Great American Road Trip – the long way home

So this is it.  Come along for the final installment of a four part series on our Great American Road Trip.

After 21 days on the road we were just past the half way point of our epic journey across the USA which started in Seattle, took us through the heartland and up the Blue Ridge Parkway into Virginia, Pennsylvania, and  New York  and back home again.

The route

We were now in Virginia.  The birth place of these United States of America and home to many historic sites including Jefferson’s classic home and beautiful gardens, Monticello,

Monticello

Monticello

the Gardens

“No occupation is so delightful to me as the culture of the earth, and no culture comparable to that of the garden.” Thomas Jefferson

and Colonial Williamsburg, the restored capital of colonial Virginia and the country’s largest living history museum, where men and women of the American revolution lived and worked.

Colonial Williamsburg

Colonial Williamsburg

After leaving Virginia we headed north into Pennsylvania’s gentle and fertile farm country where we stopped at the York Harley Davidson factory and shopped in the Amish town of Bird in Hand while looking out for horse and buggy.  (Yes, we saw them.)

Lancaster County, PA

Lancaster County, Pennsylvania

We also managed to squeeze in a visit to Hershey (yes, THAT Hershey) and Steamtown National Historic Site which told the history of steam railroading and its role in the development of the country.  It also had the biggest collection of trains I have ever seen.   This place made Bob happy.

Chocolate anyone?

Chocolate anyone?

Bob and the giant train

Bob and the giant train

Our next stop was one of the most anticipated: the Adirondacks in upstate New York, a beautiful mountain region of six million acres and the largest protected natural area in the lower 48.  (I bet you didn’t know that.  Neither did I.) Here were mountains, forests, lakes, streams, verdant valleys and steep cliffs.  And hundreds of small communities including Lake Placid, site of the 1980 winter Olympics where the USA upset the Soviets to take the gold in a game called, “Miracle on Ice.”  Score!

We were there in early September and got to see the trees start to change color;

Camping in the Adirondacks

Beautiful Adirondack forest

and we visited the charming Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake which reminded me of our own San Juan Islands in the Pacific Northwest.

20160516_111700

Could be the San Juan Islands but isn’t

Whether it was this reminder of the Northwest that tugged at our hearts or something else, it was about this time in our trip that something  changed, quietly at first.  It wasn’t just that fall’s breath could be felt in the air.  Or that climbing into the camper bed every night was taking more and more effort.  And it wasn’t because of that slight panic that sometimes happened when we got lost and were hunting for a campground in the dark much later than we’d planned, and sometimes in the rain. Or that we were tired of both my camper style cooking and eating out at diners along the way (which we were.) No, it was more than all that.  A kind of travel weariness had set in, a missing of things familiar. A longing for ordinary days.  We were still a long way from home but it was in New York that home began calling us to press on, perhaps a little more hurriedly.

But we were not done yet.  On our 31st day we were camped at Indiana Dunes National Lake Shore on the southern shore of Lake Michigan.  And in one of our more spontaneous excursions we boarded the train at nearby Beverly Shores station leaving the solitude of that beautiful park and our camper behind..

Beverly Shores, Historic South Shore Passenger Depot

Beverly Shores, Historic Southshore Passenger Depot

and explored the great city of Chicago which was unexpectedly beautiful

Lake Michigan

Lake Michigan, from the top of the Hancock Bldg

Chicago River

Chicago River

The next day we were westward bound again, stopping only when convenient to the highway.  One such stop was in Minnesota at Blue Mounds State Park,  where we walked through a remnant of preserved prairie grass to pink quartzite cliffs, while warm winds blew through tall wildflowers and  grasshoppers danced around us.

All pretty in pink

All pretty in pink

And still we pressed on. On into South Dakota’s Badlands where the air was crisp and the sky clear blue and where we seemed to have the place to ourselves…

the Badlands

the Badlands

Our time in the Badlands included a visit to a genuine prairie homestead made of sod and included a friendly colony of white prairie dogs (the only ones in the world) who were everywhere and unafraid.

Prairie Homestead 1909

Prairie Homestead, 1909

white prairie dog

white prairie dog

After a long drive the next day with stops by Sturgis and famous Wall Drugs, we made it to Wyoming and set up camp in Buffalo at 4,600 feet. Temperatures plummeted that night and we woke up to snow on the Big Horn Mountains nearby.   Does it seem that I’m rushing the telling?  That is just how it felt at this point in our trip.  Though the scenery was grand, magnificant in fact, we were back in the West now and so close to home we could almost smell it and Bob’s foot was heavy on the gas pedal…….

and so our Great American Cross Country Road Trip which covered 23 states over 37 days and 8,000 miles came to a close.  We loved every single day of the adventure, and would do it again in fact, but as that lovely Dorothy Gale realized after her fantastic journey to Oz was over,  There’s No Place Like Home!

~Susanne

4 thoughts on “Great American Road Trip – the long way home

    • thanks John! It was such a great experience and writing about it was like living it all over again. The food was fun in different parts of the country, but after a month of eating out.. well a peanut butter and jelly sandwich might have tasted better! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. That was a never-to-be-forgotten tour of your huge country, and much of what it has to offer. I was envious of Pennsylvania as I have always wanted to visit Gettysburg, after a life-long interest in your Civil War. I would find the Badlands fascinating too, as we have nothing comparable over here.
    Thanks for taking us along on your memorable trip, Susanne.
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

    • thanks Pete.. I’m glad you enjoyed the journey.. Pennsylvania was wonderful.. we have been to Gettysburg a couple of times though not on this trip… maybe someday you can cross the pond and take in some of the sights. 🙂 Susanne

      Like

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