There have probably been millions of people who have had that dream at least once in their life about of driving across America. So I thought I would share my story about my particular journey that I had with a friend of mine to give you an idea on just one way of doing a cross-country road trip. This trip took 30 days, camping out 23 days, staying in a motel for a total of 6 days, and spent around $2,000.00 each for 2 people driving an old 4-door Sedan Car with 140,000 miles on it. Route Map. In 4 weeks we ended up having about seven 10 hour days of driving, so be prepared to do a lot of driving, because if you only had 2 weeks to travel across America, half of your trip would be driving.
We Started our road trip in Danbury, Connecticut on May 30th, 2000 with the intention of taking
2 months, but we ended up cutting it short and did just one month. We had 2 mountain bikes, a
Thule Cargo Box on top of the car, 2 tents, backpacking gear, 2 camp stoves, clothes, 35mm camera, movie camera and the Rand McNally Road Atlas, to name a few things. We also used Mapping Software to find campgrounds and used the internet to find any special events that might be happening along the way.
From Danbury, driving through the beautiful green rolling hills of Pennsylvania, it took just 9 hours to reach Sandusky Ohio. Why? Cedar Point Amusement Park, to ride what was then, the biggest roller coaster in the country, “The Millennium Force” 310 feet high with a speed of 90 mph, an awesome ride. We also had time for just one more roller coaster, Magnum XL-200, 205 feet high with a speed of 72mph, but that was it, we had to go because we wanted to stay on schedule to see as much of America as possible, we missed a lot of cool rides, oh the sacrifices we make. We camped at Bay Shore Estates the night before. It had a nice swimming pool and basketball court, but there were trains that went by all night long, what a nightmare. When we got up the next mourning the bathroom was filled with huge mosquitoes too, not one of the better campgrounds.
Next was a 10-hour drive through Ohio, Indiana, Chicago then to a Wisconsin motel. First time I saw a Taco Bell inside a gas station.
June 1st, another 10 hour drive. Minnesota (On I-90 there’s a 55’ Jolly Green Giant Statue).
South Dakota (also off of I-90 in South Dakota is the Corn Palace). You will notice that the landscape changes tremendously in South Dakota when you pass over the Missouri River.
I also like listening to the local radio stations in the towns we're traveling through in to get an idea what kind of music some of the people like to listen to in that area.
Finally our first National Park, The Bad Lands National Park in South Dakota.
Window trail, Notch trail, Saddle Pass trail and the Cliff Shelf trail.
Camped out in the park. I Had some weird dreams that night, in one dream I was flying like a bird.
Next was Wall Drug store. It seems seeing all the signs along the road brainwashes you into going there. I remember seeing a bird eating dead bugs off the front grill of our car. I guess you can call it our mobile bird feeder.
Next was Custer State Park. Center lake campground was nice. We took out our Mountain bikes for a cool ride down Grace Coolidge trail that had a lot of stream crossings over Grace Coolidge Creek. Next we also checked out the Wind Cave National Park. Be careful with your camera when going in the cave because it could fog up. We then drove down needles highway, which must be a great place for riding a motorcycle because it has beautiful winding roads. It's not to far from Sturgis so I’m sure many motorcycle riders enjoy it.
Then was Mount Rushmore National Memorial. I remember being in the bathroom and a little kid called out from one of the stalls to his father, who was washing his hands next to me, “hey dad can you wipe my butt”, he looked at me and said “fatherhood is so wonderful”, it was so cute we both laughed.
Next we drove into Wyoming and visited Devils Tower. The Loop trial is nice. We stayed at the Belle Fourche campground, which was half closed because of the prairie dogs. You have a nice view of the tower. So far in 5 days we have driven now over 2,200 miles and had good weather. We then drove through the Big Horn Mts. on Route 16 till we reached Thermopolis where we had a nice dip in a hot mineral spring. We stayed at the Eagle RV Park, which wasn’t bad because it had showers and you can also have pizza delivered to your tent.
Day 7, driving to Grand Teton National Park, which is an awesome ride down Rt. 26. We stayed at Signal Campground on Jackson Lake. The next day we hiked up to Holly Lake in the Teton NP were we have reserved a backcountry camp site 2 months prior to starting our trip. There was a lot of snow on the trail so we ended up hiking back down to the lower paint brush camp site, luckily it was not occupied. We hiked back down the next day and headed to Jackson Hole. We went to the Million Dollar Cowboy bar and then stayed at the Cache Creek Hotel.
Next was the drive to Yellowstone National Park. We stayed at the Madison campground. It’s June 9th and day 11, I’ve spent $700.00 so far, not bad. Hiking, Mountain Biking, Geysers, Waterfalls, 328 steps, herding Bison, Lodge pole pines and a lot of site seeing. Tried a new campsite at Canyon Village, which is a good central location in the park and also has showers.
After a few days we left for Montana and stayed at the Lodge pole Campsite across from Lake Georgetown. We were told some of the fish had Whirling Disease. This is the time in the trip when my friend confessed he was missing his new girl friend and wanted to cut the trip from 2 months to 1 month. Wow! But hey, all trips will always have some of its plans change before they’re over, so no big deal. So far we camped out 13 days.
Next was the drive to Glacier National Park. Stayed at Fish Creek Campground near Lake McDonald. You got to go to Eddies Restaurant in Apgar Village for some great food. We drove Going-to-the-Sun-Road through Logan Pass, which is the most beautiful inspiring road to drive on. We stayed at the Many Glacier Hotel which is a very beautiful and old historical hotel. We took a Horse ride down some trails and then took a canoe out and did some fishing in the Swiftcurrent lake that's in front of the Many Glacier Hotel. We didn't catch anything because the fish were blind from the lake being cloudy because of run off from rain the night before, it was still nice though just to be out on the lake.
Time to hit the road again. Next stop the state of Washington. Our schedule didn't allow us to do any hikes at Mount Rainer but it was awesome to see, especially the surrounding forest.
We made it! We’re in Oregon on the coast and our feet are in the Pacific ocean. We camped at Fort Stevens State Park which years ago guarded the Columbia River. It took 21 days to drive across America one way. We saw 6 National parks, 2 state parks, 1 national monument and 1 national memorial so far. Next we drove down the coast of Oregon. Devils Punch Bowl, Heceta Head Light house, Oswald West State Park, Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area and Umpqua Light House State Park to camp and hang out with some locals who had a nice big fire on the beach. We are now officially headed back home, but not before a few more stops.
Next is Crater Lake National Park. Camped at Mazama Village. This is where I decided to play some of my sound bits from the movie the Blair Witch Project; you can say it spooked the campers just a little.
Next we drove into California to visit Lassen National Park. Then after that was Lake Tahoe. Won $50.00 playing blackjack. Spent $90.00 on a Jet Ski rental. You can fly around the lake going 60mph, it’s very cool. The visibility of the water is about a 100 feet and when you can see the bottom of the lake from your Sea Doo Jet Ski it feels like your floating in the air. Played some Beach Volleyball, but only after someone housed down the hot sand. To the Heavenly Tram, nice views. Camped at great basin picnic area because the Emerald Bay campground was full.
Next we drove into Nevada to the Great Basin National Park. Hiked up to the Glacier past the Bristlecone Pine trees, nice hike.
Next stop was city of Moab in Utah. We mountain biked the Rim Trail. Camped out near the Lions Back Camp Park on Sand flats Rd which is right next to the Slickrock trail. The night sky was so clear that we could see satellites going by, I never saw so many stars in my life. When hiking off the trails don’t step on the Cryptobiotic crust because it takes a long time to create. In Moab at a restaurant we had a waitress named Kimba, which was short for Kimberley, she was very nice.
Next stop Colorado and the Rocky Mountain National Park. You can drive your car above 12,000 feet, which is pretty cool. We saw a lot of bicyclists riding up too, unbelievable.
Well that's pretty much it without going into to much detail. The next 3 days we spent just driving home. Driving about 10 hours each day mostly on Rt. 70. The old Acura had over 9,000 more miles on it when we got back to Danbury.
We had one great experience. We drove through 19 states, saw 10 National Parks, at least 5 State Parks, a National Monument, a National Memorial, National Forests, a bunch of Historical sites and a whole bunch other cool things. We rode roller coasters, mountain biked, rode horses, hiked, dipped into hot springs, jet skied, chairlifts, gambled, canoed, camped out, swam in Crater Lake for a second and met some really cool people along the way too. Now I have one less thing off my list of things I wanted to do before I die. Awesome! Thanks again Matt, that was one great trip.
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