The Great American Road Trip – Epilogue

IMG_5676Now that my epic road trip is over and I’ve mostly recovered by sleeping a lot, it’s time for a recap.

The Pictures: Of the over 1000 pictures and videos I took, I selected 55 to touch up and upload to my Flickr photostream, so check those out. Some of them were used in my updates, but many were not.

The Experience: Driving through so many different places in so short a time was quite ambitious, as some people mentioned before I left. It was exhausting and expensive, yes, but it was also one of the best and most memorable experiences of my life, well worth the money and occasional hardship.

There were also many moments of pure serenity, especially the final two evenings when I camped out in the mountains in Wyoming and at the Oregon/Idaho border. Contrasted with the busy and noisy east, the remote places of the west seemed even more precious than before.

I met friends who I’ve known for years yet never seen in person before. I followed in the footsteps of my direct paternal ancestor onto Ellis Island. I saw natural and man-made landmarks I’d dreamed of seeing since I was a child. I tried new foods based in the culture and history of the places I visited. I took time to stop and soak in the sights and sounds and smells of new places. During the long periods of driving, I developed ideas and plans for my future artistic endeavors, and I learned things, and I sang.

The Food: One of the major features of this journey was trying local food across the country. I had barbecued beef brisket in Reno, Kansas City, Asheville NC, and Stillwater MN. The place in Minnesota was Caribbean-themed, but the others were representative of their area’s barbecue tradition. My favorite barbecue styles are still Kansas City and North Carolina, but the Caribbean food was very good as well.

The breakfast I had in New Orleans (day six) was quite memorable, and I also loved the pizza I got in New York and Chicago. Another of my favorite dishes was Creole shrimp and grits at a Tapas place in Jackson MS called Babalu. There was nostalgia involved when I stopped in Green Bay and got cheese curds at the grocery store we shopped at when my family lived there. The clam strips I had in New Hampshire were another delicious highlight.

The Truck: This is the second vehicle I own that I’ve driven across the country. The first was my Porsche 924S, which I drove 3300 miles in five days. This time I drove 9100 miles in fifteen days. There were no issues during the trip, only a couple noises caused by minor preexisting conditions. One just took some lubrication, and I have parts on the way to fix the suspension.

Spending so much time with a vehicle really makes me appreciate it for what it is. It becomes a companion, more than a mere object or tool of transportation. It’s even better when it also provides a comfortable place to sleep for no extra cost.

The Superlatives: All my life I’ve been fascinated by numbers, superlatives, records of all sorts. So here are a few for this trip. The ones marked with an asterisk are also lifetime records for me at this time.

Highest speed: 100 mph

Most miles driven in a day: 829

*Most miles driven without stopping: 330

*Most states visited in a day: 6

*Most new (to me) states visited in a day: 5

*Highest elevation: 14,265 feet (summit of Mt. Evans, CO)

*Lowest elevation: -6 feet (New Orleans, LA)

Westernmost point: Home (North Bonneville, WA)

Northernmost point: Glendive, MT

*Easternmost point: Petey’s Summertime Seafood (Rye, NH)

*Southernmost point: Pan-American Life Insurance Building (New Orleans, LA)

The Route: I’m going to break the trip into seven legs with maps, distinguished by the areas of the country I drove through. The maps aren’t perfectly accurate, as I made more stops and took alternate roads in a few areas, but overall they are very close to where I actually drove.

1: Western (days 1-3 from home to Colorado Springs)

2: Midwestern Plains (day 4 from Colorado Springs to Olathe)

3: Southern (days 5-6 from Olathe to Kennesaw)

4: Appalachian (day 7 from Kennesaw to Lynchburg)

5: Northeastern (days 8-10 from Lynchburg to Cleveland)

6: Northern Plains (days 11-12 from Cleveland to Glendive)

7: Northwestern (days 13-15 from Glendive to home)

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