If you read the previous post, you’ll know that RT 2014 came with extra drama. But the following year, as memory and these photos remind me, the sun SHONE on Red Rover and her occupants.
Our blessings started with a quick detour in southwestern Oregon’s Illinois River scenic area, which we’d driven past for years.
Sunny riverside or pitcher-plant-filled swamp, this place deserves the word “awesome.”
Next up: a precious visit with our now-toddling twin cuzzies in Oakland.
We then made our Big Left Turn a bit earlier than some years, skipping LA to head straight over the mountains and into Death Valley.
Winter did catch back up with us in Albuquerque, but we took advantage of the snow to go for an extra-beautiful hike with our friend Beth in the Tent Rocks National Monument (one of our favorite spots when we lived for half a year in Santa Fe twelve years before).
Not many photos follow, so we must have zipped across the lower half of the country again…but then found ourselves once more in the Asheville area, soaking up the Blue Ridge. Since I grew up in NC, these mountains were my earliest benchmark of beauty.
Next up–the perennial apex of our trip: Durham, NC, my hometown. There, as always, we hung out on my folks’ little farm, which is slowly being donated to the adjacent Carolina Friends School, which they helped to found.
Since the place is undergoing these changes, I took some photos to document the delightfully messy present that was also my childhood.
Remember those blessings I was talking about? In 2015, we were gifted with the opportunity not just to cheer for our beloved Tarheels on TV, but to attend a game in person.
Since I had published Book Two of my YA Flying Burgowski trilogy, Headwinds, at the end of 2014, this road trip featured another reading at Durham’s famous Regulator Bookshop. This time I enlisted my old middle school English teacher, Henry Walker, and a couple of current Friends School students, to do a dramatic reading with me!
Yet another blessing, as we headed home: discovering this amazing chunk of scenery in the Arkansas Ozarks.
So pretty–all that beautiful brown sandstone!
We stayed in a state-run lodge as nice as anything you’d find in a national park.
On the way home, latitude I-40, we stopped to recreate near our favorite chunk of North Texas–but this time, instead of Palo Duro, we discovered its cousin, Caprock Canyon.
As if all this scenery weren’t enough, we made time for a quick detour back to the Mother of All Gorge-ousness, the Grand Canyon. Only for a day hike–but I made the most of it.
Near Page, AZ, The Mate and I took a slot canyon tour–not the overly-famous Antelope Canyon, but a smaller one.
Blessing #…oh, I’ve lost track…was meeting Adventure Buddies Tom & Kate (by now you should remember them) outside of good ol’ Joshua Tree National Park for three days of desert togetherness.
We also drove down near Palm Desert to walk through a beautiful oasis there, traditional lands of the Agua Caliente Cahuilla Band of Indians.
Driving home on the eastern side of the Sierras, we found public campgrounds still closed, but managed to squeeze into a small private one.
Next along the way: Mono Lake. We only had a couple extra hours, but…it’s right there!
In northern California, near Susanville, we scored what is still one of our all-time favorite rail-trails. I mean–come on!
Next, a state park in middle Oregon, near Prineville, by the Deschutes River…
Final night, before entering Washington? We camped in Oregon’s famous Columbia Gorge. A fitting reminder of what gorge-ousness exists in our very backyard.
Final lesson from this retrospective of 6 years ago? All road trips are gifts. But some gifts have more facets than others. 2015 was extra special that way. Leaving me extra grateful.
Beautiful photos of breathtaking sites. Thanks for this recap, Gretchen. I almost feel I made a cross-country trip myself – a real gift in these COVID days.
Oh, good…that’s the effect I was hoping for. It’s a cheap, low-carbon travel alternative!
Those are some of our favorite places…including Tent Rocks, which few people seem to know about. It looks magical in the snow!
Your parents’ basement looks as frightening as my parents’ garage did a year ago. And studio. And office. And everything. Definitely a sign of lives fully lived, but still frightening for those left behind.
Thankfully, since then they’ve cleaned it up a LOT. But yeah…it’s pretty shuddery to think what my sisters & I are going to be left with eventually. My folks definitely don’t give much of a rip–their prerogative, I guess!