By Asher Wertheimer
This past summer, I was accompanied by my friends Wade and Connor on a read trip across the country. We drove from Marshall to San Francisco, taking four days to drive out, saying for a week, and driving four days back. The goal of the trip was to meet a friend of mine from Scotland named Dom. He had been working in San Francisco for the summer, and this was an excuse to fulfill my lifelong dream of a cross country road trip.. Another friend of mine, Liam, flew out to meet up with us when we reached San Francisco. In this post, I will describe the coolest thing our party did in each state. If ever you, dear reader, have the chance to take a similar trip, I suggest you do it, and perhaps visit the sites I will list below.
Right, let’s get into it.
Nebraska: In the first day on the road, we drove straight through Indiana, Illinois, and Iowa. We didn’t see much in these states, with Iowa being spectacularly boring. However, Nebraska was a strange loopy land. We stayed in Omaha, and found nothing interesting to do while walking about the streets. This could have been an anomaly of course, and perhaps the city is actually quite nice. However, our experience was strange, with too many experiences to recount. I will, however, say that our Air BnB host was a wonderfully kind woman with whom we spoke for a long time. So, I would say the coolest experience of this state was the bonding Wade, Connor and I underwent while traveling through the Twilight Zone of a city that was Omaha. Not a brilliantly exciting start to the list, but it’s the truth. Oh, and we saw no graveyards in the entire state, so either people don’t die in Nebraska, or they put them in the corn, and I don’t know which is worse.
Colorado: In Colorado, we stayed in Boulder. The same day we drove there, we went whitewater rafting on the Colorado River. This was a spectacular experience, and more fun than I can describe. It’s safe, and offers gorgeous views. Had we the time, I would have insisted we take part in the package that enables you to paddle down the river, stay the night on the bank, and go on further the next day. I loved this experience, but I will offer a separate experience for any horror fans who are reading this. Just north of Boulder is Estes Park, where the Stanley Hotel is located. This hotel is famously haunted, and served as the inspiration for Stephen King’s book The Shining. I personally don’t believe in ghosts, but a look at the real life Overlook Hotel is something I couldn’t resist. We actually almost didn’t go, but Wade lobbied hard, and I’m glad he did. If you have time, take part in the ghost tours they give out, and if you have money—and guts—stay a night. For Wade, Connor, and myself, walking about the lobby and grounds was enough. You can even pick up a copy of The Shining, and its sequel Doctor Sleep, in the gift shop.
Wyoming: Wyoming was a drive through state, and we only stopped for gas. If you do so, be sure to hold onto any loose articles, as the Wyoming wind is something to fear. I only note Wyoming because Wade and I had been in The Laramie Project earlier that summer. This show is a documentary about the events that took place in Laramie, Wyoming in 1998. For those of you unfamiliar with what occurred, a gay University of Wyoming student, Matthew Shepard, was beaten to death in in the town in 1998. The events were horrific, and helped put a national spotlight on homophobia in America. Because Wade and I had taken part in The Laramie Project, we were very moved when our route took us through Laramie, Wyoming. It was a beautiful moment that only deepened our understanding of the story. If you have the time, do stop in town and experience it for yourself. It really is a beautiful place.
Utah: In Utah, we visited the new Evermore Park. It is a fantasy, Dungeons and Dragons style theme park. The park is built like a medieval village, and there are three separate storylines that take place throughout the year. The workers there all have characters with intimate backstories, and you can interact with all of them, joining guilds and completing quests. You will find fairies, elves, goblins, and many more. If you complete quests, you may even earn gold pieces, or the right to vote for who should be mayor of Evermore. Or maybe pet the pet dragon the town historian has. The whole thing is just gorgeous and will only grow more intricate as they continue to expand. Did I mention they have live animals, such as owls and parrots? Yeah. If it’s you're thing, go check it out. It’s very cheap to get in, and well, well, worth your time. Long Live the Dragon Trainers!
Nevada: There were many cool things we encountered in Nevada, that it’s hard to pick a favorite. Aside from all of the spectacular people we encountered, one of the best adventures we embarked on would have to be visiting Delamar, the ghost town in the middle of the desert. It was a mining town nicknamed The Widow Maker, and housed a couple thousand people in its heyday. Be careful when visiting though, as the terrain gets rocky, and if you are not traveling in an all terrain vehicle, you’ll be forced to hike. We had to leave the car behind with about a mile left, which was no big deal, and actually a lot of fun. Just be aware. However, this would not be my highlight from Nevada. That would have to be Area 51. Of course, we were well within the law during our visit, and I would tell anyone thinking about forcibly entering the base to DEFINITELY NOT DO IT! Be content with stopping at the legal boundary, and turning back. We actually tried to get to a legal vantage point, but were again foiled by rough terrain. Our spirits broken, we settled for the alien gift shop nearby. There, the helpful woman told us how to get to the boundary, laying out the law so that we didn’t accidentally get into trouble. I myself am fascinated by history and stories, even if I don’t believe there are any aliens in the base. So, we made the trek into the desert, stopped well short of the pylons, and turned about. It was a very memorable experience. Again, if you want to do this, follow the law. There is a reason the base is restricted, and I would dissuade anyone from testing the guards.
San Francisco: Yes yes I know, the state is California. But because we did so much in California, I am splitting the state up into three groups. Whatever, it’s my blog, I can do what I want. In San Francisco itself, I would have to say that the coolest thing we did was visiting the SS Jeremiah O’Brien. This ship is a Liberty Class cargo ship, and only one of four remaining. Of those four, the Jeremiah O’Brien is one of two that is actually functional. The ship was used in WWII, and is significant because it actually went to Omaha Beach on D-Day. As a history buff, this was exhilarating. You can walk about the deck, look in on quarters, go into the engine room, and even man an AA gun. The ship is piece of history, and I cannot express how cool it was to be aboard it. The entrance price is a bit steep, but well worth it in my opinion.
Yosemite: Go here. It’s cheap to get in, cheap to book a camp site, and an amazing experience. We hiked up a trail, and although it was tough, it was also fantastic. Do it. Do it! Pure, untouched nature. I cannot describe the beauty of this park. Standing on the shore of a lake in the middle of the night with the stars reflected on the still surface of the water. It’s something I’ll always treasure. Do it.
Los Angeles: Here, we managed to go boogie boarding in the Pacific Ocean in the early morning. It was great. Do it if you can. No one is on the beach and it’s so much fun. If you can’t then I would recommend Disneyland. I know, so touristy. But there’s something there for everyone. Pirates of the Caribbean, Indiana Jones, Hyperspace Mountain, they're all so much fun!! But, of course, I was there for the Star Wars park. And, let me tell you, it was worth it. You can feel the boot of the First Order on your neck when the sound of TIE Fighters flying over you plays across hidden speakers. If you’re really dedicated, go all out and get a custom built lightsaber. It’s pricey,
but well worth it in my opinion. But you have to book in advance, so decide well beforehand! I’ll let you decide whether I did it or not.
Arizona: I slept through a lot of this on the first day. Which is good because we drove straight through to Flagstaff on that day. However, on the second day we passed through Winslow, Arizona. If that sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the town made famous by the Eagles song Take it Easy. Such a cool little town for Eagles fans. However, I would say that my favorite bit from Arizona would be Meteor Crater. It’s the most well preserved meteor impact crater in America, and is so cool to see. The museum is equally as cool, with pieces of the meteor, simulations of the impact, and a lot more. This was a spontaneous stop on our part, and I would highly recommend it.
New Mexico: We stayed in Albuquerque, which has significant meaning for Breaking Bad fans, as it’s where the show takes place and was filmed. I would kindly ask anyone reading to please leave the people living in the house Walter White lived in alone. If you feel the need to take a picture, take their advice and do it from across the street. We made a quick stop here, and tried to be as unobtrusive as possible. We also ate at the restaurant used for Los Pollos Hermanos, and visited the mall where Saul Goodman’s law practice was located. Overall, this town was spectacular, and beautiful, and I would recommend just exploring it in its entirety.
Texas: We made a quick stop in Texas, and went shopping. I can’t recall the exact town name, but it might have been Amarillo. Cool town, nice people, and good food. As a result, we got caught in a massive storm and had to spend the night in a motel. Overall, I’d just recommend getting a jean jacket or cowboy hat while in Texas. Where else are you gonna get it? Also, if you’re from the midwest, saying ‘ope’ when you drop your credit card will immediately give away where you're from. Trust me.
Missouri: In Missouri, we stayed in St. Louis. The city was beautiful at night, and I would recommend visiting Chuck Berry’s childhood home, which is located in the city. It was a nice place, and a piece of history. Modern rock and roll was born there after all!
From Missouri, we drove straight home. This trip was a spectacular time, and I would recommend anyone who has the opportunity to take a similar trip do it. If anything I’ve listed above interests you, do it! And if it doesn’t ignore it.
The greatest bit of this trip was that it was unique.
Only we have had this vacation, no one else.
So make your trip your own.