The highways, the byways, the back roads, the dirt roads, all of them behind us now. After 4100 miles we have returned to our regular days and short trips to work. But each mile traveled will be remembered, captured with our cameras, etched into our memories, talked of in our shorter rides, joked about during our next road trip. Each of those 4000 miles holds something special and we tried to pack as much into each road as possible.
We saw snow and cold and rain and heat and wind and calm, blue skies and wintry grey, mountains, hills, plains and swamp, beaches and ocean and rivers and bridges and lakes, stars, sunsets, and horizons filled with nature's magic brush strokes. We flirted with the honky-tonks of Nashville, stood at the burial site of Meriweather Lewis, walked in the footsteps of ancient Indians, and played at being an old ferryman stationed at the Gordon House. We stopped by the birthplace of Elvis and slept at the gates of a Civil War battleground in Vicksburg, witnessing a survivor of river gunboats. There were ducks and TV celebrities and several football stadiums. We awed at rockets and space shuttles, smiled at lions and gorillas, giggled at sting rays, and paid quiet respect to the preserved remains of ancient cultures. We brought home some sand from the Gulf Coast while peering out into the ocean's distance at the dangling offshore oil rigs. We were dwarfed by oil ships and amazed at the massive refineries. Bewildered by the gator population, we visited the bayou, strolled Bourbon Street while enjoying beignets, walked the banks of the Mighty Mississippi, and lingered in a cypress swamp. The ghosts of an antebellum plantation swirled about us. The longest bridge in America and the largest knife store, history of the nation and the future of space flight, jazz and blues and country, all are behind us now but also always with us.
Our family has earned their road trip badges, counting miles while achieving destinations. We accumulated memories along with waypoints. The stories of these adventures will last a lifetime. It made me smile as the last few miles before reaching home brought talks of where to go next and which highways and states will bring the best adventures. Near or far, time spent exploring the country with my family in tow, watching the world through the frame of our windshield, revisiting history, delving into science, and immersed in nature can not be replaced. Everyone should take the opportunity at least once to be trapped in a vehicle with their family for a few hundred miles seeing this great country first hand, singing songs and snoring, and laughing, and maybe visiting the world's biggest ball of twine. The adventures are out there, go have one. We did and we're already planning our next one.