The most time consuming part of any extended road trip is being on the road. For me, this is the icing on the cake. Sure, I love to see all of the quirky places, unique towns, Mom and Pop eateries and more. But, there is something about driving a two-lane highway (or narrow road or even gravel road) that brings out the wanderlust in me big time. Watching those white/yellow lines pass by while seeing the scenery, wildlife, buildings, etc., as I drive by, is one of the best parts of travel. Of course, a good soundtrack, like the thousands of songs on my Spotify playlists, also adds to the fun.
I am a stats person. I love the numbers. Therefore, I keep my phone synced to Google Maps and it literally tracks every mile I drive and even keeps a log of everywhere I have been. In 2020, according to Google Maps, I traveled 15,404 miles (over a duration of 836 hours) and visited 121 different cities (85 of them were new) and visited 349 places (237 new) across this country. It didn’t note that I visited 26 states in 2020. So, basically, I have a complete daily log of my driving, stops, restaurants, hotels, national parks, and more. To me that is a really cool thing to have!
A little trivia: According to the US Department of Transportation, those white and yellow lines — which are referred to as “broken lines” — do have typical regulations for roadways, though not completely followed. Basically, broken lines should consist of 10-foot line segments and 30-foot gaps, or dimensions in a similar ratio of line segments to gaps as appropriate for traffic speeds and need for delineation. That boils down to about 132 dashes a mile. So, based on these numbers, I drive past more than 2 million lines over the course of 2020. Of course, it is likely a little less considering that there are parts of the roadways with double lines for no passing and there were some dirt roads and some unstriped back-country roads. But still…I saw a lot of lines in 2020!!
My road trips took me on some pretty long, desolate stretches of highway in places like Nebraska, South Dakota, Wyoming and Nevada. But, I traveled over some of America’s curviest roads with names like “The Dragon,” “The Rattlesnake,” “Iron Mountain Road,” and, of course, the world-famous “Crookedest Street in the World” aka Lombard Street, with its eight kinda scary hairpin turns in San Francisco.
The Dragon is probably one of the most famous “curvy roads” in America, especially for the motorcycle lovers, Located on US 129 in southern Tennessee, the last 11 miles to the North Carolina border has 318 curves. It is so popular that photographers sit at a number of the curve pull-offs and take pictures of each vehicle that goes by and then the riders and/or drives can actually purchase them online if they want. At the beginning (northern part of the Dragon) there is actually a large wooden Dragon that tourists can stop and take pictures with. Then, as they cross into North Carolina at Deals Gap, there is another unique dragon, numerous gift shops and places to eat. All really focused on the motorized two-wheelers such as Harleys, Indians, Triumphs, Kawasakis and Hondas.
Kentucky has tried to follow suit with its Rattlesnake, which is also about 11 miles, but not as many curves. There is also a summer only souvenir shop along the way. The scenery through the forest is lovely.
But the really unique one is the Iron Mountain Road in South Dakota. This is US 16A and it is basically a windy road over a mountain from Custer State Park to Mount Rushmore. This is 17 miles long with 314 curves, including 14 switchbacks and 3 pigtails. I had never driven a pigtail before. This is where the road “pigtails” over itself. In other words, you go under a bridge, hit a curve and then drive on the bridge over the road you just drove in. Pretty unique road construction.
Of course, curvy roads are the rarity. Many of the roads are long and straight. This holds trues especially in places like Wyoming, South Dakota, Nevada and more. Here are just a few shots from the roads…
And then there are the various other places. Here are a few more of my road shots.