Saturday, April 23, 2011

Our vast country-Memories of a 9,000 + mile excursion!

    To think today that I once traveled 9,000 plus miles driving all over the vast United States boggles my mind.  One thought that immediately comes to mind is that the prices of gas throughout the country varied from about .98 cents a gallon to about 1.20 cents.  The year was 1994.  The average mileage per gallon that I can recall was between 25 mpg to 32 mpg.  My guess then the average for the trip was in the mid 27 range per gallon.  Taking that into account and saying the average was the lowest that would be 360 gallons of gas.  At 1.10 per gallon average do the math a little less than $400.00 was spent that summer for the mileage we put on the car.  At today's prices at an even $4.00 per gallon it would cost $1440.00 for the same trip if the cars were equal in mileage per gallon.
   The trip did not start by car and the mileage is not included on the total of the 9,000 miles. That is the mileage by ground.  I actually flew out to California to meet my brother where a couple of days later we started our trek across country by car. The car that we took was nicknamed the "Bobsled".  It was a station wagon made by Saturn.  For some odd reason the car felt low to the ground hence the nickname the "Bobsled".  Thinking about the car itself we didn't think of comfort when driving we just were thrilled to be together as brothers and excited to be taking a trip together.  A conversation took place of the major spots that we would take and which direction we would head the first few days of the trip on the return to Connecticut.  I can recall that the first major stop would be San Francisco.  It was decided that the scenic Pacific Coast Highway would be the major route to get the best sightseeing and experience possible. Words cannot describe the scenery along the coastline.  The unique landscape as well as the winding turning highway as described made for a memorable 500 miles of driving.  I can recall "RV's" coming toward as and I wondered how are they driving those big vehicles down the coastline as fast as they seemed to be going.  From Carmel to Monterey Bay to the San Francisco Bay the memory of the trip north as you can see still is imbedded in my mind.  I remember stopping and walking around and about the Pigeon Point Hostel which was about 50 miles from San Francisco. I said to my brother "too bad we didn't know this and didn't rent our hotel already we could have stayed in the hostel.  It was overlooking the Pacific.  Way cool I thought at the time.  The thought of seeing San Francisco for the first time the next day was on my mind.
     The night was uneventful and I can't recall the name of the hotel we stayed in but I know that we were up early eating breakfast at a local stop and then on our way the last 50 miles or so into the heart of San Francisco.  Sorry for the pun I just realized I wrote the word "heart" and immediately thought of Tony Bennett's song "I Left My Heart in San Francisco".  Scoma's Fisherman's Wharf, Lombard Street(Crooked Street), the Golden Gate Bridge, and a view of Alcatraz are the unique and famous places that I did get to see firsthand.  I can say though I wish I would have taken the trip out to Alcatraz but we opted to travel instead.  Crooked Street(Lombard) was pretty cool. Driving down it was really an interesting experience. It's not long but I can remember that it was certainly well landscaped and well maintained.  The Fisherman's Wharf was our stop for lunch and I can remember having a sourdough bread hollowed out and filled with outstanding clam chowder.  Of course our view of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Golden Gate Park was our last tourist stop before venturing away from and over the famous bridge.  Vivid in my mind was the trip to what appeared to be the location of one of Clint Eastwood's "Dirty Harry scenes" around and about the bridge.  This classic American "icon", the "Golden Gate Bridge" was certainly a memorable place to visit and tour.
     You might be saying to yourself reading this blog "how long is this story going to be?"  Well at this point I will tell you I'm not going to be able to finish the whole trip in one night.  I will probably cover the trip to Reno, Nevada and then to Idaho Falls, Idaho.
     The trip to "The Biggest Little City in the World" Reno Nevada was a little over 200 miles and because we left San Francisco in the early afternoon we arrived in the evening somewhere before dark. I can remember saying "let's go in and spend some money".  We decided to play a nickel machine and I can vividly remember my brother yelling out "we hit the jackpot" as 1,000 nickels were won.  Adding much quicker than my brother I could tell you that he thought it was much more. I knew it was $50.00 right away.  Needless to say we had a great dinner on that nickel machine.  We left shortly after that and spent the night at a nearby hotel outside the city of Reno.  Each and every night we planned our next day and usually would have breakfast at the hotel or motel we stayed at in the morning.  Our next stop Idaho Falls, Idaho, a place we lived at in the early 60's when our dad worked for General Dynamics. Our destination was to see our rented home on Saturn Avenue and our school Temple View Elementary School.  (Part I is done to be edited and begun again soon). Enjoy what I've written.  Before I close for this writing and begin again I can say that the memory of this trip has many facets. One, the physical beauty and awe of our country, the time spent with my brother irreplaceable and special, and the people we met on the trip truly special and unique.

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