Round America

Tag: travel

The Most Beautiful City in the USA — Round America

by admin on Jan.10, 2009, under California, Places to Go, San Diego

Round America spends the day in San Diego, California. Of the 626 towns that we had now seen on this trip, Savannah and San Diego are way at the top of the list for most beautiful city.

If you’ve been to San Diego California, you know. If you haven’t been, you have undoubtedly heard how beautiful it is. Well, it’s even more beautiful than that! The sky and water are always azure blue. Most of the buildings seem to be crisp white. And the trees and plants and flowers combine a beautiful green with the other colors of the rainbow. An important part of the beauty is due to the lush vegetation here; it must be the perfect climate and soil for making every tree and plant look healthy and beautiful.

Of the 626 towns that we had now seen on this trip, Savannah and San Diego are way at the top of the list for most beautiful city. The two are as different as can be. You might have to give San Diego the edge because of the weather here. 68 degrees most of the day with brilliant blue sky and bright sunshine.

Barbara asked Linh at the Marriott Courtyard this morning what it’s like to live in a place that is so beautiful with such an incredible climate. She loves it, but she said people here take the climate and beauty for granted; they expect it to be sunny and beautiful every day. Linh noted that there is a big trade-off to living in a place like this. The cost-of-living here is sky high, and most people who live here know they will never own a home, as they just can’t afford one.

As we got dressed this morning, we saw on Fox News that ships were returning to the San Diego Naval Base from the Iraq War. Three guesses where we went. We tried to get on the base to wave and shake hands and hug soldiers, but a female in fatigues with a machine gun would not let us in. I tried to take a picture of the lovely entrance area, but she told me I couldn’t. Once again, I was wishing Rose had been there to help. I drove away, but after hooking a U and driving past the base again, I snapped a photo. We also stopped and spoke with some of the ABC TV folks who were there to cover the event. I was close to Fort Bliss when the POW’s returned there, and I regretted not heading there for a few photos, so we didn’t want to let this opportunity pass today.

What we saw of the Naval Base was very impressive. We were very close to the border of Mexico at Tijuana, but we didn’t want to spend any of our San Diego time in Mexico.

Flags and yellow ribbons are everywhere in San Diego. We always saw this in military towns. I didn’t realize San Diego had so much military, but it’s everywhere — naval bases, naval air stations, combat training centers, and on and on.

There is no way to see San Diego in one day, but that’s all we had, so we made the best of it. To others, we would recommend several days, and begin with a trolley tour that covers the main sights in the city, and then explore on your own after that.

We started in Balboa Park, and we took a trolley ride around the park. Rick Diaz was our driver/tour guide. Balboa Park is filled with fabulous museums, beautiful buildings, and gorgeous trees and flowers. I asked Rick if San Diego has anything like the world’s largest ball of twine, and he laughed. Then he showed us the Spreckels Organ — the world’s largest outdoor organ and/or musical instrument. It has 4,530 pipes. Mighty impressive. Then Rick told us a story about his gall bladder surgery. The gall stone removed was about the size of a golf ball; he has it in a jar at his home. He was quite the celebrity when he went to the lab to get it; all the medical folks wanted to come out and see the guy who produced such a monster. All of us on the bus decided it MUST BE the world’s largest gall stone, so that gives San Diego two world’s largests. I told Rick that in a number of towns across America, he could open a museum in his home and make money charging admission to see his stone.

That got me to thinking that perhaps there is a better use for the collection of over 100 hotel shampoo bottles that I was amassing from the journey. Instead of auctioning them on eBay, maybe Bozzie Jane and I should open a museum to display them…or donate them to a place like Sponge-O-Rama or Harry and the Natives.

Anyway, we had a lot of laughs with Rick. We learned that he is an actor and singer. You can hear his music at www.tahoecitymusic.com. Rick Diaz. He was also in a movie that was about to be released.

We met Allen, Bill, and Walter at the Balboa Park Visitor’s Center. We had a nice chat, and when Bill commented on the beads I was wearing, he asked if we had been to Mardi Gras. No, I explained that the beads were a gift from the Floating Neutrinos. Then I told them the whole story of meeting Poppa and Aurelia Neutrino (Day 18). I explained that I don’t normally wear beads, but I am a little superstitious, and I figured anyone who floats on a raft from New York to Spain and lives to tell about it has some good luck going on, so I will continue to wear the beads. Bill then took off his Hawaiian Lei and gave it to me. How nice! It matched my outfit really well. My beads are green, purple, and white, and now I had a lovely purple, green, and yellow lei to wear with the beads. I did notice the stares from men became a little more shocked-looking once I added the lei. It may be a little too much color for most men. Some guys just can’t wear purple.

Coronado, California was our next stop. We drove over the San Diego — Coronado Bay Bridge, and we saw the Hotel Del Coronado, a massive place that is really something. It’s a Victorian-style hotel built in 1887, and it is one of America’s largest wooden buildings.

We met Steve, a Coronado lifeguard. Great guy. He gave us several recommendations on places to go and things to see. I asked him whether any Baywatch-looking babes worked on the beach in Coronado, and I believe the answer was no. He said we missed the rescue of a sick little sea lion that morning; the folks from Sea World came to get it so they can nurse it back to health.

We met a man named Bill after he saw the signs on our car. I gave him some information about Big Bend as he and his wife are planning a visit there, and he told us to get ready because we will love Sedona, Arizona.

Barbara had the honor of picking a lunch spot. We had pizza at Island Pasta. It was nice sitting out on the sidewalk, and Sharon our waitress was a lot of fun to talk with, but we prefer Domino’s.

We saw the San Diego Convention Center, the stadium where the San Diego Padres play, and Gaslamp Quarter — a downtown area filled with neat restaurants and shops. We also stopped to see KC Barbeque, where scenes from “Top Gun” were filmed. And we saw Seaport Village — another shopping area catering to tourists.

Old Town San Diego is the area where California and San Diego were first settled. There are wonderful old, authentic buildings there, but virtually all of them have been turned into gift shops. Not as bad as Tombstone, but not what we expected.

Mission Beach is the home of Belmont Park. Nice beach and a cute little Coney Island-like area with a big wooden roller coaster. On the boardwalk there, we met Malene, Tanya, Sonja, and Astra. They’re from Denmark, Germany, and Switzerland, and they were here for a year attending a language school. They asked me to take their photo with their camera, and I was happy to do so. I did tell Sonja of Germany that when she goes home, she needs to tell everyone in Germany that the Americans are great people, and their country needs to support us. She wasn’t buying it. But she was certainly happy to be taking advantage of the opportunity to learn from teachers in the US….

Next up was a drive through La Jolla — the ritzy area of San Diego. Lovely restaurants and shops.

From La Jolla, we headed to Point Loma — the very tip of San Diego out in the Pacific Ocean. We saw the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Point Loma, and several Top Secret military installations. We were able to get some San Diego skyline photos from Point Loma. What a gorgeous city! We had planned to shoot sunset photos from Point Loma, but there were signs that indicated the area was closed and we weren’t supposed to be there. There were other cars in there with us, but I could just see that female sailor in fatigues with the machine gun picking me out of the crowd Vincent Passarelli-like as the one to nail for trespassing. So, we headed for Ocean Beach.

Ocean Beach has the longest pier on the West Coast, so we took some photos from the shore and then snapped pics all the way out to the end of the pier and then back on shore. It was an excellent place to shoot the sunset, and it is the first time in 25 days that we have had an unobstructed view of the sun as it disappeared on the horizon. I did learn that the automatic focus on the camera malfunctions if the very center of the camera is pointed directly at the sun, so I lost some good photos.

We were too tired to go out to dinner, so we decided to hit In-N-Out Burger again! Outstanding!

We should all appreciate what we have. It’s hard to believe that people who live in such an amazingly beautiful place with a great climate would take it for granted, but many apparently do. This lesson was also conveyed to us today when we knew that just a few feet away brave men and women were returning from a war fought for the purpose of protecting our country and our liberties. We should all appreciate what we have as Americans. And then there’s my traveling partner — back on duty. As is all too often the case, I know I appreciated her more when she was gone, but I was mighty happy to have her back.

Random Comments:

We kept asking, but we didn’t find anything really quirky in San Diego. That means there’s an opportunity there. If Rick decides to open a museum with his gall stone, then Boz and I would consider donating our shampoo collection to help get it started.

I received a number of emails telling me how ugly my shoes are. After 25 days on the road, perhaps I have lost all perspective, but they don’t look THAT ugly to me. :-) I’m definitely into comfort at this point.

Bill Windsor

Here are all the photos from Day 25 of the Round America 50-State Trip:

View photos at SmugMug

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10 Rules for Great Road Trips – Round America

by admin on Dec.20, 2008, under Trip Planning

When Barbara and I began our Round America trips, we adopted these Rules of the Road.  For us, it provided the perfect experience.  Feel free to take our list and modify it to your likes and dislikes.

Rule #1 — See the real world. Stay off the interstate highways.

Rule #2 — Eat pie. Eat where the locals eat. Avoid franchised restaurants. “Slow food” rather than fast food.

Rule #3 — See the sights that others miss. Don’t visit many theme parks.

Rule #4 — Plan to enjoy the unexpected. When something catches your eye, check it out.

Rule #5 — Try new things — new places, new people, new food, new experiences.

Rule #6 — Stop and smell the roses…or whatever. No need to rush; enjoy the journey.

Rule #7 — Think local. Listen to local radio stations; read local papers; and watch local TV.

Rule #8 — Make the best of every situation, If it seems boring or ugly or wrong, look again.

Rule #9 — Be smart. Be safe. Be prepared. Exercise every day. Keep the gas tank full.

Rule #10 — Preserve the experience. Maintain a journal; keep records; and take a lot of photos.

We followed these rules on our first 149-day 50-state trip, and the rules provided a fabulous experience. The most important thing we did was to drive on two-lane roads except in emergencies or late at night when we had to reach a destination that evening. We all see very little on interstate highways, but we see all types of interesting things on two-lane roads. It’s a kinder and gentler way to travel as well.

We ate 181 pieces of pie in 149 days. The original idea behind the pie was not to eat pie just to be eating pie, but because every small town has a cafe where the locals eat, and the good ones always have great pie. So mentioning pie was just a way of emphasizing the focus of the trip as a two-lane roadtrip experience, a slower, kinder, gentler trip. Just as you don’t see much on an interstate, you don’t see anything new or experience anything special eating at franchised restaurants of any type.

Nothing against theme parks, but we wanted to do other types of things. If you have children or love roller coasters, by all means make theme parks part of your Rules of the Road. But for a great local experience, see the World’s Largest Ball of Twine, the Perky Bat Tower, and the Enchanted Highway, or whatever floats your boat.

“>One of the better Rules was to enjoy the unexpected. We made it a practice to go and see what people told us about. When someone in south Texas asked if we were going to see the Grand Canyon, we replied “you bet, we’re going to see everything from the Grand Canyon to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine.” We were then asked if we were going to take the train to the Grand Canyon. We never knew there was a train at the Grand Canyon! So, we committed right there that we would take the Grand Canyon Train tour, and it was great.

We tried a lot of new things. And what a treat it was! It changed us, too, as we are now much more likely to try new things in our everyday life. It makes life more enjoyable.

Stopping to smell the roses proved harder than we thought. It’s hard to drive to all 50 states and see a lot in 149 days. You could take several years if you had the time and money. We learned quickly that having motel reservations in advance was a bad idea as it interfered with leisurely travel and exploring the things that pop up to get your attention.

We did our best to think local, but we didn’t read any newspapers or listen to the radio or watch TV for 149 days. In a world filled with sensationalism of bad news, that was one of the best parts of the trip. Eating where the locals eat in local restaurants and getting to know the local people was wonderful.

Making the best of bad situations was one of the more enjoyable aspects of the trip. There were some points of interest that we could not find. Rather than be upset, we’d keep our eyes open, and we’d often spot something else of interest. One of the worst experiences turned out to be among our best stories from the trip. Not reading the newspaper, listening to the radio, or watching TV can be a problem when you aren’t paying attention to things like holidays. I had no idea it was Easter Sunday, but I figured it out pretty fast when I was in the middle of nowhere in New Mexico with the gas tank on E. We took a trip earlier this year “In Search of Elvis and the World’s Largest Chili Dog.” There was no World’s Largest Chili Dog, but it was a funny experience!

Be smart. Be safe…. We did a good job there, though my friends and relatives still think I am crazy for going up and meeting so many stgrangers in strange places. If I hadn’t, we would have never met literally hundreds of interesting people, including two people who floated across the Atlantic Ocean on a raft and lived to tell about it, a snow cone vendor and lube shop owner who took me to see a beautiful spot on the Rio Grande River, and two people who pedaled across America in giant shoes.

We preserved the experience by writing a roadtrip journal for 149 days and by taking 14,341 roadtrip photographs. Okay, so I overdo everything. Do what makes you happy, but be sure you have a good camera, and take photos that are meaningful to you.

As we continue to travel, we haven’t changed a thing in our Rules of the Road. The Rules provide the foundation for a wonderful time everywhere we go.

Bill Windsor – Round America

Copyright 2008, Round America and William M. Windsor

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Roadtrip Planning – Round America

by admin on Dec.20, 2008, under Trip Planning

In planning our 50 state 5-month roadtrip Round America, Barbara and I reviewed a number of travel books. We didn’t want to miss a thing that we might not have known was just around a bend.

We could have done even better with our research. There are no totally comprehensive travel books. We could have made better use of State Tourism information, and we could have spent more time on Internet research. That said, I did spend several months planning the trip, so I doubt that many will spend as much time as we did in research.

In charting the course, I created a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet. Each segment of the trip was listed with total mileage shown for that segment, and then each town we would pass through was listed, showing the highway that we would use. There were over 2,500 towns on the itinerary.

This was invaluable. This was our guide for the trip.

I contacted the Department of Tourism for every state, and I anxiously awaites the flood of brochures and maps. I planned to review each and add to the itinerary. We also emailed family and friends for ideas on places to go, things to see, and pie to eat.

Most states responded — some faster than others. We didn’t have enough time to review this info, so requesting this information further in advance is important.

Our home and our cat were major concerns. We wish Kitty B Kitty could be a road cat, but our one long trip with her proved otherwise. We aren’t RV’ers, so it wouldn’t be fair to keep her cooped up in a little car, and most motels don’t welcome animals. Fortunately, brother Tony came to the rescue. He agreed to look after the house and take care of Miss Kitty B Kitty while we were gone. Barbara wasn’t wild about interviewing and hiring a house sitter.

Thanks heavens for Tony. Kitty B Kitty was well cared for. In fact, she was spoiled rotten by Uncle Tony, who we need to get his very own kitty.

We prepared a list of things that we had to do before we left as well as things that we needed to remember to take with us on the trip. Haircuts, dental checkups, and prescription gathering were scheduled for right before we left. We rejoined AAA, and we made sure we had our AAA card, our AARP card, our passports, our drivers’ licenses, registration, and proof of insurance. We planned to take just an American Express card and a MasterCard, some cash, and travelers checks. I got prescription sunglasses, and I planned to take two pair of glasses in case anything should happen to one.

This all went well. We didn’t need to gather prescriptions; we learned that an out-of-state pharmacy can just call our Atlanta pharmacy. I broke both a pair of glasses and the sunglasses. I needed to buy a pair of clip on sunglasses.

Equipment-wise, we got a new cell phone with essentially unlimited long distance and no roaming charges for just $99 a month. I got the phone numbers of family and friends programmed in so everyone will be just a few keystrokes away. We also bought a gizmo at Best Buy that makes the cell phone hands free and uses the car stereo speaker system for the audio. I bought the latest and greatest SONY digital camera with a telephoto lens, wide angle lens, and various filters. I planned to my laptop and download the digital photos to the laptop, so we also bought a power gizmo to enable us to run the laptop off the car battery. That way, we could download photos from anywhere and even recharge the camera battery and cell phone as we drove. We planned to take our “old” digital camera as well. We purchased a small markerboard and markers, so we could create a sign with anything appropriate for certain photos. The only other equipment plkanned was a big powerful flashlight, two umbrellas, a fold-up hair dryer, and a tape recorder.

We chose Verizon as we believe it offered the widest coverage. Coverage area is important, since so much of a two-lane trip to small towns is spent in the boonies. We were surprised to be charged 40 cents a minute when out of Verizon’s home territory, so this was an unexpected surprise that might have made us choose another service. The goal should be wide coverage but a plan with no extra charges for roaming and out-of-territory (whatever that means). A satellite phone might be a better option; I don’t know enough about them to know, but we will look into it for the next trip. We used three different hands-free deals for the cell phone. I couldn’t get the one that works with the stereo to work properly. We now have a car that uses Bluetooth to access our cell phone through the car stereo system with a hands-free speaker built into the car. This is the greatest feature ever!

The Sony camera was excellent for oiur needs as it has a powerful zoom. I had three 128 MB memory sticks, and this enabled me to take 150 highest resolution photos before I had to download to the laptop. We didn’t use the power gizmo. We broke three tape recorders, so I planned to take two next time, as our trip had us in many places that did not sell pocket recorders. The recorder was the only practical way to record our ideas and information as we drove. We used our First Aid Kit a number of times, and I should have taken it to Hawaii as well as you always need what you don’t have, and I have the drug store receipts to prove it.

We planned to pack light and hit a laundromat once a week. We bought a few clothing items from TravelSmith, the folks who specialize in all types of “travel easy” wearing apparel and accessories. Jeans or shorts, golf shirts, and tennis shoes will be about it. We are taking some hiking boots for use in the Northwest and as needed elsewhere.

Our clothes system worked out great. We each had two black nylon bags. The big bag could hold 7 days worth of clothes. A smaller bag could hold 2 days worth of clothes. We only took the small bag into the motel each night — refilling it from the larger bag. Dirty clothes went into a dirty clothes bag. It worked fine to wash once a week. Comfort Inn, Marriott Courtyard, Hampton Inn, and the like all have guest laundries. I wore shorts every day but one on the April to August trip, and I could have worn shorts that day as well. Finding comfortable walking shoes with plenty of foot support is really important — sand or dark-colored shoes look best as my white shoes looked a million years old after a few weeks. I ended up buying shorts from L.L. Bean and wore nothing but embroidered Round America sport shirts from Rod and the boys at Atlas Printing & Embroidery in Cleveland, Ohio.

We planned to get our car serviced just before we departed and get an idea when we would need to replace the tires.

We took a white Porsche convertible for the first half of the trip. It was great for driving, but it seemed to attract some folks who might have done us harm. It was definitely cramped, but we managed to make the very small storage areas work. The convertible was wonderful for seeing the sights and soaking rays during the southern loop Round America. We took a black PT Cruiser for the second half of the trip. The Cruiser was a poor choice as the car has a terribly wide turning radius, and many U-Turns are required daily. We were unable to do a U-Turn on normal streets. The Cruiser also gets poor gas mileage. The ideal car for us would be something that has a small turning radius that will enable U-Turns to be made on two-lane roads in one turn. Good gas mileage is a plus. We will require a GPS system and a hands-free built-in car phone system for the next trip. A compass is important. An odometer that shows tenths of a mile is a plus. A CD Player is a must, but even better is a car that plays your IPOD music through the car stereo system. A full-sized spare tire would be a plus. Digital gauges that can be read with sunglasses on would be a plus. White stays much cooler than black. Cup holders are essential as are really comfortable seats. Both the Porsche and Cruiser had really comfortable seats. I recommend testing any car on a day trip before you decide to take it on a long trip, as bad seats would make for a miserable trip.

We put together a notebook with the itinerary and allowed plenty of space to take notes as we traveled. We each carried a pocket notebook and pen so we would always be able to jot notes. We printed some business cards to use as we traveled. The cards had our basic information as well as a few sentence explanation of the trip, the trip web site address, our email address, and our cell phone number. We planned to give these to people we met along the way.

The notebooks were extremely valuable. We had dividers for each state, with photocopies of information about sights we wanted to see in each state. The business cards were perfect; we gave out 1,500. We used the pocket tape recorder for recording most notes — the only way to handle it.

The Trip Round America was to be well-planned; we would be prepared!

We originally planned to drive around the border of the country, but the idea of visiting all 50 states in one trip was just too exciting to pass up. I was surprised when Barbara endorsed the significant expansion of the trip. The numbers now are 50 states and the District of Columbia, over 2,500 towns, and 19,631 miles! I knew we would pass through cities that weren’t on the map, and the mileage would be much higher as we would be driving around towns that we visited, and the 19,631 was just a point-to-point calculation. We ended up doing 29,000 miles, so even with all the planning, I was waaay off.

I was very pleased with the research that we’d done. We had identified a significant number of attractions all along the route — many things that we would have never known were there. Some state tourism offices came through like champs while others hadn’t gotten a thing to us. The many books that we bought had been our best resources as well as the Internet. I wish we had done more research on hotels, motels, and B&B’s to try to find more special places to stay. We will try to do better on this on future trips.

Neither of us has found the time to read the books that we bought about the trips of others. I planned to toss a few of those in the car in case I found any time to read. That proved laughable; we burned the candle at both ends for 149 days!

Tony did great with the cat and house sitting as well as business management while we were away. His help made the trip possible as I question whether we could have ever been comfortable hiring a house/cat sitter that we didn’t know. Those who love cats will understand that we consider Kitty B Kitty to be like one of our children.

I believe I would have thoroughly enjoyed driving our 1955 Chevrolet Police Car on the trip, but Barbara vetoed that idea early on.

We logged over 29,000 miles driving around the United States.

Our planning proved to be excellent. We were very well prepared.

Boz prepared a first-aid kit as well as a bag of assorted things. Pocket-sized tissues, Handi-Wipes, hand sanitizer, Advil, screwdriver, blister-sized Band-Aids, eye wash, travel alarm clock, and additional tapes for the recorder were all very important. We needed to have Visine Tears as it is a product that can be used daily while some eye washes are dangerous if used daily.

We lost only one thing on the entire trip — my favorite feather pillow. Many motels have only foam pillows, so if you are a feather pillow person, be sure to take your own pillow. Marriott properties all have feather pillows, so we chose Marriots on some nights for that very reason. We were very systematic in what we carried into the motel each night and how we kept our stuff in the motel rooms. It would have been really easy except for all the electronics — two cell phone chargers, the digital camera charger, the laptop and its power cord/charger, and the travel alarm clock.

We should take jumper cables next time and have a dashboard-mounted compass.

We should have purchased the National Park Pass at the first national park we visited.

The beads were a MAJOR part of the trip. It’s great to have some type of gift that you can give to people when traveling, and the beads were a nice little gift…and so much more. We ordered 70 dozen beads — probably would have used 100 dozen if we had them from the very beginning. We encourage everyone to take “lucky beads” when they travel. You can order them at www.mardi-gras-beads.net. We bought 33″ 6-style assorted metallic beads for $6.25 for a 10-dozen bag — $37.50 for a 60-dozen case. You’ll meet far more people; you’ll have more fun; and you’ll have a nice, inexpensive gift to present to those you meet.

We kept the information received from each state tourism office in file boxes in the back of the Cruiser. We pulled the appropriate file for each state as needed. This worked well. We had to leave those files at home when we were in the Porsche.

We took the plastic laundry bag from each room each night and used it to transport our dirty clothes from the room to the laundry bag in the car. We then used the bag to hold all the travel brochures for the previous day. We tossed each bag of travel brochures in a box, and then we shipped a box back to Atlanta every time it got filled. I believe we ended up with somewhere in excess of 500 pounds of printed stuff…and all that hotel shampoo.

The signs on our car attracted a lot of attention and enabled us to meet many people we would not have met otherwise. The beads served a similar purpose, as I was asked again and again about the beads…and I met far more people that I would have met otherwise. We also had shirts and caps with the Round America logo, and those caught the eye of a number of people and added to the number of people we probably would not have met otherwise. The combination of the signs, beads, shirts, and caps made meeting people easy; more often than not, people came to us.

We weren’t signed up for all of the frequent customer programs with the various hotels and motels, so Boz got us signed up during the trip. We earned a number of free rooms from all the room nights for which we paid. We also tried to use American Express everywhere we could as we are on a program where each dollar earns points toward air travel or hotels.

It certainly helped to have a toll-free number to call with people to arrange sightseeing tours and activities in the tourist destinations that we visited. It helped to have a son in the business!

For the first half of the trip, we made hotel reservations a week or two in advance. For the second half of the trip, we ceased making reservations more than a day in advance. The problem with reservations is that you are then tied to a schedule, and that kept us from spending additional time where we would have liked to do so. It also caused us to be driving late into the night way too much of the time. On the next trip, we will not make reservations in advance — except in Maine (where we could not get a hotel room).

Expandable waist bands are invaluable if you plan to eat a lot of pie. :-)

Bill Windsor – Round America

Copyright 2008, Round America and William M. Windsor

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Round America – An Overview

by admin on Dec.20, 2008, under Trip Planning

logo-round-america-new-1001
Many people dream of traveling to all 50 states. Bill and Barbara Windsor drove 29,000 miles on two-lane roads and visited all 50 states in one 148-day trip. We saw 2,500 towns, met fascinating people, took over 14,000 photographs, and recorded our experiences, observations, and interviews.
World's Largest Ball of Twine
We visited everything from the Grand Canyon to the World’s Largest Ball of Twine. We met interesting people every day, including two people who floated across the Atlantic Ocean on a raft and a couple who pedaled across America in two giant shoes. We met artists, waitresses, doctors, desk clerks, gas station attendants, tow truck drivers, mountain sculptresses, snow cone makers, a Gideon Bible deliveryman, the woman who has lived across from the White House in a tent since 1981, and many others. We enjoyed 181 pieces of pie.

We presented a business card to everyone we met. It said: “We are traveling to all 50 states writing a book about the places we go, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat.” Round America is the story of this trip. It was an incredible experience.

This weblog will give you the opportunity to see America – all 50 states, enjoy many sights that most would miss, and read about our chance encounters with many interesting people. There was lot of humor along the way. In addition, we learned and re-learned lessons every day on the road, and we share those usually serious observations at the end of each day’s journal.

On April 1, 2003, Barbara and I left on a long-anticipated trip that we have affectionately referred to for several years as “The Pie Trip.” The trip covered all 50 states, over 2,500 towns, and over 29,000 miles. The trip ended on August 26, 2003. We wrote about the trip each night in our Daily Journal.

The idea for this trip originated in 2000. I proposed to Barbara that we go on “The Pie Trip” — just take off and travel the country and “eat pie.” We would go on the backroads and eat in cafes and diners where the locals eat (where they always have pie) and just learn about the places we go and the people we meet. We would write a book about the experience.

We became busy with other things, and the trip was postponed. I was more than a little disappointed when I discovered a book titled American Pie published in 2002 that had a strikingly similar concept and a great name.

But the idea for the trip was bolstered by my experience driving a 1955 Chevy Police Car from Dallas to Atlanta and on to Orlando. I spotted the car on eBay, and I was the winning bidder. The seller, Steve Jobe of Southlake, Texas, told me that I would be missing out if I had an auto transporter ship the police car from Dallas to Atlanta. He convinced me to drive the car, and I did. People everywhere smiled, pointed, and waved. I got literally hundreds upon hundreds of thumbs up and honks as I drove down the highway. One lady even took a picture at 60 miles-an-hour as we drove side-by-side down the Interstate in Louisiana. In Ruston, Louisiana, two police officers pulled me over. I knew I wasn’t speeding. They smiled and offered to trade cars. I always drew a crowd at every gas station and fast food stop; many people took pictures. I had the opportunity to talk with hundreds of people who I would have never met. And best of all, I saw THOUSANDS of smiles from people passing by. It was such a happy experience that I felt we had to get serious about planning the trip.

We wanted to do something unique, so we decided to visit all 50 states in one trip. Barbara vetoed making the trip in the 55 Chevy Police Car. I knew we would meet tens of thousands of people in that car, but the risk of a breakdown on remote two-lane roads was too great. Visiting all 50 states in one trip was to be unique enough!

The new plan was to go entirely around the country with a well-planned route. We would visit all 50 states. I mapped an itinerary that took us from Atlanta to Savannah to Daytona Beach to Miami to Key West to New Orleans to Brownsville to Tucson to San Diego to Los Angeles to Flagstaff to Santa Fe to St. Louis to Nashville to Atlanta to Louisville to Des Moines, to Denver to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Seattle to Anchorage to Minot to Duluth to Mackinac Island to Toledo to Cleveland to Buffalo to Burlington to Fort Kent Maine to Calais to Providence to New York to Washington DC to Norfolk to Myrtle Beach to Charleston to Savannah to Atlanta and all spots in between. Last stop was Hawaii to complete our trip Round America. If you look at a map, you’ll see that we essentially outlined the USA and then completed one circle through the non-border states. We visited all 50 states and passed through at least 2,500 towns. We logged over 29,000 miles by car.

We saw major sights, including Mount Rushmore, Alcatraz, Niagara Falls, and Hollywood, but we also saw other attractions such as the world’s largest ball of twine, the smallest church in America, the Forrest Gump bus bench, a house built entirely out of one log, the spinach capital of the world, the Roswell UFO Museum, the underground missile silos in North Dakota, the Judy Garland Museum, the James Dean Memorial, the Ben & Jerry’s factory, and assorted roadside attractions. We made special detours to visit some highly-regarded pie places. Our son, Ryan, owns a tour and travel business, so we used his company to identify sightseeing tours and activities along the way.

We tried to eat where the locals ate…unless the locals ate at franchised restaurants…as we sought to concentrate on good, independent local places and “slow food.” Nothing too fancy; diners and cafes were our #1 choice. We tracked each restaurant we visited and the roadfood we ate, and we have preserved that for posterity on our Road Food page.

A few people have asked what prompted the trip. We wanted to relax, enjoy life, and see more of the USA. We miss the kinder and gentler days of our youth. Our parents took us on wonderful driving vacations as children, and we both miss that. Most of our vacations with our children were airplane trips rather than car trips, and when we did drive, we drove on the interstates. You don’t see much of anything on the interstates, so the decision to drive primarily on two-lane roads was essential for us to see and experience what was important to us. We’ve been to most of the big cities, so we concentrated on smaller towns and areas where we’ve never been. We saw the trip as a real celebration of the many wonderful things that our great country has to offer. We looked forward to seeing and photographing patriotic displays that we saw along the way. We were at a point in our lives where we could devote several months to take a trip of this magnitude, so the timing was right. I always enjoy doing things that others haven’t done, so traveling to all 50 states in one trip would be a very satisfying accomplishment. And, we hope our book will encourage others to truly SEE the USA!

We wanted a memorable experience. We wanted to do something unique. And we did!

We carefully planned the trip; our road trip planning was very thorough. We established specific Rules of the Road.

We are writing books about our experiences. We are writing about “the places we go, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat.”

A family tradition has been to end our vacations by creating a list of the best and worst of the trip. Best meal, worst meal, best city, worst city, best excuse, worst expenditure — some serious and some funny. As we approached the trip, we compiled a master list of bests and worsts to consider as we traveled, and we ended our trip by naming our roadtrip bests and worsts.

We wrote daily, and we have provided a daily account and photos on the web site. We tracked our experiences with a Scorecard as well — tracking various and sundry “vital statistics.”

As we take future trips, we will continue to add information and photos. We hope you will check in on us occasionally by visiting this blog or our web site — www.roundamerica.com.

Bill Windsor – Round America

Copyright 2008, Round America and William M. Windsor

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Greetings from the American Road – Round America

by admin on Dec.20, 2008, under Trip Planning

logo-round-america-new-1001

My wife and I travel to all 50 states by car on two-lane roads. We wrote a book about our first trip Round America. That experience also prompted me to start a business selling Sightseeing Tours and Activities. We continue to travel, photograph, and write about our travels. We will share our travel stories on this weblog.

Bill Windsor – Round America

Copyright 2008, Round America and William M. Windsor

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Round America launches TripTips.us — A Social Network…Sharing Tips for Travel Round America

by admin on Dec.17, 2008, under News

Round America has launched TripTips.us — a social network sharing tips for travel Round America.

TripTips.us is a new venture from Round America and will be featured on the Round America web site.  It is a free service to provide travel tips for travel Round America, and it offers much more.

TripTips.us was created so friends can share travel experiences and advice.  Almost everyone likes to travel, and when we travel, we want to have an enjoyable time and make the most of our time and money spent.  As with Round America, the focus at TripTips.us is on the good ole USA – American travel.  TripTips.us“Profiles” provide others with information about travel experiences, so if Aunt Judy and Uncle Ward see that you have traveled to Purley Texas, they can ask you all about the World’s Largest Chili Dog before they plan a trip in that direction.  And as all members of the TripTips.us network add notes about their experiences, good and bad, TripTips.us becomes an even more valuable resource for one and all.

Members may preserve their travel memories on TripTips.us.  Members can write their own blogs, upload photos, and more.  And it’s all free. Capture memories as you make them.  Share your experiences with family and friends.  It’s easy to email family and friends from the TripTips.us site. Everything has been designed to be quick and easy and fun.

You can even show Your Trip Blog on your Facebook page.  You can show your Flickr photos on your TripTips.us page, and much more.  All with just a few clicks.

Each member receives their own Page, and a trip questionnaire allows each member to summarize their travel history, as well as travel likes and dislikes.  Members may add photos and videos, read and contribute to various Travel Forums, join groups like the Purley Texas Chili Dog Fan Club, make friends, easily connect with others for travel information, create photo albums, set up a photo slide show by just adding your photos, and much more.  It’s all about having fun and making the most of our travel.

Round America was conceived in 1997.  The first 50-state trip Round America took place in 2003.  Complete details of that trip, including 148 Daily Journal reports and many thousands of photographs can be seen on the Round America site.

Tens of thousands of people have followed that trip and subsequent trips online at www.roundamerica.com.  Email was the means of communication with the virtual travelers.  With TripTips.us, Round America will now share all future Round America trips on TripTips.us, and Round America’s incredible assortment of up to 50,000 American travel photos will be searchable and viewable at TripTips.us.  Round America and TripTips.us expect many other roadtrippers, vacationers, and leisure travelers will join by participating at TripTips.us.

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Vicksburg and Bed – Round America Trip: Atlanta to Paris and Back…by Car

by admin on Dec.02, 2008, under Louisiana, Mississippi, Monroe, Natchitoches, Places to Go, Vicksburg

We drove two-lane roads across Louisiana at night until we cut up to I-20 at Monroe, Louisiana. Our old-standby Marriotts were both full. We had an always good country cookin’ meal at Cracker Barrel. Then we drove east to Vicksburg, Mississippi.

The first two hotels we tried in Vicksburg were also full. We were pleased to get a room at the Holiday Inn & Suites. The Internet connector was broken (has happened to us before), so I was unable to upload photos or the blog.

Vicksburg has some interesting sights and a number of casinos for gamblers. We’ve visited Vicksburg before, so we are just here for the bed and a shower in the morning.

Travel Tips: If an Internet connection is important to you as it is to me, always check the connector BEFORE you unpack and get settled in the room. The little clip that gives a proper connection seems to get broken off by careless people. Request a different room unless the hotel has a Plan B. The Holiday Inn & Suites had no Plan B for us.

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Steel Magnolias and Natchitoches Louisiana – Round America Trip: Atlanta to Paris and Back…by Car

by admin on Dec.02, 2008, under Louisiana, Natchitoches, Places to Go, Shreveport

Barbara and I briefly visited Natchitoches, Louisiana a few months ago when we got lost trying to get to Alexandria. We saw just enough to know it was a lovely place. Our daughter, Brittany, loved Natchitoches when she was here a few years ago for her Vanderbilt roommate’s wedding, Kristen Gahagen.

Natchitoches is a beautiful small town! Barbara and I loved the looks and feel of Madison, Georgia, and we rated it “Best Small Town” on our first trip Round America…but we liked Natchitoches even better.

Several motion pictures have been filmed in Natchitoches, including Steel Magnolias, The Man in the Moon, The Horse Soldiers, NBC’s The Year Without a Santa Claus, The American Standard, as well as a Lifetime Television’s series Scarlett. We obtained a map at the Visitor’s Center, and we drove around to see most of the locations where Steel Magnolias was filmed. It’s such a great movie.

Natchitoches attracts over one million visitors annually. The city has 11 national chain hotels and nearly 50 bed and breakfast inns, including the Steel Magnolia House. The city’s tourism center is the downtown river walk. This includes Front Street, which overlooks the river walk and is bordered by an assortment of shops and boutiques. The city has identified this area as the Historical District.

Natchitoches has long been known for its popular Christmas Festival of Lights which is held the first Saturday in December. In 2008, the festival will celebrate its 82nd year. We usually hate it when the sun goes down as it ends the sightseeing for the day, but most of the lights were up, and we saw quite a display after the sun set. If you can ever visit Natchitoches, Louisiana during December, by all means go to see a lovely town and an absolutely gorgeous holiday display reflecting off the lake. It was spectacular!

I’ll add more to this tomorrow….

Here are all the photos from this day of the Trip from Atlanta to Paris and Back…by Car:

View photos at SmugMug

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Don’s Seafood is History but George’s Grill isn’t – Round America Trip: Atlanta to Paris and Back…by Car

by admin on Dec.02, 2008, under Louisiana, Places to Go, Shreveport, Texarkana, Texas

It’s about a 70-mile drive from Texarkana to Shreveport…another drive that I have done more times than I can count.

We lived in Texarkana from 1953 to 1961, and then we lives in Shreveport, Louisiana from 1961 to 1963. My Dad was the General Manager of KCMC-TV in Texarkana, and he moved the NBC station to the larger Shreveport location, built the largest television tower in the south, and designed and built a new TV station in Shreveport with a new name — KTAL-TV. TAL for “tall” and TAL for Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana since the station reached all three states.

We had an excellent lunch at George’s Grill. The Coconut Ice Box Pie was especially tasty. George’s is a classic local diner-style cafe. We had planned to eat at Don’s Seafood, but it had just gone out of business after something like 60 years. Sad!

Southern Maid Donuts in Shreveport started the hot donut business. Oddly, they start making the hot donuts at 4 pm daily. So, plan to visit Shreveport sometime after 4 pm, and go by for a real treat. The secret is in the glaze! Southern Maid’s use of a special Vanilla Extract in the glaze makes these hot donuts better than Krispy Kreme.

We didn’t spend much time in Shreveport as we have been here many times. I went to Lakeshore Junior High School in Shreveport in the 60s. It was a wonderful two years. Shreveport isn’t the nicest of cities, but there are a lot of nice people. If you like gambling, Shreveport’s sister city, Bossier City, has a number of casinos.

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