I just completed my first week on this trip, which still has quite a few weeks of fun and exploring ahead! So far I've traveled a total of 2,530 miles.
That's definitely a lot and it's going fast, but I knew the trip out west would, because I have many more stops I want to make on the more southern route headed back east. Plus, I love to drive - I love being on the road! When I want or need to stop, I do - everything I've wanted to see and everywhere I've wanted to go, I've made good use of the time I spent doing so - but otherwise, I just drive with my music on and dig the ride and the scenery. It's every bit as amazing as I dreamed it would be.
Day 1: Left New Jersey, taking 78 to 81 to 83 to bypass all the tolls of the Jersey Turnpike and I-95. Hit just one toll on the Pennsylvania side after crossing the Delaware River. Spent the night in Falls Church, Virginia. Koi Koi has really good sushi and Natalia's Elegant Creations has delicious baked good made on the premises - even the plain bagel I had was perfect and fresh.
Day 2: Followed 81 south to Knoxville, Tennessee. Hit a 3-hour delay midway down when a bad accident closed down the highway for a while - so naturally, I was stuck on a stretch where there were no exits until immediately after the closure point.
Day 3: Enjoyed a quiet day in Knoxville, seeing Old Town, Gay Street, the 1800s cemetery at the First Presbyterian Church, the World's Fair Sunsphere and grounds, the University of Tennessee, and the Tennessee River.
Day 4: Drove north through Kentucky and across the Mississippi to Metropolis, Illinois. Stopped in Superman Square to see the Superman statue in front of the County Court House and the Superman Museum and Super Store - loved the Christopher Reeve memorabilia they had there, but the exhibit is probably only worth the $3 admission price if you're really a devout fan. Waved to the arch as I passed through St. Louis, and stopped in Columbia, Missouri for the night.
Day 5: Had lunch in Lawrence, Kansas, which I admit is so much more beautiful than I imagined! Downtown is bustling with business and life and seems very much a fresh college town. Also, the Kansas River is gorgeous from the park near the Visitors Center. Ate at Milton's Cafe, which has really thick, fluffy French toast, and the root beer was served in the bottle with a nice clean pint glass! Loved it! Continued on to Dodge City, Kansas. Lots of construction on the rural U.S. routes which close one lane on two-lane roads, so a pilot car has to lead lines of traffic to the other side after they've been waiting anywhere from 5 to 15 minutes for the car to return from leading alternate traffic through the work zone. Got into Dodge and ate at Montana Mike's Steakhouse, which wasn't too bad, and I wandered a bit of modern Front Street (Wyatt Earp Boulevard), which is nothing like it was in the 1870s during its Old West Cowtown days, but the train station is restored and there is a statue of Wyatt across the street.
Day 6: Visited Boot Hill - I didn't know Ed Masterson isn't there, and that was kinda disappointing, as was the fact that most of the buildings were recreated as opposed to being restorations, though there are a couple buildings left in tact that are restored, including a colonel's house and the school. Got the heck outta Dodge and drove rural U.S. routes into New Mexico. Stopped in Las Vegas (NM) to see the Historic Town Plaza and grabbed a bite at Charlie's Spic and Span Cafe. Drove into Santa Fe for the night.
Day 7: Walked around Santa Fe's Historic Town Plaza and shopped a bit. Saw St. Francis Cathedral, and most amazing of all, the Miracle Staircase at Loretto Chapel, which is truly awe-inspiring. Hopped over to Albuquerque and wandered Central Avenue a bit and Old Town, which was a bit too touristy for me, but then again, I really liked the Route 66 Diner!
Now I'm in Gallup - by the way, on I-25, it seems like every 15 to 20 miles there's road work right now, and it looks like they're repaving the southbound section of the highway because traffic is diverted to take up lanes on the other side of the divide (which means the road work is affecting traffic flow both ways).
I'm planning for Monument Valley next, followed by the Grand Canyon. Not sure how possible it will be for me to do those in one day, but I'll pace myself and see where I am and how I feel tomorrow. I'm not sure how much there is along the northern route to the Valley and then the Canyon in the way of accommodations and gas stations. I'll stay fueled up as much as possible, of course, and I've heard about Mexican Hat and Kayenta being good overnight stopping points, but I may get well beyond those and stop just before the Canyon. This part of the trip I'll have to plan as it goes.
Of course, any input, questions, or comments you guys have on any of this are more than welcome!