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.
Also, on this road trip I still had two Kodak Brownie cameras to check out. They are the Brownie Bullet and the Brownie Baby.
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.
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.
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.
Day Three | Kansas to Colorado Springs
Hot and humid day. In the low 100's with high winds
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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