The Great Loop
Since coming here FOUR years ago, I’ve Motored across Europe. In my first MINI, a 2006 R53 MINI Cooper S named “Maggie”, I put 70,720 miles on her over 35 months before she was stolen. My new MINI, a 2010 R56 MINI Cooper S John Cooper Works named “Maggie, Too”, now has just over 4000 miles on her. Between these two excellent cars, I’ve driven in an area defined by these locales:
- Sorrento, Italy
- Oxford, England
- Normandy, France
- Frankfurt, Germany
- Nauders, Austria
And a whole lot of points in between. Truly a remarkable journey which has caused me to realize why Americans are so different from Continentals. First, Europeans don’t realize just how big the United States is. To help them visualize the distances involved, I use this example: According to TomTom, to drive on the freeway from Calais, France to Kiev, Ukraine is about 26 hours and 1400 miles. Compare that to driving from downtown New York City to Dallas, Texas in about 22 hours at 1500 miles!! And that’s only about half-way across the United States. For them, a six hour drive is a very long drive. In the States, I think our culture has developed an almost innate sense of time in that we know we’re going to have to spend 45 minutes driving to a store and don’t want to waste any time screwing around with getting whatever it was we went to the store for in the first place! And I think that this is why we’re perceived as pushy or rushing about. Here in Europe, it is almost terribly easy to travel between cities because they have ALWAYS has some form of public transport infrastructure. Remember, there are entire villages which are over a thousand years old!! The States, on the other hand, are not limited by their history and will blast a building down to make way for another highway. Europeans can’t understand why the nearest bus stop for me in Hope Mills is about a 10-15 minute bike ride just to get to the end of the bus line!! Regardless.
So, what’s the point? I have put so many miles on my cars driving around Europe that it finally dawned on me that I would like to do the same thing back in the States. I mean, honestly, who goes to the OK Corral for a holiday? Just the OK Corral and nothing else. Mostly, that would be tied into a trip to Tuscon, Arizona or a PCS to Huachuca. On the occasion of my Retirement from the Army, I thought it would be about the only time that I could spend “oot and aboot” adventuring before I had to get a real job. Thus, the creation of my Great Loop.
What I want to do is to go to all of the cool touristy sites that we Americans know about but just don’t get around to going to in the United States. Kelly figures that doing the East Coast sites would be fairly easy from North Carolina, so this trip focuses on the Western US. Now, who all is going? Dunno. I guess whoever is in Maggie when I kick off. The whole trip is gonna be about 35 days long, about 10700 miles long and goes to the Northern and Western Extremities of the US, over the geographic center of the United States (50 and 48 states) down the Pacific Coast Highway, through Death Valley, Vegas and, finally, through Texas before returning home. The full itinerary is here. The Rules of the Road is to start around 8-ish in the morning, go to about 2 or 3 in the afternoon and just pitch up at a Motel 6 or whatever for the night. Repeat as necessary. Along the way, there are programmed stops, besides the obvious ones like Boone, Crossville, Dallas and Houston. I’m guessing about two days each in Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco and Los Angeles, along with a day or two at other places along the way, like Fort Ord.
And that’s that. I really like the whole concept of this grand adventure, however, I don’t really know if I’ll actually be able to do it what with this thing called the Real World. This is the schedule I’m looking at:
- Gotta have Matt at school by 12 August,
- Nyssa has to be in by 15 August, and
- Kelly wants to start working with the school year, too, on the 17th of August.
So, not really sure, at this point, when/if this whole thing will kick off but at least I’m having fun planning this whole thing out.