A Drive Across America
I didn't have access to a car at will when growing up. I never had the same relationship American teenagers have with their cars - for them its a rite of passage to have a first car and go places, and experience the freedom it provides. Driving with the windows down and loud music is a pretty good feeling that I've wanted to always enjoy, and from the time I got my first car, I've loved it. I got my first car in America, so driving on US roads has some sentimental connections for me. Driving on these roads in areas with beautiful scenery for me has always been a very meditative experience and never failed to cheer me up on a bad day. This combined with all the classic road trip movies I've seen made me realize that I've always wanted to drive and enjoy the beautiful and diverse landscape of America.
Combined with my significant other, we have lived in the US for about 20 years but realized that we really haven't seen much of America - so we decided that 'now' is a good as time as any, and there is no sense in waiting for the 'right' time, as life just happens to throw curveballs all the time. So in the summer of 2012, we embarked on a 3 week road trip from NY to San Francisco, and then drove up the pacific coast highway all the way to Seattle. By the time trip was finished, we logged 8,168 miles!
When I planned this trip, I planned it day by day. But since then, when going through the photos, I picked out the ones I enjoyed the best. I realize though, that I did myself a disservice, because the other days had little events and details that I just didn't choose to capture. So, while organizing this site, I decided to re-live the trip and start logging a day-by-day article. I've started here with the highlights - expect this to grow into a day-by-day log.
This is the Japanese Maple Tree at the Portland Japanese Garden. The Portland Japanese garden has been proclaimed the most authentic Japanese Garden outside of Japan, and a short walk around the garden will tell you why. The maple tree has greater symbolism among Japanese culture, embodying grace and serenity, among other things.
This shot at the Yaquina Head Lighthouse took a while to get. Lighthouses, like benches, are a motif that shows up a lot in my pictures.
An old concept of photography that I tried to recreate in the Southwest US.
Time to cross off one location from the bucket list. This location has been on the top of the list for many, including mine.
Antelope Canyon is not like anything you've ever seen before. Antelope Canyon was formed by erosion of Navajo Sandstone primarily due to flash flooding and secondarily due to other sub-aerial processes.
A stroke of luck on the way to Seattle shows up on our Road Trip in the form of clouds.
Death Valley is a prime venue for snakes. I loath snakes. I purposely chose to go the dunes in the evening, so that I wouldn't have to encounter them.
There was no way we were going to see all the iconic places in the US, and drive all the iconic roads. There are a few places that I really wants to go to, such Tony Packers Chili Dog a favorite place to eat for one of the characters from MASH, and Mark Twain's hometown, the basis for the fictitious hometown of Tom Sawyer. We decided to plot all the different places on the map, and then connect the dots to make the route - and then go over each day's route for interesting spots around that area. It took roughly two months to plan everything, but at the end, I had a compendium of all the places, the maps, and routes. It has all been logged in a ledger and google maps. Technology helped a lot on this trip, and so everything ended up being saved. If anybody wants to go on a similar trip, contact me - I can hook you up.
These are the maps I saved on google - and then eventually imported into my GPS. Use these as guidelines and not the exact routes, because I veered off the routes many times. I did come back to the main route, but not before being 2 hours late.
- Day 01: Start from NY, to visit a friends place in Cleveland, with a stop in Pennsylvania for lunch
- Day 02: Ohio River Scenic Byway, Tony Packer's Chili Dog in Toledo, and drive through Indiana.
- Day 03: Continue towards St. Louis, and make a few stops in Missouri and then drive on I-79 (the road alongside the Mississippi River) to Hannibal
- Day 04: Continue to Kansas, to Cassoday and Cottonwood Falls, Kansas for lunch at Flint Hills, and then straight to Colorado
- Day 05: First National Park - Rocky Mountain - drive through it and Dixie National Forest and stay at Crested Butte
- Day 06: Million Dollar highway, Colorado mountains, more Dixie National Forest and to New Mexico
- Day 07: Taos, Santa Fe, New Mexico, drive through route 66 via Shiprock all the way to Monument Valley
- Day 08: Drive from Monument Valley to The Arches National Park
- Day 09: Arches National Park to Bryce Canyon National Park through Capitol Reef National Park
- Day 10: Bryce Canyon National Park to Dixie National Forest, to Page, Arizona near Antelope Canyon
- Day 11: Most of the day in Antelope Canyon, then to Horseshoe Bend and end at Grand Canyon
- Day 12: Grand Canyon to Joshua Tree National Park, via Route 66
- Day 13: Joshua Tree National Park to Death Valley, via Mojave Desert
- Day 14: Spent entire day at Death Valley
- Day 15: Morning at Death Valley, and then drive to Mono Lake
- Day 16: Mono Lake to Morro Bay, with a drive through Yosemite National Park, driving through Owens Valley
- Day 17: Morro Bay to Monterey, Big Sur and Pigeon Point Lighthouse to San Francisco
- Day 18: San Francisco to San Rafael, Merin County to Napa Valley
- Day 19: Napa Valley Balloon ride, drive through Sonoma, to Redwood National Park
- Day 20: From Redwood National Park via Highway 1, Pacific Coast Highway to Bandon, Oregon
- Day 21: Bandon to Portland, Oregon, via Highway 101, stopping at Yaquina Head Lighthouse, stay at the Nines
- Day 22: Walk around Portland, and then drive straight all the way to Seattle
- Day 23: Seattle
- Day 24: Seattle