Watch me fall on my butt at Rocky Mountain National Park!
I have more videos I’ll be adding over the next few days. Most are either little updates from the road that I never had the chance to post, or groggy morning/tired evening video blogs from the campsites.
Here are some assorted stats about the trip, which I compiled because you obviously wanted to know:
- Total time: 41 days, 6 1/2 hours
- Miles driven: 8,054
- Avg miles per day: 195.25
- Longest drive: 829 miles - Bridge Bay Campground, Yellowstone to Mitchell, SD - Day 32
- Photos taken: 6,915
- Average photos per day: 167
- States: 15 (MI, IN, IL, MO, OK, TX, CO, UT, ID, MT, WY, SD, MN, WI, OH)
- Border crossings: 25
- National Parks: 3 (Rocky Mountain National Park, Canyonlands National Park, Yellowstone National Park)
- National Monuments: 1 (Mt. Rushmore)
- State Parks: 4 (Warren Dunes, MI; Tippecanoe, IN; Route 66, MO; Huntsville, TX)
- Highest elevation: 12,110 feet above sea level - Rock Cut, Rocky Mountain National Park
- Cheapest gas: $3.26/gal - Springfield, MO
- Most expensive gas: $4.39/gal - Cooke City-Silver Gate, MT
- Cans of Red Bull: 12
- Bugs splattered on car: 10,668 (approximately)
- Truck stop showers: 1
- Speeding tickets: 1
Destinations located (approximately) 8,054 miles from starting point in Holt, MI:
- To the east: Krgyzstan/China border
- To the west: Aral Sea, Kazakhstan
- To the south: Antarctic Peninsula
The title of this post comes from an episode of My Brother, My Brother and Me, one of many podcasts I listened to during long drives. Others included Stop Podcasting Yourself, Wait Wait… Don’t Tell Me, Emergency Pants, You Look Nice Today, and Back to Work. So thanks for keeping me from falling asleep at the wheel, you wonderful podcasters!
Miles traveled: 246
States: 2 (Ohio, Michigan)
The final stretch of the journey. Bittersweet.
Left Westerville in the afternoon to head up to Bowling Green. Decided to stop there and visit my brother on my way back to Michigan. He and his friends were having a get-together that night, so I decided to crash the event and hang out.
Had a great time, a few drinks, and some very, very good food. Started with some fresh fruit, then curry, then shrimp dumplings, then later an onigiri, which I made myself.
The next day, I went with my brother and his friend Fahad to a Chinese buffet and stuffed myself to the gills with as much sweet and sour chicken, crab rangoon, and donuts as I could stand. Not the best decision before a two hour drive, but I managed not to fall into a food coma on the way.
It was weird to arrive back in Holt. I exited the freeway at the exact same place I started on my way, 41+ days before. I had seen so many places, met so many people, and learned more about myself and my country than I could have imagined.
I won’t lie. I started to tear up a bit as I pulled back into the driveway and turned off the car. I had accomplished something that had been a dream for years. I faced all of my fears and anxiety, made it through all the setbacks, and lived my dream. No matter what happens from here on out, I made my dream a reality. Nobody can take that away from me.
Now I’m in the middle of the process of applying for jobs, looking for an apartment, and paring down my possessions to the bare minimum to make the move easier.
I’ll post some trip stats next, then probably a general wrap-up post. I will probably continue to use this blog to write about future adventures, so keep an eye on it.
Thanks for following along with my great American adventure!
Miles traveled: 745
States: 3 (Missouri, Illinois, Ohio)
I knew I was in for a long haul on this drive. I didn’t want to have to stop at any more hotels or campgrounds, so I decided I’d be making the drive straight through from Joplin to Westerville, which my GPS told me would be a 12+ hour drive.
For the most part, the early drive was uneventful. A few stops for gas and food, but mostly just cruising. The only minor snag was at the Missouri-Illinois border. I crossed into Illinois and stopped at the first exit for gas. Getting back on the interstate, I got confused, and somehow ended up headed back to Missouri. I crossed back over the river, took the first exit in Missouri, and got headed back in the right direction.
Later on down the road I stopped in Eaton, OH for a bit to visit my friend Kelly and have some dinner. From there it was a relatively simple drive across I-70 to the Columbus area and Westerville.
It was great to see my parents after so long on the road and to share some of my stories with them. It was also nice to be able to thank them in person for all of the support they provided me for this trip. It was an incredible experience, and I hope they know how much it meant to me to have their support.
Miles Traveled: 205
States: 1 (Missouri)
Drove down to Joplin early in the morning. On the way, I contacted AmeriCorps and let them know I’d be coming. Once I arrived, they set me up with Catholic Charities at a distribution center.
At the center we passed out donated items to residents who had applied for aid and been approved for specific items, such as kitchen goods, food, clothing, toys, and hygiene products. I spent half a day at the center, passing out items and getting to know the staff. I worked that first day with Nick and Tony. Both of them were from Pennsylvania and had served in the armed forces - Nick in the Army and Tony in the Air Force. They were a lot of fun to work with and it was very entertaining to hear them bicker back and forth about their respective branches of service.
After my day was done at the center, I had a talk with my dad in which I recall saying while I was happy to be doing what I was doing, for some reason I had let myself run with the assumption that I’d be doing something like clearing debris and building houses. I didn’t feel like I was doing the “big stuff.” My dad, as he tends to do, put it in perspective for me by reminding me that for people whose homes were destroyed and who had nothing left, receiving a set of dishes, bedding, food, and toys for their children was the big stuff. Many of the people we helped had just finally gotten their FEMA trailers. They were finally getting to feel a sense of “home.”
I had dinner at the Red Onion Cafe in town. My server was great, and talked with me a bit about the city, the disaster, and the recovery process. The food was delicious and I didn’t have to wait long at all.
On my second day, I arrived at the distribution center in the morning, only to find out they needed help at a construction site where they were building a house. After spending an hour or so at the center, they sent me over to the job site where I spent the rest of my day. The crew building the house was from Wesbecher Construction, from Marble Hill, Missouri. They were donating their time to come out and work on the house. They were a really great crew and made me feel like I was welcome. I didn’t (and still don’t) know much about building a house, so for the most part my job was just to be a go-fer, but that was fine with me. We also got to meet the home owner whose house we were rebuilding. That was a very moving and humbling experience.
The experience did drive home some of what Mike Rowe was talking about in his testimony before congress, which is linked on the My Inspirations page. My dad built houses, and yet, I know almost nothing about it. I don’t think I know more than a handful of people who do. That bothers me. I think I’d like to learn.
I met up with the crew for dinner at Pitchers, the restaurant attached to my hotel. The food was quite good, though the service was lacking. It was nice to get to know some of the crew a bit more, too.
The next day I woke up to a call asking me if I could head over to the build site as soon as possible because they were preparing to raise the trusses for the roof. I rushed over and we set to work. Four of the volunteers worked out a system for carrying and raising the trusses, and the crew set them as fast as we could carry them. We finished them very quickly and then began adding the decking to the roof. We managed to get the roof almost entirely decked.
Over the span of the two days I was on the build site, the house went from not even having all of the walls up, to having almost the entire roof done. It was such an awesome experience.
The last night in Joplin, the local Methodist church provided a big dinner for all of the volunteers. There was so much food and everyone was so nice. I also learned about a clean water non-profit called Poured Out, which provides purification systems and clean water facilities to communities in need around the world.
All in all, it was an incredible experience. I was honored to be able to help out this community still so much in need, and to work with such wonderful, caring people. I learned a lot about myself and about the needs of a community still reeling from disaster.
I highly encourage anyone interested to contact AmeriCorps and see what help is still needed. The volunteer intake hotline number is (417) 625-3543. More information can be found on their Facebook page.
allisonunsupervised replied to your photoset
Drive: well, not COMPLETELY uneventful. ; )
Absolutely correct! I also met up with this delightful friend for a bite to eat at Laurie’s Place in Edwardsville, where I had what’s known as a horseshoe, which I’d never had before. Highly recommended.
Miles traveled: 390
States: 2 (Illinois, Missouri)
Started the day with an appointment at the Apartment People office in Lakeview. The hope was to find an apartment I liked and get the leasing process started so I could move as soon as possible after returning to Michigan. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way. The leasing agent I worked with was very nice, but there just weren’t many options I could check out. I’ll have to go back and try again.
The drive down was pretty uneventful. I was trying to make good time, so I didn’t bother with many stops. Pretty much just tried to get as far as I could before I needed to sleep. As I neared Cuba, MO, I decided to stop at the Wagon Wheel Motel for the night. It’s a Route 66 attraction and a place I had really wanted to stop on my way down the first time.
It’s a great motel. The pricing is fair, the rooms are very recently refurbished, and the management is incredibly kind. I actually called after hours (which I didn’t realize when I dialed) and the manager drove out from her home to check me in for the night. I can’t stress enough how great she was.