Archive for the 'Road Trip' Category
On the broiling hot morning of Monday, June 29,2020 TotalAdventure departed Miami at dawn – for a 3 to 4 month journey – crossing – actually circumnavigating the United States.
In May, at the height of the COVID panic, I traded in my 2013 BMW X1 with 120,000 miles ( plus a considerable amount of cash) for a 2020 BMW X2 with 19 miles. Technological advancements had been considerable in the last 7 years and now, with all the navigational and entertainment needs I was set to cruise the Nation in what was like a jet on the ground. Driving was a pleasure even on the most boring stretches of I-95 up the East Coast.
At the start of the trip there were 2300 miles on the odometer and at the end over 17000 – a 15000 mile journey in all. I did almost all alone – though others were invited. There was no timetable ( which made it difficult for others to join) and no interstates except for some segments, especially up the East Coast. The first day I did 1000 miles to Fredericksburg ,Virginia, stopping only for gas and and excellent BBQ lunch in Georgia. The next day, I arrived in my hometown of Bay Head New Jersey, where I spent the next 10 days seeing friends and family, with one day trip into ghostly New York.
On Friday, July 10, just ahead of an approaching hurricane, I took a sunrise swim in the Atlantic and headed west to the Pacific. The first stop was New Wilmington, Pennsylvania to visit an ancestral graveyard. With the help of the caretaker, I was able to find the grave of my Great-Grandfather who died early, and that of my Great Great Grandparents as well.
I spent the night in Massillon, Ohio where my Father grew up. My Grandfather,Blaine Zuver, was an industrialist who supplied hundred s of jobs in the town. Enterprise Aluminum Company developed the Percolator – first at home coffee maker, as well as cookware. In World War II the factory went on war production, making canteens and mess kits for the army ,as well as bomb fins and crates, and bullet cannisters.
That afternoon I drove Highway 30, the Lincoln Highway, as there would be no more interstates for a long time. The idea was to see the real America. I spent the night in Auburn, north of Ft.Wayne.
At the beginning of the trip I had been to 43 States. The route was also planned that I would visit the 7 remaining states I had not been to. On Sunday morning July 12, I entered Michigan, my 44th State.
There’s a lot of corn in the Midwest, so much we can’t eat it all. That’s why 10% of the gasoline you put in your car is actually ethanol from corn. And the corn tortillas of Mexico -made with American corn. Pigs in the US and China eat corn too.
West of Kalamazoo, I reached Lake Michigan. I even caught a rideable wave. From there it was off to Whitehall to stay with old friends in their compound overlooking Lake Michigan and Whitehall Lake.
10 PM Sunset, very far west in the Eastern Time Zone while my hosts served delicious Scandinavian meals and many libations.
Watch The Video Above To Cross Into All The 33 States !
On Saturday afternoon, July 18th, I crossed over the bridge from Superior Wisconsin to Duluth Minnesota. Minnesota was my 46th State and my second new state of the day.
I spent the night in Duluth, a city of low mountains overlooking vast Lake Superior. Though the inhabitants are thoroughly American ,the city has a European look to it.
Iron Ore from the Iron Mountains is shipped to steel plants all over the world.
I stayed at Fitgers Inn, a nice splurge , located in an old brewery.
The Beer Is Pretty Good.
I stopped for lunch in Virginia,Minnesota, heart of the Iron Range.
On Monday morning, July 20th, I crossed the Red River into North Dakota, my 47th State ! The Center of North America ! After an excellent Vietnamese lunch in Grand Forks, I headed out into the farmlands.
Miles and miles of soy and beans. Some corn, but this far north there’s only one crop a year. And wheat more than anything.
I stayed at a hunting and fishing lodge at Devil’s Lake for the night. In the morning I stopped in Esmond and breakfasted at the Esmond Cafe. I ate inside for the first time on the trip. Not one mask in sight, except mine. Everyone very friendly and for most, the first time meeting someone from Miami or New York. COVID was almost nonexistent in North Dakota then, but later the state was devastated, with about 15 % of the population sickened and one in 500 of the population killed.
I stopped for lunch in Bismarck ,the capitol. That building is the tallest in North Dakota.
In Dickinson I was in the real West. Changed the clock back for the second time in 3 days.
Theodore Roosevelt National Park is a real introduction to a western landscape. Green gives way to brown, flatlands give way to Bad Lands.
South of the Park, on US 85, I entered South Dakota , my 48th State ! Spent 2 nights in Deadwood, which was kind of dead, not because of COVID, which people there did not think existed, but because the drinking and gambling town shuts down at 9. Not quite Vegas !
No words needed to describe Mt.Rushmore. And now – it was time to ride on into Wyoming….
On the morning of Friday,July 24th I left Deadwood South Dakota and within an hour had entered Wyoming on SD 34/ WY 24 . The first stop was Devil’s Tower.
Rising straight out of flat farmland,Devil’s Tower is 867 feet and formed in a short time due to volcanic upthrust. It is very geologically different than the Black Hills over 100 miles away, or the Rockies , more than 200. You can experience it in the video above.
By mid afternoon I settled into Sheridan, at the foot of the Big Horn National Forest. As usual I dined alone on the hotel porch rather than in a lively restaurant .COVID life on the road. Everything closed by 8 anyway.
Big Horn National Park offers hundreds of square miles of hiking, climbing, glacier trekking and ATV trailing. Since it’s not a National Park, it’s not well known except locally. I was the only Florida plate, most were from Wyoming and Montana.
Dropping down a few thousand feet from the Big Horn Range, TotalAdventure explored the Snake River Canyon , traversing the Wyoming Montana border. The canyon had been dry with a seasonal stream until a dam was built in the 1930s.
I then entered my 49th state, Montana ! Just one more to go – Oklahoma, but won’t be there until the return trip East in September.
Before Yellowstone, I overnighted in Billings and Red Lodge Montana. In Billings I enjoyed a big Montana steak, but when I arrived at my hotel in Red Lodge after a day in Snake River, about 7:30 to discover that due to COVID my hotel restaurant was closed and the few restaurants still open in town would be closing at 8. This New York/Miami traveler is not used to small town hours but had to adjust on this trip or face night time starvation. I was the last one served from the line at a Mexican cantina and scored a PBR from the bar/casino across the street. The bars closed at 9 !
From Red Lodge to Yellowstone the winding ,high altitude Beartooth Highway crisscrossed several times between Wyoming and Montana.
The Summer of 2020 was probably one of the best to explore Yellowstone. Though crowds were sizable , they were all American crowds, as most foreigners, not even Canadians, could visit in the COVID summer. The notorious traffic jams did not appear.
Yellowstone sits atop a super volcano. When it does finally blow – anytime between the next 10 minutes to 10,000 years – the park will become a 50 mile wide lake of boiling red lava and will cause global cooling for years to come.
The falls look even more incredible in the video above. Be sure to watch it all.
After a day and a half in Yellowstone ( many people stay a week or more) it was time to head north into Montana. Passing Big Sky on a beautiful highway with a legal speed limit of 80 mph I arrived in Butte around sunset. I would stay there 2 nights, to explore the old mining city , to catch up on work ,do laundry and get the extremely dusty X2 washed.
Gold Copper and silver were mined here. Butte was known as the “Richest Hill On Earth.” Miners came from all over the world. Copper is still mined, but there’s not much left. The old city is quiet but not quite abandoned.
From Butte , a few more hours to the Northwest and I arrived in Whitefish ,gateway to Glacier National Park. Whitefish was full of California ‘refugees”,many who had arrived in private jets ,escaping mask and lockdown restrictions in their home state.
In Glacier , on the first day of August, I swam over a mile in 2 lakes and walked in the snow.
On the morning of August 2nd, I left Whitefish for a day of mostly dirt roads from Montana into Idaho. I missed my westward turn and would up at the Canadian border. When I originally thought of this cross country trip,years ago, I had always meant for it to include Canada. Winnipeg, Saskatoon, and Banff would have been on the itinerary. But in March 2020, the Canadian government had shut the borders to all but commercial traffic, due ,of course to disease spread.
All I could do was look into this closed off , beautiful land – in this case the easternmost corner of British Columbia ,near Alberta. The next several hours was on windy isolated dirt roads – into the town of Yaak .
I walked inside the bar, which of course was all bikers . Had a friendly beer and they were amazed I was all the way from Miami. No photos were permitted, probably for very good reasons.
I spent the night in touristy Couer d’Alene, Idaho, another town where restaurants closed at 8 and I had to order pizza by 9 before that closed too. Changed clocks back for the last time. The next day – through Washington State, past Spokane – to Portland ,Oregon – almost completely cross country !
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On August 3rd I drove 400 miles from Couer d’Alene Idaho to Portland, Oregon, transversing eastern Washington State ,then along the Columbia river as the desert emerges into green forest. Portland is home to my Son, his Fiancée and soon, my Grandson.
I stayed in beautiful downtown Portland in an AirBnb very close to my son’s. The Rose City was on war footing as nightly street battles erupted between extreme left and extreme right factions along with police and federal agents.
The Apple Store destroyed, with the senseless destruction uploaded via Apple devices. However Fox News dogwhistles on “Antifa ” were largely to spread panic and give undercover law enforcement free rein . TotalAdventure does best to stay neutral in these extremist political times. We are about bringing the world together, not ripping it apart.
Burned and Bashed – The Federal Courthouse.
In a three week break from the road ( TotalAdventure and family business) we managed to take beautiful trips within the state.
Crater Lake was created in one day 7000 years ago when the mountain blew its’ top. Thousands of years of precipitation, mainly melted snow, have filled the crater with water almost 2000 feet deep. There is one swimming area, reachable by a path that descends 800 feet from the rim.. . See the video where we jump off a 35 foot cliff.
Portland is two hours from the Pacific Ocean. The X2 had finally made it coast to coast !
In Portland it was 96 degrees, in Tillamook the air was 74 and the ocean ,an icy low 50s. If TotalAdventure is unable to swim, that means the water is only swimmable in a wetsuit.
In Montana the X2 had reached 10000 miles, at the tender age of 3 months on the road. In Portland BMW performed the first free maintenance and took care of a few very minor repairs, as well changing oil.
On August 19th, it was time to explore California !
On the morning of September 10th, I awoke for an early morning dip in the Pacific before heading Eastbound the the Atlantic. Pulling out of my AirBnb Santa Monica garage I was soon eastbound on the 10 and then north on 15 to Las Vegas. Most of this TransContinental Adventure has been off interstates, but they will be used into Utah and again in Texas, Oklahoma and Florida.
Fires raged in the San Gabriel Mountains to the north, sending thick smoke down to I-10. Some of the smoke from all the California and Oregon fires spread all the way to the East Coast ,dimming sunrises in New Jersey. This southern smoke band would follow me. I managed to always be a day ahead of it, until Colorado where I changed my itinerary because of it.
Normally I would spend a night in Las Vegas, but the wide open fun loving town is a bit clamped down for the moment due to COVID. In the video you can experience a very quick trip up the Strip. I did stop for some video poker at an empty slot hall in Mesquite, Nevada and walked out $ 30 richer. From there it was about 40 miles across extreme Northwest Arizona to St.George Utah where I would spend the night. Changed from Pacific to Mountain Time.
The next morning I was up with the sun and off to Zion National Park. It was an introduction to the the incredible Utah geology. On the way I visited Hilldale, on the Arizona border. Hilldale is the town known for the highest number of polygamous families adhering to the original Book of Mormon. I saw groups of wives out shopping together dressed in 1800s style farm dresses and driving pickups.
Bryce Canyon National Park was the next stop. Now the temperature changed drastically according to elevation. St.George had been expecting a high of 100 degrees and this evening near Bryce the temperature slipped to 32 – I was glad to have a gas fireplace in my cabin for the night.
In the morning I continued through Bryce and then headed Northeast to Teasdale where I would explore Capitol Reef National Park with an old childhood friend I grew up with in Germany. We took a 6 mile hike up a canyon.You can see all the national parks in the video at the top of the page.
The final two nights were in Moab – home to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National park. In Canyonlands the X2 did amazingly well on rugged roads, in spite of the warning signs.
Finally I turned around where a spring had flooded a section of road turning it to muck. Without 4WD,I did not want to risk spending $1000 to be towed !
Crossing from Utah into Colorado, the smoke from California finally caught up, turning skies from bright Western blue to greyish white and encasing mountains in haze – diminishing prospects for photo and video acquisition.
Highway 50 climbed rapidly higher into the Rockies and by lunchtime I had reached Telluride, for the first time in 30 years. The big changes are to be expected. What was once a laid back Wild West type town with great skiing with a few bars up and down the main drag was now clogged with tourists even in off season September – looking for parking and lining up for $ 6 lattes. Tourism was higher than in the summer when people had been more cautious of COVID.
The second night in Colorado was spent at the home of an old friend from the East. His wife is an Olympic ski champion.
On Friday September 18th the X2 crossed the Continental Divide. For the next 1000 miles I would be tracking the Arkansas River from its’ glacial small steam origins to the wide river flowing into the Mississippi.
Spent the night in Syracuse,Kansas . The next morning , driving across table top flat land and crossing from Mountain Time to Central Time, I entered my 50th State – Oklahoma !
I stopped for lunch in the Panhandle town of Guymon and then went on to the Texas Panhandle.
Stopping in Amarillo for the night, I stayed next door to the Big Texan. In one of my very few indoor meals of the trip, I dined on Rocky Mountain oysters and delicious Texas T-Bone that was about 20 ounces. The 72 oz steak is free if eaten in an hour. That’s 4 1/2 pounds, 2 kilos of meat. It comes with salad and baked potato which also must be consumed. If not finished in one hour the price is $ 72.
I-40 Eastbound the next morning. Back into Oklahoma. At Oklahoma city, the California smoke finally ended and the skies were clear once again, over the rolling Southern Plains.
Spent Sunday night in quiet Little Rock and toured the Capitol city the next morning. The Clinton Library , on the Arkansas River is an architectural masterpiece but closed by COVID.
In Stuttgart I stopped for perhaps the best BBQ I’ve ever had with chopped ribs in a sauce that tasted like plums, coffee and super hot spice ! I bought a gallon jug to take home, which I carefully rationed over the next month.
From Arkansas into Mississippi I began a straight run back to Miami. Overnighting in Hattiesburg and then through Mobile Alabama to Panama City Florida for a swim in the Gulf of Mexico. Across the beautiful Panhandle . Though TotalAdventure has been located in Miami for over 18 years, I have never been to the Panhandle. Overnighted in Perry and then to Sarasota, a surprisingly young and thriving town on the Gulf of Mexico.
Back to Miami for a dive into the Atlantic Ocean. Watch the video above !
As Timkat approaches, the entire country gets into celebration mode. We leave Lalibela on. Saturday – 2 days before. Roadside markets are busting, as people stock up on food for the large family feasts after a 24 hour fast.
A music man in the Highlands playing his masinko. Watch him play on the video above.
Coffee beans growing on the side of the road. Ethiopian Coffee is amongst the best in the world !
A boy brings coffee to market. Rural children work for their families, but not for others as far as we could tell. It’s a necessity that armchair moralists of the West may not understand.
All food is very fresh.
Two sisters off to market.
Restaurant Mountain Vista.
A colorful Injera lunch.Various meats and vegetables, mostly cold.
United States help is much appreciated. With 109 million people in a mostly desert country , extra supplies are needed.
A cold Saturday morning, everyone on the way to buy and sell.
Spices are abundant.
Spices Are Abundant.
Inside a market bar. TotalAdventure was obliged to try some of the local firewater – made from fermented fruit that still had seeds floating in it. Powerful ! Though it was only 9 AM, music was blasting.
Bamboo for sale.
- central park, drinks, food, museum, natural history, New York City, NYC, park, skyline, the burger joint, the rum house
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- United States
Today we did a drive-by day trip to New York, New York, capturing as many attractions as can be seen in under 24 hours.
- Armstrong Park, bourbon street, hand grenades, mothers restaurant, New Orleans, nightlife, NOLA, roadtrip
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- United States
- apollo, florida, kennedy space center, NASA, Road Trip, rocket, science, space, space center, space coast
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- United States
The Rocket Garden
The Space Shuttle
Space Fairing Nations
Replica of the Control Room
TotalAdventure travels mainly to exotic adventuresome locales overseas – but there’s plenty to experience right here in the USA . A few weeks ago we were attending a wedding in trendy Asheville NC. But just 30 miles up the road was the Heart of Appalachia – Erwin, Tennessee.
Houses are simple but have withstood the test of time. Much of Erwin is in a “Holler” – local dialect for Hollow – which is a very steep narrow valley in relatively high mountains.
Deadly fires are quite common – due to use of volatile propane for heating, or illegal meth labs.
In Erwin, in the easternmost part of Tennessee, which is one of the widest states. Memphis is 600 miles West, on the Mississippi River.
The Stars and Bars – Flag of the Southland !
This was early spring ,so the trout should be running soon. The highland area normally sees a lot of snow in winter, but it melts quickly in the Southern sunshine.
Down the Holler.
The small town of under 2000 people has over 30 Churches, almost all Baptist. The Bible is taken seriously and literally.