Cross-Country Road Trip – Adventures

State Signs

State signs I took photos of during our six-day road trip across 14 states! (The sign for Washington is missing since it was our starting point.)

August 19 – 24, 2012

Day 1 (Seattle, WA to Butte, MT) First day of the cross-country road trip. Stopped at…

  • Pioneer Coffee Roasting for a quick coffee and hot cocoa (Cle Elum, WA)
  • Wild Stallion Sculptures — metal silhouettes of wild horses in stampede formation on a ridge top (Vantage, WA)
  • Wolffy’s Diner for lunch (Spokane, WA)
  • Benwah Milk Bottle — world’s largest milk bottle (Spokane, WA)
  • Elmer’s Fountain — named for man who built it out of old mining equipment (Mullan, ID)
  • Finlen Hotel for sleep. The hotel is listed in the national register of historic places. (Butte, MT)

Day 2 (Butte, MT to Rapid City, SD) Montana is the Pennsylvania of the west … looooong. Stopped at…

  • Continental Divide – a quick stop, it was very tricky to see because the signage appeared on the opposite side of the road. (Butte, MT)
  • Wheat Montana Bakery for coffee and hot cocoa. This place has incredible fresh baked goods — their cinnamon rolls are so big they cut them into four smaller pieces. The people are very down-home. (Three Forks, MT)
  • Staggering Ox for lunch. Fun place. The sandwiches were tasty and the bread was in the shape of a cylinder can. (Billings, MT)
  • The Battle of the Little Bighorn formerly Custer’s Last Stand. It was renamed in honor of the fact that it’s a memorial for not only the white man, but also the Indians who perished. (Big Horn County, MT)
  • Innocently driving along and BAM! A bird hits Melissa’s window. We’re not sure where it went, but we think it didn’t make it. RIP birdie. (MT)
  • We’re in Wyoming and like a scene out of a movie all of a sudden a real cowboy comes down a hill on his galloping horse towards the cattle grazing below. A very cool site! (WY)
  • Humphrey’s Bar & Grill for dinner. Very gimmicky — wouldn’t return. (Gillette, WY)
  • Grand Gateway Hotel for sleep. (Rapid City, SD)

Day 3 (Rapid City, SD to Albert Lea, MN) Stopped at …

  • Black Hills Bagels for morning caffeine ritual. (Rapid City, SD)
  • Mount Rushmore – beautiful grounds and massive mountains, but the President’s faces looked like masks glued to the mountain due to the contrast in color. Met a very sweet old guy named Nick Clifford who was in the store signing copies of his book ‘Mount Rushmore Q&A’. Nick worked as one of the stone carvers on the mountain from 1938 through 1940. It was an honor to meet him. I bought a copy of his book that he signed for me. (Keystone, SD)
  • Badlands National Park — it’s more than 244,000 acres! While exploring the park we saw antelope, prairie dogs, a bison and a bighorn sheep – none of which I had ever seen before in natural surroundings! Taking pictures of the landscape was challenging because the size and depth didn’t translate. (Interior, SD)
  • 1880 Town – uick stop. They had a cool 1950s Santa Fe Train that was converted into a diner that you can eat at (we arrived after it closed), movie props and a skeleton man with an ax in hand walking a dinosaur that attracts many visitors. (Murdo, SD)
  • Prairie Pizza for lunch/dinner. This was an unplanned gem of a find tucked in a super small town. The pizza is made from scratch and deeeeelicious. (Murdo, SD)
  • The Corn Palace is a building that’s front and side are murals that are completely made out of corn as a tribute to the agricultural heritage of South Dakota. It’s wild! Each year there is a new theme and the old murals are taken down and replaced with new ones by local artists. The theme during our visit was youth activities. (Mitchell, SD)
  • Americas Best Value Inn for much-needed sleep. (Albert Lea, MN)

Day 4 (Albert Lea, MN to Galesburg, IL) This was a lighter day. Stopped at…

  • Spam Museum — This visit was more fun than I expected It included a mix of history on Spam and Hormel, entertainment, and interactive games. Melissa did the Spam production line challenge. She completed assembling six cans of Spam in less than a minute! My favorite part was the Spam radio station. (Austin, MN)
  • Coffee House on Main — a super quick stop before our drive to Iowa. (Austin, MN)
  • National Czech & Slovak Museum (and Library) for the ‘Alphonse Mucha: Inspirations of Art Nouveau’ exhibit featuring works direct from the Mucha Foundation in Prague and London. This is the only time his complete exhibit will be in the U.S., which is a main reason why Melissa was looking forward to this stop. She’s an Art History grad student and wrote a paper on Mucha’s Historiography last year. (Cedar Rapids, IA)
  • Dublin City Pub for lunch/dinner. (Cedar Rapids, IA)
  • Country Inn & Suites for sleep. We were very excited to arrive at a hotel while it was still light out! (Galesburg, IL)

Day 5 (Galesburg, IL to Cambridge, OH) We are wearing out! Stopped at…

  • Eysal’s for caffeine. BEST frap drink I have ever had – made from scratch with Kahlua. (East Peoria, IL)
  • We reached the Eastern Time Zone. It was very cool to pass through all four time zones via automobile. Our cell phone clocks changed instantly each time. My body is completely off – between flying from Dulles to San Fran, Seattle and then the drive back to the East Coast my brain is like what day and time is it?!
  • Pit stop at Indianapolis Motor Speedway to check out the track and museum. We arrived an hour before closing, so we did a speed tour of the grounds and facility. The track is huge. I could only fit a tiny section of it in a photo. (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Dawson’s on Main for lunch/dinner. (Indianapolis, IN)
  • Topiary Park is seven-acres and located in Old Deaf School Park with a historic past dating back to the early 19th century. It’s a topiary interpretation of Georges Seurat’s famous Post-Impressionist painting ‘A Sunday Afternoon on the Isle of La Grand Jatte’. Due to traffic we arrived at night. Unfortunately, the photos I took didn’t run out well. (Columbus, OH)
  • Baymont Inn … sleepy time. (Cambridge, OH)

Tomorrow is the last leg of our cross-country adventure. It seems to have gone by very quickly!

Day 6 (Cambridge, OH to Manassas, VA) Stopped at …

  • Starbucks because there weren’t any non-chain coffee shops nearby. (Cambridge, OH)
  • Fallingwater, a National Historic Landmark, is a home built over a waterfall by Frank Lloyd Wright in the late 1930s for the Kaufmann family. The grounds and home are beautiful. The water areas were very low due to the hot and dry summer weather. (Mill Run, PA)
  • D’Atri Restaurant for lunch/dinner. (LaVale, MD)
  • Pin Oak Fountain, blink and you will miss this roadside site. Built in 1932, the crystal quartz and stone used to build it are from local sources. The fountain’s spring water is gravity fed from the hill above and continues to supply area residents. (Paw Paw, WVA)
  • The World’s Largest Apple, there are actually two versions in the area … one on the front lawn of a local retail store called Kimberly’s (bizarro!) and a decorated version at the entrance of White House Foods. (Winchester, VA)
  • Home for sleep in my own bed!

Cross-Country Road Trip


“Come along and ride on a fantastic voyage…” Follow me on a 12-day journey that begins in San Fran, goes to a tree house in Big Sur, then Seattle to meet up with my friend Melissa for a cross-country road trip back to Va. The adventure begins at the BCD tomorrow…