I decided to break my Review of our road trip into two parts because really there are two stories. The first story is all about our amazing road trip across America, the sights, the insights and most important the people we experienced. The second part is about Geezer Travel and how the tools that we have put in place, to make our travel less expensive worked. Part two will be a more nuts and bolts, dollar and cents look at our trip.
In the last 43 days of traveling across America we roamed almost 6200 miles, we crossed 18 States. We saw dozens of old friends, made new friends and were able to spend time with 4 of our 5 children and all 7 of our grand children. In short, this trip, in many ways, was about friends and family and the adventure of new experiences.
In an earlier blog I expressed that as Americans we all want the same things. Everyone we talked to was still in love with America and seemed to be much more keenly interested in the political process that forms us as Americans than I remembered in the past. Many of the people we talked to expressed concern about uncertainty about the, a lack morality and ethics in Washington but still felt that America was by far the greatest country on earth and that no matter what happened in DC everything would work out.
If we were speaking to students, ski bums, business owners or taxi drivers they all seemed to have a positive attitude about America seasoned with a new dash of cynicism. I don’t remember the cynicism before but I think it’s healthy. Unlike the generations before us the people we met on this trip were a lot more interested in the workings of their government and the world around them.
Our road trip not only left me feeling good about the people of America but proud and somewhat overwhelmed by America. Because our route was West and then North most of our trip traveled thru Rural America. When you get away from the suburbs and the cities America is a beautiful and overwhelmingly large place. For days we drove thru rolling hills covered with lush forests and then spent days driving thru farm lands that had been newly tilled and were just starting to show the green sprouts of life poking out into the sun shine. A thousand times we saw vistas of raw breath-taking scenery and each day we enjoyed new sun sets as they crept with their rainbows of color over the Western horizon.
Except for our 4 days in New Orleans we stayed away from the big cities. A few times we had those moments where we were so lost that the GPS was sending us down dirt roads but those little set backs always seemed to lead us to a new fun discovery. On April 24th we drove from Sioux Falls South Dakota to Branson Missouri. On a good day that is a very long drive and it was 6:00 PM at night when we realized that our GPS had put us out in the boonies about 50 miles West of Branson. If your familiar with Branson you know that between us and Branson was some of the most mountainous terrain in America. For the next two hours, much of it in the dark, we drove 40 miles an hour up, over and around some of the most beautiful mountains I have ever seen. Much of our drive was in the Mark Twain National Forrest and the deepest recesses of the Ozarks. After our two-hour drive I can understand why the bootleggers of this area were able to escape the Feds during the bootlegging days. Even though I was dead tired when we pulled into Branson I loved the trip our lost GPS had taken us on.
Another aspect of travel that Charlene and I never overlook is the food, wine and music and this road trip was full of all three and even a little beer. In Wyoming we enjoyed three amazing prime rib dinners that were as good as any meal in the world, as far as this meat-eater in concerned. In Steamboat we enjoyed a dinner on the top of the mountain with 14 members of our family that included a sleigh ride, gourmet food and a world-class view. In Florida, Alabama and Louisiana we enjoyed a banquet of fresh seafood. Everywhere we went we explored new wines and even hit a few unique wineries. We listened to house bands in Florida, a marching band in Alabama, a music festival in Louisiana, a one man band in Steamboat and street musicians in New Orleans, Branson, and on the Boulder Mall. We visited the wild new frontier that is being created in the RiNo district of Denver and drank at the oldest bar in America in New Orleans. We ate off food trucks and linen table cloths enjoying everything from crawfish to dandy line wine. If you have to eat and drink everyday you might as well make it an adventure.
Weather you’re trip involves being amazed by your grandkids, getting lost or surprised by one more fantastic meal the adventure found in the unknowns that travel present are always the best parts of the trip. Looking back on our road trip there is a thrill and a joy in the new things that traveling offers. One of the gifts of travel is no matter how much you plan it’s still always going to be an adventure .