Number of miles driven: 3792
Number of states seen: 15
Most states in one day: 4, a tie between the first day (CA, NV, AZ and UT) and the last (OH, PA, NJ, NY).
Longest drive in one day: approximately 450 miles, our last day on the road.
Number of times Damian watched Ice Age on his portable DVD player: 3
Favorite in-car device: My iPod, with our entire CD collection in that small box plugged into our car stereo.
Favorite stops: Zion Canyon National Park and Custer State Park in the Black Hills. Both places envelop you.
Least favorite stop: Cheyenne. It didn't suck, but the town left us cold.
Favorite drive: I-70 through southern Utah. Eerie. Desolate. And beautiful.
Least favorite drive: the long afternoon-into-evening haul from Rapid City to Mitchell, those South Dakota winds buffeting the car the whole way.
Favorite hotels: Breckenridge Lodge & Spa and the Newton Fork Ranch cabin in Hill City (in the Black Hills).
Favorite town: Springdale, outside Zion. Not because it's so amazing in and of itself, but because it's surrounded by these spectacular red rock hills. And the town has good food and interesting versions of tourist shops. Also, tame elk. That counts for a lot.
Favorite meals: Athena Restaurant in Chicago and Café Brenda in Minneapolis. The former for its amazing braised lamb and velvety tarama, the latter for its delicious mushroom pate and smoked herring risotto and tall windows looking out on the city street.
Strangest meal: Mitchell, South Dakota. The in-room salad we concocted from leftovers from our previous night in the Black Hills cabin, plus microwave macaroni & cheese for Damian, which I had to prepare in the big room meant for guest breakfasts and which was denuded of anything remotely like a piece of silverware or a napkin. This made it tricky when the mac & cheese foamed over the Styrofoam bowl and flooded the microwave. We ate in our room at 10:30 p.m., washed up in the bathroom sink, and felt like gypsies.
Strangest thing sold in local stores: Oxygen. In Breckenridge, 10,000 feet above sea level.
Best near-misses: The rainstorm that hit Zion just as we boarded the park shuttle bus after our three hour hike. The grocery store in Hill City we got to five minutes before closing, enabling us to get dinner fixings. The bagel shop in Rapid City that was closing as we got there but allowed us to get bagels and toppings for our long drive (and they told us there was NOWHERE else in town to get sandwiches at 3pm on a Saturday). All of which taught me it really doesn’t pay to worry. Things do work out.
Most extravagant rest stops: Ohio, along I-80. Burger King PLUS Starbucks PLUS Jodi Maroni Sausage PLUS a video game room PLUS a gift shop. All under one roof. And I'm probably leaving some shops out. They feel like roadside cities.
Favorite roadside sign:
Biggest surprise: Damian loves hiking. Who knew?
Emotional highlights: Driving slowly through a herd of wild buffalo in Custer State Park. Traveling through Minnesota as the foliage finally shifted from west to east, crossing the border into Pennsylvania with its tangible sense of east coast, crossing the Delaware Water Gap into New Jersey, our new state. Meeting friends for the first (or second) time, seeing family again after such a long time.
Was the trip everything I hoped it would be? Actually, yes. It was.Posted by Tamar at September 18, 2005 03:03 PM | TrackBack