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Places I've Been... Road Trips!

Road Trips!

Index (See below for more detailed descriptions)

WhitmanMission.jpg
Oregon Trail Wagon Reproduction on the Historic Oregon Trail, Whitman Mission National Historical Site, Walla Walla, Washington. Road trips were a lot harder back then, especially since there were no roads...
On the road again,
Goin' places that I've never been,
Seein' things that I may never see again,
I can't wait to get on the road again...

  -- Willie Nelson

The Road Trip was born the afternoon of May 23, 1903. It was that day when Horatio Nelson Jackson (and his mechanic Sewall K. Crocker) pointed his 1903 Winton east from San Francisco and became the first person to cross the country in an automobile.

Was it a race? Was this some company's marketing gimmick? Was this to somehow achieve greater glory?

No. It was done on a $50 bet.

In 1903, there were 33,000 cars in the country, and 14,000,000 horses. You do the math. Of the 2.3 million miles of road, 138,000 were considered 'improved', (and that meant gravel roads) and most of those were East of the Mississippi. 150 miles were paved, but all those were in cities. There were no reliable maps. Worse, most roads had no name. There were no gas or service stations, no auto parts stores, few bridges (other than those the railroad built,) no fast-food drive thrus... Not to mention early automobiles were highly unreliable.

But they did it in 63 days, 12 hours and 30 minutes. And Jackson never even collected his $50.

Now that's a Road Trip.
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RoadTripMaps.gif
Some of the Road Trips I've taken
Willie's little ditty probably comes to mind anytime someone mentions a road trip. Well, at least it does to me. And I've been on a few. And I've enjoyed almost every mile.

Okay, there are a few miles there that weren't fun, like driving through a couple of tropical storms, or being in the Black Hills during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally, but if I could do it all over again, I'd do it all over again!

There's nothing like seeing a double rainbow from end to end over the desert with nothing to block the view. Nothing puts the self in perspective more than standing on the rim of canyon looking down at a roaring river that looks like nothing more than a small stream, or standing the top of a mountain peak breathing the thin air looking over a glacial valley where you know you can see forever. From the enclosed, twisty little passages of one of the myriad caves around the country, to the seemingly vast empty wasteland deserts that encompasses the West, to the tourist traps that draw you in to see their sights and provide a little local tourist money, there's thousands of things to see, do, hear, drink, smell, eat, touch and/or feel.

I'm not one of those "Interstates are Evil" kind of guys, but I do think that you really have to get off the beaten path to discover this country. Yeah, you can experience some of the Wonders from the Interstates, but for the most part, you gotta get off and hit the backroads.

I think the Interstate expressway system is, for the most part, the roads that enables me to see the things I want to see. I could trace Route 66 to Los Angeles, but that would take me weeks. I'd rather take the interstates to some destination, and spend the time seeing the things I want to see wherever that might be.

There is a bit of a quandary, though, and that's the plainness of the prairie. You have to drive a few hours in *any* direction from Chicago before the scenery begins to get a bit more interesting. So my trips never start in Chicago. They tend to start about 10-12 hours after leaving Chicago, usually about 500 miles down the road, and my destination are the places that I've never been...

(See How I plan a Road Trip for more information.)
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In the Theme Park section of this site, there's a section dedicated to Trip Reports. My Road Trips are nothing more than a Trip Report. Since I've started this site, I've added a lot of text, mostly dealing with the background and some of my usual babbling.

It's sorta interesting to note the progression of the type and number of pictures as time goes by. Even with film (pre-2002), the number of pictures per trip were increasing, but once I went digital (and even more so when I decided to start a website), the number of images taken per trip skyrocketed. As my techniques to do panoramics got better (which went hand in hand with better computer hardware and software), the number of panoramics dramatically increased as well...

Here's the summary and highlights of my roadtrips:

1986 Business Trips
1986 Business Trips

1986 to 1988 Business Trips (99 images) were from a time I worked for a three letter marketing company.

Highlights include:
Trips to Washington DC and Fort Smith Arkansas. With a quick side trip to Fort Lauderdale, Florida in January.

1992 and 1998 San Antonio Trips (238 images) were both computer security conferences in San Antonio.

Highlights include:
The Ozark Mountains, the Gulf Coast and the Natchez Trace Parkway (Part 1).

1992 and 1998 San Antonio Trips
1992 and 1998 San Antonio Trips
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1996 West Illinois
1996 West Illinois

My 1996 West Illinois Vacation (27 images) was really just a way to break in my new car.

Highlights include:
Nauvoo, Illinois and Hannibal, Missouri.

My 1996 Minnesota-West Vacation (323 images/46 per day) was half 'my annual fishing trip' and half 'real road trip out west'.

Highlights include:
Theodore Roosevelt National Park; the Black Hills; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Custer State Park, South Dakota; and Badlands National Park.

1996 Minnesota-West Vacation
1996 West Vacation
1997 West Vacation
1997 West Vacation

My 1997 West Vacation (790 images/56 per day) was my first real excursion out West to the National Parks.

Highlights include:
Rocky Mountain National Park; Colorado Springs area; Mesa Verde National Park; Grand Canyon National Park; Glen Canyon National Recreation Area; Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park; Capitol Reef National Park; Canyonlands National Park; Arches National Park; Colorado National Monument.

My 1998 West Vacation (647 images/59 per day) was a visit to the other Major parks of the West.

Highlights include:
Chimney Rock National Historical Site; Dinosaur National Monument; Golden Spike National Historical Site; Grand Teton National Park; Yellowstone National Park; Bighorn Canyon National Recreation Area; Devils Tower National Monument; Custer State Park, South Dakota; Badlands National Park.

1998 West Vacation
1998 West Vacation
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2000 Orlando Trip
2000 Orlando Trip

My 2000 Orlando Trip (81 images) was to a computer security conference in Orlando, Florida. It was also my reintroduction to Disney World but that's another page.

Highlights include:
The Natchez Trace Parkway (Part 2); the Gulf Islands National Seashore; Congaree Swamp National Monument; the Blue Ridge Parkway and Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

The main purpose of my 2001 East Coast Vacation (135 images) was to touch the six Northeastern states, in my quest to be in all 48 lower United States.

Highlights include:
Niagara Falls State Park; Independence National Historical Site; Disney World; Jack Daniels Distillery; Abraham Lincoln Birthplace National Historical Site.

2001 East Coast Vacation
2001 East Coast Vacation
2001 West Vacation
2001 West Vacation

My 2001 West Vacation (623 images/52 per day) was mainly to visit Glacier National Park.

Highlights include:
Theodore Roosevelt National Park; Makoshika State Park, Montana; Glacier National Park; Whitman Mission National Historical Site; The Thousand Springs Scenic Byway; Craters of the Moon National Monument; Grand Teton National Park; Yellowstone National Park; Beartooth Scenic Highway.

My prophetic 2002 New Orleans Vacation (214 images/31 per day) was to visit Sin City before a hurricane took the city out.

Highlights include:
New Orleans area; Avery Island; Hot Springs National Park.

2002 Florida / New Orleans Vacation
2002 New Orleans Vacation
2003 Southern Florida Vacation
2003 Southern Florida Vacation

My 2003 Southern Florida Vacation (92 images/46 per day) was a late year vacation.

Highlights include:
Marco Island; Everglades National Park; Key West.

The 2005 Colorado Trip (647 images/59 per day) was a business trip. The only real place I visited was Rocky Mountain National Park.

2005 Colorado Trip
2005 Colorado Trip
2005 Desert Southwest Vacation
2005 Desert Southwest Vacation

My 2005 Desert Southwest Vacation (417 images) was my first long planned vacation since 2001.

Highlights include:
Carlsbad Caverns National Park; White Sands National Monument; Tombstone, Arizona; Saguaro National Park; Disneyland Resort; Death Valley National Park; Yosemite National Park; Mono Lake; Great Basin National Park; the Colorado River & Arches National Park.

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My 2006 Pacific Northwest Vacation (1034 images/49 per day) was a vacation to fill in the last area of the country I hadn't been to, as well as a celebration of Lewis & Clark's bicentennial.

Highlights include:
Frontier Village, North Dakota; Fort Mandan; Pompeys Pillar National Monument; Great Falls, Montana; Glacier National Park; The Northwest Passage Scenic Byway; Olympic National Park; Mount Rainier National Park; Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument; North Head Lighthouse; Fort Clatsop National Historical Park; The Columbia River Gorge; Craters of the Moon National Monument; EBR-1; Grand Teton National Park; Yellowstone National Park; Chief Joseph Scenic Byway; Bighorn National Forest; Devils Tower National Monument; Wind Cave National Park; Custer State Park, South Dakota; Mount Rushmore National Memorial; Badlands National Park; Wisconsin Dells

2006 Pacific Northwest Vacation
2006 Pacific Northwest Vacation
2006 Pennsylvania Trip
2006 Pennsylvania Trip

My 2006 Pennsylvania Trip (116 images) was a business trip to attend two classes. I stopped in four places.

Highlights include:
Flight 93 National Memorial; Valley Forge National Historical Park; and Independence National Historical Park.

My 2007 Fall Vacation (156 images) was a quest to find colorful fall trees, but I found mostly grey.

Also included here is the return trip from Dragon*Con in September 2011. Highlights include:
Great Smoky Mountain National Park, The Blue Ridge Parkway, Bantam Chef Restaurant.

2007 Fall Vacation
2007 Fall Vacation
2008 Southwest USA
2008 Southwest USA

The route for my 2008 Southwest Vacation (1382 images/86 per day) was almost identical to my 1997 trip, but went around the Grand Staircase counter-clock-wise this time. Though an almost identical route, I'd never been to half the attractions on this year's list.

Highlights include:
Rocky Mountain NP; Glenwood Springs, CO; SR-128, CO; Dead Horse Point SP; Canyonlands NP; Goblin Valley SP; Capitol Reef NP; Scenic Route 12, UT; Anasazi SP; Grand Staircase NM; Kodachrome Basin SP; Bryce Canyon NP; Coral Pink Sand Dunes SP; Glen Canyon NRA; Glen Canyon Dam; Rainbow Bridge NM; Little Colorado River TP; Grand Canyon NP; Monument Valley TP; Natural Bridges NM; Four Corners; US-550, CO; Black Canyon of the Gunnison NP; US-50, CO; Pikes Peak, CO

My 2009 Florida Vacation (161 images/40 per day) was an odd trip. It was a couple of days on the Gulf after a trip to Disney World.

Highlights include:
Venice, Florida, Venice Beach, Capersen Beach, Venice Pier and Siesta Key.

2009 Florida Vacation
2009 Florida Vacation
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Note: Horatio Nelson Jackson really is one of those unsung American heroes, a name no one knows, but was the pioneer of one of the most changing aspects of American culture in the 20th century.

Sure, it took him over two months to do what a train could do in a few days, but this wasn't about time. It was about proving that the automobile could take man anywhere, anyplace, anytime one felt like it. If you have the willpower, fortitude, time and money that is. It sparked a revolution and love for the car in America that lives to this day.

The story of Horatio, Sewall Crocker and a bulldog named "Bud" (who joined the expedition in Idaho) has been amazingly well documented by Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan in Horatio's Drive, a 2.5 hour PBS documentary. Duncan and his wife were able to track down two granddaughters, who had letters Jackson wrote to his wife, complete with pictures he took with a Kodak camera on the trip. With the accompanying newspaper articles, the story comes alive, and you can feel the optimism of the man, even as the Vermont (his name for the Winton) broke down around him.

It's a must see for any Road Trip enthusiast, or anyone interested in what a cross-country automobile trip in 1903 was like. Five Stars. See it.


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Revisions:
  • 04/20/2016 - Update to v4