The Ogdens' Five-Month Epic Adventure
Early in the year of 2014, during one of our camping adventures in our newly acquired Roadtrek 190, a versatile camping van, we dreamed up another coast-to-coast trip across the United States. We had done it in the 1990s – several times, for only six or seven weeks at a time. We longed to relax into our travels with more opportunities to see people, places, and nature. Immediately the bold idea came to us that we would stay on the road for five months.
We had just made friends with all the technology to replace maps, camping guidebooks, tour books, highway alerts and weather alerts on radios, pay phones, and cash. The amazing apps on our iPhones and iPad told us everything – and connected us with friends and the outer world. We could stuff more clothes into the space we gained. We had the best security alarm system built in our van, our service dog. Bree, a British Black Lab, was a great companion.
Travelling on lonely highways and along plateaus of Nevada and Idaho brought out in us serenity and greater appreciation of the high desert. Our first extended visit with Idaho friends was at their working 400-acre grass-fed cattle ranch in the middle of nowhere. It was a unique family business with three young boys at the ages of 17, 9, and 4 assuming many farm tasks. The boys were allowed only two hours of television and/or internet access every day.
We trekked on to Montana, to Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi in the contiguous United States -- for a full week with Paul’s childhood friend from their private residential school days. The next major adventure was three weeks on the Olympic Peninsula, especially Sequim, where we participated in their annual Lavender Festival. Thereafter, we explored many places in Washington State, Idaho, and Montana on the way to Sturgis, South Dakota, in time to watch the preview to their huge annual motorcycle rally. Mount Rushmore, the Badlands, and the Black Hills made us crane, crane, crane our necks upward.
Wandering among the Amish communities in northern central Indiana inspired Anne for her future quilting projects. Niagara Falls drenched us. Yes, we were in “the Maid of the Mist” wrapped in slickers. Old Lowell, Massachusetts -- part of the National Park system – preserves the birth of the Industrial Revolution in the US. Dwight Eisenhower’s library in Kansas includes his birthplace and the family farm. The most startling thing I learned there was that his parents were Mennonites with strong convictions about pacifism. Imagine the uproar when Dwight went to West Point.
Among many cherished experiences was our time in the Adirondacks. We swam in Lake George during our family’s annual reunion in Silver Bay. And enjoyed horses at our cousin’s horse farm in the Hudson Valley.
Leaving our Roadtrek at the horse farm for two weeks, we took out a rental car for our crazy drive into the most congested of regions, New York City. Every time we enter New York City, we are charged. Our NYC highlights this year – all with family and friends –included the new 9/11 memorial museum, and the High Line, a 2 mile--long park built on old railroad tracks, an elevated section of a disused New York Central Railroad spur called the West Side Line. This aerial greenway and rails-to-trails park is a brilliant solution to the urban decay areas.
One of the jewels of New England is Norman Rockwell’s Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. His Triple Self-Portrait even inspired Paul to come up with a triple selfie (see the photograph) – magic with mirrors.
One item we put permanently on Paul’s Bucket List. Paul got to fly Anne’s cousin’s airplane, a 1947 Navion, along the shores of Long Island in perfect weather coached, of course, by the cousin. He hopes to return next year for another flying lesson from the cousin, a truly first class airplane mechanic and private pilot.
Anne’s most memorable adventure was camping a full week at Acadia National Park tucked in on the coast of Maine. This national park offers unique views of the Atlantic and wild Maine. We planned to get up early and go to the top of Cadillac Mountain in time to be the first persons in the United States to greet the morning sun for the day of August 28th. We overslept – you might have guessed that. Alas, the credit went to someone else for that day.
You know, sometimes you can drive long stretches without ever seeing another vehicle: like the 450-mile Natchez Trace Parkway, the 105-mile Shenandoah National Park’s skyline parkway, and many twisting mountain roads in West Virginia.
With our Roadtrek we can always find the right clothing, cook and eat anywhere we please, and, best of all, we can sleep in our own bed. We always have the best view of the sunrises and sunsets and many opportunities to appreciate Nature and also our rich American history.
Gotta love Road Trips!