Friday, July 31, 2009

Final Thoughts

I know it has been several weeks since our last blog entry from our trip. You would be surprised at how much there is to do when you return home from being gone close to a month. We have had time to gather ourselves and reflect on the trip and here is our final thoughts, note and observations from our trip across the United States.

  • Miles and Money: Our total trip from start to finish covered 7355 miles. Our most expensive gas was $2.89 (California which was no surprise to us) and our cheapest gas was $2.29 in Adel, Iowa. We averaged about 19.4 miles per gallon in the Suburban which I thought was pretty good considering it carried everything we needed for the trip. Our trip was surprisingly inexpensive because we came in way under the budget. (If you really curious about our totals, e-mail and I can will send the totals)
  • KOA: We have always used them whether camping with our trailer or using one of their camping cabins. They are always clean, they have a swimming pool and they always close to the freeway. Sometimes you get a clunker (KOAs in Bend, Oregon and Springfield, Illinois come to mind) but for the most part you meet the friendliest locals at your local KOA.
  • Cracker Barrel: Nothing and I mean nothing beats a cheap breakfast at Cracker Barrel. They have great comfort food for lunch and dinner and they are also close to the freeway. I am glad I got my girls hooked on the Barrel. Currently planning my next trip to Cracker Barrel.
  • Best Pre-trip purchases: We made two purchases before we left on the trip that became invaluable. One, we brought a huge United States road map from Costco. Left in the front seat and even with the GPS, the road map was invaluable. It was nice to see an overview of where we were going and where we were headed the next day. Second, we brought a Coleman Thermoelectric Cooler that had a plug for the car and a plug for a regular outlet. Best benefit; it kept everything cold on the trip while the car was running and the in the camping cabins. (Yes, the KOA camping cabins have electrical outlets.) Second best benefit: we did not have to purchase ice EVER.
  • Rest Stops: The rest stop in every state (except for California) is worth the 10 minute stop. Free state maps and brochures of places to visit plus friendly people who do a good job talking up their state. I hope state budget cuts don’t affect these local institutions.
  • Best Souvenir: Without a doubt, the single best souvenir was the granite rock pieces from Crazy Horse,
  • License plates – We traveled through seventeen states and we were fortunate to see license plates from 49 states. (Vermont was the unlucky state.) We saw Alaska in Pennsylvania and saw Hawaii in New Mexico. We also saw plates several Canadian provinces put like all Canadians; they are hard to tell apart.
  • Best Food – We had many hi-lights throughout our trip but here are the big winners. Zip’s Café and Skyline Chili in Cincinnati, Ohio. Marlowe’s BBQ in Memphis, Tennessee and Teclocate Café and Harry’s Roadhouse in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Awesome regional cooking that the locals frequent. These are the places you want to visit when you are from out of town.
  • Best Free Roadside Places: Cadillac Ranch in Amarillo, Texas. The Corn Palace, Mitchell, South Dakota and Jungle Jim’s Cincinnati, Ohio.
  • Places to Visit Next Time: On a trip across the United States, there are always things you come upon that you did not plan on visiting. On our next trip (I have no idea when that will be) we plan to see the following places:
    1. Dollywood Theme Park and the Grand Olde Opry in Tennessee. We drove by both of them but we did not have time to stop.
    2. Amish Country. It didn’t even occur to us that we would be so close in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana. This will be a must the next time we are on the east coast.
    3. Meteor Crash site. There is a meteor crash site in Eastern Arizona off of and I-40 and I tried my best to talk my wife into a side trip. Maybe next time.
    4. Field of Dreams, Northern Iowa. If you are a baseball fan like me this is a must. I might just drive there, spend some time and turn around and come home. Sort of like a holy shrine for baseball fans.
    5. Shiloh Battlefield, Tennessee. This has personal meaning to Kim since her great, great grandfather served in the union army during the Civil War. He was wounded in this battle but survived and spent his post years in the Mid-west. We have his army picture displayed in our house.
  • Our Favorite Places: Our family voted and here were our all time favorite places on the trip. I loved Graceland and Gettysburg. Kim loved Santa Fe and visiting family in Pennsylvania. Both of my girls voted for Santa Fe, New Mexico. Seems Santa Fe was the overall winner.

Our trip across the United States was everything we hoped it would be. The memories we made on this trip I hope will last a lifetime. I can’t wait to get back out on the road and visit more of this great nation.

Lastly, I don’t consider myself an expert but if you have any questions about driving across the United States, e-mail and I would share what knowledge I have.

1 comment:

  1. We have a Cracker Barrel in Boise, hint, hint.