The Most from Coast to Coast

Tuesday, January 03, 2017 Road Junkies 0 Comments

From Sea to Shining Sea, Our 50-Day Trek from Atlantic to Pacific
13 November 2016—1 January 2017

Because of our commitment to abandoning the freeways in favor of secondary roads, this transcontinental journey nudged us into some slow travel.  Turtle's pace.  Like the day it took us four hours to drive the 54 miles from Montgomery to Selma.  And that also explains how it took us 40 days to drive from Tybee Island, GA to Coronado Island, CA.
Once the railroads were completed across the country, it was possible to travel from coast to coast in considerably less than 40 days by 1857.  And if we're really going for full disclosure, someone has crossed the country on a bicycle in 8 days, and another guy ran the distance in 42 days.  But they were going for speed records.  We obviously were not.
Our goal was to see the parts of America one whizzes past when traveling on the interstates—the little towns and the cities too that make up the fabric of the country.  And we accomplished this, meeting some kind and friendly folks along the way.  Though we had hoped to visit some national parks in northern Arizona, Utah and Colorado, weather intervened and we were unable to do so on this trip.  But we did a lot and had a great time, and it's all recapped here.

    •  Days on the Road:  50 
    •  Miles Driven:   7,821
    •  Miles Walked:   112
    •  States Visited:  11
    •  Counties Visited:  177
    •  Towns Visited:   378
    •  Hotels:  35   (71% in Hilton brand family)  
    •  Gallons of Gas:  368 
    •  Warmest temp:  76°  (Montgomery, AL) 
    •  Coldest temp:  11°  (Show Low, AZ) 
    •  Letterboxes:  Found 125, Planted 15
    •  National Parks:  4
    •  National Historic Sites:  10
    •  State Capitols:   2
    •  Ghost Towns:   103
    •  Wind Turbines:  2,187  
    •  Windmill Museums:  8
    •  Little Free Libraries:  12 
    •  Hillbilly Malls:  1
    •  Cacti:  354,177
    •  Naked Booksellers:  0
    •  Meals at Whole Foods:  15
    •  Cotton Fields:  1,623
    •  Model Railroad Museums:  2
    •  Marshmallow Battles:  1
    •  RVs:  10,755
    •  Fruit Cake Bakeries:  1
    •  Courthouses:  64
    •  Cattle:  361,779
    •  Bridges:  1,983
    •  Migrating Birds:  3,628,992

    •  Favorite Days:  Balboa Park (San Diego, CA)
                                    Thanksgiving with Family
                                    Exploring Quartzsite, AZ
    •  Favorite Cities:  San Diego, Austin, & Bisbee  
    •  Favorite Pseudo-Towns:  Luckenbach, TX; Spectre, AL; & Felicity, CA
    •  Best National Parks:  Carlsbad Caverns (NM), Joshua Tree (CA), Saguaro (AZ)
    •  Best Scenic Drives:  Anza Borrego Desert State Park (CA)
                                             Superstition Highway (AZ)
    •  Best Meals:  Arlo's Food Truck (Austin); Hardware Pizza (Lyons); Pizza Studio (Blythe)  
    •  Best Historic Sites:  Dexter Ave. Baptist Church (Montgomery, AL);
                                            Edmund Pettus Bridge (Selma, AL)
                                            Dealy Plaza (Dallas, TX)
                                            LBJ Ranch (Johnson City, TX)
    •  Favorite Museums:  Mingei International & Museum of Man (San Diego, CA);  
                                             Texas School Book Depository (Dallas, TX);  
                                             George Washington Carver Museum (Tuskegee, AL)
    •  Best Hometown Hero:  Willie Nelson, Abbott, TX
    •  Best Roadside Attraction:  Sugar House (El Paso, TX)
    •  Favorite Animals:  Bonnie and Clyde (burros) in Arcadia, LA
    •  Best Folk Art:  Mingei Museum (San Diego) & Webb Gallery (Waxahachie, TX)
    •  Best Expansion Idea:  Texas State Capitol Underground Annex
    •  Best Bridge:  Coronado Bridge (San Diego, CA)

    •  Absolute Worst Experience:  Driving near feed lots in Texas panhandle  
    •  Biggest Oversell:  Apple Pie in Julian, CA
    •  Worst Landscaping:  George W. Bush Library   
    •  Worst Invention:  Double Barrel Cannon, Athens, GA
    •  Worst Restaurant Service:  McDonald's in Ruston, LA
    •  Worst Road Trip Idea:  Rubber Duck Release  (no water in western rivers)
    •  Biggest Disappointment:  San Antonio Riverwalk (blame the rain)
    •  Sorry We Missed:  Grand Canyon, Zion, & Bryce Canyon National Parks  

    •  Biggest Surprises:  Salt River Canyon (AZ),  Waco Mammoth NM (Waco, TX)
    •  Great Town Names:  Santa Claus, GA; Chunky, MS; Twin Sisters, TX;
                                              Show Low, AZ; Twentynine Palms, CA
    •  Spookiest Places:  Central State Hospital (Milledgeville, GA)  & Salton City, CA,
    •  Tastiest Building:  Salt Palace (Grand Saline, TX)
    •  Why Hadn't We Heard of This?  Very Large Array (NM)
    •  Most Opportunistic Tourism:  UFO Central  (Roswell, NM)
    •  Most Gaping Attraction:  Lavender Pit Mine (Bisbee, AZ)  
    •  Closest Race:  Us vs. Cargo Ship Mary  (Savannah, GA)
    •  Largest Sculpture:  Cattle Drive (Dallas, TX)
    •  Largest Mural:  Once in a Millennium Moon, Shreveport, LA (14 stories tall)
    •  Most Unique Grave Marker:  Hi Jolly, Quartzsite, AZ
    •  Friendliest Locals:  Tybee Island, GA & Bisbee, AZ
    •  Bonnie & Clyde vs Billy the Kid?  Bonnie & Clyde
    •  Oddest Art Installation:  Stonehenge & Easter Island replicas, Ingram, TX

13 NOVEMBER 2016—1 JANUARY 2017

Images from the Trip
Tybee Island, where our trip began
Hillbilly Mall, the domain of Big John Richardson, in Tuskegee, AL
The mysterious "town" of Spectre, AL
The historical Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, AL
The haunted bridge over the Chunky River in Mississippi
Mississippi River crossing at Vicksburg
Our nieces and nephews at Thanksgiving
It's true; the building is made of salt blocks.
Pioneer Plaza in Dallas
The church in Abbott, TX where Willie Nelson began his performing career
Texas State Capitol
Wow!  The Alamo is this small??
A sample of the exquisite formations in Carlsbad Caverns
El Paso's Sugar House
Main Street in Tombstone, AZ
Desert giant in Saguaro National Park
The glorious Balboa Park in San Diego
Joshua Tree National Park
The Arizona gravesite of a Syrian-Greek camel driver
Arizona State Capitol (sort of)
Salt River Canyon in Arizona
The Very Large Array radio telescope in the New Mexico desert
Part of Carrizozo's attempt to become an arts center
Aliens in Roswell, NM 
Celebrating everything associated with Route 66 in Elk City, OK