My wife and I drove 3,500 miles across America last week – from New Hampshire to Southern California – and the states we traveled through left some distinct impressions upon me.
We drove through all or parts of New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
We were blessed to have good weather most of the way … an anomaly for the first part of December!
Here are some random thoughts on our trip:
*Best roads: New Hampshire (good road surfaces, wide lines, often light traffic)
*Worst roads: Oklahoma (especially in Oklahoma City, where the lines on the interstate disappear unexpectedly)
*Best interstate: I-40 in New Mexico
*Worst interstate: I-95 in Connecticut … hands down (I almost had to be committed)
*Best large city for driving: Cincinnati (has a large ring around the city)
*Worst city for driving: Hartford, CT (like riding on Space Mountain at times)
*Best road stops: Missouri (gas stations, stores, and places to eat everywhere)
*Worst road stops: Oklahoma (virtually nothing from Tulsa to Oklahoma City, a total of 106 miles … but there is this exit)
*Best tourist spot: Gettysburg, PA (visiting the battlefields by car is free and totally absorbing)
*Worst tourist spot: Ohio (there is nothing to see but farmland from West Virginia to Cincinnati)
*Best driving: from Cincinnati to St. Louis (great roads, little traffic)
*Scariest driving: following Highway 30 west from Chambersburg, PA toward Pittsburgh … went through four mountain passes in the Allegheny Mountains in total darkness … large trucks were advised not to take that route
A few other thoughts:
*Las Vegas award: Amarillo, Texas (lit up like a Christmas tree at night with steakhouses everywhere)
*Creepy award: Gallup, New Mexico (felt so uneasy there that after considering three places to eat, we left and ate in Arizona instead)
*Grand Prix award: Pittsburgh, PA (I wanted to stop and see the Pirates’ ballpark … would have died just trying to get off the freeway)
*Maybe I could live there award: Cincinnati, OH (where my cousin and her family lives); Springfield, MO (30 miles from Branson)
*Waste of space award: Oklahoma (No sites, no facilities, no scenery … just Oral Roberts University in Tulsa)
*Uh oh award: realizing our hotel reservation was in Breezewood, PA … just after we got on the Pennsylvania Turnpike (16 miles to the next town, then 16 miles back … and no way of turning around)
*Best motel award: Days Inn in Tucumcari, NM (spacious, clean, well-equipped room)
*If I had one wish while driving: that I wouldn’t have to deal with any 16-wheelers!
*Best music along the route: Johnny Cash’s American Recordings albums
*Favorite place to eat: Cracker Barrel in Sullivan, MO (or anywhere else, for that matter)
*Coolest tunnel: through the Allegheny Mountains in Pennsylvania
*Best view: from the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, MO
Most moving sight: visiting the Soldiers’ National Cemetery in Gettysburg, PA, at dusk … and stumbling upon the spot where Lincoln delivered his Gettysburg Address
There were a lot of sights I wanted to see but didn’t … like the Basketball Hall of Fame in Springfield, MA, and the Rock’n'Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland … but I’m grateful that we were able to take the trip … and that our 1998 Honda Accord did great …. loaded with stuff … and with more than 250,000 miles on it.
Four days after returning home, it still feels like I’m on the road … and I can sing with Johnny Cash:
I’ve been everywhere, man
I’ve been everywhere, man
Across the deserts bare, man
I’ve breathed the mountain air, man
Of travel I’ve had my share, man
I’ve been everywhere