This trip came when we both needed a break, the last two years saw Digby start a new business and I started a new job, as well as getting the two kids through high school. We were exhausted, it was a spur of the moment decision and we just went for it. The main plan was to drive Route 66, however we ended up doing 23 states, 25 000 km, 12 000 photographs and 1 speeding ticket (Digby).
First leg was from Santa Monica to Needles, Santa Monica Pier being the finish point for Route 66 so we were doing the route backwards, but we needed to get this leg out of the way so that we could travel the west coast and finish in Las Vegas and then continue the route from Needles (near Las Vegas) to Chicago.
Painted Ladies, San Fransisco
Chewing gum wall, Seattle
We then moved across the top of the USA through Idaho then into Montana where we visited Little Bighorn Battle Field which is known for “Custer’s last stand”. We then travelled south to Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming. From Wyoming we travelled through Utah into Las Vegas.
After a couple of days in Las Vegas we linked back up at Needles to recommence Route 66, with a detour to the Grand Canyon and Monument Valley, Utah before continuing East through Arizona into New Mexico (luckily this is where Digby got a speeding ticket and the bonus was it’s the cheapest state for speeding tickets).
We then detoured into Nebraska, continuing north to South Dakota when it just happened to be the Sturgis Motorbike rally which has their own TV show called “Full Throttle Saloon”. From there we went to Mt Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial which is going to be as large as Mt Rushmore but with Crazy Horse sitting on his horse.
We then returned back to route 66, we tried to keep to the original route however they have new highways through most of the route now, some parts were just one lane in width, some parts are really damaged, one which was at a dead end had a basketball hoop set up.
With the introduction of the new Interstate Highways a lot of smaller towns are suffering with no traffic stopping in their towns, the more you travel inland the poorer it is. Some areas that have a turnoff have tried to preserve some of the old route 66 heritage like motel signs etc, however most of them use gimmicks to attract the tourists. Below is some pictures along the route finishing up in Chicago.
From Chicago we travelled south via Kentucky to Nashville Tennessee, before heading into Alabama then into Florida. I was looking forward to seeing Miami but we arrived on Memorial Day and the place was trashed I couldn’t believe it, there was rubbish strewn all over the beach. The next morning, we decided to go for a walk along the beach and low and behold it was pristine, obviously workers come and clean the beach of a night.
We then travelled up the East Coast and I must admit I enjoyed the East Coast more than the West Coast. We spent the day at Daytona Beach but was surprised because you drive and park your car on the beach and then picnic at the car. The sand is so hard, I use to wonder how David Hasselhoff could run so effortlessly on the sand but now I know.
Charlestown, Savannah, North and South Carolina were my favourite places, the history and beauty of these locations is what I will go back for again. We were lucky enought to stumble upon an aircraft musuem in Charlotte, North Carolina and it just happen to have the plane that crashed into the Hudson River located there, this is because that was were the plane was heading to before it crashed.
We continued north to Virginia and Pennsylvania whilst there we took a trip to Intercourse Lancaster this is the largest community of Amish; I was totally fascinated with their history and lifestyle. Interesting point in Philadelphia, there is the set of steps outside the museum that Rocky Balboa runs up in the movie Rocky and a statue was built in his honour. The museum didn’t like the statue and asked for it to be removed from their building. So, the local council moved it to a smaller museum. This museum recorded an increase of 300 000 visitors a year. The original museum was so pissed that they had the statue moved back to its original spot.
We finished off in New York via Washington DC did the normal tourist things, we purchased $500 worth of camping gear when we arrived and used it to stay in Yosemite and Monument Valley, so we donated it all to the Salvo’s in Washington before we returned the car.
It was a fantastic trip, we saw a lot of America more than most Americans would ever see, it showed us that the wealth is on the coasts and some of the poorest towns are forgotten. I only wanted to kill Digby two times on the trip but we survived.