8154: Experiencing America’s Amazing Landscapes

In early 2020 I traveled across the country over the course of three weeks with my daughter and three grandchildren.    During this trip we traveled 8154 miles across 20 states and visited over 100 destinations, saw all sorts of animals, all sorts of geography, 10 National Parks and Monuments, various state parks, oceans, deserts, mountains, beaches, grasslands, canyons and more. This is the fourth of a few posts about some of the fun from this EPIC Road Trip.  In this post I’ll share some scenes of some of America’s diverse landscapes that we experienced on this epic road trip. Enjoy the Read! Enjoy the Ride! (all photography by David “Sumoflam” Kravetz and, when noted, Marissa Noe)


SD Hwy 244 north of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota with its granite cliffs

In 1833, poet Katharine Lee Bates took a train trip across the United States from her home in Wellesley, Massachusetts to Colorado Springs, Colorado in order to teach a summer school course at Colorado College.  Along the way she experienced all kinds of inspiring scenery.  And from the top of Pikes Peak in Colorado, while witnessing an expansive view of the land sprawling out before her, she penned the original words to what we now know as America the Beautiful.  The words changed slightly until the final version was published in 1911.  Most Americans know the first verse and that is what this post is centered on:

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed His grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!

Shining sea of Pacific Ocean near Langlois, Oregon

Though this trip did not get from “sea to shining sea,” we did see amber waves of grain, purple mountains majesty and fruited plains (well, kind of…it was winter time).  I was so happy that my grandchildren could experience the diversity of this American land and its many landscapes.  Following is mainly a pictorial collection of some of the landscapes…some of America…that we saw and experienced.  Even in the winter time it is glorious.

High plains of northeast Wyoming. This is on US Highway 14/16 near Clearmont, Wyoming


Now enjoy the ride across America as we saw it from January 25 to February 18, 2020.  Descriptions are included with each photo.  You will basically get to travel along and see what we saw.  We crossed big rivers, traveled through plains and hills, ventured into snow-covered mountains and through great pine forests and then along the Pacific Coast.  From there we returned eastward through deserts, canyons and swamps. Note, since it was winter there is relatively little green on most of the trip.  ENJOY THE RIDE!


Crossing the Ohio River from Kentucky into Illinois at Old Shawneetown on Kentucky Hwy 56. Taken from Shawneetown.
Heading west on Illinois Highway 149 near Murphysboro, Illinois
Crossing the Mississippi River near Chester, Illinois onto Missouri Highway 51


Missouri Highway B near Hillsboro, Missouri
Fiery Sky near Dittmer, Missouri
The Big Piney River Valley as seen from Devil’s Elbow, Missouri on Route 66
Traveling west on Missouri Highway 7 near Camdenton, Missouri
Driving by the Harry S Truman Reservoir near Warsaw, Missouri


Flat farmland as seen from Nebraska Highway 92 near Palmer, Nebraska
Snowy farmland and sandhills on Nebraska Highway 91 near Brewster
Migrating Canadian Geese resting in a field near Elba in central Nebraska.
The Sandhills of Nebraska on Nebraska Highway 2 near Thedford
Another view of the Sandhills from Nebraska Highway 2
Heading north to south Dakota on Nebraska Highway 2 north of Alliance


More geese in a field, this time near Provo, South Dakota just a few miles north of the Nebraska border
Snow covered hills as seen from South Dakota Highway 471 near Edgemont
US Highway 18 near Edgemont, South Dakota
Heading north on US Highway 18 near Hot Springs, South Dakota as we approach Wind Cave National Park
Entering the hill country of southwest South Dakota on Highway 87 near Buffalo Gap
Some hill country between Wind Cave National Park and Custer State Park in South Dakota
A small pond in Custer State Park South Dakota
A bison grazes in the grasslands of Custer State Park
A small group of Prong-horned Antelope relax peacefully in the grassland as seen from Wildlife Loop Road in Custer State Park
Layers of landscape near the entrance to Iron Mountain Road north of Custer State Park
A winding US Route 16A heading up Iron Mountain Road towards Keystone
Granite outcropping as seen on Hwy 16A Iron Mountain Road
The splendid view from the top of Iron Mountain Road south of Keystone, South Dakota
SD Hwy 244 north of Mount Rushmore near Keystone, South Dakota


US Highways 14/16 heading north near Wildcat, Wyoming
High plains of northeast Wyoming. This is on US Highway 14/16 near Clearmont, Wyoming
US Highway 14 west of Ucross, Wyoming


Rock formations in southeast Montana
Scenic view from Little Bighorn National Monument near Garryowen, Montana
The Highland Mountains near Cardwell, Montana
Heading into the mountains Interstate 90 near Cardwell, Montana
A view of the mountains that surround Bozeman, Montana as seen from Big Timber on I-90
Montana Highway 1 near Anaconda, Montana
Montana Highway 1 north of Anaconda, Montana
Pintler Highway (Montana Highway 1) north of Anaconda
Snow and Ice Covered Georgetown Lake west of Anaconda, Montana
Interstate 90 northwest of Drummond, Montana
McLeod Peak as seen from I-90 near Wye, Montana west of Missoula
Driving high into the mountains near Lothrop, Montana on I-90
Tall Ponderosa Pines near Quartz, Montana
The mountains near Borax, Montana on I-90 as we approach the Idaho border
Approaching Lookout Pass at 4,710 feet on the Montana / Idaho border
The view of Idaho as seen from Lookout Pass on the Montana / Idaho border


Heading downhill into Idaho from Lookout Pass

We arrived in Idaho as it turned dark and stayed near the Washington border so we didn’t get any other photos of Idaho.


US Highway 2 near Reardan, Washington
From Highway 2 there is a wonderful view of the canyons of Sun Lakes Dry Falls State Park. It was a foggy morning so not as clear as would have been desired
Another look down on the Sun Lakes Dry Falls State Park Canyons
US Highway 2 east of Waterville, Washington
US Highway 2 near Pine Canyon, Washington
A verdant view of the Columbia River near East Wenatchee, Washington
Another view of the Columbia River in Wenatchee, Washington
Heading up into the Cascade Mountains west of Leavenworth, Washington on US Highway 2
Snow-covered roadside on US Highway 2 at Stevens Pass in Washington
Lichtenburg Mountain as seen from US Hwy 2 near Stevens Pass

We eventually made our into Port Orchard, Washington on the Kitsap Peninsula, where we stayed with my daughter for a week.  A few day trips in the area provided some nice scenery.

Looking at to Clam Bay from Manchester, Washington in the early morning
Sunbeams explode from a cloud near Manchester, Washington
Sunrise on Puget Sound as seen from Manchester, WA
A view of Olympic National Park mountains from Scenic Beach State Park near Seabeck, Washington
Driving through the tall firs and hemlocks of Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington
Moss covered trees on Five Mile Road in Point Defiance Park in Tacoma, Washington
Eagles flying over Commencement Bay (Photo by Marissa Noe)
Dalco Passage as seen from Point Defiance

After a long westward trip from Kentucky to Washington, we eventually made our way south along the Pacific Ocean on US Highway 101 from Washington through Oregon and all the way to Santa Cruz, California.  From there we took the famed California Highway 1 along the coast through Big Sur.

Driving through the forest on US 101 near Middle Nemah, Washington
View of the North Head Light and huge ocean waves from Long Beach, Washington
Waves crashing on the Pacific Coast at Long Beach, Washington
Crossing the Astoria-Megler Bridge over the Columbia River on US 101 south of Chinook, Washington


Crossing into Oregon, we drove across the Astoria-Megler Bridge, which is 4.067 miles long and is the longest continuous truss bridge in North America. Really an amazing drive!

Driving over the Columbia River from Washington and approach to the Astoria-Megler Bridge
The Astoria-Megler Bridge as seen from Astoria, Oregon
View of the Pacific Ocean from Fort Stevens State Park near Hammond, Oregon
235 Foot tall Haystack Rock in Cannon Beach, OR
View of Pacific Ocean from North Bend, Oregon
Shining sea of Pacific Ocean near Langlois, Oregon
Pacific Coast as seen from Port Orford, Oregon
Cave Rock as seen from US Hwy 101 south of Gold Beach OR
Waves beat upon the shore at Gold Beach, Oregon


Driving through the trees on US 101 near Trinidad, California
Entering the Redwood Forest near Scotia CA
Redwood lined CA Hwy 254 Scotia CA
Avenue of the Giants near Scotia, California
Pacific Ocean as seen from US 101 near Klamath, California
Golden Gate Bay as seen from Golden Gate Viewpoint Mill Valley, California
Big Rock as seen from Natural Bridges State Beach in Santa Cruz, California
Pacific Ocean from Carmel Highlands, California
Hurricane Point near Big Sur, California as seen from California Highway 1
Sunset on the Pacific Ocean as seen from Partington Cove near Big Sur
California Highway 1 – Pacific Coast Highway
Morro Rock in Morro Bay near Cambria, CA

We made it as far south as Cambria, California, on the Pacific Coast, before our return trip eastward back to Kentucky. We would take a route that would take us to Sequoia National Park and then through the Mojave Desert.

California Hwy 46 just east of Paso Robles, California
Heading east on California Hwy 41 near Avenal, California
CA Hwy 198 near Lemon Cove, California heading towards the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
CA Hwy 198 looking at Sierra Nevadas east of Lemon Cove, California
Climbing higher entering Three Rivers, California on CA Hwy 198
After entering Sequoia National Park on CA Hwy 198 – This is called the General’s Highway, much of which is only 10 mph
As we got higher in altitude on the General’s Highway, the vegetation changes
CA 198 in Sequoia National Park
California’s Mt. Whitney as seen from the General’s Highway in Sequoia National Park
Snow topped mountains as seen from Sequoia National Park
Lovely vista of the landscape as seen from high up on the Generals Highway
Snowy roads in the Giant Forest
Driving through the giants in Sequoia National Park on CA Hwy 198.
Some of the giant sequoia trees
Sunrise near Baker, California
Driving on Interstate 15 east towards Baker, California
Interstate 15 Baker, California
Joshua Trees near Baker, California
Nipton Road heading east to Nipton, California
Mojave Desert scene at Ivanpah Rd and Nipton Rd near Nipton CA
Nipton Road in California heading east to Nevada


Joshua Tree Highway, Nevada Hwy 164
NV Hwy 164 near Walking Box Ranch Rd Searchlight, Nevada
Joshua Tree Highway Searchlight, Nevada


Arizona Hwy 68 near Golden Valley, Arizona
Another shot from Hwy 68 near Golden Valley, Arizona
Arizona Hwy 64 heading north to Grand Canyon from Williams AZ

Can we take enough photos of the amazing Grand Canyon?

Grand Canyon Arizona
Another shot of the Grand Canyon
Another Grand Canyon Scene
Dusk skies take over the Grand Canyon
The Colorado River runs through the Grand Canyon (photo by Marissa Noe)
Sunset at the Grand Canyon
It is just after sunset and this was the view south of the Grand Canyon looking at Mt. Humphreys in the San Francisco Peaks. Flagstaff is on the other side of those mountains.

After the Grand Canyon, we continued east for a visit to the Petrified Forest National Park and Painted Desert.

A scene from the Painted Desert portion of the Petrified Forest National Park
Petrified wood and painted desert in the Petrified Forest National Park
Another shot of the Painted Desert
Painted Desert and a Petrified Log

From the Petrified Forest, we continued east on Interstate 40 towards New Mexico

Interstate 40 near Ganado, Arizona
Interstate 40 in Ganado, Arizona
Red Rocks along the side of the Interstate
A distant view of Ganado, Arizona on the Navajo Reservation


A view of wind blown sandstone west of Gallup, New Mexico as seen from Interstate 40 / Route 66
Interstate 40 eastbound near Continental Divide, New Mexico
Heading east on I-40 into Albuquerque, New Mexico with the Sandia Mountains in the background
Looking at the Sandia Mountains west of Albuquerque, New Mexico

After spending the night in Clovis, New Mexico, we made our way into Texas near Texico, New Mexico and Farwell, Texas…basically one town divided by railroad tracks.

Stateline Road (NM 348) between Texico, New Mexico and Farwell, Texas
A young buck crosses the road near Muleshoe, Texas
Texas Hwy 70 south of Turkey, Texas
Texas FM 1075 heading east from Happy, Texas
Sandhill Cranes and Cattle near Dimmit, Texas
Snow Geese and Cattle on TX 1075 near Dimmitt, Texas
Scene from north of Seymour, Texas on FM 1919

After driving through the deserts and grasslands of west Texas and a couple of days stay in Fort Worth, we headed to northeast Texas into swamp country.

Bayou in Caddo Lake swamp near Uncertain, Texas
Bald Cypress in Caddo Lake in NE Texas


Louisiana 170 near Vivian, Louisiana
Louisiana Hwy 2, also known as Trees City Road near Vivian, Louisiana
Louisiana is flat. This is on Interstate 49 heading north near Vivian, Louisiana


Interstate 30 near Donaldson, Arkansas

After a drive through Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee, we finally made it to Kentucky


Through limestone palisades on the Bluegrass Parkway east of Elizabethtown KY

And thus ends our EPIC Road trip in scenery across the country.  Hope you enjoyed the ride.


I am currently working on my FOURTH book, titled “8154” to represent the mileage of my epic road trip with family.  You can visit my Amazon Author Page to see my other books at https://amzn.to/3azY36l