We left home on the morning of Friday, April 23 and returned in the afternoon of Saturday, June 12, a total of 50 days and nights away from home. The trip took us through parts of 30 states and two Canadian provinces; we stayed overnight at least once in 21 states and one province.
We drove our 2003 Subaru station wagon about 10,660 miles and used about 435 gallons of gasoline.
These figures are a little imprecise, because the tank wasnít totally empty when we started, and, on our return, we didnít get around to noting the mileage until weíd driven about 10 additional miles, nor did we fill the tank again until a couple of days later. But Iíve tried to compensate for these anomalies, and these numbers are pretty close. The mileage they give, 24.5 mpg, sounds reasonable.
The total cost of gas was about $896.00. (Again, this is less than exact; not only is there some question about just how many gallons we used, but also, when we bought gas in Canada, I used cash, and the only record I have of the cost is what I worked out at the time. I relied on my calculator to convert liters into gallons, but had to estimate the exchange rate.)
So my best educated guess is that we paid, on average, about 8.4 cents a mile and $2.06 a gallon. The cheapest gas we bought (in Townsend, Tennessee) cost $1.68 a gallon; the most expensive (in the US) cost $2.97 a gallon ó but that was just outside Yosemite National Park, where filling stations were scarce. The tankful we bought in Canada cost, if my reckoning was right, about $3.29 a gallon.
Where We Didn't Go
If you've already looked at the map of our route on the home page, you may have noticed that it conspicuously avoids the upper left corner of the country. That was not because we didn't want to see the Pacific Northwest ó au contraire ó but because we had traveled there in 1997, driving a rented car north from San Francisco into Oregon, east along the Columbia River gorge, then northwest again and across the Cascades to Puget Sound and Seattle. We didn't think we could manage more than seven weeks on the road, so we chose to spend as much of our time as possible in places we hadn't yet seen.
Where We Did Go
If youíre planning to read the whole narrative, you donít really need this summary, but if you arenít sure, or youíre just planning to look at the pictures, the summary may be helpful. (Or you can just look at the map on the home page to see where we went.)
From Massachusetts we went southeast through Pennsylvania into the Valley of Virginia, which we followed south as far as Roanoke, then switched to the Blue Ridge Parkway, continuing in the same direction. We abandoned the parkway briefly to avoid fog and took lower roads to Asheville, North Carolina, then got back on it and followed it to its end in Smoky Mountain National Park, where we crossed the mountains into Tennessee.
After staying in Chattanooga for two nights, we headed for New Orleans (with a stop on the way in Meridian, Mississippi) where we also spent two nights, and a third a short distance away in the Cajun capital of Lafayette, Louisiana.
At Lafayette we got on I-10 and followed it all the way across Texas, with a detour to visit Austin. At the far western end of Texas, we visited Dorotheaís brother and his wife in El Paso, then went north to Santa Fe and Taos, New Mexico.
From Taos we went northwest, crossing into Colorado, and stopped in Durango, where we took an all-day excursion on the narrow-gauge railroad that runs between Durango and the former mining town of Silverton in the Rockies.
The road from Durango led west to Cortez, with a day-long stop to see the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park, and from Cortez we went on westward to Monument Valley on the Utah-Arizona state line. From there we crossed the huge Navajo reservation and returned to Utah, where we stayed in Bryce Canyon National Park for one night and Zion National Park for two.
The North Rim of the Grand Canyon was a relatively short drive south from Zion. My brother and sister-in-law joined us there and we stayed for two nights.
We took the roundabout road from the North Rim to Flagstaff, then headed straight west across northern Arizona and the Mojave Desert in California. Staying to the North of Los Angeles, we reached the coast at Ventura and drove north along it as far as Monterey. After that we went inland, crossed the flat Central Valley, and climbed up the western side of the Sierras to Yosemite National Park.
From Yosemite, we took Tioga Pass across the mountains and made our way through Nevada and Idaho to the western entrance of Yellowstone National Park, where we enjoyed a snowy Memorial Day weekend. After a couple of days spent seeing Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, we drove southwest across Wyoming and into Northern Colorado, where we visited friends in Fort Collins and spent a day in Rocky Mountain National Park.
From Fort Collins, we crossed Wyoming again, going north this time, and continued a short distance into Montana where we went to see the Little Bighorn battlefield. Returning to Wyoming, we turned east to visit the Devilís Tower, then, crossing into South Dakota, a bit of Black Hills National Park and finally Badlands National Park.
We thought of our homeward journey as beginning at Wall, South Dakota. It took us due east through southern Minnesota into Wisconsin, where we deflected northeastward and reached the shore of Lake Michigan near the point where Wisconsin leaves off and the Upper Peninsula of Michigan begins. After a day driving around the peninsula, we crossed the huge suspension bridge to Mackinaw City, where we spent the night, then recrossed the bridge and headed north to Sault Ste Marie, where we crossed into Canada. We stopped for the night at North Bay, Ontario, and the next day, after bypassing Ottawa and struggling with traffic in Montreal, we reached Plattsburgh, New York, our last stop away from home. The following morning we took the ferry across Lake Champlain and drove home through Vermont and New Hampshire.