“Not all who wander are lost.” ― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
I suppose it was wanderlust that prompted me, at the hopeful age of 11, to suggest I accompany my grandmother on her two-week vacation in Hawaii. Or maybe it was the trip itself that instilled in me the understanding that travel is essential. It gives us the opportunity to see this world with new and curious eyes; it teaches us about the environment, our history and culture, and the people with whom we share this planet; it inspires us to try new things, explore different ideas, and step out of this comfortable skin that holds us too-firmly in the familiar. It gives us breath.
I suppose it was also wanderlust that inspired me to want to see all of this country, from sea to shining sea. I don’t remember the exact moment or age, but for as long as I can remember, I have wanted to “drive cross-country.”
In celebration of 50 years on this planet, my dear friend DeLinda and I got in a car on a recent Monday morning and drove west—across this beautiful, diverse, surprising country of ours. And now I want to tell you about it!
A multi-year journey to take us “there and back again,” as Tolkien penned. Leg One, for 2016, a two-week wander from Connecticut to Grand Tetons National Park in Wyoming. Along the way? A healthy mix of Americana, kitsch, wide open spaces, and spontaneity that includes the Spam Museum, a Jolly Green Giant statue, Mount Rushmore, Devil’s Tower, and Yellowstone.
Familiar east coast travel to I-80 in New York. Then on across Pennsylvania and into Illinois, with a detour around the windy city. Picking up I-90 just south of the Wisconsin border, then westward ho for 1,300 miles or so to the great National Parks of Wyoming.
Reliable rental car, a one-way transaction. A traveling pantry: cooler, dry goods, and kitchenware. Scattered hotel reservations with plenty of breathing room in between. A flexible itinerary and trusty “Binder” of maps, attractions, and tourist information. Good organizational skills. Coffee.
And away we go!