This is the final post from my April 2018 cross-country road trip from Lexington to Port Orchard, Washington and back. As a reminder, I covered 6000 miles and ventured through 16 states. Along the way I not only stopped to visit attractions and see the sites in towns small and large, but I also tried to capture the grandeur of the landscapes and scenery I passed by along the way. Following are a number of scenic photos from that trip. Enjoy the ride! I have randomized these, so they are not in any particular order. Captions tell the story.
US Route 2 just past Steven’s Pass, WA – notice how high the show walls are on the side
ENJOY THE RIDE! CHOOSE HAPPY!
If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon. My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, is currently being worked on and I hope to make it available in late June 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.
The best and worst part of a long road trip is the coming home part. Its always nice to be at home in my own bed after a grueling trip across the country. But, it is bittersweet. All of the adventures, sights, sounds and exhilaration are behind me. The last leg of the trip is usually on the Interstates to get home as quickly as possible (with a few brief stops along the way). This trip was no different. My trip home was the “long way home” as it covered over 870 miles on the last day as I traveled straight from Grand Island, Nebraska to Lexington (via Kansas City and St. Louis in order to visit a friend in KC).
I started off early on this May 29 (Thursday) morning cruising east on Interstate 80. It was a beautiful morning drive with a bit of mist in the air providing for some nice scenes from the highway.
My first stop was in York, Nebraska. I had to stop for a rest stop and to get a photo of the uniquely colored water tower.
From York the interstate continued east to Lincoln, the capitol city of Nebraska. It is home to the historic Capitol Building, a towering 400 foot tall building that can be seen for miles. Construction began in 1922 and was completed in 1932. The building is not the tallest state capitol in the country. That goes to the Louisiana State Capitol, which is 450 feet tall. Nonetheless, the “Skyscraper of the Plains” is quite impressive.
Of course, Nebraska is the “Cornhusker State” and there are plenty of corn fields to be seen from the highway.
Not too far south of Nebraska City, I-29 crosses into the far southwest corner of Iowa and through the small town of Hamburg, which basically hugs the borders of Missouri to the south and Nebraska to the west.
Perhaps the real treat in Hamburg is Stoner Drug…yes, a strange name for a drug store. But this particular shop also houses an old fashioned Soda Fountain, which is rare to find nowadays. Even has the little spinning chairs and they make MALTS too.
Heading south from Hamburg you are almost in Missouri immediately.
My main purpose for heading south to Kansas City was to visit with my good friend Brad Sweeten, the Athletic Director at Center High School in Kansas City, MO. I stopped in for a visit and lunch at one of his favorite places (and mine too), Oklahoma Joe’s Bar-B-Que. My last trip we visited their store in a gas station. This time it was at their new place…still plenty of lines.
After my brief stopover in Kansas City is was time to fly on home down the Interstate. As I drove through Missouri, the clouds were amazing…giant cumulonimbus clouds were framed by the blue background of the sky.
After a hearty meal, a short night of sleep and a lot of driving already, it was time for a nap….even Road Warriors need to sleep!!
After my brief 30 minute power snooze, I was back on the road with only one other planned stop to see a Paul Bunyan looking Muffler Man in Wentzville, MO.
I started off today on the last leg of a 9 Day Road trip. This was my second 9 day road trip in one month. Both road trips were mainly for family affairs of one type or another. So, that being said, I did have destinations for both trips.
My first trip took me to Montana for my grandson’s baptism. I’ve already posted some content about that, but that trip took me almost 4600 miles in nine days and thru 12 states. I still have a few post to go to finish my blogs on that trip.
This current trip’s purpose was chiefly to attend a family reunion for my father’s side of the family. It was in Galveston, Texas. It is always wonderful to see family and it was a great time!
This current trip will eventually take me close to 3500 miles. When all is said and done I will have traversed through seven states on this trip.
As many of you know, traveling the backroads of America and documenting the trips through photos and the written word is one of my passions. It brings me great joy to see this beautiful country of ours and to share with others who may not have the chance to visit some of the places I go.
For me, it is always about the trip and not about the destination. The backroads of America offer a myriad of surprises whether they be a unique town name, some unique roadside attraction, some amazing piece of scrap metal art or sensational Wall art or mural.
For these last two trips I have tried to focus on traveling US highways rather then the interstate freeways. Everyone knows that Route 66 is the epitome of the US Highway, at least to many who think about traveling on the road or other nostalgic road trips. Indeed, route 66 is a wonderful road trip in and of itself. At one time or another I have pretty much covered most of Route 66 over the years since the 1960s.
But Route 66 is certainly not the only wonderful highway that one can take across this country. On my last trip to Montana, I traveled over a good portion of US Route 2 and some of US Route 89, not to mention a few others. On this trip I hit US Route 79, US Route 61 (The Blues Highway), US Route 59 and more. Each of these highways has their own unique character and characters! Indeed, in my opinion, they could rival Route 66 for nostalgia and roadside attractions.
As I travel, I know that I barrage my friends with numerous selfie photos and other photos of the trip. But, I have friends that travel vicariously through me and I am cognizant of that as well. When I travel, the little child in me has joy, for this is the exploring, and the discovery. As a child we always explore and we love to discover new things whether it be a butterfly on our arm or a beautiful waterfall. That sense of excitement from discovery has never left me throughout my life. And I am grateful that I have friends out there that appreciate it and they share this joy in one way, shape or form.
On both of these trips I have met new people that share the same passion as I do. I met a photographer in Wyoming who loves to travel as I do and visit unique sites. I met a time lapse photographer who does time lapse for a living as I visited a unique destination in Nebraska. I met another individual from Scotland who lives in the states now and has traveled extensively. We visited a unique graveyard in Oklahoma. With all of these, we shared stories, experiences and enriched each others lives through doing so.
Through my travel blogs I have met other travel bloggers online and on this particular trip I got to meet a couple of them in person as I traveled through their hometowns. What a wonderful opportunity that was for me to meet these great people who share a passion and have so many wonderful things to share with me and all of the others that may visit their blogs.
Naturally, these road trips are long and they can be grueling, even to a road warrior like myself. But I look at the trips as “memory creators” as they build memories and help me to reflect on the joys of life during the more difficult times. To me, the best part of any long trip is the “looking back.”and these 18 days of travel over the last 30 days have created years of memories and stories for me to share with others and to treasure up within my own mind!
This last day of travel has been a particularly challenging one for myself and also for my wife. We took a vacation “together” but “separately,” as I went to Galveston and she went to San Diego for her own family reunion with her sisters and brother. She was supposed to fly home to Louisville and my trip was scheduled such that I would meet her at the Louisville airport on my way home and pick her up. But things don’t always work as planned and when must be flexible and travel no matter how you do it.
For Julianne, it was a challenging time as she got to the airport early but her flight canceled. She ended up having to consult with me on some other options. With some thinking, I realized that she was flying Southwest airlines and that they fly into Nashville and since I was driving through Nashville anyway, we tried to see if she could switch her itinerary to fly to Nashville, which, thank goodness she was able to do.
In the meantime, as I drove from my overnight stay in Arkadelphia, Arkansas last night, I had it planned such that I would arrive at the Louisville airport 30 minutes before her flight. That all changed with her flight, but then as I approached Nashville, near the town of Dickson, Tennessee, there turned out to be a horrific crash on interstate 40 just west of Dixon. And involved a semi tractor-trailer and a car and turns out that three people were killed. It also had a major impact on traffic is cars going in both directions on interstate 40 were backed up for 10 to 15 miles and not moving at all for nearly a half hour. That would’ve made me very late to pick up Julianne in Louisville.
So as you can see, sometimes the flexibility of things does have a way of working its way out. So here I sit in the cell phone parking area of the Nashville international airport waiting for nearly 2 hours for my sweetheart tour right here this evening so that we can make a 3 1/2 hour drive back home to Lexington thereafter.
A vacation or a road trip or a field trip or whatever you might call it, will always have a plethora of memories. Some may be pleasurable, some may be fine and others may not be so good. But these create indelible memories in our minds and we can share them with others. I feel so blessed to of been able to take these two trips and see parts of America I’ve never seen, but some amazing people, enjoy some interesting food and create some awesome memories.
I am not sure when my next trip will be, but I worry live this trip over and over as I spend the next few weeks working to complete my blogs posts from both of the trips in the nearly 9000 miles with United States roads that I’ve covered during that time.