Road trippin’ with my two favorite allies
Fully loaded we got snacks and supplies
It’s time to leave this town, it’s time to steal away
Let’s go get lost anywhere in the USA
Let’s go get lost, let’s go get lostRed Hot Chilli Peppers
One of my favourite types of holiday is a road trip in the US. To someone from a small island, the huge empty spaces and relatively quiet roads there evoke a sense of freedom and opportunity. Anything could happen here; anything could be just around the next corner.
Our first US road trip, in California, was a fabulous adventure and we were eager for more. Less than a year later we were back, this time to explore Florida. And over the following decade, the 1990s, we alternated US road trips with our other holidays. The frequency of our visits dropped after a while. This wasn’t because we had lost our enthusiasm, or run out of possibilities, but because there were so many other places we wanted to visit too. But still we went back to the US from time to time, and no doubt will do so again.
For Terri’s Sunday Stills challenge this week I’ve dug around in my deepest archives to find some photos from those early road trips, as well as some from rather more recent ones. The difference in quality will no doubt be obvious. And I should also perhaps apologise for the awful perm in some of them!
Where it all began: California, 1991
A two week trip starting and ending in Los Angeles. Our route took us up Highway 1 to San Francisco, inland to the Gold Country and Yosemite, across the Sierra Nevada and south to Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, before returning to the coast in San Diego and back up to LA.
Returning for more: Florida, 1992
We were hooked, as I said above, and couldn’t wait to return. Our second road trip was in February so we chose one of the warmer states, the Brit’s favourite of Florida. But not for Disneyworld! Our highlights were Key West and the Everglades and the must-see Cape Kennedy (now Cape Canaveral); we were children of the space race after all!)
We can’t stay away: Arizona and Utah, 1993
Florida had been fun but we were feeling the lure of the American West, as so many had done before us. So our next trip was to Arizona and Utah, to visit some of the great National Parks. It was on that trip I became enamoured of the US parks system, and we’ve tried to include some on most of our subsequent trips. This was probably the trip where we tried to do too much, and I’d love to go back to Utah in particular to spend longer in the parks. But we managed a couple of nights on the Grand Canyon’s North Rim, a briefer visit to the South and at least a bit of time in Utah’s wonderful parks, Canyonlands, Arches, Capitol Reef, Bryce and Zion.
East coast discoveries: New England, 1995
We were aware that the New England states are favourites among visiting Brits so they were next on our list. But while we enjoyed the trip and found a few special places, this was possibly our least favourite tour. We’ve learned over the years that with the exception of New York City we tend to prefer the West and West Coast states. Still, we had a fun time here as everywhere. Highlights included Provincetown on Cape Cod, a detour to see Niagara Falls (I had been there decades ago on a memorable school trip and wanted to share the wonders with Chris) and a stay in Bar Harbor, exploring Acadia National Park. I was also thrilled to visit Louisa May Alcott’s home in Concord.
Back west: Oregon, 1997
Our next trip took us back out west to explore the state of Oregon with its spectacular coastline. We flew to Portland and drove down the coast, spending a night in several of the towns along the way. Other highlights were Crater Lake and a detour into northern California where we visited Lassen Volcanic NP and spent a memorable evening at a July 4th party thrown by our B&B host, with a ringside view of the town’s fireworks. We explored some of inland Oregon and finished by following the Columbia River Gorge back to Portland.
And then east again: North Carolina and Virginia, 2000
Another chance for the East Coast to show us what it had! We found we preferred these more southern states to New England. We loved the Blue Mountains and enjoyed the engaging way in which history was presented at Jamestown and Colonial Williamsburg. Seeing Kitty Hawke was another highlight but our best few days were spent staying in Ocracoke, an appealing little town at the southern tip of the barrier islands.
The Wild West: Wyoming, 2006
Time for more national parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone. And this time we did them justice with a stay of several nights in each. We also stayed on a ranch near Cody and in a fabulous B&B in the Big Horn Mountains, visited the Devil’s Tower, and detoured into South Dakota to see Mount Rushmore. You will notice that I have plenty of decent digital photos from this and later road trips.
The state that had it (almost) all: New Mexico, 2011
This has to be one of our favourite road trips because of the sheer variety in this state. It truly has something for everyone! We loved the landscapes, the pueblos, the art scene in Santa Fe and Taos, the old adobe churches, the alien encounters in Roswell! You can tell how much I loved it by the number of times I’ve posted about it.
Our most recent US adventure: Washington State, 2017
Our most recent road trip was another I’ve posted about extensively already, but I couldn’t leave it out. It was a chance to explore more national parks (Olympia, Mount Rainier, North Cascades) and enjoy the beautiful coastline and the offshore islands of the San Juans. We also enjoyed our time in Seattle.
Thank you Terri for the excuse to wallow in the nostalgic memories of past US road trips. We’re talking about the possibility of another one next year, so watch this space!