The Great American Road Trip - Eastbound

When the time came to plan our vacation for 2011, I reserved an apartment in Paris, finding that to be less expensive and a better experience than staying in a hotel. That set the destination for our trip, but how to get there? At that time the airlines were introducing additional fees for baggage, cutting meal service, and squeezing seats closer together. We were expecting them to introduce pay toilets any day. We asked ourselves: could we make this trip without setting foot in an airport?

We had recently retired, so as long as we arranged for our affairs to continue in our absence, we had all the time needed for a grand journey. We are members of Worldmark, the time share club, so I called to see how the various Worldmark properties could fit into our plans:

"Thank you for calling Worldmark by Wyndham. How may I assist you with your vacation plans?"

"Hi! Can you book us for one night in Big Bear California for May 7, 2011?"

"I'd like to, but that date is over 90 days away, so you have to reserve at least seven consecutive days..."


"... But that week doesn't all have to be in the same resort; you could take three days here, and four days there, for example."

"So I could take one night at Big Bear, then one night at Flagstaff, one night at Durango, one night at Santa Fe, one night at Grand Lake, Oklahoma, one night at Branson Missouri, and one night at Fairfield Glade, Tennessee?"

"Ummm... Errr... I guess so..."

"Great! Sign us up!"

So the timing for the first seven days was locked down. We had a condo reserved with kitchen and laundry each night, and we could roll in late if we had taken some extra time for sightseeing. we took our 2005 Prius ("Ruby") in for a check-up, packed what we thought we would need for the next three months in two suitcases and a carry-on, and early on the morning of May 7, 2011, headed out on our grand adventure. We would not see our home again until August.

View Eastbound in a larger map
In California we headed south on I5, down the central valley, next to the California Aqueduct. Then we went across the Mojave desert, visiting the California Poppy Reserve, to our first stop at Big Bear Lake in Southern California.
Four Corners We sampled historic route 66 in Arizona, then headed north to Monument Valley in Utah, east to Mesa Verde, Colorado and southeast to Santa Fe, New Mexico. 
Schneider National semi We still had a lot of country to cross. We flew across the Texas panhandle, Oklahoma and Missouri. It took six full repetitions of the Original Cast Album of "Oklahoma" to go from one side of the state to the other. We spent our time on the Interstate, and took no pictures worth publishing.
Crossing the Mississippi We had planned to cross the Mississippi at Cairo, Illinois, the old port at the confluence of the Mississippi and the Ohio, but things didn't work out that way.
Tennessee Now our faces are turned towards the family members waiting for us on the East Coast and then the cruise that will continue our grand journey. We cross Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia stopping only to sleep and eat. When the Interstate becomes to tedious we divert our selves with a local road, admiring the lushness of these states compared to the our home and the states we have left behind.
Dogwood Half an hour to cross a bit of West Virginia, twenty minutes for even less of Maryland, and we're in Pennsylvania, Marie's home state. We visit her family, spend the night, and the next day sees us at Fritz's brother's house in New Jersey. He will take care of Ruby while we're abroad.
We wash our clothes, repack our bags, and he drops us off at the pier all set for the next segment.