Saturday, July 9, 2016

Thoughts on the Manifest Destiny trip



There is something about doing a long distance drive of trip across a country or continent that appeals to our sense of achievement. However you realize after a while that you are barely scratching the surface of each area you pass through. There is a bit too much emphasis on keeping moving on to the next state so that you get the trip completed in the allotted time.

If you really want to see more of a given area, you should just do one state at a time. For example, fly to Denver, rent a car and concentrate only on Colorado. Stay in bnb's for several days and see what is in the local area and then move to a different area. It's a bit like doing our house exchange where we stay in one place for a while.

BNB versus Motel

No question, the bnb experience is usually much better. However we did find a friendlier welcome from people more our own age who were happy to talk to us about our travels. The younger ones usually were just making money and were not interested in us.

Most of the houses we stayed in were lovely and you felt you could move in and enjoy living there.

Occasionally it is good to stay in a motel so that you have a night off from social interaction. Most bnb owners will adjust their social interaction to what you appear to need, but a break is good.

We get tired of eating out every night. It really helps if you can get access to a kitchen so that you can get some items from a nearby supermarket and cook something simple for yourself.

Multi night stays are better than single night stays.

We both noticed that most of the bnb owners appeared to be Democrats rather than Republicans. Some had Bernie or Hilary posters and we saw no Trump posters.

Car and GPS

Our Mini performed very well. Usually I bought fuel when the tank got a bit below half full, particularly in the deserted western regions. We did get pretty low once in eastern Missouri but there was no problem. It's easier to remind yourself to stop every two hours or so when driving in Australia because country towns tend to be about an hour apart. In the USA, it is very tempting to just keep driving because the spacing of towns is not so regular.

Even though I had not updated the maps in our TomTom GPS, it still got us where we needed to go. If you are stating at a bnb, you really need a GPS to find the house easily. The GPS really helps when you are not sure what the speed limit is. By the way, if you are tempted to do this drive across the country, obey the speed limits in all the little towns. Speeding fines are a necessary source of income for these poor towns.


Much of the restaurant food in rural America is as predictable as food in rural Australia. Here you find the burger joint, the pizza place, the Chinese and the Mexican. If you get a chance at another cuisine, take it when you can.

We saved a lot of $$ by bringing some bowls and spoons with us and eating a simple muesli made with traditional rolled oats and raisins for breakfast. We would just buy a small bottle of milk or some yogurt to go with it.

Since motel coffee is usually atrocious, we brought our Keurig along with us. We did not need it in the bnb's, but it was wonderful in the motels.


When I was doing the Coast to Coast walk across England, I found it beneficial to take a day off after three days of walking. We needed to do this for the drive as well. Your body gets very tired driving long hours every day and your mind tends to get overloaded by all the new things you are seeing.

I noticed that my breathing became a bit difficult at higher altitudes which is probably a result of the bypass operation. However there is no problem now we are home at sea level.

For the last couple of days of the drive, my body was really tired. Perhaps it could sense that the end of the drive was near. I now feel a lot better after a few days at home and some long naps.

12 Photos

Marianne has an idea to create a calendar for next year featuring 12 photos from the trip. I am doing my version now. They don't necessarily need to be great photos, just pictures of something that surprised me or defined something about the USA for me.

The matching family grave stones in Pittsburgh. There is 'stuff' everywhere in the USA.

Perhaps one of the most magical rooms in the world in the Frank Lloyd Wright house.

You meet helpful people everywhere in the world, including the Mississippi. That river is truly the American divide.

The Badlands. This is one of those places where I was not sure what to expect because usually when you read about a place you see only one or two photos. Until you get there and see it with your own two eyes, you really don't get an accurate impression of what it is really like.

A different view from the usual straight on viewpoint. No photo really gives you a sense of the true scale. How does somebody even come up with the concept that this group of carvings should be done.

Part of the Little Bighorn battlefield where men died 140 years ago. It all looks so beautiful and peaceful, yet it is the site of a violent battle.

The 'wow' boat ride in the Bighorn Gorge. Enough said.

I can only marvel at how nature is just so spectacular in the USA.

One of the unexpectedly fun moments in the trip.

Arriving at the Columbia River Gorge. It sometimes seems everything in America is super sized.

Mount St Helens suddenly revealed. Along with the sudden crack of thunder, the best reminder of how majestic yet dangerous this country can be.

The Pacific. Manifest Destiny completed.

And since that is twelve photos, you just have to imaging twelve from the return journey. I hope the blog has made you wonder if you could do this journey sometime.

1 comment:

  1. Ray your blog was fabulous. I love your photos and comments. I sent a link to this to my brother who started today on a short road trip from Dallas to Fairfax VA to meet up with his family later in the week. He'll love the train photo on the Columbia along with the rest. It was wonderful to see you again and to be a stop for you and Marianne on this grand road trip.