday.
I thought about Southern California. You don’t see lots of farmers, but you do see different walks of life. When I drive though Orange County, the people are going about their lives just as the people in San Bernardino and Riverside and L.A. and San Diego.
Yes, I know that what I’m saying makes me seem shallow. And yes, I already knew all of this. But seeing it first hand. To see America at work. In their own back yard. Literally. It made me think.
Posted 7 months, 3 weeks ago at 6:35 am. Add a comment
We woke up early and looked around where we camped because it was dark when we set camp. I love doing that. Going to bed with an image of what the place looks like on my mind and waking up in the light to see what it really looks like. It’s always different.
We started at Devil’s Tower. You would know it from Close Encounters. A huge volcanic plug the rises out of the landscape. Again, pictures can’t do it justice.
After that it was east toward Jewel Cave National Monument. We were going to go on a tour inside, but the next available tour was at 2:30. We weren’t willing to wait three hours to see the inside of rocks.
Next we headed to Wind Cave National Park. One square mile that contains over 150 miles of caves under it. And more are being discovered every year. They had a tour starting less than twenty minutes after we got there and it only lasted one hour and fifteen minutes. It was lead by a very enthusiastic, passionate young lady who could give lessons on how to give a guided tour. The cave was meh. Don’t get me wrong, but it wasn’t spectacular.
North to see the Crazy Horse memorial. You want $10 per person? No. I can see it from the road. It looks like a guy craved into the side of a rock. Besides, you’re not even a national park or monument. Moving on…
…to Mount Rushmore. I had to pay to park, so I wasn’t happy about that. On a brighter note about that, the parking is good for a year. So if any of you are headed that way, hit me up. As for Mount Rushmore, it’s four guys carved into a rock and if you drive five miles in any direction, you run into tourist crap.
The Flintstones house and town. Reptile World. A bear zoo. The international museum of wood carving. It goes on and on and on. It’s kind of like entering Vegas. Billboards advertising the best something. It actually demonstrated why we have national parks. To preserve our country’s majestic heritage from the idiots who want to build the Jetson’s house next to Gilligan’s Island in the middle of a geyser basin.
But I digress. The final stop was Badlands National Park. It’s in the middle of a National Grassland. Very cool geologic formations. Unfortunately, we won’t be able to spend much time here because we need to get going east.
We need to be on the east coast in less than ten days. Not impossible, but it’ll take time if we stay off of the interstates.
The inside of rock.
Posted 7 months, 3 weeks ago at 7:10 am. Add a comment