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There are many reasons why people want to take a road trip: National Parks, every Historical marker, Presidential Libraries, Major League Ball Parks, memorable locations and museums, visiting family and friends, etc. Whatever your reason, you might have some fun with the planning by getting a map of the USA (or the area you want to focus on), cutting 3”X3” Post-It notes into ½” wide strips (with the “sticky end” on each piece), then writing your destinations on each post-it piece and then putting them on the map. Now you have a real visual of what your destinations are and can start to think about HOW you might want to approach this adventure!

In my case, I had just retired and besides wanting to have some fun… I wanted to see friends and family in the process, as well as visiting a few sights. With the Post-Its on the map from AAA, I began to think about my route and how to best accomplish as many destinations as possible in my 3.5 week time frame.

The 6,069.5 miles that I covered were more enjoyable than I had anticipated. I had good audiobooks and XM radio to entertain me on the days I was on the road. Otherwise it was quality time visiting with family and friends and seeing some of the great sights in the Western US. My longest day on the road was almost 12 hours (I was driving in mid June when there was lots of daylight.). Luckily I found our highway system to be quite good and the services (Gas, Food, Hotels, etc) available and affordable at various levels. I also have to confess that I love my GPS system (I call it “Sophie” which means “wisdom”) and it made the trip SO EASY!! I just gave her the address and she got me where I needed to go!

Here are some highlights from the trip that you might want to take advantage of if you are going to be in these areas:

· Wandering the “Pearl District” in downtown Portland, Orgeon and eating at the OBA restaurant. It’s Cuban and has the BEST Grilled Sweet Corn Salsa I have ever had! Plus excellent Mojitos!

· The Barbacoa restaurant in Boise, Idaho. It has Paella that rivals what I have had in Spain and Mexico.

· The Natural History Museum of Utah at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Not only is it one of the best and most interactive museums I have been to, but it perches high above Salt Lake City with outstanding views of the entire basin. I intend to make a second trip in the next 12 months just to go through it again…more slowly! (And I usually move pretty quickly through museums!).

· The Log Haven Restaurant in Millcreek Canyon near Salt Lake City. Outstanding menu (Smoked Elk Carparccio was one of my favorites!!), a beautiful environment… and they had an excellent wine list.

· Driving through Red Canyon, Wyoming during early June when the yellow flowers in bloom looked magnificent against the vivid green grasses and the bright red earth.

· Walking beside real dinosaur tracks near Greybull, Wyoming.

· I never tired of the vistas of wide open country with roads going off to the endless horizon. This was remarkable in many of our Midwestern states.

· Devil’s Tower, the Crazy Horse Memorial and Mt. Rushmore are something that unless you plan to do some additional hiking around them, can all be seen in one day. All are unique, best seen on a sunny day when the shadows enhance their beauty. The image of the flags of all our states flying as you approach the Mt. Rushmore monument creates a strong sense of pride in our country.

· The Oklahoma Bombing Memorial and the Cowboy Museum in Oklahoma City. Both excellent and well worth the trip. The Memorial for the impact of the bombing and how it was handled by the people of Oklahoma City… more emotional than I was expecting. The Cowboy Museum for the incredible history of our American West from various perspectives (TV, Cinema, Sculpture, Painting, Artifacts… including samples of every type of barbed wire used in our “wild west”). It also has a great restaurant. I’d recommend starting with the Memorial, then coming to the Cowboy Museum for lunch and spending the rest of the day there.

· “Standing on the Corner in Winslow, Arizona” is NOT to be missed!

· Meteor Crater near Flagstaff, Arizona is worth the detour. 700 feet deep and 4,000 feet across. The museum is very informative… the view is amazing.

· Walk the viewing bridge of Hoover Dam and Lake Mead. Be prepared for surprisingly strong winds.

While on the trip I had kept a count of “road kill” each day. This was an homage to my younger sister who had died of lung cancer four months before my trip. When Susie and her husband had done a cross country motorcycle road trip years earlier, she had amused the entire family by tracking the road kill each day. It only seemed fitting that with my first road trip I remember her in that manner… she would have loved it!!

I’m already starting to plan my next road trip through the American “Canyonlands” (Zion, Bryce and Arches National Parks) and Monument Valley. We have an amazing country with endless opportunities for road trips! 

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