Chapter 20 1982 - Kids in America

Angela and I’s triumphant return to America was anything but. There was no fanfare, not even a mention in the national music news magazines. Golden Fingers fever had waned, and the days of crowds, autograph seekers and stalkers had been left behind. Two years of seeming anonymity had done the trick, and although relieved, I was also a little bit disappointed.

“It’s like there never was a Golden Fingers, or that I never was famous at all,” he mused. “What hath we wrought? We’re just another couple of kids in America.”

“But isn’t this what you’ve been after for the past few years?” Angela countered. “We can finally begin to live the live we dreamed. We are set financially, and we can go just about anywhere we want, without even gaining a hint of recognition.”

“Nonetheless, it hurts a little. Fans are so fickle.”

The first order of business was where to live. They had sold their former home, and the home in Australia, and were, in effect, homeless. Despite the fact that everything they owned and had purchased in Australia was brand new, it was too much trouble to bring it around to the other side of the world, so they returned what they could, and sold the remainder at a substantial loss.

“It’s only money,” I mused. “We went though a lot of it, but there’s more where that came from.”

“How much more?” Angela asked.

“Plenty,” and I left it at that.

Turning his thoughts to establishing a new home back in America, I offered the suggestion: “Let’s do a tour of the country, and maybe decide on where we want to settle down. There’s nothing else pressing to do, and we are free to be anywhere we want.”

“Road trip!” Angela fired back, only slightly mocking I’s enthusiasm for the short Australian tour of the Southeast Coast. Never having traveled much as a child, she was actually was looking forward to it.

“More than just a road trip,” I said. “It will be the adventure of a lifetime!”


January’s chill was still a shock after the reversal of seasons in the land down under.

“First order of business is to warm up. Let’s join the snow birds in Arizona and see what that’s is all about,” I suggested.

“It’s just a bunch of old folks, I suppose. We’re still practically kids, so what will have in common with any of them?”

“It’s not like we will be hanging out together,” I countered. “It’s just that a lot of folks spend their winter down there.”

“So how will we get around? Where are we staying along the way.”

“I’ve got it all figured out. We’ll get an RV. It will be a real road trip. We’ll drive on the road, live on the road, eat on the road.”

“I’m not going to spend all my time in a bus!” Angela cried.

“We’ll tow a vehicle as well, for the shorter trips. We’ll spend some time in lots of different places. If we plan it out well enough, we can see the whole country, and use the whole year to do it. If our life was a book, this could be its longest chapter.”

“We’ll need a map. We’ll need lots of maps.”

“We’ll get a map.”


Despite the fact that Arizona was a bordering state to California, from the north state the drive was nearly two days, if one wanted to spend the entire day behind the wheel. Setting out on a cool January morning, I noted “We don’t need to break any speed records on this trip. There’s no destination other than home, and no timetable except December 31.”

With their new RV and a new car in tow, they enjoyed the leisurely pace down the Great Central Valley, stopping in many of the small towns along the way that, while life was in the way, they never really had a chance to visit. Town after town offered up its touristy friendliness and unique aspects, until finally, the road gave way to seemingly endless deserts and lack of population.

As they crossed into the Imperial Valley of California, passing the Salton Sea, they finally came to the extreme southern end of the state. As they looked around in all directions, seeing nothing but desert, I declared, “This could be center of the world, for all we know. After all, why not?”

“I would this the center would be full of lava.”

“Point taken.”

Turning east, their direction was set: Arizona.

Entering through Yuma, they stopped at an old former prison, The Yuma Territorial Prison. I remarked “Good thing we haven’t done anything bad, yet. We could have ended up here.” The place was in shambles, and hadn’t housed a prisoner in years. “However, as we have ended up here, we might as well explore a bit.”

They toured the prison grounds, and learned more about the fascinating history of the town. Altogether they spent a couple of days.

“It’s time to hit the road,” I stated, feeling restless already. ”Next stop: Phoenix!”

However, only a couple of hours down the road, they noted the turnoff for the Painted Rocks State Park. “This could be interesting,” indicated I, as he took the turn. They marveled at the ancient inscriptions, and fell to temptation to add their own, a simple inscription of a bass guitar with “1982” beneath it.

After spending a couple of hours, they returned to the Interstate and continued on the road to Phoenix.

“Let’s park the RV and do a couple days of exploring here.” I ticked off a mark on the side of the RV. “We’ll keep track of the states right here.”

Their first stop was the Desert Botanical Garden, where they enjoyed the immense variety of diversity to be found in the desert landscape. They followed that with a tour of the Phoenix Mountain Preserve, taking a few shorts hikes to fill out the day.

The next day, they were off to the mountain area outside of the city, taking in splendid views and enjoying the crisp, yet comfortable Arizonan weather. A trip to the Capitol building rounded out their stay.

Finally, as they left the Phoenix area, they drove the few miles off to Flagstaff, and again, abandoning their RV, drove the remainder of the way to the Grand Canyon. Renting some camping equipment, they took some mules down to the bottom of the canyon and spent a couple of very chilly nights in the great outdoors.

“Maybe we won’t too many more nights like that.”

“Maybe not.”

Their week in Arizona was coming to a close, and they continued to head east towards New Mexico, taking a short stop in the Petrified Forest National Park to explore some of that ancient beauty.

New Mexico

They almost failed to notice while crossing the line into New Mexico, since the sole “Welcome to New Mexico sign had fallen down. They stopped, propped it up, and took a picture of each other by the decrepit sign. A friendly traveler also stopped and took a picture of the two of them together

They continued until the turnoff for El Malpais National Monument, temporarily ditching the RV in nearby Grants. Another day of hiking, picture taking and general relaxation kept the couple busy.

Tired, but happy, then spent the night in Grants. “This has been nice, maybe we should retire here.”

“You’re already retired.”

In the morning, they continued on the way to Albuquerque. Again, parking the RV, they took a tour of the city, finding many enjoyable attractions, including the zoo and aquarium and various parks. However, it was a day trip out of town to Las Vegas that held the most potential excitement.

They boarded a train, which had a direct connection to Las Vegas. Filling his pocket with quarters I indicated to Angela, “I’m feeling lucky, and I think that we will come away big winners.”

The three hour ride through the desert was enchantingly pleasant. Seeking out the details among the barrenness proved to be an enjoyable pastime, and helped the time pass quickly.

Upon arriving in Las Vegas, I was confused. “Where are the big hotels and casinos? There was no building higher that a couple of floors, and nary a slot machine was to be seen. Did we step into a time machine, and arrived before Vegas became what it was?” The town appeared to be no more that a typical western town, right out of the movies. Despite appearances, townsfolk appeared in modern dress, but still, no marquees, no bright lights, and the main drag did not resemble the Strip of his memory.

Out of curiosity, they stopped in a visitor information center and inquired about the changes they’d seen.

The bemused information officer informed them that they were not in the famous Las Vegas, Nevada, but Las Vegas, New Mexico. The town has its own charms, but if they were expecting the big city, they were more likely to encounter disappointment. Since their trip was one of discovery, this mistake turned out to be a great discovery after all.

Returning the next day to Albuquerque, they continued the exploration of the larger city, and ended up spending a week, including a day trip to visit the state capital in Santa Fe.


Hooking up the car the the RV, they returned to the road and headed east on I-40, destination Amarillo, Texas. After a half-day’s drive through the desert, and encountering a sudden thunderstorm, they were a bit concerned with flash floods, but their fears were groundless on this particular day.

Arriving in Amarillo in early afternoon, they were relived to see evidence of civilization after their drive through the desert. They enjoyed tours of local museums and various sites celebrating the cowboys and their lore in the old west.

After exploring the area for a couple of days, they headed south to Lubbock. Turning onto highway 289, they drove for miles before discovering that they were in fact going in circles, a loop around the city. Returning to the Interstate, they continued south to Midland, and once again headed west to connect with I-20. They pulled the RV into Balmorhea State Park. They particularly enjoyed the large pool and the relaxed atmosphere, even though the weather was a bit too cold for actual swimming. Despite that, the scenery and potential was something they thought might warrant a return trip some day.

After a couple of days, they once again hit the road, heading to San Antonio. Stopping briefly for a meal in Fort Stockton, and welcoming a break in the desert monotony with a short stop in Ozona, they decided to leave the Interstate and head up to San Angelo. Finding that the area had a lot to offer, they spent a few days at the state park, and enjoyed some recreation at the nearby lake. Once again vowing to return to fully partake of the outdoors activities that were limited because of the calendar, the once again headed south toward San Antonio.

Arriving in the city, they consulted their map before making the same mistake of looping the city on I-410. They first visited Mission San Juan Capistrano because Angela wanted to see the swallows. Discovering too late that the famous swallows were not only not there, but it was the wrong Mission San Juan Capistrano, they nonetheless enjoyed touring the ancient architecture. They suspected that they place name confusion was something they would continue to experience throughout their trip.

They also discovered that there were several other missions in the area, and thoroughly explored each of the others.

Heading up to the state capital of Austin, they enjoyed viewing the government buildings and toured the Capitol grounds. After a couple of days in the capital, they once again hit the road, heading towards Houston.

Houston was a refreshing change of pace from the small towns along the highway and the vast stretches of desert between them. Parking the RV outside of the city, they took to the road in the car instead. Also, they decided to take a few days residence in a local hotel, rather than return daily to the RV. As they visited Pasadena, they knew not to look for the Rose Parade, but were momentarily confused upon encountering Yellowstone Park. The lack of geysers and other geologic features was a dead giveaway.

A day trip to Galveston was enjoyable, but the winter weather on the Gulf made them vow once again to return during a more appropriate time.

Finally, they headed north to Dallas and Fort Worth to begin wrapping up their whirlwind tour of Texas. “There’s so much more to be seen, it just can’t be done in a couple of weeks,” I noted. “But I think we’ve gotten a good taste of what Texas has to offer.”

Driving around the Dallas-Forth Worth area, they discovered that it was a much larger area than they expected, and a lot of cultural activities were available to see. They visited the site of Kennedy’s assassination, and I speculated on the various conspiracy theories that had been advanced in the years since. “It’s never going to rest,” he noted. “They will still be debating this for many years to come.”

As the month came to an end, they began making their way to Oklahoma.



Entering Oklahoma in early February, they headed north towards Oklahoma City. Seeing a highway sign for Buffalo/Springfield, I wondered aloud “I wonder if Neil’s in town.”

They noted that the nights were chilly, but that the daytime temperatures were generally mild. Although a few clouds floated overhead, there was no threat of any impending precipitation. They discovered a Botanical Gardens and toured that, enjoying a taste of the local flora. They visited the State Capitol and several museums.

Following a couple of days in the capital, they moved East and spent a couple of days exploring the Lake Eufala area before heading North to Tulsa.

While in Tulsa, they encountered the legendary Route 66. “May we should follow this. Could be fun.”

“If we wanted to follow it, we should have started back in California. We’re right in the middle. Besides, it’s not heading the way we need to be going.”


After a couple of days exploring Tulsa, they moved into northern Arkansas, and discovered the beauty of the Ozarks and Eureka Springs. They were particularly moved by the Christ of the Ozarks statue, and enjoyed the old town atmosphere of Eureka Springs itself. “This is another place I’d like to return to in the future,” Angela indicated.

They continued south to the capital of Little Rock, enjoying the Capitol grounds and visiting the Hot Springs area for a relaxing time. I was tempted to dip a toe into the water, but upon discovering that it was a hundred and forty seven degrees, though better of it. Instead, they found a local site that used the water, but at a more comfortable temperature, and they enjoyed a relaxing spa vacation. After a few days, they continued to Texarkana, straddling the two state lines. “I guess we retuned to Texas earlier that we had expected.”

They headed south to Louisiana.


Their first stop was in Shreveport. They spent some time exploring the Red River area and then continued to the lower part of the state, stopping overnight in Lake Charles. They visited museums and art galleries, before embarking to Baton Rouge, the state’s capital. They enjoyed the relatively mild temperatures and they took part in some more indoor and some outdoor activities.

Arriving a week before Mardi Gras in New Orleans, they were sure to establish themselves before the crowds started to come in. There was no sufficient space for the RV in the city proper, so they housed it outside of town, and checked into a local hotel. As they toured the pre-Mardi Gras city, the crowds were noticeably growing larger, and they were glad they got into town when they did. By the time the celebration was in full swing, they were fully immersed in the local culture, and even found themselves participating in one of the parades.

The scene on Bourbon Street hit a little too close to home reminding them of the days of frenzy during Golden Fingers touring days, and they decided to return to a less public profile before perhaps being recognized and mobbed.

With Mardi Gras over, the city began to calm down, and they enjoyed a more leisurely pace, visiting the Bayou area and generally enjoying the comfortable weather.


A sudden storm greeted their arrival in Mississippi, as they headed to Jackson. They visited the Capitol building, currently under renovation, and vowed to return once the renovation was complete. A botanical garden at the edge of town aroused their interest, and they stop per at a local drive in for lunch.

Heading north to Tupelo, they noted along the way signs pointing to Philadelphia, Louisville, West Point, Macon, and Houston. “We could knock off practically the whole country right here in Mississippi!”

“Doesn’t count.”

They visited the birthplace of Elvis Presley in Tupleo. Even though it had been nearly five years since his death, a steady stream of curious visitors were making their pilgrimages, before, presumably, heading on to Memphis. Angela and I, however, headed east.



Continuing into Birmingham, they visited the Botanical Gardens, the Birmingham Museum of Art and enjoyed viewing and learning about the history of the famous Vulcan Statue.

They continued on to Montgomery, the state capital, and visited the various government complexes there. While in town, the also took in art museums and the Montgomery Zoo.

Continuing to head south, they stopped for a couple of days in Mobile. “Stuck inside of Mobile with the Memphis blues again.”

“Well get the Memphis. Be patient.”

After exploring Mobile they headed east to explore Florida.


The drive across the north state led them to Panama City, and once again found them confused at not finding the canal, despite searching for a full day. Tallahassee was next, visiting the Capitol, and a side trip to Natural Bridge Battlefield State Park. Finally, they arrived at Jacksonville and their first glimpse of the Atlantic Ocean. They decided to spend a couple of days at Jacksonville Beach before exploring the southern part of the state.

Departing for Miami, they once again parked their RV and climbed into the car for an exploration of the Florida Keys.

Moving to the gulf side of the state, they spent time in Tampa before returning to the central state and visiting Orlando for a few days with trips to Disney World and Epcot.


Departing for Georgia from Orlando, their first stop in the Peach State was the Stephen C. Foster State Park. They enjoyed the gateway to the Okefenokee Swamp, and the refuge from the urban locations so recently visited. The night sky was magnificent, and they could see the Milky Way in all its glory.

They returned to the coast and made their way to Savannah, and marveled at the particularly rugged coast that Georgia had to offer.

Finally, they went inland to visit the state capitol of Augusta.

South Carolina

Crossing into South Carolina, they continued to Columbia, visiting the Suth Carolina State House. Eager to see the ocean again, they ventured to Myrtle Beach. While the temperature remained cool, and on a couple of days it rained, they enjoyed time on the beach. The water itself was too cold for swimming, but with the right clothing, it could be comfortable. They enjoyed watching a sunrise over the ocean, in stark contrast to the ocean sunsets that they had always experienced.

Continuing to the state capital of Columbia, they enjoyed many of the cultural and historical sites the city had to offer. A simple night out had them enjoying Deathtrap at the movies, and the comedy nearly brought them to tears.

North Carolina

Another half-day’s drive and they found themselves in Raleigh, North Carolina. They enjoyed the site of its many Oak Trees and the classic construction of its State Capitol building. The Arboretum was particularly pleasurable.

They continued westward to Charlotte, enjoying the metropolitan feel of North Carolina’s largest city. They were surprised to hear that Charlotte enjoyed a status as a significant financial center, second only the New York City. They enjoyed the zoo, aquarium and even took in a show at one of the area theaters.

Westward, they spend their final night in March in Asheville.



The April Fools’ day drive across the Great Smoky Mountains was, at times, challenging for the RV, but the scenery was beautiful and worth the slightly nerve-wracking route. They took in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park and enjoyed a couple of days there exploring it endless wonder.

Continuing onto Knoxville, they once again enjoyed open and relatively straight driving conditions. They were disappointed to learn that they were too early to enjoy the World’s Fair, which was to open in May, but the sight of the new construction and the massive Sunsphere was still a sight to behold.

The drive to Nashville was only slightly marred by a spring storm, buy they enjoyed seeming this hub of Country music. “My dad would love this place,” I remarked.

The State Capitol seemed to take a back seat to everything else the city had to offer.

“No trip would be complete without visiting Graceland,” I remarked as they were en route to Memphis. “The King would be proud to see how he is honored today.”


Choosing to not cover ground they had so recently trod, they headed north on a minor highway to enter Kentucky.

“Enough of the big city, for now,” I stated. “We’ll stop here in this town of Princeton.” I was surprised to see that the city had no bars, and that in fact, no alcohol sales were permitted at all. “That’s odd,” he remarked.

After a delightful couple of days in Princeton, they continued on to Louisville. “We seem to be always arriving early,” I noted. “The Kentucky Derby is still three weeks away, so I guess we won’t be going to that. Would have been nice, though.” Despite the fact the the Derby itself wouldn’t be run until early May, preparations were already underway for the Festival.

“Can’t we just stay here a few days and enjoy that,” Angela inquired.

“I don’t see why not,” I answered. “We’ve been on the road for so long, and it only seems right that we take a break and thoroughly enjoy ourselves.”

Leaving the RV at a local park, they continued to see the sights of the city by car, and enjoyed the Louisville Slugger museum. They also took a day trip to Lexington, and toured the Capitol grounds.


After enjoying the first few days of the Festival, they packed up again and headed to St. Louis, briefly passing through lower Illinois. “We’ll be back!” as they failed to stop.

There were greeted by the Gateway Arch as they entered the city. “Let’s go to the top!”

“We certainly aren’t going to drive up it!”

“No, we’ll park. There’s an elevator.”

The view from the top of the arch was amazing. “I’m glad we stopped here, I can’t believe what we’re seeing!”

After the tour, they discussed the remainder of the week, “We can now go back to Illinois, or explore Missouri some.”

“Let’s explore!”

The continued westward until they got to the capital city, Jefferson City and spent a couple of days. Then down south to Springfield and a visit to the Nathan Boone Homestead. Turning north, they reached the other end of the state, stopping over in Kansas City.

“Can we make it to Illinois in one day?”

“I don’t see why not, it’s only a four hour drive.”

They did not. They decided to stop over in Florida along the way. Florida, Missouri, the site of Mark Twain’s birth.


The drive to Springfield, Illinois was pleasant, but confusing. “Weren’t we just here a few days ago?”

“That was Springfield, Missouri.”

“Oh.” They visited the State Capitol building, marveling at how it dwarfed the other buildings in the area.

They continued north to Peoria, staying overnight in an industrial area outside of town. “Nothing to write home about.”

“I’m sure it has something else to offer.”

They didn’t discover it.

Continuing on to Bloomington, they passed through and continued to Champaign. “How about some bubbly?”

“That would be Champagne.”

Despite the fact there would be no bubbly, then spent their last night of April just outside of town.



May Day greeted them with bright sunshine and a trip to Indianapolis, where they visited the State Capitol as well.

“We’ll have an opportunity to visit the northern state later, I suppose, so let’s head south, and see what’s down there.”

Confusion set in once again as they passed through Bloomington. “No imagination?” I remarked. Certainly there must be plenty of names to go around without having to duplicate so many.

Southern Indiana was a pleasant surprise for them, as they discovered the sparse population and vast farmland. The small towns were quaint, and offered their own unique charm. They passed through Bedford, Mitchell and visited Paoli and Orleans, wondering if it was New or Old.

With distraction at the rural nature of the area, I failed to notice that he was moving along the rural highway at a significant number beyond the local speed limit, and the inevitable flashing lights of an Illinois State Trooper forced him to pull over.

“License and registration.”

I pulled out his wallet and passed it on to the officer. The photograph was pre-haircut, and clearly showed the former rock god’s famous locks. The name was also a dead giveaway.

“Thank you, sir,” said the officer. “I’m a big fan. Your autograph, please?”

I signed the ticket, reluctantly.

Returning to Bedford for their overnight stay, they encountered US 50. “Hey, I bet we could take this all the way home,” I noted.

“There’s a lot more to see the other way,” Angela directed.

US 50 East, was their new direction.


They entered into Ohio, meandering along the scenic Ohio River, and finally into Cincinnati. “Sin City! Weren’t we already here too?”

“No, that was Las Vegas, and not even the right one.”

“Well, then. On to the capital!”

They headed to Columbus. While there, they of course visited the Capitol grounds, but also were taken in by the beauty of the Columbus Park of Roses.

“We’ll be back to Ohio before long, I suppose.”

Rejoining their beloved US 50 at Athens (“Where’s the Coliseum? Or at least R.E.M.?”), they crossed into West Virginia.

West Virginia

“What’s that smell?” I asked. “Oh, it’s only the B&O.” He enjoyed and laughed at his little joke.

Angela didn’t.

They headed south, the winding road making the couple slightly carsick, and arrived in the capital of Charleston at mid-day. An overnight stay put them back on the road, through even more mountainous terrain, heading east to their next destination: Virginia.


The transition from West Virginia to Virginia was barely noticeable, but for the “Welcome to Virginia” sign that greeted them. The terrain remained rugged and mountainous, but eventually gave way to a more rural, farming environment. After several hours of rough travel, they decided to stop in Waynesboro, a small town along the way. Enjoying the small town feel, but also enjoying some conveniences, they decided to stop over for the night. They visited some nearby Civil War landmarks and the nearby Shenandoah National Park.

Continuing the next day, they stopped over in Richmond and toured the Capitol.

Washington D.C.

Departing early the next morning, they headed north to the Nation’s Capitol, Washington D.C.

Rather than try to stay in the Capital itself, they continued on the Cherry Hill, Maryland to leave their RV and proceed back into the city via automobile.

While in Washington they toured the Capitol Building itself, the Smithsonian and its many museums and walked the distance from the Capitol to the Lincoln Memorial and back. At just under three miles, and with so many attractions to see along the way, the effort seemed minimal. They were a little surprised to see active baseball games being played along the National Mall. “That would never go over well at home,” I stated.

A small side trip from the Washington Monument had them at the White House. Not wanting to disturb the occupants (and partly because of a disagreement with their politics) they made no attempt at getting in.

“The road has been fun, but I’m ready for some pampering. How about we just check into a hotel, and take some time out?” Angela asked.

“Better yet, how about we do the ultimate pampering, and take a cruise?”

“And what cruise lines sail the Potomac?,” Angela inquired.

“Well, there are some, but not exactly what I had in mind. I’m thinking of something a bit more spectacular: Alaska!”



After a return trip to Cherry Hill to pack a week’s worth of luggage for the cruise, they discovered the particular lack of formal clothing and accessories.

“I guess we didn’t plan for this eventuality, so we’re going to have to do some shopping.”

They found nearly everything they needed in Baltimore. I considered renting a tuxedo, but gave in and purchased one instead. “I will probably have another opportunity to wear it before long.”

Angela had difficulty finding the right shoes to match her outfit, and they decided to venture to Annapolis to see if they would have better luck. To her delight, she found exactly what they were looking for, and as long as they were there, they toured the State Capitol.


Returning to D.C., they booked their flight to Seattle, the departure point for the Alaskan Cruise. “Washington to Washington. It’s like we never left.” The airport shuttle took them straight to the port to board this ship.

On board, they were greeted by the pure luxury they had been missing for the past several months. Their spacious cabin afforded them a chance to stretch out beyond the confines of their RV, and venturing beyond, they had the entire ship to explore. The meals were sumptuous, and I was particularly intrigued by the on board gambling. “It’s Vegas all over again!” he cried. “We can even see a show!”

Several ports were visited, including the capital, Juneau, and some smaller inland passage cites for Ketchikan and Skagway. The trip into the fjords were particularly magnificent, but a little cold.

“I’m glad we had some heavy coats along with us. Stepping from late spring temperatures back into freezing cold is an adjustment I couldn’t make without some help.”

Their table mates at meals were oblivious to their identities, having come from an older generation, and had never been caught up in the frenzy of the Golden Fingers days.

“What do you do?” was the inevitable question.

I evaded a direct answer, “I’m between jobs right now. We’re touring the US for a year. Just a couple of kids in America.”

“You youngsters don’t know responsibility, frittering way your time while everyone else is working,” one of their companions complained.

“Oh, no sir, it’s not anything like that. It’s just we built up a bit of a nest egg and are enjoying some time while we’re still young. We look forward to raising a family someday and settling down. This will be an adventure that we’ll tell our kids and grandkids. Maybe even repeat it when they are older.”

The conversation gradually drifted to more non-confrontational issues, and the remainder of the week allowed the couple to fully relax.

Returning to Seattle and the end of their cruise, they boarded the flight back to D.C. “Washington to Washington. It’s like we never left.”

“I’ve heard that before.”

Another shuttle took them back to their RV in Cherry Hill, and strapping in, they were ready to hit the road again. This time their destination was Dover, Delaware, the state capitol.


It was a short two hour drive, and when they arrived, they took to obligatory tour of the Capitol. “Didn’t George Carlin offer an all-expenses paid trip here just last year?”

“I think that was meant as a joke.”

“Well, we’re here anyway.”

They set out to explore the state, and were surprised when they were back by the late afternoon. “I guess we could have spent more time at the coast.”

“We were there two hours. Besides, it was a bit cold. We even took that side trip down to Ocean City, Maryland.”

“Yeah, I was curious to see the end of US 50. We could have turned onto it and traveled all the way back home.”

“We’re not ready for that, yet.”

After taking time out for a bite to eat, they headed up to Wilmington, and found a couple of state parks that, sadly, were day use only, and closed early in the evening. However, they decided to park their RV and visit them them following day. They thoroughly enjoyed Brandywine Creek park, with its lush beauty and serene atmosphere. It left them wanting to spend another night, but it wasn’t an option. “I guess it’s on to New Jersey, then.”

New Jersey

“How do you get off this thing?” I declared, after they had been on the Turnpike for an hour. “There’s nothing but cars and it’s costing me a fortune paying all those tolls.”

“It’s not that bad,” Angela advised. “Look, right there up ahead is an exit that will get us over to the coast. See that sign for Asbury Park? Maybe we can visit with Bruce while we’re there.” Bruce had opened for Golden Fingers back in 1976, and that exposure was often credited with his subsequent success.

“He’s probably out on tour. This is at the peak of the summer concert season.”

Their side trip allowed them the relief of another early arrival, and a pleasant afternoon at the beach.

The following day, they ventured an even shorter distance to Trenton, visiting the Capitol and then on to Elizabeth. Ditching the RV once again, they began planning their time to be spent in New York City.

New York

They began their first day in the Big Apple with a visit to Battery Park. They took the ferry to Liberty Island, and enjoyed the visit to that national monument.

After returning they headed up Broadway, passing Wall Street. “I guess I should see how my investments are doing.”

“Let’s not.”

I couldn’t help but sing “Blaming it all on the nights on Broadway!”

“It’s daytime.” Was Angela only response.

But the lights suddenly came on when they discovered they were driving the wrong way on the the one way broadway.


“Maybe we should park and just walk it instead.”

They continued up Broadway until they reached Union Square.

“What now?”

“I guess you just go around.”

Rejoining Broadway on the other side, they continued until they encountered Herald Square.

“Give my regards to Broadway, remember me to Herald Square,” I sang out, loudly enough for some passersby to hear. With some, a hit of recognition, but they moved on before it was too late.

As they arrived in Times Square, Broadway gave way to oblivion. “I guess that’s it.”

“No, it’s just pedestrian walkways right here.” They continued on towards Central Park. Entering the park, they began to explore the many paths it had to offer.

Upon arriving at the 86th street station, they decided that there had been enough walking and took the subway back to Battery Park.

“Well, we’ve seen it all!”


They spent another week, but chose the subway and cabs for their primary transportation. Even after a week, they had hardly scratched the surface as to everything they would have liked to do. “I guess this will have to be a destination on it’s own the next time. But we have a schedule to keep, or we’ll never get home.”

“I’ll be back,” I stated. Passing nearby, Arnold shrugged off the recognition he thought he felt, but remembered the words.

Returning to Elizabeth to retrieve their abandoned RV, they moved on with their venture into Connecticut.

“Hey, here we are on Manhattan again. I said I’d be back, and here I am.”

“Just drive.”

They continued on, and when passing through New Rochelle, I asked “Do you think we should stop in a see Rob and Laura?”

“They don’t exist.”



They continued along the coastline of Long Island Sound after entering Connecticut and continued until they reached New Haven. Turning north, they stopped short of the capital city when I spotted Dinosaur State Park.

“Dinosaurs in Connecticut?” he asked. “I have a hard time believing that.”

They stopped to take a look, but all they found were tracks. “I guess they were just passing through, like us.”

They put up for the night after the long exhausting three hour drive in Hartford. “Might as well see the Capitol while we’re here,” I quipped, the next morning, as if they haven’t seen it everywhere else. Then suddenly realizing they failed to see the Capitol while in New York City, he exclaimed, “We have to go back, we didn’t see the Capitol in New York City!”

“New York is not the capital of New York.”

“Oh, right.”

Checking the map, I noted “We can be in Boston well before the sun goes down.”

“Aren’t you forgetting something?” Angela pointed out, as she pointed out the small state to the east. “We haven’t yet been to Rhode Island.”

Rhode Island

As they crossed over into Rhode Island, I couldn’t help but notice how quickly they got to the other side.

Despite his misgivings, they found Providence to be a delightful city, and found the Rhode Island State House to be an impressive structure, and quite beautifully lit at night.

Intrigued by the fact that Rhode Island was not actually an island, I desired to see an island in Rhode Island, so they planned a trip to Prudence Island, an actual island which had no apparent way of getting there. As it turned out, a ferry ran from Bristol to Prudence Island, so they took it. Discovering that the population of the island was fewer than 100, they surmised that those that did live there were trying to get away fro the surprising heavily populated area of the capital.

They also discovered that were were several islands that could be visited in the Bay, and one island, Conanicut, had the town of Jamestown, which could be driven to by car.

“I guess there’s more to Rhode Island than I originally thought,” I stated.

After exploring Jamestown, they stated the night in Portsmouth before heading out the next day to Boston.


“These drives are so short, one might think we’d be better off walking.”

“It’s over sixty miles. How good are your shoes?”

They chose to drive.

Arriving in Boston early, they secured a location for the RV, and drove into the downtown area. They discovered the start of the Freedom trail and walked its length to Old Ironsides, where they enjoyed a tour and ended the day visiting the State House, and relaxing at the end of a long date at a local pub.

“Cheers!” as they raised a glass and the Independence Day fireworks shot off overhead.

“This state is a bit larger that the ones we’ve just been though,” I remarked, “and everything is not just here in Boston. Let’s stretch our metaphorical legs and do some more exploring.”

Heading west, their first stop was Springfield. “Haven’t we been here before? Is nobody original anymore?”

But I was silent when he discovered that this was the first Springfield. “I guess the rest just copied this one.”

They explored Skinner State Park, but found much of it to be in disarray, and suspected the place was not long for this world. “D’oh” was I’s only articulation.

They had better luck at Mount Sugarloaf, though they had to continue without the RV to be able to maneuver the winding road to the summit. But the spectacular view of the Connecticut River and the surrounding valley made the effort worthwhile.

Returning to Springfield for another night, then ventured out the next morning to head towards Worcester. Electing to take the road less traveled, they headed north on US 202, around the Quabbin Reservoir and left US 202 in Templeton. Deciding that was far enough for one day (they were getting used to these short trips) they packed their RV and checked into a small hotel, and enjoyed the small town atmosphere.

The next day they were in Worcester in less than an hour. ”This is the way to explore,” I stated.

“But we never even get a chance to unpack,” Angela complained.

“What’s to unpack? Everything we need is already in the RV.”

“That’s true.”

Arriving in Worcester, I noted the location of the Stone’s recent surprise concert there. “We used to do that with Golden Fingers,” I stated. “We would drop in, unannounced, at some small venue, and blow the roof off the place. They didn’t always appreciate it. Especially the night we really did blow it off. Of course, the tornado could have had something to do with that.”

Finally, their tour of Massachusetts ended up in Manchester, once again on the coast, another quaint, small town. They spent two days.

New Hampshire

As they entered New Hampshire, I noted a sign that read “Portsmouth - 18 miles.”

“That’s on the Maine border. That hardly seems worth it to count as an adventure.”

“Let’s make it worth it.”

They took a look at the map, and noted a group of island a few miles off the coast. “I wonder what’s out there?”

“The map says they are the Isles of Shoals. Maybe we can get a charter to check them out.”

They discovered that there was a ferry service to Star Island and booked a trip. Once docked, they disembarked and began to explore the island. They found it only took a sort time to hike completely across the island, and they even ventured onto the breakwater to hike over to Cedar Island and Smuttynose Island. However, they didn’t find much of interest on the two remote islands. Returning to the Star Island, they took another ride over to Appledore Island. Despite it’s larger size, they was even less development, and all they discovered was a marine laboratory.

“I guess the heyday of these islands is long passed,” I mused.

Returning to the coast town of Portsmouth, they headed down the New Hampshire coast. They found that Hampton Beach offered RV camping, and decided to pull in and settle in for a few days off the road.


“Did you know we already have been in Maine?”

“I don’t recall ever being here before. When was that?”

“You don’t remember? We walked there last week.”

It was Angela’s time to be confused. “Walked?”

“Yes, three of the islands are actually part of Maine. Only Star was part of New Hampshire.

“Imagine that.”

The short drive from Hampton Beach to Portland, Maine was pleasant, but otherwise uneventful.

“I’m hungry,” I stated. “Let’s see if we can find someplace to eat.”

As they drove through the city, they noticed several restaurants on every block. “Is that all these folks do?”

“There are too many to choose from!”

“How about pizza!” The street they were on featured three pizza restaurants. “Pick one.”

They did, and it was delicious.

“We might as well hole up here for a few days.”

“In the pizza shack?”

“No, just in this town. We can get some variety of food, more that we typically carry with us.”

“I’d like some of the famous Maine lobster.”

“I’m sure we’ll be able to find it.”

As they walked the streets of Portland, they discovered a farmer’s market, said to be one of the oldest in the area. “We may as well stock up on some fresh stuff, our wares are beginning to wane.”

As they continued to explore Portland, they also discovered an active set of island communities out in Casco Bay, with regular ferry service out to many of them. And this time they could take their car with them. “Let’s explore!”

They first visited Peaks Island, and found that much of it could be visited by car. They enjoyed the long meandering seashore road that presented magnificent views of the bay and some of the other islands.

They had to return to the mainland to catch a different ferry to get to some of the other islands, but discovered that the ferry to Little Diamond continued on the several other islands, so it became an island hopping experience for them, including Great Diamond, Long Island, Chebeague Island and finally Cliff Island. While the day’s exploration took several hours, much of it waiting for the next ferry, the return trip, in which they chose not to drive off the ferry, took much less time. Yet, it was getting dark as they returned to shore.

Finding that the late hour did not diminish the dining experience, Angela found her lobster meal.

Packing up the following morning, they headed north to Augusta, the capital. As they arrived, it began to rain.

“This seems a pretty small town for a state capital,” I remarked.

After visiting the Capitol grounds, and a short tour of the Blaine House, they headed further north.

Stopping briefly in Bangor to gas up, they continued on the Interstate until it ended at Houlton.

“The edge of the US!”

“Actually, not,” Angela noted. “Look at the map, there’s still some easternmost land to explore.”

“Let’s explore!”

They drove down the coast to Quoddy Head State Park, and found a space fro the RV. They began their exploration at the West Quoddy Head Light, and climbed to the top for its spectacular view of the area. Despite the clouds, they still could see miles out into the Bay of Fundy, and could view the land mass of the Nova Scotia peninsula. As I leaned over the rail of the lighthouse, he yelled out “I’m the king of the world!”

“No, you’re not.”

Heading north, they continued on US 1, following it along the Canadian border to the northernmost town in New England, Madawaska, until it ended at Fort Kent. Despite the end of the official highway, they continued on the road, which eventually gave out. When they got to the end, they discovered there was no way to turn around. Putting the RV in reverse, they drove backwards for about a mile before they were finally able to turn around and begin their trip back into civilization. After an exhausting day of driving and discovery, they laid over in Fort Kent.

The next morning, they headed south on Highway 11, and rejoining the Interstate, found their way back into New Hampshire.


New Hampshire, revisited

After a long day of driving, the decided to hole up in a state park near the capital of Concord, and arrived at Bear Brook State Park, only about a half hour’s drive from the city. They decided to relax for a couple of days before continuing on their explorations.

Their stop at the State House provide them another historical tidbit: The nation’s oldest state house in which the legislature still occupies its original chambers.

Afterwards, they headed north, crossing into Vermont after passing through the little town of Littleton.


Continuing north, they ventured as far as the Canadian border, ending up in Derby Line. They found a place to park the RV, and walked the town, crossing, without realizing into the Canadian side of Rock Island. When they noticed a few signs in French, they realized their mistake and hurried back to the U.S. Pas de problème. “I guess we just made this an international trip,” I stated.

The drive to Montpelier was relatively short, compared to the day’s previous marathon drive, and they visited the State House. They were rather surprised to see that such a small city would be a state capital. Despite its size, however, they discovered that the city had a charm all its own.

The following day, they continued upstate to St. Albans, and after some experimentation, found they could cross Lake Champlain a little to the north, making their way back into New York.

New York, New York

“I said I’d be back,” I said as he was back.

“Yes, you are.”

“New York, New York, the city that never sleeps!”

“We’re nowhere near the city. We’re in Champlain.”

“Bubbly, my dear?”

They headed south on the Interstate through the Adirondacks, and headed toward the state capital.

“Finally, we get to see New York’s capital. I was confused.”

“You’re always confused.”

The narrow roads of the city of Albany weren’t quite right for the RV, so they parked it outside of town and drove into town in the car. The state capitol building was quite a bit different than any of the others they had visited. There was no traditional dome, and the whole thing looked more like a palace. After spending a night in a hotel in the city overlooking the Capitol, they retrieved their RV and continued to Syracuse. Deferring to another night in a city, they traveled on to Liverpool. “Maybe we’ll see a Beatle.”

“Maybe not.”

Having seen no Beatles during the overnight hours, they left the next morning to go to Niagara Falls. Finding that there was accommodation for the RV, the drove directly to Goat Island, parked and sent several hours enjoying the falls. “I wonder where they sell the barrels?”

“They don’t.”

After spending the night in the area, they followed the Lake Erie shoreline, entering into Pennsylvania after a couple of hours drive.


Their first stop was in Asbury Park in Erie, where they bought a postcard to send back home. “Greetings from Asbury Park” was all they wrote.

They continued south until they hit Interstate 80. “Hey, we can take this all the way back home.”

“Let’s not.”

Turning east instead, they traveled until the turned north to explore some of the mountainous area north of the highway. They found a wealth of camping opportunities, but chose to stake out a place for a couple of days in Sinnemahoning State Park. Continuing north, they encountered US 6 and headed east. Though the winding road was sometimes a challenge for the RV and car combination, they traveled for half a day and came to Scranton in the early afternoon. They arrived in time to take a short tour of the Scranton Iron Furnaces. Heading south the next day, they arrived in Philadelphia, and spent a couple of days visiting the many landmarks of historical significance that the City of Brotherly Love had to offer. Finally, turning east, they ventured to Harrisburg, visiting the Capitol, and wondering if the nighttime glow was a little bit radioactive.

Finally, they concluded their loop drive around Pennsylvania with a trek to Pittsburgh, where they explored the city, seemingly crossing a bridge every few blocks.

“Sure are a lot of ‘em,” I noted.

“Sure are.”



After they night’s stay in Pittsburgh, they headed west and crossed over in Ohio.

“Oh, Hi, again”

“Oh. We’ve been here before.”

“Yes, but going the other way.”

They stopped over in Akron for a bite to eat, then continued on to Cleveland for the overnight stay. Following along the shoreline drive of Lake Erie, they decided it was too much for the RV, and returned to the Interstate, continuing to Toledo.

“Holy Toledo, we just passed through Oregon.”

“Doesn’t count.”


They entered Michigan shortly before noon, and continued north around the lake until they arrived in Detroit. Looking for a good Italian meal, they stopped in the Roma Cafe, thoroughly enjoying their repast. They explored the city and surrounding area, then found a hotel to stay for the night.

Continuing the next day through Flint and Saginaw they made their way to Wilderness State Park, at the northernmost part of the state, just in time to celebrate the Labor Day holiday. The distance and serenity from all things industrial was an attraction, and they decided to extend their stay for a full week. During that time, they cool afternoons at the lakeshore, and even ventured a few times out on the lake itself by boat.

Rested, the returned south to go to Lansing and visited the Capitol and surrounding area. Following their overnight stay in Lansing, they headed east to Grand Rapids.

“If we turn here, we can go to Wyoming.”

“Let’s not.”

They continued towards Ludington, and arranged to take the S.S. Badger ferry across Lake Michigan to Wisconsin. Arriving too late for the last ferry, they stayed overnight in nearby Ludington State Park.

In the morning, the drove onto the ferry, and parked the RV and car in its spacious parking area.

“This is just like Alaska without the glaciers.”

“Not really.”

The lack of slots machines was a jarring revelation for I. “When do we get to Vegas?”

“Not for a while. Keep your quarters.”

But they did enjoy the four hour cruise.

“I would have been nervous if it had been a three hour cruise.”

“Set your watch, it’s a new time zone.”

“So it was a three hour cruise, after all.”


Upon arriving in Manitowoc, they had to wait for about an hour before they were able to fully disembark. They briefly explored the city, and discover the site where Sputnik 4 crashed in 1962. They continued on north and spent the night in Green Bay. They decided to visit a few local bars to explore the music scene, and were particularly impressed by one small combo, focussing on the percussionist. “He can really bang the drum,” I remarked.

After the show, he went up to the young man and confided in him his identity, but asked him to be discrete. “I’m really impressed with your skills, and would like to consider working with you in the future. Please let me know how to contact you, and I’ll get back to you next year after we return to California.”

The following day, they continued east to Wausau, hoping to camp at Rib Mountain State Park, only to discover that it was only open during the day. Despite their initial disappointment, they discovered a great many things of interest. Heading north afterwards, they camped overnight at Council Grounds State Park instead.

Following their night in the woods, they noted that evening chills were beginning to set in. “Summer’s almost over.”

They drove the next day to Madison, and toured the capitol and spent the night.


Heading out early the next day, they arrived in Dubuque, Iowa, crossing back over the Mississippi, which they had last seen in St. Louis. They continued on to Cedar Rapids, where they spent the night. The short two hour drive to the capital, Des Moines, found them checking in at Walnut Woods State Park. Back in town, they toured the Capitol, they returning to the state park, decided to do some canoeing on the Racoon River. They enjoyed a few days in the park while autumn set in.



Heading north, they stopped in Bloomington to see the former home of the Twins and Vikings. “My dad considered the Twins his home team, since his family in North Dakota like to root for them in the 60’s. The place sure has run down since then. They should probably just tear the whole thing down, and build something else in its place.”

They attended a Twins game in the new Metrodome, but the team was having a bad season, and the game was lost.

The next day, then went to St. Paul, and visited the Capitol, spending another night. In the morning, they made their way to Duluth and explored the region surrounding the tip of Lake Superior.

On the way to Bemidji, they passed through Grand Rapids. “Weren’t we,” I began.

Angela cut him off, mid-sentence with a simple “No.”

In Bemidji, they stopped to visit the Paul Bunyan and Babe statues, and heard about the fictional character’s exploits. After a two hour drive they spent the night in International Falls.


Still, they wanted the experience of the northernmost point in the continuous states, and drove the long drive on the next day to Penasse. Looking at the map, I wondered aloud “Why can’t we take road right across the lake. It could shave off an hour.”

“That’s the border. There’s no road.”

They followed the highway, briefly entering Canada and parking the RV at the Young’s Bay Resort. A boat ride took them to Penasse.

“OK, we’ve been there. It’s cold. Let’s go back.”

Setting out the next morning, they once again passed into Canada en route to Grand Forks, North Dakota.

Looking at the map, I exclaimed, “No way are we taking that route.”

“That’s the Red River, not a road.”

North Dakota

They crossed the winding Red River at Drayton and stopped in the tiny town for a bite to eat before continuing to Grand Forks, where they spent the night. Continuing on the next day, they visited the International Peace Gardens on the Canadian border. They found a place to stay in Dunseith.

“We keep coming back to Canada, I noted.”


The next day they arrived at the state capital, Bismarck, at midday, and toured the Capitol building, unique and modern compared to many other state houses.

Following the overnight stay in Bismarck, they headed to the west, to the small town of Dickinson, the longtime home of his father’s family. While most of the family had moved to California, I’s uncle, Ed Mall, still lived on the family farm with his wife, Mary, and their teenage daughters, Samantha and Sarah. Dropping in, unannounced, was quite a surprise for the family, and at first they didn’t recognize the couple, who had changed so much since they last saw them. Once identified, however, they were welcomed into the family’s home.

“I’ve never been to the old homestead,” I told his uncle, “though my dad often spoke about it.”

Ed sighed, “Life is slower out here than you’ve had all your life, but it’s been a good one. But things are changing. The crops just aren’t doing as well as they used to, and livestock has become so commercialized, that we can’t really turn a great profit anymore. We scrape by, but it’s been difficult.”

I sympathized with his uncle. “How can I help?”

“We’re not looking for a handout, I,” he paused in thought. “But it wouldn’t hurt either. I’m afraid that we might lose the farm in a few years if things don’t change.”

“I’m not in a position to help while we’re on the road, but do you think you can hold out until next year, at least? I may be able to come up with something.”

“That would be wonderful!” Ed’s demeanor brightened considerably. “But enough depressing talk, why don’t you come out and see some of the old things we still have around.”

Ed took them out to the barn, where a number of ancient farm implements were stored. “You dad and I used to drive these out in the fields long before we were able to drive legally. We had a lot of fun, back then.”

“Do they still work?”

“I’ve kept one of them in working order, for old times sake. Care to take a spin?”

I enjoyed his ride around the farm.

After a few days exploring the region, and appreciating the slow pace of the rural life, it was time for them to say their goodbyes, and continue on their journey. They headed south again to Pierre, South Dakota.

South Dakota

Pierre offered another unique persecutive in small town capitals, but the visit to the Capitol building revealed beautiful interiors, reminiscent of the the classical structures in some of the other states. They also visited the southern tip of Lake Oahe, having seen the Missouri River at Bismarck, they were amazed to discover the size of the resulting lake dammed near Pierre.

After their stay in Pierre, they continued westward to Rapid City and enjoyed viewing the Mt. Rushmore Memorial and venture further northwest to Lead and Deadwood, the legendary old west towns.

After exploring the region for a couple of days, they returned east, stopping briefly in Wall to see the famous Wall Drug Store, then continuing into the Badlands, staying in the National Park.

After a couple of days of additional exploration, the return to the eastbound interstate and visited the Corn Palace in Mitchell, and ended up at the Eastern part of the state in Sioux Falls.

Their overnight stay left them refreshed and ready to hit the road for the next destination state: Nebraska.


The highway south took them briefly back into Iowa at Sioux City, but they didn’t stop and headed instead on US 75 South.

Coming into Omaha, I got excited “Maybe we’ll see Marlin Perkins”

“Maybe we’ll not.”

Instead, in honor of the former Blackstone Hotel, I and Angela ordered Reuben sandwiches and butter brickle ice cream for lunch.

After lunch, they visited Boy’s Town before returning to Omaha for a night’s stay.

The short drive to Lincoln incorporated the obligatory trip to the Capitol building, yet another unique structure.

Continuing along Interstate 80, they headed for Grand Island.

“I was expecting a more tropical clime.” Disappointed, I decided to continue to North Platte instead. But first they visited Tornado Hill, which was created in the previous year from tornado debris.

In North Platte they visit Buffalo Bill’s Ranch and the Golden Spike Tower and Visitor Center. The long day over, they spent the night.



Sleeping late the next day, they hit the road later than usual, and heading south decided to stop is small Oakley, Kansas.

“It’s still several hours to Topeka, so I think we’ll stay here.” They found an RV park in town called the Kansas Kountry Inn and stayed there for the night. In the morning they left for Topeka, stopping for lunch and a tour of the Capitol, and then on to the Kansas side of Kansas City. “Hey, if we had a time machine, we could wave to ourselves across the street,” I said, as they peered across the border into the more famous half.

The next day found them in Wichita, where they opted to stop for lunch en route to they eventual destination of Dodge City.

“Hey, isn’t Batman from here.”

“That’s Bat Masterson.”

After an afternoon and evening of exploring the town, the turned in. In the morning I exclaimed, “We better get out of Dodge!”


Taking US 50, they entered Colorado after a 2 hour drive and continued to Pueblo, where they stayed for the night. I sought out and they toured the Federal Consumer Information Center. He had always seen the Public Service Announcements about information that they distributed, and was curious as to what such a facility might be like. He’d always envisioned a throng of people answering the phone, opening letters, stuffing envelopes, with pallets of brochures waiting to be distributes to the information-hungry American masses, eager for free goods from the government. The reality was far from his expectations. The pallets of material were there, but the pace was a little more relaxed. The phone weren’t continually ringing, but there were a large number of staff handling the ones that were. Rather than call or write, I opted to pick up a few pamphlets and brochures before heading out.

Continuing up Interstate 25 on to Denver, they visited the state capitol, then ventured on to Golden, where they toured the Coors brewery. Refreshed after a cold beer and a night’s stay, they continued their trek to the west. They marveled at the Eisenhower Tunnel, at both hits elevation and length. Angela was concerned that the RV might not meet the maximum height requirements, but it turned out to not be an issue. They stopped over in Vail and although they didn’t ski, they enjoyed some snow play and warmed themselves with hot chocolate by a fire in one of the ski lodges, where they also spent the night.

As they drove through the Glenwood Canyon, they encountered a snow storm that left them stranded for a few hours. Despite the weather, they bundled up and ventured outside to see the rare beauty that the canyon had to offer. Once the road was clear, they enjoyed the remainder of the trip into Grand Junction. Exhausted, but happy, they turned in for the night. Upon arising, they headed south, and continued south to Durango and then headed to Four Corners, where Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and Arizona meet. I straddled himself at the monument so that he could simultaneously occupy all four states. Angela, though she thought it silly, was coerced to do the same.


Continuing in Utah, they headed north to see the splendor of the various National Parks, including Natural Bridges and Arches before heading west on Interstate 70 and south on interstate 15 to Zion National Park. They also descended once again in Arizona to view the Grand Canyon from its North Rim before heading north toward Salt Lake City and the capitol. I noted on the map the location of Thousand Lake Mountain.

“Let’s go count them!”

“Let’s not.”

In the capital they explored the various historical buildings and learn all about why Utah was called the Beehive state. They drove around the southern edge of Salt Lake, and I was tempted to try floating, but the water was too cold. Instead, I wanted to test the limits of the RV by racing on the Bonneville Salt Flats, but cooler heads prevailed and they headed east instead and into Wyoming.


They followed Interstate 80 to Rock Springs, hoping to find a nice venue for some Rock Music. Unfortunately, Country was the local flavor. An overnight stay let they break up the trip across the wide state, and they arrived in Cheyenne the following afternoon, and visited the capitol. With time to spare, they continued on Interstate 25 up to Casper.

“I ain’t afraid of no ghosts.”

“He’s friendly anyway.”

Finding no hauntings overnight, they headed north to Buffalo, where they saw a few, and then on to Sheridan, where they spent the night.

Heading East, they stopped in Cody, and visited the Buffalo Bill Cody museum. Although there was an RV park just out of town, they decided to stop over at the Uptown Motel, which was managed by a nice couple originally from California. The following day they continued into Yellowstone National Park. Light snow covered the ground throughout the park, except for the thermal features, and they were excited to see the eruption of Old Faithful, which was being cantankerous, and made them wait 30 minutes past its expected time. They headed south to Grand Teton National Park, and spent the night at a nice resort, enjoying the morning view of the snow covered valley below and the mountains beyond on the exceptionally clear day. Returning to Yellowstone, they continued northwards of Old Faithful, and took the Grand Loop road until they encountered the NE Entrance road. It continued briefly into Montana and the small town of Cooke City, where they ate lunch, then descended once again briefly into Yellowstone and Wyoming. They continued into Montana.


That too was brief, and they continued on to Billings. A side trip took them down Interstate 90 to the Little Bighorn Battlefield, then they backtracked a bit and headed towards Bozeman. They stopped at Prairie Dog Town and were surprised to find it open so late in the year, although they had to enter on foot. Despite the snow cover, there was still plenty to see. Passing through Bozeman, then continued on to Helena, and visited the capitol. They also marveled at the beauty of the St. Helena Cathedral, although parts were under renovation, with its stall twin spires reaching high into the big sky. Setting out the next morning they visited Glacier National Park, and briefly consider continuing northwards to Banff in Canada, but checking the weather and an impending storm, felt it best to return southward to Missoula, and on to Butte. The following day they left for Idaho.


Entering Idaho, without any significant fanfare, they continued to Idaho Falls. With the weather becoming colder, they opted to find a hotel for the night, then explored the Snake River and Greenbelt area of the city. The following day they passed through Pocatello en route through Twin Falls and the capital of Boise. Spending the night, they visited the capital and decided to explore the surrounding area. They enjoyed visiting the communities of Nampa and Caldwell, and were warned away by a friendly night watchman in Kuna who advised them that they couldn’t park their RV overnight on the street. The long day trip the following day had them arriving in Moscow. Despite their initial reaction, and concern that it would be overrun by Communists, they found the college town to be delightful. A short drive the next day to Coeur D’Alene opened the gateway to Sandpoint further north, but weather kept them from proceeding any further, and they returned to Coeur D’Alene and drove west into Washington.



It was quite apparent that upon entering Washington and December simultaneously, that things were going to be a bit cold.

“Why didn’t we plan this better?” Angela complained, brushing some snow off of her shoulder as they entered the hotel where they planned to stay the night.

“We can weather it,” I quipped. “It’s only a little snow. Would you prefer hot and humid?”

“Right now, hot sounds pretty good,” as she shivered, taking off her heavy coat. “It’s nice in here, though.” A fire was burning in the lobby’s fireplace and she went up to it to warm her hands while I checked in.

“Room for two, please.”

“Do you have a reservation?”

“No, we just assumed that at this time of year there would be plenty of rooms available.”

“Well, there is a convention in town, and rooms are limited. May I have your name, please?”

“I Mall, and my wife Angela,” indicating Angela by the fireplace.

“The I Mall?” The clerk gazed suspiciously at him as if he was trying to stage some elaborate hoax.

“Yes, I am. Didn’t know there was more than one.”

“I would have expected you to look a little different. Where’s your famous long hair? And the outrageous outfits?”

“That’s long gone, over a year ago, and the outfits were only a phase. I’m just a normal person now, just trying to lead a normal life.”

“We do get an occasional celebrity here. Did you know Bing Crosby lived nearby here when he was a boy? We have a suite named in his honor, which we reserve for special guests. I can book it for you, if you’d like.”

“That will be great, we’re anxious to get off the road a bit and warm up. Two nights?”

“You got it!”

After a restful two days, the once again ventured out into the chilly state, heading to Seattle.

In Seattle, they explored the Pike Place Market, and purchased some coffee from a place called Starbucks. It helped to warmed them, but I wanted more.

“I’m not a big fan of coffee,” I stated. “Too bad they didn’t offer tea as well.”

After a day of exploring Pike Place Market, they settled into their hotel, and looked at the few remaining days ahead of their year long trip.

“It’s coming to an end. We should be home by Christmas.”

The next day, on the way south, they stopped in Olympia and toured the Capitol. A side trip to Tumwater had them searching for Artesians, but they failed to find any. Heading south, they took a side trip to see the devastation of the Mount St. Helens area, and then on to Oregon.


Crossing over the Columbia, then headed east to Multnomah Falls. Wanting to climb to the top, they stopped at the lower footbridge, as the coldness of the day finally got to them. Returning to Portland, they visited the International Rose Test Garden, which had been cut back for the winter. However, they managed to find one strong plant that still had a bloom. Resisting the temptation to take the final flower, I merely stopped to smell the roses. They also visited the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden, which had a few more blooms that the Rose Garden did.

After a night’s stay, then ventured south to Eugene and visited the Capitol, and then backtracked and took the road to Bend and spent the night. Catching US 20 the next day they intersected US 95 and made their way into Nevada.


Their first stop was the border town of McDermitt. “Finally, big time gambling!” I declared. He dropped in twenty dollars worth of quarters and came out with five dollars. “I guess I won’t be retiring on this!”

“You’re already retired.”

They continued to Winnemucca where they spent the night, parking in a run down trailer park and encountering some real characters. The next day, they headed east to Elko, stopping briefly to lose a few more quarters. “I’ll lose my fortune if this keeps up!” I complained. They continued to Wells and thought about ascending the mountain road up to Angel Lake, but it was impassable for both the RV and the card, due to wintry conditions.

After their overnight stay, they continued south to Ely, stopped for a bite to eat at the Hotel Nevada, and continued southward to Las Vegas.

“Are we sure this is the right Las Vegas, this time?”

“Look around, isn’t it obvious?”

Dusk was setting in, and the strip was starting to light up. They parked the RV at a park on the edge of town, and drove into the city. I converted one hundred dollars into quarters and started hitting the machines. After losing fifty, they moved on to another casino, where their luck improved. I cashed out with three hundred dollars, and Angela netted another hundred. “First money I’ve made all year.”

“Almost enough to fill the gas tank.”

After their night in Sin City, they hit the road, heading north to Carson City, where they visited the capitol, and then on to Reno, the Biggest Little City in the World, and lost another hundred dollars.

“Easy come, Easy go. Well, we should be home tomorrow.”

“Don’t count on it. California is a big state.”


Their return to California came via US 395, which they continued south through the Mono Lake area. Their desire to see the old ghost town of Bodie was thwarted when they discovered that the dirt road to the town was unplowed. However, the blanket of fresh fallen snow gave rise to thoughts of a white Christmas, which was only a few days away. They stopped overnight in the Mammoth Lakes area and enjoyed the snow and decorations of the holiday season.

The drive into the Los Angeles Basin was interrupted with some rain storms, but the snow have given way to clear roads. Stopping for a couple of nights in Anaheim, they enjoyed a day in Disneyland. Driving up the coast on US 101, they enjoyed the occasional glimpses of the Pacific until returning inland and heading to San Francisco. After they final overnight stay on the road, they headed homeward. A final swing past the Capitol Building in Sacramento greeted them with the traditional Capitol Christmas Tree.


“Aren’t we going to stop for a tour?”

“We’ve been there before.”

“Merry Christmas.”

“Merry Christmas.”


“Well, we’ve done it. We’ve been to every state, and did it all in a year. I think we can finally celebrate Christmas with all the traditional trappings. While it’s never a white Christmas around here, a least we can have one without going too far.”

“Aren’t you forgetting something. Have you actually counted the states? Yes, you might say there are 50 marks on the side of the RV, but that’s counting Washington DC, and that’s not a state.

I thought for a minute before he realized “Hawaii! And it’s no wonder, since we can’t drive there.”

“We didn’t drive to Alaska, but still we managed that.”

“Looks like it will have to be up in the air again.”

The flew to Honolulu, where they saw the state house, then took island hops to the Big Island, Maui, Kauai and a short trip to Molokai and Lanai. They attempted a visit to Niihau, but were turned away. “Maybe in a few years.”

Celebrating the week after Christmas in the temperate climate was no different that what they had experienced the previous year in Australia, although it was a bit cooler. “Maybe next year.”

“Maybe next year.”

The kids in America arrived home in time to see in the New Year.