I left home at the end of September, 2002, for a conference in the San Francisco Bay Area. Then I drove home to Arizona the long way, via New York ;-), visiting friends and seeing sights along the way. Here are a few photos from my 10,000-mile drive to California.
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||First, here's a map showing my route, clockwise from Tucson, with a dot where each photo was snapped. Click on the map for a bigger version.|
|I've lived in San Francisco before, but I'd never taken that little right turn, just past the toll gates at the south end of the Golden Gate bridge, into the Presidio. There's a great view of the bridge, but there are also nice views out to sea.|
|I headed east, across the Sierra Nevada (where the pass I wanted to use was already closed by snow, at the start of October...), visiting friends and family in Salt Lake City and Denver, then into the Great Plains. In the 1800s, settlers coming the opposite direction (from the east) used Scotts Bluff, Nebraska as a marker; this hill told them that the plains were behind them and the mountains were ahead. I snapped this UPS truck making a delivery, in the modern way, to the National Monument headquarters here. The old method of transport is in the background...|
|You've heard of the famous Stonehenge monument in England. For those of us who can't make it to see Stonehenge, there's always Carhenge ;-). This scale version of Stonehenge in the plains north of Alliance, Nebraska is made of, yup, old cars. There's more "car art" around Carhenge, too -- welded, painted, half buried at crazy angles, surrounded by weeds and fields.|
|Arthur County, Nebraska, has no river, no railroad, and only one town: the county seat (which is named -- you guessed it -- Arthur). The county was formed a hundred years ago after a feud with the big county that used to control this square of rangeland. Arthur actually has several tourist destinations, though they're mostly locked up; you have to ask at the new county courthouse (which isn't hard to find ;-)). I got there in the middle of a county council meeting, but that was no problem: they invited me in to watch the proceedings while one of them phoned my guide. A lively 88-year-old who's lived most of his life right there, he first took me into the old courthouse, which is billed as the "world's smallest". (When Americans say "the world's", they usually mean "America's"... but, to some of us, there's no difference :-(.) He told me a story of standing in the courthouse door during 1920's Prohibition times, watching the judge try a man who was caught drinking. In the photo, he's opening the church, which is made from bales of hay covered with plaster -- a common building method in an area with almost no trees for lumber.|
|East, east... past Homestead National Monument (which shows the story of mid-1800s homesteaders, settling prairie land given for free by the US Government)... to Tabor, Iowa (a town on the Underground Railroad, where black slaves hid, in relative safety, on their way to freedom in Canada)... and the Amana Colonies (towns in eastern Iowa where a group of Germans made new lives for themselves, first in a communal style, and later as capitalists). After a visit with friends in Ohio who I hadn't seen for 20 years, I drove north to Cleveland, home of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. I was a radio announcer for almost 20 years, so I loved seeing artifacts like songwriters' original lyrics (scribbled on napkins, of course...) and listening to famous DJs' aircheck tapes. Out front was a display of oversized art guitars.|
|My next stops were with friends in New York state: near Syracuse (a place I used to live, with beautiful summers and snowy winters) and on Long Island (in that sprawl of suburbs that started, after World War II, at the famous built-from-scratch community called Levittown). I rode a train into Penn Station and spent a day wandering around Manhattan. The photo is of the United Nations headquarters -- which, after 50 years, is about to get some long-needed renovation. (But where else can you put a zillion diplomats and their staffs??)|
|Driving into south-central Pennsylvania, I found the country road to the site where Flight 93 crashed, near Shanksville, on September 11, 2001. It's a beautiful drive through the rolling hills that make up so much of Pennsylvania... until you suddenly come to a huge clearing, with the memorial at one edge. This photo shows some of the memorial in the foreground; the crash site is in the background, where the trees are.|
|I left my car with friends in West Virginia and took a train into Washington, DC, to do a week of sightseeing with a guidebook about out-of-the-way sights like statues, corner pharmacies, and other places that big guidebooks skip. Most of them, like the museum of the US Supreme Court's history, are almost empty of tourists. I didn't know that, for 150 years, the Court didn't have a home; it shuttled from place to place until this monumental building was finished in 1935.|
|The National Gallery has a pair of buildings near the east end of the Mall. One holds older works of art and the other is all modern. Between the buildings is a set of glass pyramids that let light into the underground passage between them; this photo, near sunset, shows the modern building reflected and the older building behind.|
|My trip route -- starting in the northern US, then working my way south -- meant I saw fall colors all the way, as the season changed from North to South. This shot is along the Eno River in Durham, North Carolina, on an afternoon walk with some friends and their dogs. (To see some much better nature photographs, visit my friend's web site: Martin Beebee Photography.)|
|After another nice visit, with friends in Charlotte, I zoomed south to Louisiana and holed up for a week in one of those extended-stay studios to do some work... as well as some sightseeing and eating in Cajun country. This is one of the very few French-speaking areas of the USA. Acadians (the word became "Cajuns") migrated here -- by choice or by force -- in the 1600s and after. Their culture and their language -- in many dialects -- live on here. (A good place to hear Louisiana music -- Cajun, Zydeco, Swamp Pop, and more -- is KBON Radio in Eunice. If their webcast is back online, you can click to listen in.) This photo is from a boat tour through the beautiful Atchafalaya Swamp, near Lafayette. I went with The Atchafalaya Experience: a quiet tour, without much commentary, from a friendly and knowledgeable guide.|
|Houston, Texas is a bunch of buildings tied together with a jumble of streets and freeways. I didn't expect to like it... but I'd never been there, so I decided to stop by on my way home. I really enjoyed the funky sprawl. I spent the day at museums, including The Museum of Printing History, with an extensive historical collection and several working presses; The Menil Collection, with a great collection of contemporary and native art; and The Orange Show, a bizarre collection of Folk Art built by a man who spent years of his life, and his life savings, to make what he hoped would be a major tourist attraction. His main theme (if you can call it that) is that oranges are good for you. The whole museum is wedged into a residential lot in a Houston neighborhood, with welded displays everywhere (he was a welder), including tens of birds and almost 100 tractor seats. The wonderful museums are ranked high on the list of great things to do in Houston.|
Until my next trip, that's all! Thanks for coming along.
If you'd like to see some of the other tours, please do.
(These photographs are Copyright © 2005 by Jerry Peek. Much higher-resolution versions of most images, and many other images too, are available at Jerry Peek Photography. Photos are available at reduced prices, or free, for non-commercial use.)