Sunday, July 10, 2011

Done & Done!

Day 24: 567 Miles
Final Total: 9,092

We made it! 9,092 miles and 28 states in 24 days. The entire length of Route 66 end to end; me traveling it for the third time and Sharon for the first. We also went the entire length of the longest road in the United States, U.S. 20, running a whopping 3,365 miles from the Pacific Ocean in Newport, Oregon to the Atlantic Ocean in Boston, Massachusetts. Plus several other significant legs along the way like north along the Pacific Ocean for over 1,000 miles and south along the Atlantic Ocean as well.

Someone asked me about halfway through the trip to tell them what three things I liked the best so far. It was an impossible task; I'd name three, then remember seven more I liked even better...then another seven. The task just became more difficult the more ground we covered.

The trip started out primarily to make the cross-country trek on Route 66 again, this time with Sharon who was as eager to go as I was. She made the trip so much better than last time when I went alone. Sharon is gregarious and loves to meet people. She can strike up a conversation with anyone, and often does. We wound up meeting several people along the way. People like Gary Turner at the Gay Parita in Ash Grove, Missouri; Laurel Kane at the Afton Station in Afton, Oklahoma; Jerry McClanahan the author of the EZ66 Guide for Travelers at his studio in Chandler, Oklahoma; Robbie at the Four Women on the Route store in Galena, Kansas; Blaine Davis, the curator of the famous Blue Whale built by his father in the 1970s; Connie Echols, owner of the beautiful Wagon Wheel Motel in Cuba, Missouri; Fran Houser, owner of the Midpoint Cafe in Adrian, Texas; Nancy and Kevin Mueller, new owners of the Blue Swallow Motel in Tucumcari, New Mexico; Jody, the waitress at Lilo's in Seligman, Arizona; George Chicago, manager of Cool Springs Cabins on the Oatman Pass in Kingman, Arizona; and Matt at the 66-to-Cali shop on the Santa Monica Pier. Meeting new friends all along the Mother Road was a wonderful experience.

Visiting so many places I missed last time made this Route 66 trip almost like new. Custard at Ted Drewe's, exploring the dilapidated John's Modern Cabins, staying at the Wagon Wheel Motel, Supai Motel and the Lincoln Motel for the first time. Visiting new places like Afton Station, Pops, the Round Barn, the Bug Ranch, the Jackrabbit Trading Post, 2 Guns, and the Twin Arrows Trading Post. Then there was the great eateries like the Galaxy Diner, Lilo's and Midpoint Cafe.

And then there are the great places from before like the Hackberry General Store, the Cadillac Ranch, the Blue Swallow Motel and the Snow Cap Restaurant, just to name a few. I could go on and on forever, and that was just one quarter of the trip.

The remainder of the trip was amazing in its own right. We saw amazing scenery like the giant redwoods in northern California, the amazing Pacific Ocean in Oregon, Yellowstone National Park, Wind River Canyon (maybe the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen in the continental U.S.). Also, vineyards in Sonoma Valley and in the Finger Lakes region of upstate New York, historic structures like the Old North Church in Boston and the Shaker villages in Massachusetts; the New York City skyline and the Delaware Bay by ferry. I was able to share the beauty of Owasco Lake sunsets with Sharon as well as introduce her to the best part of the northeast - diners!

I'm quite sure I have left out far more than I have remembered to include. So what's next on the agenda? How do we top that? Maybe we never will, but it doesn't matter. There are so many possibilities for the future. Maybe a road trip to Alaska. There are also several other national roads to travel like Route 50 from California to Maryland, or perhaps Route 1 from Key West, Florida to the northern tip of Maine. And of course there is always Route 66 again, ever changing, always something new or something missed. Our list just continues to grow!

In closing I'll share a few last photos with you. The first is a silly one of a mini Statue of Liberty in Virgina. The other two are taken from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel as we traveled across it earlier today. And for one last time...


Today is Saturday, So This Must Be MA, or RI, or CT, or NY, or NJ, or DE, or MD

Day 23: 404 Miles
Total: 8,525 Miles

Today was another long day that resulted in crossing six state lines. The day began with a typical 9:30ish departure from Norwood, MA. On the first part of the trip our intention was to stay with I-95, at least until we got past New York City. We had toyed with the idea of taking U.S. 1 from Boston to New York, but we felt that even though it would be a great trip it would probably add an extra day to our planned return so we opted for the quicker route. U.S. 1 runs from Key West, Florida to the northern tip of Maine...hmmm....something to think about in the near future.

I-95 took us from Massachusetts to Rhode Island, Connecticut, New York, and finally New Jersey. Though there were occasional slowdowns the trip went surprisingly smoothly. Traffic was backed up for miles in the opposite direction in and around New York City, so we considered ourselves very lucky. In New Jersey we picked up U.S. 9 and took it virtually the entire length of the state, down to the southern tip at Cape May. There we took an 80-minute, 17-mile ferry ride to Lewes, Delaware, crossing the Delaware Bay.

The trip was very pleasant, and it was nice having someone other than Sharon or I doing the driving, even if it was only those 17 miles. Once in Delaware we picked up U.S. 1 and followed it through several beach towns along the brief 20-something mile distance into Maryland. We jumped off of U.S. 1 at the eastern terminus of U.S. 50 ( the other west-to-east route we had considered before choosing U.S. 20) and followed that inland a brief distance before getting on highway 113, then finally U.S 13. we stopped for the night at a fairly decent motel somewhere in Maryland.

Tomorrow we plan to end our journey in the driveway in Brevard, North Carolina, however late that may be. We will continue from Maryland across the Delmarva Peninsula into Virginia. Then we will cross the 20-mile long engineering marvel known as the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel. From there we will continue from Virginia into North Carolina, then across the state from east to west. I'm not sure of the route yet. I would like to avoid I-40 and stick to the two-lanes as much as possible, but timing will partially dictate which way we go. Until then, here are a few pictures we took today.


I wanted to add something from Rhode Island, so here is the capital dome in Providence as I sped down I-95.

A few interesting displays in New Jersey.

The Cape May - Lewes Ferry from the New Jersey side.

The Cape May Light.

The Harbor of Refuge Light.

The Delaware Breakwater East End Light.

Pictures of the Delaware shore.

One of many wild displays in Ocean City, Maryland.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Coast to Coast!

Day 22: 512 Miles
Total: 8,121 Miles

Well, the next leg of our journey came to an end, anti-climactic as it was. We finished traveling The Longest Road - the 3,665 mile journey along Route 20 from Newport, Oregon to Boston, Massachusetts. Now it's time to begin our journey home.

Yesterday began with breakfast at the Hunter Dinerant in Auburn,NY. We checked out of our modest but very clean and pleasant motel, Sleepy Hollow, and began our drive across the hills and valleys of New York as we headed east. We had a long way to go so we didn't spend much time taking pictures, but couldn't resist this diner.

After a very nice and scenic drive we got to Massachusetts, where the traffic increased dramatically for the rest of the trip, making our progress slow and plodding. We did find a couple of highlights though. There are a couple of Shaker villages along our route, one of which sits right on Route 20 so we snapped a few photos.

We found another real gem by accident. We had skipped lunch during the long drive and were starting to get pretty hungry. We were driving through Shrewsbury, MA and spotted a somewhat "sketchy" looking diner. Very rough looking on the outside; no cars in the parking lot, but the neon sign saying "open" invited us in. So we went, having second thoughts right up until we got inside. The rough exterior belied the rather nicely updated interior. We ordered our food and had a nice conversation with the owner. The place sat vacant for four years before he and his brother bought it and they have been fixing it up as they go. Their menu is nothing fancy, burgers, hot dogs and fries mostly, but they make their own chili, relishes and other condiments. They also bottle and sell their own root beer. It has become so popular that they have had to farm out the bottling component to another company because it was becoming too much to do. Anyway, the place is called The Edge and I would highly recommend it. No tie or reservations required.

After dinner we drove on, going through non-stop traffic that got worse around Worcester and awful by the time we reach Boston. To make matters worse, a handful of Route 20 signs were missing at key intersections so we had to backtrack a couple of times, and using GPS we found our route again. As I noted above, the end was anti-climactic. No sign signifying the end of the trail, no nothing. In fact we didn't even know we had reached the end. Route 20 just seemed to disappear and we were on Highway 2. We finally confirmed that Route 20 officially ends at Kenmore Square, which is at the intersection of Commonwealth Avenue, Beacon Street and Brookline Avenue.

Here is the anticlimactic picture.

We drove around Boston for a bit, including a drive by the Old North Church in the historic section. You know...Paul Revere, one if by land, two if by sea...oh just go ask Sarah Palin. Anyway, we then drove another hour or so to get out of Boston to find a place to stay for the night. We wound up at a Hampton Inn in Norwood, MA.

Today we will start the long trip home. We'll probably take I-95 until we get past New York City, then drive some more two-lane road through New Jersey. The plan will be to take the ferry across from New Jersey to Delaware, then the Delmarva peninsula. We'll figure out where we are going to stay tonight once we get there. Wherever "there" is.


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Still "Wining"

Day 21: 56 Miles
Total: 7,609 Miles

Today was another local day in and around Auburn. Mostly around Seneca lake and the wineries. We ate lunch at the first winery, Ventosa. We bought a couple more bottles of wine there (making 17 in total), then we moved on. We visited several interesting wineries and saw lots of great scenery but we didn't buy any more.

After getting back we hung around the motel for a while then went to dinner at Cascades, a nice restaurant on the south end of Owasco Lake. We sat outside on the deck next to the water and had a pleasant dinner. After finishing we had our now-ritualistic ice cream, this time at Dee Dee's in Moravia.

By the time we got back it was dark. I took one last drive through town since we will be getting up early, eating breakfast at the Hunter Dinerant, then leaving for Boston. It has been a pleasant and restful couple of days.


Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Lots To Do, Lots To See

Day 20: 185 Miles
Total: 7,553 Miles

Today we drove 185 miles but never left the area. We had a busy day though. After a great dinner at the Springside Inn last night we came back to the motel and got a good night's sleep. We then went to breakfast at the Auburn Diner. I love diners, and this is a great one. It is one of only 10 remaining Bixler diners of this type said to still be in existence.

After breakfast we went to the Willard Chapel in Auburn. Taken straight from their web site, "The Willard Memorial Chapel is an extremely rare example of the work of Louis C. Tiffany and Tiffany Glass and Decoration Co. in that it is the only complete and unaltered Tiffany chapel known to exist."

We ate lunch at the Green Shutter restaurant next to Emerson Park. Then we took a walk along South Street, shooting some interesting architecture. The first house belonged to NY Governor and Lincoln's Secretary of State William Henry Seward.

Next we went a little further down South Street and visited the home of Harriet Tubman. After that we went to see her grave in Fort Hill Cemetery. Neither her simple home nor her simple grave seem to do justice to the accomplishments of this amazing woman.

After that we decided to visit a few of the wineries along Cayuga Lake. We enjoyed the wine tasting as well as the scenery, and I added to my already adequate stock of wine.

After our winery tour we had dinner at Curly's, then we took a ride around Owasco Lake, waiting for sundown. At the appropriate time we went to the spot with the best views on the lake, which also happens to be the Tom Thumb ice cream parlor. We sat and had our dessert and watched another beautiful sunset.

Looking forward to another great day tomorrow.


This picture is for those of you who knew and loved them...