A Travellerspoint blog

Flagstaff Frenzy

sunny 90 °F

We arrived in Flagstaff, Arizona tonight at 8:30 PM after a long day of driving and seeing things to find out that this weekend is "free Grand Canyon" weekend, so the usual $25/car entrance fee is waived all weekend. Add to this that Arizona public schools are out for the summer and you have a scene in which people are standing in hotel parking lots animatedly discussing the hotel rates. There's just no way around it. But we are here and we are going to see this place.

Backtracking several days, our last post was from Texas. We stayed in Shamrock, TX for the night, then steamed across the Texas panhandle to New Mexico and slept that night at an absurd KOA in downtown Albuquerque, just off of the interstate. It was fine until we went to...ok, until we tried to go to sleep. It was then that we noticed that interstate traffic quiets down, and that sleeping under a lit interstate billboard makes your tent as light as early morning. We got up this morning, visited the National Museum of Nuclear Science & History, drove out of Albuq, and then spent the day pleasantly driving through the Western half of New Mexico and then through Arizona.


Posted by sea2sea 21:31 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Oh, Texas

sunny 80 °F

We're in Texas.

Posted by sea2sea 20:10 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Mother road

sunny 90 °F
View Sea to Sea on sea2sea's travel map.

After seeing signs for miles and miles advertising the wonders of Meramec Caverns, we got up in the morning and went to see what was there. Meramec Caverns is one of the biggest things along Route 66; I’ve read that there are signs all over the Midwest. We got there right behind a multi-bus tour, but after a 30-minute wait we started our tour, guided by a guy named Ken who showed us through the caves. Despite being heavily advertised, the marketing of the caves and the caves themselves were not trashy or over-commercialized. I’m sure I could have bought some terribly cheap, mass-marketed things at their gift store, but I didn’t feel coerced to do so. The caves were pretty neat – worth seeing, but it was kind of frustrating to loose a whole morning to the wait and tour. The caves basically went into the side of a mountain, about 400 feet deep. The entrance to the cave just felt like a cool, slightly dark cafeteria; the floor was even tiled. As we got further in, it got darker and damp. They have pumps running to keep the water level down so people can walk around, but it was still a cave with water dripping from the ceiling.

After Meramec, we got a late start on the rest of Missouri. You would just not believe how long it takes to drive through Missouri; we crossed most of the state heading South-West; so we did make a good deal of progress both South and West, but it was frustrating to be in one state for so long after our rapid progress yesterday. At the edge, we finally started hitting the more rustic side of Route 66. We left Highway 44 at Halltown, MO (population 186) and the scenery finally started to change.

We drove through old towns and open fields, over bridges and onto dirt roads. We hopped briefly into Kansas, including Galena, KY; home of a tiny gas station and the tow truck that inspired the character “Tow-mater” in the Disney movie “Cars.”

When I talk about rustic Route 66, I am putting an emphasis on “rust” – we passed many rusted cars, trucks, and buildings, but more than that was a general state of things falling down. When you’re truly on the road and not just on Route 44 or any other highway that has been built up over it, you’re seeing almost a ghost of what things were.

It is strange to think about all the generations before us traveling this old, over-grown road. This was one of the best routes west at one time, and there is a good chance that Jeff’s Great-Grandfather took part of this road during a once-in-a-lifetime trip out west in the late 50’s or early 60’s. Adding to this strangeness, is that this is our once-in-a-lifetime trip out west in the early 10’s and we are seeing only a remainder of what this road once was. In some ways, it feels like we are retracing those steps, but in an alternate, broken-down dimension. And this is just the beginning of following Route 66 for us.

Today’s trip notes: Passed through Missouri, Kansas and enter Oklahoma. It was above 90 F, so we took the sides off of the jeep. It was pretty hard and draining driving with the wind at 70 MPH. Kathryn’s eyes were blood shot at the end of the day from all the dust. We are very tired. Also, I have never seen a two lane road with a speed limit of 65 MPH, those cars come up on you fast.

Posted by sea2sea 07:38 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Days 1 through 3

sunny 90 °F
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Day 1:
We spent Friday evening loading up the jeep, then Saturday morning loading it up some more. As we readied to pull out Saturday morning, I took a few quick pictures of the loaded down jeep. A guy from our apartment complex yelled from his balcony out asking if I was selling the jeep; I replied no, that we were going to on a road trip. He asked where we were going, and I yelled up that we were going “coast-to-coast,” he looked incredulous, and said: “You’re kidding!” “Nope,” I replied, “We are leaving right now!” And with that, we were off.

Coming over the Appalachians, we discovered that the jeep, when loaded down with about 500 pounds of extra gear, cannot climb hills/mountains at high rates of speeds. We found ourselves having to down shift to fourth gear just to be able to climb the mountains at 55 MPH; the speed limit was 65 MPH for most of this, so we had a lot of people passing us. We ended up joining the big trucks in the right line to make a slower climb up the hill.

We arrived in Cincinnati, Ohio around 7:30 PM to help my friend Aaron prepare for his wedding. We camped out at the wedding site with Aaron and most of the wedding party.

Through this days travels, we crossed through Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, West Virginia again, and then drove most of the way across Ohio.

Day 2:
Wedding, all day. Very hot, especially in a wool tuxedo. I (Jeff) was feeling rather strange by the end of the day; I think the heat actually started to get to be pretty bad. All in all it was a great wedding service, and we are happy to see that Aaron and Mary are now together forever. We spent the night on the north edge of Cincinnati with some friends of a friend. Thank you so much Delia and Galen!

Day 3:
Got up early, and proceeded to get a lot of interstate driving done. Most of it was at the speed limit of 70 MPH, so we made great time. We left Ohio at the Kentucky boarder, headed though Indiana, Illinois, and are currently in Missouri.
We spent about an hour in St. Lewis admiring the arch, and the Mississippi River, both a site to see.

Walking back to the jeep, we were caught in a sudden downpour, and decided to wait it out under the awning for a river casino; that is, until I realized that we had left the jeep windows down, and which point we took off though the rain to arrive soaked in our soaked jeep.

Click on the map to see where we've been:
Our accomplishment so far.

Posted by sea2sea 20:22 Archived in USA Comments (0)

they've all gone to look for America

semi-overcast 76 °F
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In getting ready for this trip, I've started realizing how little I know about this country. One of my first memories of the US as a thing that we should know things about is from elementary school. I remember my teacher, Ms. Mulenbeck, trying repeatedly to help me to memorize the states and their capitals and then giving up. The rest of my life has been spent in Maryland, en route to Illinois where I have family, en route to western NY where I went to college, and a few other cities. Nowadays, I can tell you confidently that the state east of Utah is Colorado and south of Utah is Arizona. I can tell you which states still have parts of Route 66 in them. I'm making good progress.

But the thing I'm realizing that I don't know is much about the soul of the country. I know DC well enough that I'm tired of it, of all the politics and money and self-centered understanding that everything happens here; we've got the president and the money. I know people from all over the US, but I haven't been there and I don't know how those communities think and move. I am so excited to see everything I can of the people on this trip. I want to see what people do, where they find meaning and purpose, how they arrange their towns.

I'm curious to see what we find out there. Everyone everywhere needs money, and I'm expecting to see a lot of the need to get by on this trip - it's in part of the nostalgia of things like Wall Drug and Route 66, but it's also part of the modern need that can destroy a place with tackiness and insincerity.

Anyway, I wanted to start out this trip with a poem from Carl Sandburg.


I asked professors who teach the meaning of life to tell
me what is happiness.
And I went to famous executives who boss the work of
thousands of men.
They all shook their heads and gave me a smile as though
I was trying to fool with them.
And then one Sunday afternoon I wandered out along
the Desplaines river
And I saw a crowd of Hungarians under the trees with
their women and children and a keg of beer and an

So my question is, what will we find out there in America?

Just packing up the last things in the Jeep, we are on our way in under an hour! We are going to look for America.

Posted by sea2sea 18:03 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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