Just Call Us Lewis and Clark
While reading Margaret Roach’s And I Shall Have Some Peace There, I came across a quote I’d used in a photo book of my 2007 cross-country road trip. Seeing the quote in Margaret’s book inspired today’s post, one in which I’ll hold you captive and force you to look at photos from my vacation! Mwa ha ha!
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover. — Mark Twain
I love to travel but am married to a man who refuses to fly on airplanes and reads books with titles like Commercial Aviation Disasters that feature planes nose-diving to the earth with their tails engulfed in flames.
By 2006, we’d been together 14 years and had traveled up and down the Eastern Seaboard but had never ventured west of Philadelphia as a couple. Things were about to change. That fall, an article in the now-defunct Cottage Living that detailed a drive up the Gallatin River Valley to Livingston and Bozeman, Montana got me to dreaming of wide open spaces, buttes, and plains–things we don’t have much of here in New Jersey.
The more research I did, the more destinations I added to our itinerary. What started out as a week-long trip to Montana snowballed into an odyssey of more than 8,500 miles, 20 destinations, and almost the entire month of July, 2007.
We decided to rent a car for this little jaunt because both of our cars were relatively new and a bit small for a trip of this magnitude. We scored a sweet baby deal from Budget, though the car we ended up with was a bit larger than the one we’d reserved. I worried that a CDL license was required to pilot the boat!
Some highlights of the trip were Craig’s Popcorn Shop in Portage, WI. Coincidentally, that’s the hometown of Elizabeth Eulberg, author of Prom and Prejudice.
How could a road trip be complete without a stop at The Mitchell Corn Palace in Mitchell, SD?
When we crossed into South Dakota, we realized we were truly ‘out west’. In addition to a real, live cowboy tipping his hat to me at a gas station, there were BISON everywhere! This guy was meandering along the road next to us in Yellowstone National Park.
We did make it to Montana and visited all of the places recommended in the magazine article. We stayed at Howlers Inn–a wolf sanctuary–and even got to visit with some wolf pups who enjoyed gnawing on my bracelet!
One of our favorite spots–it was so over the top we thought it might be a joke–was The Madonna Inn in San Luis Obispo. We enjoyed a colorful meal and our room (Swiss Belle) featured a rock shower and partially rocked walls. We had reserved The Cave Room but it had to undergo last-minute repairs so we were moved. The dining room is awe-inspiring…
One of the most challenging things about our road trip was crossing the Big Horn Mountains in Wyoming. We have nothing like this in New Jersey, and I white knuckled it all the way up (and down!) the pass. I was driving in the middle of the road, my speed topping out at about 25mph, with a line of cars, trucks, and RVs stacked up behind me like I was grand marshalling a parade.
Have you ever taken a road trip or visited any of the stops we made on our first road trip?
Road Trip Stops
- Monroeville Mall(Monroeville, PA–Filming location for Dawn of the Dead)
- University of Notre Dame (South Bend, IN)
- West Bend, WI (Visited friends)
- Mitchell Corn Palace (Mitchell, SD)
- Wall Drug (Wall, SD)
- Mt. Rushmore (Rapid City area, SD)
- Cody Rodeo (Cody, WY)
- Yellowstone National Park (WY)
- Livingston and Bozeman, MT
- Reno, NV
- Lake Tahoe, CA
- Oakland, CA (Stayed with friends)
San Francisco, CA
- Carmel-by-the-Sea, CA
- San Luis Obispo, CA
- Santa Barbara (visited a friend)
- Los Angeles, CA
- Universal Studios
- Pasadena, CA (Filming location for Halloween)
- Las Vegas, NV
- Albuqueque, NM
- Cadillac Ranch (Amarillo, TX)
- St. Louis, MO
- Pittsburgh, PA
Memorable Road Trip Hotels and Inns
- Chamberlin Inn (Cody, WY)
- Lake Yellowstone Hotel (Yellowstone National Park)
- Old Faithful Inn (Yellowstone National Park)
- Howlers Inn (outskirts of Bozeman, MT)
- The Madonna Inn (San Luis Obispo)*
- The InterContinental (Los Angeles)
- The Venetian (Las Vegas, NV)
*Highly recommended–we stayed in the Swiss Belle room!