Joy and I are incapable of doing anything in a straightforward way. We can’t even do a road trip without making it complicated.
If you look at the map below you are probably wondering, “What the heck kind of road trip is this? What do all the colored routes mean? Did you really cover the whole country in six weeks? … AND cross the Atlantic?”
Our road trip definitely left our Facebook friends persmuggled. We got a lot of ,”Wait, weren’t you just in …?”
The above map represents a multi-part trip. The blue dots represent the driving route. When we reached Denver, we flew to Miami for a University of Miami celebration of our friend, Marc, who had a scholarship named in his honor. We then flew to New York City for a few days. Then Joy flew to Europe for two weeks (orange routes) to teach classes in Oslo and Stockholm while I flew back to Denver (yellow route) where I retrieved the car and Brighton and resumed the driving trip. We reunited in LA where we saw the excellent King Tut exhibit. Then we meandered up the California coast to the Bay Area for Thanksgiving with family and friends before arriving back home six weeks after we’d left.
When our dog, Brighton, boomeranged back into our lives we knew our ability to do extended travel in other countries, let alone extended cycling adventures, would be curtailed for a while. We knew our travel would shift to US-based driving road trips — a happy tradeoff for having Brighton back. Brighton loves to be in the car, and there are lots of places we can take him for hikes.
A Scenic Route is a Tortured Route
Much like our bicycle ride across the US, we tried to stay off freeways and major highways when we could. We chose less-traveled byways to maximize time on scenic routes or to visit interesting sights. We spent a lot of time on Historic Route 66, the Oregon Trail, Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, and other official scenic or historic routes. Happily, there are a lot of those out west. We visited a lot of national parks, forests & monuments or detoured to see interesting roadside attractions (some of them far off the beaten path). We favored sights, landmarks, museums, and natural attractions over efficiency. The drive from one night’s lodging to the next might only have been 2-3 hours if we’d driven on major roads, but our circuitous routes could easily add 2-3 hours of driving. We rarely drove more than six hours in any one day so we could go hiking, visit museums, or just chill in small town coffee shops.
I was also motivated to periodically alter my path to drive through amusingly or ironically named towns. A few of the oddly-named locales our route took us through:
- Oregon: Christmas Valley, Wagon Tire
- Idaho: Chilly, Challis, Atomic City (population 26)
- Wyoming: Moose, Elk, Muddy Gap, Dubois (rhymes with “two boys”)
- Colorado: Beulah Valley (anyone? anyone?), Antonito (named for me?)
- New Mexico: Costilla (rib), Ojo Caliente (hot eye), Truth or Consequences
- Arizona: Sun Tan Valley
- Nevada: Chloride, Pahrump
The dorkiest thing I did was drive fifty miles out of my way to “lovely” Clines Corner, New Mexico (the only reason to stop there is for their nice bathrooms) just so I could turn left at Albuquerque. (If you don’t get the joke, check out this YouTube link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=e8TUwHTfOOU
Over the course of our trip we saw lots of great wildlife. In addition to many kinds of deer and hawks, we had close encounters with elk and bison. At some distance we saw big horn sheep, mountain goats, and coyotes. At greatly removed distances we saw a bear and a bald eagle in Yellowstone at the same time, and in California we saw the San Simeon herd of zebras. I also saw a beautiful red fox (very up close and personal), and Joy saw two California condors. In Yellowstone we saw two people who were looking at wolves (through honkin’ big binoculars) so through math’s transitive property, that sort of counts as seeing wolves.
A Quick Travel Summary
As we wrap up our 2018 travels, it’s clear that it was hardly as exciting or as extensive as it was in 2017, yet we still managed to visit several amazing countries, including Egypt and Israel, and we got to ~20 states. We saw more than two dozen national parks, monuments, and forests (and Brighton peed in them all). We didn’t quite reach our goal of traveling 50% of the time, but we did hit over 40%. We promise to do better next year!