More than a week ago, my husband and I started on an adventure across the country.
In August, my grandmother died. My family opted for a small family ceremony to celebrate her life. So, eight of us gathered on the coast at Cannon Beach, Ore., for a few days. It would have been easy to buy plane tickets to Portland and rent a car to drive to the coast. We don’t do anything the easy way, though.
So, on the way to the coast we spent a night in Spokane, Washington. We spent four nights on the coast then drove south.
We hit the Redwood National and State Parks, then continued to Redding, California. We took in the sites at Lassen National Forest, Lake Tahoe, the east side of Yosemite National Park and spent some time in Mammoth Lakes for Thanksgiving.
Then we stopped in Bryce Canyon National Park, Arches National Park and Steamboat Springs, Colorado.
It was a lot of windshield time. That gave my husband and I plenty of time to take in the scenery, sleep and, of course, chat. Here are things we learned on the road:
• The Redwoods are big, beautiful and worth checking out, but the names of the trees and trail loops lack imagination. One, for example, was simply called “Big Tree.” Really? We can do better. Along a four-hour hike on a trail called “Tall Tree Loop,” I may have spent some time brainstorming better names in my head.
• Highway 101 doesn’t feature ocean views the whole way. You are on and off the coast — but never far from the water. The views when you come around a corner and the Pacific Ocean stretches out in front of you are stunning. Sunsets will knock your socks off. Tailgating, though, is common. If you plan to go the speed limit so you can enjoy the views, get used to a line of cars behind you upset with your slow progress.
• Twisty mountain roads are pretty everywhere. We’ve taken in our share of mountain passes and, so far, all have been beautiful. They range from dramatic canyons to heavily wooded roads where you can’t see more than 10 feet off the side of the road. At night, in the rain and fog, those tailgaters will find you again. Breathe.
• The country has so many opportunities to take in its majestic beauty. Take advantage of them. Whether you’re exploring the backcountry in the Bighorns or crossing the country in your car — pause and take it in.
While the time away was worth it, it’s always good to be home. We’ll be happy to be in our own bed back in the King of Cowboy Towns Monday night and see our dog, Toby, who has been hanging out with my father-in-law at the house while we’ve been on the road.
Until then, I hope you had a happy Thanksgiving! I, for one, am thankful for the beauty in the world and the opportunities I’ve had to explore it.