Monday, June 9, 2014

Cross Country Trip ~ Part One

Hubby and I recently went on a Cross Country Trip for 12 days.  Our goal, Salt Lake City, or actually Ogden, Utah, a suburb of Salt Lake City, where our middle child and his family now reside courtesy of the USAF so 4 of those awesome days were spent with them, ain't nothing like spending time with our kids and gbabies!

Trip started here in Metro Atlanta headed north and covered 7 states going (Tennessee, Kentucky, Illiois [barely], Missouri, Kansas, Colorado then Utah) and another 8 coming home (More of Utah, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Mississippi and Alabama) ... not including our home state of Georgia. 

It was AWESOME and I can't wait for the next Cross Country Trip, of course, to different states and driving different routes and totally different stops.  There is so so much to see in this huge beautiful country of ours!  Yes, you do see alot flying over the country, which I've done many times, and if your seat is next to the window, but ain't nothing like driving cross country and being able to stop and see stuff, in person, with your own eyes!!!!  THERE AIN'T NO PHOTO OR VIDEO THAT DOES ANYTHING WE SAW ANY JUSTICE ... SERIOUSLY YA'LL, I don't care who the photographer or videographer is!!!  Seeing things firsthand literally takes your breathe away!  So much unspoiled, untouched, remote places to see ... we (the people of this great land) have not EVEN touched most of the land we call America, there are miles and miles and miles and miles and miles ... AND more miles of nothingneess (well no humans or big gawdy cities) ... there is just so much to see West of the Mississippi River that we East Coasters have no clue exists.  Now I did live in Topeka, Kansas for 5 and a half years as a child, and our family did a lot of travelling, weekend trips and vacations, seeing a lot of stuff out west BUT so much more that I had not seen and, of course, I appreciate it even more as an adult!  What a humbling experience!  What a beautiful experience!  What an enlightening experience!  AND ya'll ... I kid you not ... I'm dreaming of the next one already!

Several MUST DO'S next time and several GLAD WE DIDS:

·        PHYSICAL MAP/ATLAS ... Must buy an Atlas or at very least pick up the free state maps at every Welcome Center but this isn't always possible when you travel the two lane roads ~ there are no Welcome Centers!  (I have to admit, the two lane roads were my favorite.)  Oh how I wished we had one in our car!!! GPS, though very much a great invention, whether you use the one on your phone, have a built in one in your car or a stand alone ... they do not always show you the most interesting routes, nor are you able to accurately 'see' the surrounding cities/towns nearby AND as my built in GPS often did ... have no idea where you are cause for whateever reason the satellite cannot find you ...then, the problem with the one on my iPhone, well cell and/or internet service is NOT everywhere, believe me!!!!!  It is VERY sporatic ... VERY!  I CANNOT emphasis this enough!!!  Do not rely on your smart phone!!!  We missed stopping in Page, AZ and seeing Horseshoe Bend ... we were so close and didn't realize it!  We really could have spent another day just seeing other parks along our route that we were so so close to ... had we had a physical map!  There were quite a few cute little charming towns in Southern Utah, clean towns with cute little Mom/Pop Hotels that I would have stayed in and this girl is normally a Hampton Inn (they seriously do have the BEST beds), Hilton Gardens, Embassy Suites kinda girl BUT again we had no physical map so no way of knowing when the next city was in order to figure out where we should stay for the night ... we just got lucky ... very lucky!
·        GOOGLE BEFORE YOUR TRIP ... Do a really good Google search of sites to see along your route ... lots and lots of BEA-U-TI-FUL National Parks out west that we weren't aware of.  We were winging it ... playing it by ear but I really wish I'd done more research.
·        PACK FOOD ... Pack lunch food in our cooler (and all the necessities that go with it).  Plenty of beautiful Rest Areas with Picnic Facilities along with magnificeent views (well, except for Arkansas lol, no joke ... and more about that later)!!!  Yes, we took plenty of snacks (a 'GLAD WE DID'), my organic crackers, pretzels, peanut butter, Kind bars, hubby's sweet treats, etc sure helped stave off hunger LOL ...BUT, they are not meal replacements!  Not knowing where the next town was (the lack of internet on my phone for miles and miles and through some entire states) we often had late lunches where we were starving and settled for food that we wouldn't normally touch (we eat clean, which is hard when you're on the road) and then oftentimes ate dinner at 10 pm at night!!!!!  Hence, the physical maps would have helped with this also, at least we would have known where, what size the next city was!
·        STOP AT THOSE SCENIC PULL OFFS and REST AREAS ... you'll be glad you did!!!  Most, but not all, have beautiful scenery and oh what fun it would have been to picnic amongst all that beauty.  Also, a great way to get in a little exercise, walk, stretch, whatever ... it sure helps make sitting so long bareable!  One Rest Area in the Rockies was the MOST beautiful Rest Area I had ever seen (not the facilities so much) ... it was situated beside the rushing waters of the Colorado River and had little hiking trails ... more on that later.
·        PACK LOTS AND LOTS OF WATER ... We never suffered from thirst as we kept our cooler full of bottled spring water, clean sodas and coconut waters ... a definite MUST DO!  If we had of broken down without that supply ... I hate to think!!!  NEED to have plenty WATER!
·        HAND WIPES ... Put a package of hand wipes in your car!  I always have some in my purse and buddy did we use them!!!  A definite necessity out west ... more often then not, there is NO running water at the Rest Areas and no flushing toilets either lol though there was always an ample supply of toilet paper, BUT I'd pack a roll or two, just in case.
·        WARM CLOTHES ... Up in some of the mountains, even in summer, it is cold and possibly snowy.  Pack a light jacket, hoodie, jeans and hiking shoes/boots.
·        BACK UP CAMERA BATTERY ... Buy a second battery for my camera!!!  It sure helped having an AC charger in our car BUT while that battery was recharging, I missed some great shots!
·        RECOMMENDATIONS ... Ask friends or family for recommended MUST SEES!  Doesn't mean you have to do them all ... we all have different likes and must sees.  We found out AFTER our trip (from a dear friend) just how close we were to Sedona, AZ and how it was definitely a MUST SEE!  Googled it and sure enough ... we would have LOVED visiting that city!!!

GAS ... Most important of all to remember is to keep your car gassed up.  Once we got west of Topeka, Kansas, gas stations (in between the large cities) were few and far between ... seriously!  We never let our tank get below a quarter!!!

Point is, if you plan on doing a Cross Country Trip ... plan on doing it the old fashioned way cause new technology ain't a dang bit of good if you have no service.  Here's a good example ... when we were stopped for the night in Mount Carmel, Utah, I was standing outside trying to get internet on my iPhone and this guy walks out of his room towards the golf course where I'm standing also trying to find service, he wanted to make a phone call.  He says to me, pointing up the mountainside behind us, "See that cell tower right there?" and I look up but there ain't no way to miss it and he goes on to say (explaining he works for the company who installs them and hooks them up) "Its been standing there for 3 years but not in service ... people see there's a cell tower and wonder why they don't have cell/internet service ... and there's thousands of them like it all over the country, just standing there not actually hooked up" ... I'm thinking "I'll be damned, here I was guilty myself of thinking I should have good service cause I see towers all over" but nope they aren't all 'hooked up' ... crazy ain't it?  The company he worked for had it working somewhat for now, 3 bars was all I could get and NO internet, but it would be another 3 months til it was up to 4G service.  Now you know!

Traveling Cross Country was never on my Bucket List, more on my hubbies ... I thought I'd 'seen' it all as a kid or in photos and TV shows and such ... nope, I'll say it again ... AIN'T NOTHING LIKE SEEING IT IN PERSON!  NOTHING!  So glad we did it!

This is all for PART I ... I just really needed to get these thoughts and suggestions down ... not just for my future benefit but for any of ya'll contemplating such a trip. 


Below are maps of the first 3 legs of our Cross Country Trip.

1 comment:

  1. Loved this reading of your informative and helpful..and of course beautiful!