Well, we have been home several days now and are still trying to wrap our heads around the realization that the trip is over…..done…..the end. Robin has quickly settled into her routine and has been very busy working and running errands. I, on the other hand, have no “home routine” as we literally left home the day after my last day of work. So, I have to admit that right now I think I am more comfortable on the road than at home!
The trip was so long and encompassed so much that trying to sum it all up is proving to be very formidable. We have been going through our pictures and blog posts and are finding the exercise an even mix of sadness and joy. Sad it’s over, Joyful it happened. We know we will share our experiences for the rest of our lives, and are especially grateful we were able to share it with many of you. This final post will largely reflect that later point.
So what did we learn? Well, we learned we really do love each other’s company; we get a big kick out of being on-site at historical locations; history does indeed repeat itself; people in the South really are more polite than those in the North (but generally speaking, people all over are good-natured and helpful); it is generally best to rent apartments from female owners; every city has something unique to offer; we really don’t need irons and hair dryers; laundromats near college campuses are the best; we love exploring caves, caverns, battlefields, Presidential Libraries and breweries; our National Parks are absolutely spectacular; out-of-town baseball games are a must; Augusta National is more beautiful in person than it is on TV; the Cubs are apparently better in person than they are on TV; the Kentucky Derby is definitely worth attending (once is enough for us); we sure love a good meal and surely love a good half sour pickle; visiting with friends and family and the grown children of friends and family was enjoyable, entertaining, and rejuvenating; natural monuments beat man-made monuments; there is nothing like a good long walk; our cities’ infrastructures are in trouble; and of course…….we really don’t like sharing a sink.
Some stats with some stories:
Miles driven: 27,117 The Range Rover provides a few seemingly random bits of information such as average speed per trip, which for our entire trip averaged around 38 mph. Doing the math, at 38 mph we spent nearly 30 days of our journey inside the car (hence the nickname “Old Home”). Fortunately we thoroughly enjoyed our time in the Old Home driving to all our destinations, and not just because we were almost always going somewhere new and exciting (although that is mostly the reason). Our car time was interesting, fun, and productive. Robin knitted a couple of baby blanket gifts, billed countless hours of work, read several books, and researched many of our later destinations. She also found immense joy in looking up nearly every town’s famous residents (did you know Jimmy Buffett is from Pascagoula, Mississippi?). We had some good conversations as well as plenty of quiet time. We stumbled across some remarkable sites such as the pristine waters of Lake Crescent along Hwy 101 in Olympic National Park,
beautiful fall foliage on Hwy 75 near Petoskey MI,
spectacular views driving on the Million Dollar Highway (US Route 550) through the San Juan National Forest heading to Hesperus CO from Montrose CO,
the amazing sight of Devils Tower off State Route 24 in Wyoming,
and the Buffalo herd grazing off Hwy 25 on our way to Estes Park, CO from Sheridan, WY
We also had some funny incidents including my “went down the wrong pipe” latte explosion while driving Hwy 464 on the way to Kitty Hawk, NC; and our hitch hiker in Pacific Grove on the Pacific Coast Hwy:
Gas fill-ups: 108
Wish we had more of this throughout the trip:
Miles walked: 1,700 (4,200,000 steps, 6,700 floors climbed, 600,000 calories – fitbit)
We walked everywhere and loved every step (and went through 3 pair of shoes). Some of our favorite hikes were in Sedona AZ, Carlsbad Caverns NM, Dupont State Recreational Forest and Chimney Rock State Park near Asheville NC, Bryce Canyon Natl Park, Arches Natl Park, and of course our walk up the Narrows in Zion’s Virgin River.
We also really enjoyed our city walks and had a few favorite trails for our morning walks and runs.
States visited: 43 plus DC and Ontario, Canada. (missed NV, ND, OK, MN, KS)
In order to count as a “state visited” we decided we had to at least make a credit card purchase in the state (a written record of proof). So, we purchased gas in Arkansas on our way to St. Louis from Memphis, gas in Mississippi and lunch in Alabama on our way to Destin Florida from New Orleans, lunch in Rhode Island, gas in New Hampshire and Delaware, several dinners in West Virginia, coffee in Boise Idaho, and lunch in Montana after visiting Little Bighorn. We’ll have to get to the rest on the next trip!
Cities visited, Beds slept in: 78
We spent one month in Chicago, Boston and San Diego; three weeks in Seattle, two weeks in Savannah, Washington DC, and Pacific Grove CA; ten days in NYC, nine in Orlando and La Jolla, and one week in Scottsdale and Santa Barbara. We really loved being able to unpack our bags, park the car, and really get to know a city. I think we will be doing more of that kind of traveling in the future.
We also had the great fortune of visiting with so many friends and family in their home towns where we were often fed, chaperoned, and sheltered. We really appreciated their wonderful hospitality and want to thank them for meeting and taking us on amazing tours of their amazing cities. Here are special friends and family we met along the way….
We also had a nice dinner with Robin’s cousin Jack Lieb and his friend Jeanette at the Hotel Florence in Florence, SC (sadly forgot to take pictures)
We were treated to many meals and had a lot of great home cooking in Chicago, starting with a nice (but pictureless) Shabbat dinner at Jonah Rosenberg’s condo in Old town (assist from girlfriend Lauren):
And the hospitality kept on coming post trip intermission:
Traveling with Friends and Family
We also had the good fortune to have many close friends and family join us for parts of our trip (some planned, some by happen stance).
Emily found us in Savannah, Boston, NYC, Seattle and San Diego
Restaurant meals out: 490
As you know, we really loved sampling every city’s most popular cuisine. Afterall, we had to do something to offset the 1,700 miles we walked. We had A LOT of incredible meals. The oysters in New Orleans, lobster in Maine, deep dish pizza in Chicago, guacamole in Austin, fish in Seattle, and corned beef sandwiches in NYC all have a special place in our stomachs. So, who (in our opinion) has the best food? If we had to pick just one we would say Boston…….because of dishes like this:
But the food in New Orleans was really just as good:
Robin’s favorite meal this entire trip was a pasta dish from Bencotto in San Diego:
Mine may have been the ribs from the Blues City Cafe on Beale Street in Memphis
And of course we both loved the Shrimp and Grits from Savannah and Charleston:
as well as the yummy Huevos Rancheros at the Nine Ten in La Jolla:
We could do a whole blog post just on food……but will refrain. Wow, I’m getting hungry!
National Parks: 17
We sure made good use of our Annual Park Pass! How about one favorite picture from each park not yet pictured? In order of our attendance……
Carlsbad Caverns: Already pictured. This was our best cave tour and we will be back!
Shenandoah: The views from Skyline Drive in this part of the Blue Ridge Mountains are truly outstanding; plus, the park is ripe with Civil War history. Unfortunately we were in the park the wrong time of year (April) and just missed the spring blossoms. Autumn would also be a great time to visit as the park is in a deciduous forest. We also had our worst night of the trip staying in a very rustic cabin inhabited by every imaginable insect.
Great Smoky Mountains: To visit the park we stayed in Gatlinburg TN. The park was great, the town was awful. We were expecting a quaint little sleepy mountain town nestled in the foothills of the Great Smoky Mountains; instead we found a noisy amusement park atmosphere filled with haunted houses, wax museums, carnival barkers, and fast food. Oh well, we were there to see the Smoky Mountains and were very pleased with the park hikes, drives, bears and dazzling scenery. We even got to hike a mile of the Appalachian Trail.
Mammoth Cave: We had a really nice hike through 2 miles of the 400 mile cave system, but the best part was our very entertaining tour guide and his wonderful thick Kentucky accent.
Acadia: We had such a good time in Bar Harbor, Maine visiting Acadia National Park. The hikes, bike rides on the carriage roads, and kayaking in Western Bay nicely complimented our lobster dinners. Such a beautiful place!
Badlands: We truly enjoyed touring the Badlands in South Dakota with cousin Jill. It was a cold blustery day so we pretty much stayed in the car and did the park loop drive, but we did get out for a couple short hikes and saw some magnificent sites.
Rocky Mountain: Our very scenic hike with cousin Jill was cut a bit short by my groin injury but we did get to some very picturesque sites
Black Canyon of the Gunnison: This little known park was our biggest pleasant surprise. WOW. With truly stunning views and a lot of short gorgeous hikes, it is well worth the effort to get there.
Mesa Verde: The Balcony House hike was no typical “walk in the park”. Yikes. Robin informed me, 3/4’s of the way up this 3 story (perched on a cliff) ladder, that she was not going to make it. One pep talk (and near panic attack) later, we reached the top.
Arches: We did more hiking in Arches NP than any other, and the hike to the Double O Arch rates as the scariest hike of the trip. Robin refused to jump a very deep crevice on the extremely narrow path, so I got the picture and picked her up on the way back. We won’t be doing that hike again!
Canyon Lands: Only got to visit one-third of this enormous park. Good reason to return.
Capitol Reef: The park is a 75 million year old warp in the Earth’s crust. Best part was going off-road with the Old Home.
Bryce and Zion: Already pictured (pictures don’t do either park justice!). We can’t wait to return and hike the narrows again.
Olympic: We were so lucky to get perfect weather while visiting the Olympic Peninsula in November. We also found our favorite B&B, Colette’s in Port Angeles. Our hike to the Sol Duc Three-legged waterfall with all the surrounding structures covered in ice was special.
Saguaro: We had a very pretty drive through the Saguaro forest just East of Tucson.
Presidential Libraries: 5
Five down, eight to go. We really enjoyed the walks through history at the Kennedy, FDR, Hoover, Reagan and Nixon Libraries. Viewing remarkable artifacts, hearing notable speeches and tapes, and learning about their childhoods and subsequent rise to power was so fascinating. If you ever find yourself near one, please go!
Baseball Parks: 6, Baseball Games: 8, Football Games: 2, Golf tournaments: 4, Horse Races: 1
We really love our sports! Although getting to the Masters and Kentucky Derby were exceptional, we also enjoyed the out-of-town baseball games, learning each teams traditions and experiencing their unique venues. I don’t think we will ever take another trip without first checking the home team’s schedule! And of course seeing the Cubs win game after game was dreamlike.
Our Time with Millennials:
We had such a good time meeting with our young and energetic Millennial friends who have moved away or just happened to be visiting in our temporary locations.
Thanks to Garrett and Jessica Roland, Rebecca (Murow) and Josh Klein, Daniel Murow, Ashley Chung, Meagan Yetman, Josh Levay, Ali Rittenberg, Lexie (Rittenberg) and Nick DiLuzio, Taylor Alton, Michelle Armstrong (Meesh), Jamie and Lisa France, Jonah, Ari and Lital Rosenberg, Josh and Sarah Altshuler, Brett Shapiro, and Stephanie and Scot Rubin, for indulging us by answering all of our annoying questions! You all have such promising futures and we couldn’t be happier for you (or your parents)!
Of course over the span of 53 weeks a few unexpected moments or events are bound to occur. We have already relived the spewing of latte (non-fat) all over the car interior and our long night in a room full of spiders, centipedes and crickets. We certainly did not expect a dead car battery the day after servicing, and we had no idea you have to make reservations to visit the White House a year in advance! Oh well, here are a few more:
The unexpected Mardi Gras parade in front of our hotel in Galveston, TX
Civil War battlefield reenactment – we just happened to stumble upon the 149th anniversary of Lee’s surrender to Grant festivities at Appomattox, VA.
Getting last minute tickets to a tribute to Marvin Hamlisch at Heinz Hall in Pittsburgh
Celebrating the 4th of July on the 3rd of July in Boston courtesy of Hurricane Arthur
We came across this International Sand Sculpting contest on Revere Beach in Boston
Being in line at a Lancaster, PA drive-through behind an Amish horse and carriage.
The unbelievably loud bridge horn that goes off every hour next to our B&B in Mystic, CT
Having horses in our backyard in Panguitch, UT
And a herd of Elk joining us for breakfast at our B&B in Estes Park, CO
We had to drive through Green Bay, WI so we decided to stop at legendary Lambeau Field just to snap a picture. We ran into a couple in the parking lot who informed us that they were there for the tour……..so, we decided to join them.
And of course getting stoned with Chuck Rosenberg in Seattle
In conclusion (of our conclusion), as mentioned above, actually being “on the spot where ………..happened” was an important goal of our tour. Here are some pictures showing that we were on the spot where…….
Lee surrendered to Grant
Cornwallis surrendered to Washington
Orville Wright flew the first airplane
Where the first shot of the Civil War was fired
Where Paul Revere was captured by the British the night of his famous ride
Where the shot heard ’round the world was fired
where the Declaration of Independence and Constitution were conceived
where Lt. Col. George Custer met his demise
Where Pickett’s Charge took place ending the battle of Gettysburg
and where I proposed to Robin
So………..that’s it. Our 91st post will be our last (and longest). Thank you all for following us, and for all the great comments, and invaluable suggestions throughout the year. Having the blog is a true treasure for us. Had it not been for your encouragement, we probably would have given up on it by the time we got to Mardi Gras!
And special thanks to Adam and Ryan. You guys did a fantastic job of holding down the fort for us. Not having to worry about the “real home” allowed us to sleep easy and really enjoy our long time gone. Feel free to stay as long as you want!
Well, we have been home for over a week now and Robin has yet to unpack………..I’ll take that as a good sign! I’m going to start planning our next trip….right now.