Travel Dates: August 8, 2011- September 30, 2011
Trip Time: 1 Month, 22 Days
Distance: 12,225 mi/19,674 km
States Visited: 33
Vehicle: 2009 Honda Civic Si
Avg. MPG: 30.89 MPG, $.0128/mi
Total Gallons: 394.41 Gal
Total Fuel Cost: $1,564.68, $28.45/Day
Total Approx. Trip Cost: $3,500
Top Played Songs: Eddie Veddier – Far Behind, Jason Aldean – Fly Over States
Even though I had taken some fairly large road trips before 2011, this is the one I had dreamt about my whole life. In August of 2011 I quit my job of three years, ended the lease on my apartment and set off on the road by myself. My goal was to see as many states, friends and family members as I could. All while making the first USA Cross-Country Drivelapse video.
The first leg of the USA road trip consisted of visiting some of the most popular beaches on the east coast including Virginia Beach, Myrtle Beach, Tybee Island and Jacksonville Beach. From Jacksonville, I headed west on I-10 into Louisiana. My first night of camping consisted of 89% humidity, so I was sweating bullets in my tent on top of my sleeping bag. Meanwhile, a bothersome raccoon stopped by repeatedly to loudly ransack the closed-lid trash nearby (he was successful). After Lousianna, I drove into Texas and my future city of Austin (The Music Capital Of The World). From there I headed into north Texas stopping at the second deepest canyon in the United States (Palo Duro Canyon). Before heading westbound I visited Cadillac Ranch and did some spray painting on the the upturned cadillacs dug into the ground there.
Continuing my USA road trip west on historic Route 66 (I-40) I traveled through New Mexico, Arizona and up to Las Vegas with some friends. After a night in Vegas, we continued through the Mojave desert and just short of Baker, California one of my tires went flat. Unfortunately there were no replacements in my size in the small town of Baker so we had to empty my trunk, full of 2 months worth of supplies to get out the spare and drive down to Barstow. Even though it was 6PM on a Saturday we called ahead and one shop had my size tire and stayed open late for us (Thanks E & A Tires).
Making it from coast to coast in under a week on my USA road trip, it was a shock diving into the Pacific ocean to briskly cold temperatures as opposed to the almost too-warm temperatures of the east coast the week before. Speaking of beaches, my favorite one of the trip was Venice Beach. There was something for everyone there: street performers, beach goers, artists, skateboarders and even snowboarders were having a trick contest on artificial snow the day I was there. After a couple days in LA and a tune-up and oil change (Thanks Affordable Care of Hollywood) it was time to head north.
Heading up the California coast is easily one of the best drives in the country. The views are spectacular and drive is fun to make with many twists and turns. Upon reaching San Francisco, I made sure to drive over the Golden Gate Bridge (even though it was too foggy to see) and down Lombard St. After San Francisco, I caught an Indycar race at Sonoma and then procedeed towards Oregon.
Not long after arriving in Oregon, the state quickly became one of my favorite states on the trip. The lush forrests, great outdoor culture and scenic views were just a few of the many attractions to this state. I met up with my brother for this leg of the trip and we went and saw some amazing natural landmarks including Crater Lake and Mount Hood. If you like good beer, Oregon is a goldmine with cities such as Bend, Hood River and Portland boasting many different breweries (my favorite that we visited was Double Mountain Brewery). I spent more days in Portland than any other city on the trip. Portland has amazing restaurants, bars, lots of food trucks and a very unique culture and atmosphere.
Heading north into Washington held many points of interest from American culture during my USA road trip. We stopped at the house where they filmed “The Goonies” in Astoria, Oregon. We stopped in Aberdeen, Washington where Kurt Cobain grew up, saw his neighborhood and a park dedicated to him located on the muddy banks of the Wishkah. We also stopped for food in the town of Forks, Washington which has been made famous by the Twilight series even though none of the movies are actually filmed there. After rounding the Olympia National Forest we took a ferry into Seattle across the bay. We spent a couple days in Seattle exploring downtown, the fish market, checking out the space needle, museums and learning about the history of Seattle through Underground Tours.
I dropped off my brother at the Seattle airport and started heading back east. I went far north into Idaho, almost reaching Canada before coming back down into Montana and visiting Missoula. Missoula is an excellent small city to spend time in with numerous bars, restaurants and a different festival happening each day I was there. From Missoula I started to head south into Wyoming. On the way into Jackson I drove through Yellowstone National Park and got to see various wildlife including buffalo and moose along with incredible hot springs and geysers.
After seeing the Grand Tetons and spending a couple days in Jackson, I drove west briefly to see more of Idaho before heading south into Utah. I spent one night in Salt Lake City and then ventured east on a beautiful drive over to Park City, home of the Sundance film festival. From Park City, I proceeded into southern Utah and visited Arches National Park in Moab. From Utah, I headed east into Colorado and spent some time mountain biking in and around Aspen, home of the Winter X-Games. After driving a car around the country for over a month and not being used to the high elevation, I couldn’t really keep up with my friend but at least the downhills were fun. After Aspen, I took an amazing drive through the Rockies over the Continental Divide, explored Vail and Breckenridge before visting another friend in Colorado Springs. I got up early the next morning and was the first one to drive to the summit of Pikes Peak. After leaving Pikes Peak I stopped in Fort Collins to see another friend and then began heading north.
I drove back into Wyoming briefly and then into Nebraska for a little bit before returning to South Dakota for the first time since 2009. I drove through some beautiful roads in the Black Hills, stopping in a couple old wild west towns including Keystone, Hill City and my favorite little town in South Dakota Rochford, home of the Moonshine Gulch Saloon. After eating dinner and talking to some other patrons and the wonderful staff, I headed into North Dakota for the night.
The next day I drove one of the longest days of the USA road trip. From North Dakota I traveled all the way through Minnesota, into Wisconsin for a bit before settling down in Iowa on the Mississippi River for the night. I followed the Yellowstone Trail as much as possible. I was previously unaware of it until I visited an automobile museum in Montana that had a display about it. It was the most popular route to cross the country long before Route 66 was developed.
I got up early the next day to meet a friend in Chicago to watch a football game and enjoy some deep dish pizza. I also got my oil changed for the second time and was helped by the friendly folks at HAAS (http://www.haaschicago.com/) with some bumper issues after fighting with rocks in Colorado. After leaving a rainey Chicago I headed to Cleveland and Buffalo to see more friends before completing the USA road trip on Rt. 20 then around the finger lakes to Ithaca and then back to Syracuse.