I just recently returned from Milwaukee after spending over two months there doing home improvements and finding a new tenant.  I think I have done the round-trip road trip from LA to Milwaukee five times.  Normally, I take between three and six days to do the trip and try and have at least one interesting stop each day to look forward to.

Here is a quick map of the trips plus one trip to Denver to visit my daughter.

Road trip routes over the last 5 years from LA to Milwaukee and back

Also, on this road trip I still had two Kodak Brownie cameras to check out.  They are the Brownie Bullet and the Brownie Baby.

Brownie Bullet (1957-64) | Brownie Baby (1939-54)

These cameras take 127 mm film and had to be special ordered from New York.  Film was manufactured in Japan.  I have scanned a few images, but my scanner can only do 35 mm negatives or slides so the scans have cut a bit from the top and bottom of the images that I am posting.

Day One | Milwaukee to the Ozarks

First stop was Carthage, Illinois where Mormon leaders Joseph Smith and his brother Hyrum were murder in 1844 by an angry mob as they waited in prison for their trial of inciting a riot.

Carthage Courthouse | double exposure | Brownie Bullet

Next stop was Hannibal, Missouri.  I had visited Hannibal while covering the presidential campaign of Vice President Al Gore in 2000 and had liked the town.

Hannibal | Home of Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain (R) and Tom Sawyer fence | Brownie Bullet
Mark Twain statue and the Mississippi River 
Statue of Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn

Day Two | Camdenton, Missouri to South Hutchinson, Kansas

My wife, Mona, is not very interested in historic places and prefers to visit second hand stores, so if we see a place on the road we stop to check it out.  After breakfast in Camdenton we came across a consignment store and decided to check it out.  Over three hours later, Mona walked out with a bunch of stuff that added to the already packed and overloaded Honda Odyssey.

Camdenton | Bear Market Consignment Sales | shopper

Ha Ha Tonka Castle Ruins | Kansas City businessman Robert McClure Snyder Sr estate burned down in 1942 | Brownie Bullet
Panorama | Ha Ha Tonka ruins
South Hutchinson | play ground and baseball field near motel

Day Three | Kansas to Colorado Springs

Hot and humid day.  In the low 100's with high winds

Mullinville, Kansas | MT Liggett's Political Sculptures
Dodge City, Kansas | Wyatt Earp playing cards statue
Dodge City | The Last Cowboy Standing statue | plaster casting of Marshal Joe Sughrue 1927
Contact sheet for the Brownie Bullet

Day Four | Colorado Springs

Visited best and oldest friend Al Willner and his wife, Kim at their home  on Schriever Air Force base | home of the 50th Space Wing of the United States Space Force.  They took us on a drive up Pike's Peak and to other sites.   Great day

Colorado Springs | near Pike's Peak summit | Me | Photo by Al Willner
On the road to Pike's Peak | Al and Kim Willner (R)

Day Five | Colorado Spring to Cortez, Colorado

After bidding goodbye to the Willners, we headed to Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.  What an amazing place.  Huge sand dunes, hundreds of feet high at the base of 12 thousand feet mountains with a very wide creek only inches deep, but 50 feet wide running along the edge of the dunes.  The park was totally packed as people emerged from the awful year and half long pandemic.  

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve 
Great Sand Dunes | Buck Creek
Great Sand Dunes | Panorama

The drive to Cortez was spectacular.  Pancake flat valley surrounded by high mountains.  Forested passes through narrow gorges with picture perfect rivers running through the meadows and through the canyons.  No rooms available in Durango, so we pressed on and after some hassles finally found a room in Cortez.  Long but rewarding day.  Southern Colorado is a beautiful area.

Near Mancos | closed roadside attraction

Day Six | Cortez to Flagstaff, Arizona

So back tracked to visit Mesa Verde National Park and the cliff dwellings of the Pueblo people.  Unfortunately, all reservations to visit the few open dwellings were booked up for weeks, so viewed the ruins from the tops of the mesas.  These dwellings are the oldest structures in the United States dating back 800 years.

Mesa Verde National Park | Cliff dwelling | tiny moth trapped while scanning negative | looks like an alien creature | Brownie Baby

Mesa Verde | Cliff dwelling

Back on the road, I had wanted to visit Four Corners (where Colorado, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico meet).  There is a picture of me some 50 years ago, standing on the spot during one of our road trips with dad and last time I had been there.  Unfortunately, like most Native American reservation sites it was closed due to the pandemic.  So instead of heading north around Grand Canyon we headed south and skirted the boarders of Arizona and New Mexico, driving through Navajo country around Canyon Chelly.  Blazing hot and very desolate but beautiful landscapes and monumental geological formations.  And very poor roads.  This could be an incredible visitors destination and could not understand why it had not been promoted by the reservation.  I later learned from a Commanche about the difficulties and restrictions of the federal government administered Native American lands.  No time to stop for photos so Mona took a few snaps from the car.  Did stop at Window Rock, the Navajo people's administrative headquarters and location of the Code Talkers WWII veterans memorial.

Day Seven | Flagstaff to Topanga, California

With a heat wave affecting the southwest, a fully loaded car and a cooped up pooch, we decided to press on to Topanga with a trip along old Route 66 which we had done when the kids were kids some twenty years ago.  Also, thoughts of dad and the many cross country road trips we had done and that probably we had passed along the route at some time.  So outside Ash Fork, Arizona we turned off the interstate and started a fascinating 157 miles drive along Route 66 in Arizona ending at the Colorado River.  Great scenes of towns striving to capitalize on the notoriety of the famous hiway.  Some successfully like Seligman and some not so much so.

Near Ash Fork, Arizona | start of one of the longest original stretches of Route 66

Antares, Arizona | mailbox panorama
Colorado River | End of the Road | Route 66 | Arizona
Outside Needles, California | flat tire in 121 F heat
Contact sheet for Brownie Baby
Holly, Colorado | Holly 

The pooch was great on the trip, though I worried about her in the high humidity and high temperatures of the midwest states of Missouri and Kansas.  She survived and enjoyed a little respite at my friend's place in Colorado Springs trying to catch prairie dogs.

Parting shot to a classic American road trip

Carthage, Illinois | On the Road with Holly | Photo by Mona Nelson