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

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