After the concept, it was time to start real planning. We looked at the map. We debated and debated and thought about eliminating some stops. But, after it was all over (hours and hours later) we were sold on this ridiculously long journey.
We have exactly 11 days to cover 4 time zones, 13 states, 5,200 miles and no time for any drama. (That’s a tall order with this group.)
We leave on a Thursday and return on a Sunday, 10 days later. It is a huge undertaking requiring a ton of logistical planning. The negotiations and amendments to the plan are not over yet, but we have a rough outline for the Great American Road Trip.
Thursday 5pm Leave Indianapolis and drive 16 hours to Mount Rushmore, South Dakota
Friday Arrive in South Dakota at 10am (allowing time for gas and food stops along the way) and check in to a hotel to be discovered in the very near future. We spend the afternoon at the National Park (getting a passport stamp!) and that night in the hotel.
Saturday wake early and pack up the car to head off to Devils Tower National Park (a short 2 hour drive). We plan to spend 2 hours here before driving further into Wyoming to Yellowstone National Park (that’s right, 2 places to get passport stamps!). We will check in to yet another hotel and relax for the evening, after the 7 hour drive.
Sunday We spend the whole day hiking in Yellowstone National Park. I’m overjoyed to cross off this 40×40 item and share the majesty with my family. (Majesty is a fairly dramatic word, but I feel that strongly about this event.) We will be tired enough from all of the driving and all of the hiking that we are staying the same hotel this night.
Monday We drive (and drive and drive) 15 hours to San Francisco. At this point I will welcome a glass of wine and a bed in any hotel.
Tuesday We spend the whole day in San Francisco! Alcatraz! GOlden Gate Bridge! Pier 30! Painted Ladies! Cable Cars! Oh, the excitement. Alas, it is only one day, but the agenda is packed. Alcatraz in the morning followed by walking across the Golden Gate Bridge. we will do dinner on Pier 39 and probably call it a day. I will miss some of my other favorite sites, but as time is limited I’ll drink in every moment of this glorious city.
Wednesday The family drives to Los Angeles, about 5 hours away. They will spend the evening with NBF’s sister and checking out the Hollywood sign. I am staying behind to meet a dear friend in Napa. I will reunite with them that evening as I fly to Los Angeles for dinner. I will miss the drive down the Pacific Coast Highway, but my college roomate has agreed to make the drive to meet up for a day of wine tasting.
Thursday, August 1st We call this day “VEGAS BABY”. Even though it is only a drive through with lunch (and a stop at Hoover Dam for a passport stamp) we will drive down the strip. I promise to only play craps for 30 minutes before we drive on to the Grand Canyon. (Holy drive time, it’s another 4 hours). We are finding a hotel and spending the night.
Friday, August 2nd A breif stop at the Grand Canyon for pictures, a passport stamp and lunch before we head off to Colorado Springs (10 hours) to see Aunt Dana. At this point, I’m tired. We will sleep well!
Saturday, August 3rd It’s a long way home, so after lunch we drive to Kansas City (a point of contention in the negotiations at this point). I find this city to be welcoming and beautiful. Also, it is home to the most water fountains of any city in the USA. This isn’t a sight seeing day, we are really just stopping to sleep.
Sunday, August 4th 8 hours left to get back to Indy. The kids will be cranky by now. I will have long run out of games and wondered why we didn’t get some sort of internet service for the car, but we will arrive home grateful for the journey.
Whew. It’s a lot of sights in a short time frame. But, we have this whole beautiful country and our children are only getting older. It won’t be long before we can’t find the 11 days necessary to take them on such a trip. When they tell their kids one day about that time we went on that crazy cross country tip, I’ll be glad I spent the time and money to make it happen.
I have told the story of my own cross country trip before. I’m using those photos and those memories as my guide. What special trip of your childhood do you want to recreate? Or, what is one thing you want to show your children while they are young?