I am a planner. Anyone who knows me knows I am a planner. Technically, I may have been a planner from the womb, but I was definitely raised to be a planner by an engineer father and a mother whose father was also an engineer. Spontaneous is for dummies. If you are spontaneous, you might walk right past something interesting or exciting and not even know it is there.
Planners plan by studying maps, asking questions and reading articles, newspapers, books and journals. Planners love lists like, the “Best Outdoor Adventures in Every State” or the “Best Small Town” or the “Best Campground” or the “Best Rivers” or the “Best Views.” Give us a list and we will follow it.
That is how I found a map created in 2015 by Dr. Randy Olsen, a software engineer and scientist, who wanted to find the most efficient way to travel between all 48 contiguous states in the United States. While his map entitled, “The Optimal Road Trip across the US,” has been hotly debated for its lack of natural wonders and museums, focusing instead on the most efficient way to briefly touch each state and move on, it gave me a beginning point. www.randalolson.com
Glen and I noted the kinds of places we wanted to see while we traveled. He likes motorcycle and car museums, motorcycle races, particularly flat track, and good places to eat. Despite decades as a historian in history museums, I tend to skip museums (I can’t quit working-instead of reading panels and admiring artifacts, I study how they were put together). I prefer the outdoors, places to hike or kayak. And of course, the dogs are just looking for places to “do their business” (note our tagline: Leaving Our Mark across America) and go for a swim or a run.
I, then, took Olsen’s route and looked for places in each state where we can do the things we enjoy. Wonder why we are spending two weeks in Sturgis, South Dakota? Check Glen’s list. Why we are headed for Cannon Beach, Oregon? Think about that lovely wide beach from a dog’s view point. The rest (well most of the rest) came from my list and a goal to visit all the National Parks.
On top of that route and that list, we had to consider time of year. It makes no sense to take Glen, a third generation Floridian who hates snow, to Maine in March. Instead, we will first go south to Texas and New Mexico. The north rim of the Grand Canyon doesn’t open until May 15 requiring a loop through California before heading to Utah. Some friends will join us in New England and Fall was the best season for them after they enter their own retirements.
Timing also came into play when I checked racing schedules. That loop around the Great Lakes is going to be a lovely detour between South Dakota and another motorcycle race in Springfield, Illinois.
There are a couple of other dates that determined our start and finish. We are leaving on my 62nd birthday which seems a suitable date to celebrate my retirement. My last day of work is February 28, and I truly feel like Dobby the House Elf who has been given a sock. But, Glen will attend his 40ish Daytona Speed Week the first week of March and won’t return home until March 13 so my birthday became fall back. While we are planning on being home in time to vote in the Presidential election on November 3, we may settle for vote by mail if we decide to stay out longer.
But, not much longer than that. We’ll be heading south again. Our driver hates snow. Subscribe now to our journal to hear about our adventures.