We are safely back in Wisconsin and, as enjoyable as the trip was for everyone, we are all happy to be out of a car and back in the comfort of our own homes.
I had great fun taking Mr. Dickens along on our journey. He gave me the chance to meet people along the way who were curious about the picture I was carrying around. I was also able to connect with people on the internet who share my enthusiasm for Charles Dickens and his works.
A special thank you to the Charles Dickens Museum in London for sharing our journey with their fans. If I ever achieve the dream of taking a trip across the pond, the museum is on my “must see” list. It was the museum that launched Dickens On Tour, which just happened to coincide with our road trip, and provided me with this fantastic opportunity. I even learned more about Charles Dickens as I looked for links between the places and sites we were seeing and the two trips Mr. Dickens had made to America.
So to wrap it all up. we took Mr. Dickens to many places far and wide. We went through small towns and big cities. We visited every environment possible. We saw the ocean, rivers, lakes, mountains, canyons, hills, valleys, plains, desert, even a salt lake and salt desert.
We experienced temperatures from the 40’s all the way up to 104 degrees Fahrenheit.
We traveled through 16 states: Wisconsin, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, California, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri, Tennessee, and Mississippi. That is one third of all the continental U.S. states! Some states we went through more than once.
Along the way we saw some wildlife…
…and some not so “wild” life.
We saw architectural marvels, some modern, some old, and some ancient. Some were visitor sites, some were just huddled by the side of the road like these adobe ruins, almost invisible, camouflaged against the side of the rocky hills above.
We visited 24 tourist sites. We saw memorials to the celebration of life, and death. The Gateway Arch in St. Louis celebrates the bravery of the men who explored the west, the Donner Memorial is dedicated to the people who lost their lives on their westward journey. We saw where history was made, and where guitars were made. We were spectators at a funeral on Beale Street, and saw the final resting place of the King.
We visited natural wonders like the Grand Canyon, and man-made wonders like Alcatraz. We even got a feel for another country when we visited the London Bridge.
We followed or crossed the paths of the Continental Divide, the Mormon Trail, the California Trail, the Oregon Trail, the Blue Star Memorial Highway, the Lincoln Highway, Donner Pass, and Historic Route 66.
We saw the settings and inspiration for quite a few movies, books and songs – many of which brought forth memorable quotes or poorly sung lyrics (good thing the video camera didn’t come out).
We ate steaks in Nebraska and Texas, seafood and sourdough in San Francisco, and BBQ in Memphis. We ate some delicious spicy food in Albuquerque, but don’t call it Tex Mex – locals will take offence. It’s their own Albuquerque cuisine. Whatever it’s called, it was fantastic, even if we were still feeling it’s effects 48 hours later.
I even learned how to spell Albuquerque!
We stayed overnight in 9 cities: Cheyenne (Wyoming), Reno (Nevada), San Francisco (California), Barstow (California), Laughlin (Nevada), Albuquerque (New Mexico), Amarillo (Texas), Tunica (Missouri), and Collins (Illinois).
I personally took 537 pictures. I’m not sure how many our friends took. There were times when I refrained with the knowledge that they were getting the perfect shot and would share with me. We have yet to get together for our post-trip debriefing. Some pictures turned out spectacular, almost artistic, like the sunset over the Grand Canyon (see Road Trip Day 7) or this shot of the Bay Bridge with a sailboat seen through ruins of the warden’s house on Alcatraz.
And now for the biggest total of all! Yes we did 16 states in 14 days – but how far is that? The picture tells all – 5,555 miles! I do believe that is only slightly shorter than Mr. Dickens traveled by ship – round trip – to America, and that’s saying something!
I hope you (and Mr. Dickens) enjoyed going along on the trip with us!