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Author Topic: June-July 2023 cross-country road trip  (Read 1344 times)


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June-July 2023 cross-country road trip
« on: August 23, 2023, 02:31:26 AM »

I did a cross-country road trip starting in late June, five weeks and over 12,000 miles.

This was a three-phase road trip, with options to turn back if I wasn't comfortable going all the way to the Pacific coast. As some of you know, I've had some health problems this year, including worsening of a balance problem that started around the beginning of 2022. For now, I'm using a three-wheeled walker, to stay upright (a cane was not providing reliable support, especially on soft and/or uneven ground), and avoid "I've fallen and I can't get up!" situations. It's inconvenient and limiting (mainly means no hiking, for now), but I'm getting by without slowing my pace too much. I'm working with my doctors on how to better manage my balance issues.

The first phase of my trip was from home to Minneapolis, to help celebrate an elderly aunt's birthday. I got there via US 31 and other routes in western Michigan, to Wisconsin via the SS Badger auto ferry (alas, now out of service until next year at best, due to a failed vehicle loading ramp), then to the Twin Cities.

Once in Minneapolis, I decided I was up for phase 2 of my trip, zigzagging through Iowa and Nebraska (went to both on a trip earlier this year) and then Kansas. From there, I drove to Denver, spending a few days for this year's brief Extra Miler Club meeting (serious county-counters), catching up on sleep and laundry, and plotting my next move. I decided that having driven two-thirds of the way across the country, I might as well keep going all the way to the Pacific coast. My other decision was to head into the Pacific Northwest rather than visit family in southern California (that might be a future trip TBD). I avoided hot weather in California, though there was some in arid eastern Washington.

First thing I did in phase 3 when I got to Washington state was take a right turn from Pasco to Lewiston over the new four-lane divided (posted at 70mph) US 12 alignment west of Walla Walla, then south back into Oregon via the lightly-traveled Asotin County (WA) and Wallowa County (OR). I zigzagged my way to the southwest corner of Oregon, with a quick dive into the northwest corner of California via US 199 to get to the Oregon coast. Then I turned north toward Portland, back west to Astoria via WA 4, then northeast to the Bremerton WA area.

At that point, I had to deal with the service issues the Washington State Ferries system has had lately, mainly staffing shortages that forced service reductions on some key routes across Puget Sound. After finishing my exploration of the Olympic Peninsula, I wound up unhappily driving around the Sound via Tacoma to my next stop Bellingham (took a pass on another visit to Canada), because the ferry route I had planned to take had sold out before I could make vehicle reservations, and alternate ferry routes that didn't require vehicle reservations were on reduced schedules. I did take a ferry day trip to Friday Harbor and back, in the San Juan Islands, while leaving my car in Anacortes since no reservations were needed for passenger-only travel. (I had decades ago taken my car from Sidney BC one-way to Anacortes with stopovers in Friday Harbor and Orcas. No WSF service to Canada this year.)

From Bellingham, it was some easterly zigzagging to Idaho and Montana, including a cross-state clinch of WA 20. Then a more or less straight shot to Omaha, from where I tried to clinch cross-state IA 92 (missed a few miles due to a bridge closure), and cover some territory in northeastern IA I had missed on the westbound journey due to severe weather that forced me to hunker down for a day in Fort Dodge. Once done with Iowa, I drove home via a boring Interstate-only route.

Significant route clinches:

Ohio -- US 20 Truck (Perrysburg), US 20 Alternate (Maumee)

Michigan -- US 31 in that state, the US 31 business routes I hadn't already clinched, re-clinch of I-94 Business (Benton Harbor), MI 63

Wisconsin -- re-clinch of US 10 overall, after its relocation in the Manitowoc area

Minnesota -- its segment of US 65

Iowa -- its segment of US 67

Iowa and Missouri -- their US 275 segments, to finish off the overall route

Kansas -- Kansas 147 (lots of new mileage elsewhere in KS, but no other clinched routes)

Washington -- re-clinch of US 12 overall; WA 129, WA 4, WA 409, WA 401, US 101Alt (Ilwaco), WA 107, WA 108, WA 285, WA 17, WA 19, US 97 Business (Okanogan), WA 292, WA 20

Oregon -- OR 3, OR 7, OR 19, OR 370, OR 380, OR 140, US 20 Business (Toledo), OR 223, OR 6, US 101 Business (Astoria)

Washington and Oregon -- Bridge of the Gods across the Columbia River

Idaho -- ID 5, ID 97

Montana -- MT 1, MT 48, SR 441

Along with the route clinching, I also sought to boost my "round 2" county tally (counties revisited after I completed all the U.S. counties in 2010). I re-completed the counties in Iowa, Nebraska, Kansas, Oregon, and Washington, and for all those counties I went to the county seat city (usually including a drive around the courthouse). The only state I haven't re-completed in the lower 48 is Missouri, where I'm still missing 25 counties, scattered all over the state.
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