For those wondering how Em and my trip across the country and back went here is the “readers digest” version of our 12 day, 8378.8 mile journey.
Sunday – Monday
We left Lakeland on Sunday afternoon, June 28th. Taking I-4 west to I-75 North to I-10 West, we passed Tallahassee and Pensacola, Florida; Mobile, Alabama; Biloxi, Mississippi and New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana before heading north on I-49. Emily drove the wee hours of the morning to I-26 west where after crossing into Texas we stopped for an hour rest before pushing west to Dallas, then RT-287 through Amarillo, TX; Oklahoma then up through Colorado to I-70 west and finally a Motel 6 in Denver Monday Night.
Tuesday – June 30
We left Denver heading west on I-70 going through the beautiful Rocky Mountains passing Vail and several other Ski towns. We stayed on I-70 through most of Utah (a whole different kind of beauty) until we hit RT-6. This 2 lane, 70mph road took us through the rest of Utah and all the way across the 300+ miles of Nevada, including the Great Basin. Other than the mountains in the distance…not a whole lot of excitement in Nevada until evening when we watched a thunderstorm with the sunset as a backdrop. We crossed the border into California, taking RT-120 up to Yosemite where we camped out in our car for the night at a parking/camping area near overlooking Lake Mono.
Wednesday – July 1
Wednesday we woke up relatively early did a quick expedition to Lake Mono (an American version of the Dead Sea), then made our way through Yosemite National Park. Talk about breath-taking views! The snowy mountain peaks to the green valleys and the crystal clear streams were beyond beautiful. Along with the many waterfalls, cliffs, rapids, flowers, and weird geological formations we also saw deer and bear! We could have spent weeks there, but as we had many other places to see we wrapped up our tour mid-afternoon and made our way across California to a Roadhouse Inn in San Francisco.
Thursday – July 2
Thursday was all about seeing the sights of San Francisco. We parked our car near the waterfront and walked to Coit Tower, then through Chinatown, hopped a cable car up the hill then walked to the top of the crooked part of Lombard Street. After walking down the crooked street we walked back to the Pier areas, took in some sour dough lunch, toured a WW2 sub, walked through Pier 39, up to Ghiradelli’s and then back to our car to cross the Golden Gate bridge and head up RT-101 to Eureka, California where we spent the night in our car.
Friday we woke up, grabbed some McDonalds breakfast and headed up the coast, our goal being the area around Mt. Saint Helens. We drove through Redwood National Park, stopping to observe some Elk, before entering Oregon. In Oregon we hooked up with I-5 North and drove to the Columbia River where we took a scenic detour looking at all the waterfalls that come down the cliffs into the Columbia river. The biggest of these falls is the Montnoma falls. After sightseeing we drove up to Cee Cee’s truck stop just north of the Mt. Saint Helens exit.
Saturday – July 4
Beauty out of tragedy. In a sense, all (or most) of the geological beauty that Em and I saw on our trip was born out of tragedy, considering the flood to be a very tragic event for mankind. But Mount Saint Helens is very recent history and the cause and effects of this catastrophic event can be clearly seen. We watched the video’s, and read the stories of many who died the day that the volcano erupted sending a 300 mph “stone wind” right across the place where we were observing the mountain. Still the views were breathtaking if not a little sobering. Of course, Mt. Saint Helens blew it’s top off and therefore wasn’t as high as it used to be, but Mt. Rainier, our next stop of the day still towers above you and dominates the horizon for miles as you drive toward it. We drove to on of the highest lodges on Mt. Rainier, walked in some snow and marveled at the beauty before winding our way back down the mountain roads (Mountain on one side, cliffs on the other) toward Seattle where we did a quick tour of downtown, stopping by the downtown campus of Mars Hill Church, and then settling into our hotel in SeaTac.
Sunday – July 5
Sunday we drove while listening to sermons by Phil Johnson and Steve Lawson (from the 2009 Shepherds Conference). We took I-90 east across Washington and Idaho before going on some back routes to get up to Glacier National Park in Montana. Arriving just at sunset, we parked our car at a campsite and walked to the lake to view an incredible sunset across the lake. That sunset definitely made up for missing any fireworks the day before!
Monday – July 6
In the morning we began our drive across Glacier National Park on “Going to the Sun” highway. This was the first day where the weather was more cloudy and rainy, but the views were just as magnicent. The deep, glacier cut valleys filled with all sorts of trees and streams were enough to make one start singing praises to the creator who can bring such beauty out of waters designed for judgment (aka the flood). The down side of the park was that we had to get our fill of “climate change” propaganda since the Glaciers are slowly melting away. My guess is that they have been slowly melting away for a few thousand years now, and unless another ice age occurs they probably won’t be back, and there’s nothing man can do to change that. Anyway, we finished out trek through Glacier and drove south to Yellowstone where we were able to get a couple of hours worth of sight-seeing (including seeing our first Buffalo/Bison) in before bedding down at a hotel in West Yellowstone.
Tuesday – July 7
Yellowstone. Another place where we could spend weeks! We saw Old Faithful, hot springs, buffalo, Elk, Deer, a bear, Lakes, rivers, mountains, flowers, waterfalls, canyons. To even describe a little bit of what we saw would take up several blog entries. While Em was shopping at the stores near Old Faithful I did pick up a book entitled “Death in Yellowstone” and read a bit of it while waiting for Em to finish her shopping. Suffice it to say, I shouldn’t have read it until after we left, because the rest of the trip I had visions of people falling into hot springs or over cliffs or being mauled by grizzlies. Fortunately the beauty of creation was able to overshadow any mental images brought on by the book. We left Yellowstone, crossed back into Montana from Wyoming, and headed across the Continental divide for the last time as we made our way toward South Dakota and Mount Rushmore, bedding down at a rest area on I-90 just outside Rapid City.
Wednesday – July 8
After taking in Mount Rushmore in the morning (apparently just before the Greenpeace protesters got there) Em and I headed east again on I-90. On this day we realized that South Dakota is an extremely long state to get across. We made it finally, and heading south on I-29 put Iowa (jumping across the line to Nebraska once) and most of Missouri (jumping the state line to Kansas once as well) under our belts.
Thursday – July 9
Our destinations today were St. Louis and Indianapolis. We got to the famous St. Louis arch around 9:00am. There we took the elevator to the top, toured the museum, watched a video on the Louis and Clarke expedition, crossed the Mississippi, took some more pictures of St. Louis from across the river then jumped on I-70 east for Indianapolis where we made it to my older brother’s house in time for dinner. It was great getting to hang out with 4 of the 5 Indianapolis nephews and niece as well as my Sister-in-Law (My brother was heading out west with the other nephew). It was REALLY great to be able to sleep in a bed after two nights of sleeping in the car.
Friday – July 10
12 Days on the road and we’re a gonna make it home tonight! We woke up well rested, ate breakfast with the family (pancakes, yum) said our goodbyes and headed south on I-65, driving through Louisville, KY; and Nashville, TN before heading east on I-24 and picking up I-75 south in Chattanooga, TN. We hit rush hour in Atlanta, of course, but by that time we were ready to see the lights of Lakeland again…which we did at about 1:09 Saturday morning.
Some Trip States
Entered 25 states
Stayed 4 nights in hotels
Stayed 1 night at a relatives house
Totaling 5 nights in an actual bed.
1 night was spent driving (the first night)
6 nights spent in the pack of the S.U.V.
Visited or drove through 7 National Parks
Saw 45 out of 50 state license plates. (People from Rhode Island, Delaware, Connecticut, West Virginia and Hawaii need to get out more)
Drank countless cans of Mt. Dew (“countless” simply because I didn’t count them)
Of the 8738.8 miles, I drove 5663.7.
“The Short Life of Jonathan Edwards” by George Marsden
Most of the 2009 Shepherds Conference
A bunch of music (Steve Green probably the most played)