Our Big Trip

We were on the road from Sep. 30 to Thanksgiving, 1998. We set foot (or wheels) in 29 states, went to about 24 national parks and national monuments and maybe 36 other attractions, and visited 5 sets of friends or relatives. Drove 12,000 miles and took 30 rolls of film. We spent the most time in Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona.

Occasionally we stayed two nights in the same place, but usually only one. We brought a whole library of travel literature including all the AAA Tourbooks and several good guides to national parks, and kept just a day or two ahead with planning.

Being in the off-season meant we didn't have to fight any crowds or plan ahead for lodging. We got real good at picking our routes and choosing what to do and see. At the national parks, we would select several of the "easy" hikes of around 1-2 miles. We stayed at inexpensive motels and left our camping gear in the car, and left our bicycles home.

Our Trip State by State

Sep. 30, left home for left Windsor Vermont. Then to Sunapee New Hampshire, back across Vermont and New York to Niagara Falls. Along Lake Erie through Pennsylvania and south through Ohio to Parkersberg West Virginia, then crossing southern Ohio along the Ohio River with a stop at the Bob Evans farm. On to Louisville Kentucky where we had excellent barbeque for supper.

Then across southern Indiana and Illinois to St. Louis, Missouri where the arch was closed because of a fire. North along Mississippi River to Tom Sawyer's Hannibal, then West across Missouri to St. Joseph where we could see Kansas across Missouri river.

We turned north and crossed a corner of Iowa to Lincoln Nebraska. We turned west again, crossing Nebraska and after driving through the Sand Hills saw "Carhenge" near Alliance. Into South Dakota's Black Hills, swimming at "Evans Plunge" and viewing the Colombian Mammoth paleontology site at Hot Springs. Then Jewel Cave natl. monument, Crazy Horse monument being carved from a mountain, Mt. Rushmore natl. monument, the Badlands natl. park, Wall Drugstore and Rapid City.

In Wyoming, Devils Tower nm, a weekend with Robert's sister in Casper, Thermopolis where we again swam in hot springs, Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody with art, guns, acres of old west. On to Yellowstone natl. park a landscape of steam in the cold, and a night in Montana, then raced a storm south through Grand Tetons natl. park.

In Utah, the Great Salt Lake and a concert at Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Zion Canyon natl. park and Kolob Canyon with towering red rocks, Cedar Breaks natl. monument one huge canyon in the snow, Bryce Canyon natl. park with stands of delicately eroded pastel rocks, Kodachrome Basin state park, grand views around Grand Staircase Escalante natl. park and Boulder Mountain, Capital Reef natl. park red rock named for its shapes.

Still in Utah, Moab the dirt bike capital, Island in the Sky and Needles districts of Canyonlands natl. park and Dead Horse Point state park overlooking the Colorado River's meanderings. Arches natl. park (lots of arches), impressive petroglyphs at Newspaper Rock, Edge of the Cedars Indian ruin, Natural Bridges natl. monument (as distinct from arches), and Mexican Hat (named for a nearby sombrero-shaped rock).

Crossing northern Arizona: Monument Valley (wild west landscape of buttes and mesas) and Canyon de Chelley natl. park in Navaho Land, Hubble Trading Post, Petrified Forest natl. park, the Painted Desert, Meteor Crater, Grand Canyon natl. park, Sunset volcano Crater nm, Flagstaff, Sedona (a town that looks like a national park), and Hoover Dam.

Returned to Arizona after a loop through Nevada and California. Visited a friend and a cousin in Phoenix, Saguaro Cactus natl. park and Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum (garden zoo) in Tucson.

In Nevada, Las Vegas, the 300-species Cactus Garden at the "Ethel M" chocolate factory and a ghost mining town called Rhyolite which had a house made from thousands of bottles.

In California, Death Valley natl. park (finally warm enough for shorts and tee shirts, we hiked through a canyon of marble), Johannesburg to visit a friend, turned east within 60 miles of Los Angeles (too much traffic) to Joshua Tree Cactus natl. park in the Mojave desert. Back through Arizona to New Mexico.

In New Mexico, Las Cruces, White Sands natl. monument a desert of drifts of white gypsum and Carlsbad Caverns natl. park a magical world underground. (We skipped the cities because we'd been there before.)

In Texas went south through Guadeloupe Mountains natl. park. through thunder, rain and tumbleweed and small border towns to Big Bend natl. park along the Rio Grande, through San Antonio to Houston where we visited a cousin and toured the Johnson Space Center.

In Louisiana (fine food), a parade of mansions and antebellum plantations near Lafayette and along the Mississippi south of Baton Rouge, and a meal entirely of oysters raw, stewed and fried. Turned north taking the Natchez Trace through Mississippi and across a corner of Alabama.

Then on highways with no more sightseeing through Tennessee (Nashville, Knoxville), Virginia (Roanoke), West Virginia (Martinsburg), Maryland (Hagerstown), Pennsylvania (Harrisburg, Scranton), New York (Port Jervis, Newburgh), Connecticut (Danbury, Hartford), Massachusetts (Springfield), to Windsor, Vermont where we had a 6-day Thanksgiving with Anne's Mom. Finally south through New Hampshire on back roads to get home.


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