Go West Old Man


My nephew is getting married later this year.  We just received the “Save the Date” notice.  This is the first time I have gotten one electronically.  Date, venue, nearby hotels, oh yes, it is a destination wedding.  It will be held in the Sonoma wine country in California.  Hotel is in Santa Rosa.

I have only been out west once and that was when NCTE was in San Francisco years ago.  Well, I checked things out and booked rooms at the Hyatt Regency which is where they have a block of rooms reserved.  Looks like a nice place.

Now I need to get from Pennsylvania to California.  Most flights I checked leaving from Harrisburg International Airport, my airport of choice, stop at O’Hare and San Francisco before ending in Santa Rosa.

On a lark I decided to check driving routes.  I was surprised to learn that I-80, which isn’t all that far from us, goes straight cross country to Santa Rosa.  How about that.  Jokingly I mentioned to Kathy that we could just drive out and visit places along the way.

I was surprised when she thought that that was a good idea.  OK.  So now instead of booking a flight I am looking for places to stay and visit along I-80 as we travel west.  I am giving us four days for traveling just because I don’t want to feel rushed.

Looking at the mapquest route we will be traveling through Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, Utah, Nevada, and into California.  It is approximately a 40 hour drive covering around 2,800 miles.

I checked out tourist attractions along the way and most sights say I must stop at Iowa 80, the World’s Largest Truck Stop.  Other must see places, according to what I Googled, are Chimney Rock and the Archway Museum in Nebraska.  I will check out a few other spots as well.  If anyone knows of some interesting places to see please let me know in the comments.  I would appreciate any information.

I never really thought I would even consider driving clear across the country but it looks like it just might happen.  After all, isn’t retirement about doing new things?


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32 responses to “Go West Old Man

  1. The pie at Iowa 80….yummm! Wonder what is at Hancher??? When? Would love to share some Iowa hospitality!

  2. Sounds like a wonderful trip, Bob! My daughter lived in Santa Rosa for a couple of years, and it is quite beautiful (hopefully still is despite the recent fires). Have you considered visiting any of the national parks along the way? Don’t know exactly which are on your route, but it might be worth venturing a little out of the way to visit. I think you will have as much fun planning the trip as doing it!

  3. I’ve done this trip a few times. It’s a little flat through Kansas and Nebraska, but it’s mostly a beautiful trip!

  4. I highly recommend visiting Trip Advisor for things to see, do, stay, and eat along your way. That route is north of where we travel because we go to southern California. We have found some great places to eat from Trip Advisor. Do you have a national parks pass? That would be handy in case you decide to visit any. Also think about taking a different route home. Sounds like a great adventure and fodder for future slices.

    • Thanks for the information, elsie. We have thought about an alternate route home. Kathy would love to stop in Paducah, KY because there happens to be a quilt show there.

  5. Judy C.

    It’s always interesting doing new and unexpected things. And that is what this trip sounds like. We haven’t been across 80 for quite a while, but I do remember an Amish Village in or near Amana, IA. Take your time and just stop wherever you want. Enjoy your planning.

  6. In my early 30s, I drove, alone, across country. It was amazing, though I don;t think I would do it alone again. I hope to read about your cross country adventure this summer!

  7. I’m so excited for you…it will be a joyful experience to do it. Imagine how many problems you kids will solve with your car conversations. It has always been good for Dave and I. We love Route 80. It think it will be so much fun to plan too. xo

    • We are looking forward to the trip. As I said, it is not something I had ever planned to do. BTW, I tried opening the link to your post but it did not work. Not sure what is wrong.

  8. Terje

    Wedding sound exciting. A road trip to a wedding sounds even more exciting.

  9. lindabaie

    You’ll be in Cheyenne, at least driving through. It has a statue showing a woman commemorated for pushing the legislation to be the 1st to give women the right to vote: https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowUserReviews-g60439-d278945-r244324436-Wyoming_State_Capitol-Cheyenne_Wyoming.html Then, of course, you could drive south and visit Denver!!! Anyway, on the way back, Cody has some wonderful museums & then there’s Yellowstone and Jackson Hole. What a great trip you will have no matter where you land. The wedding should be grand. I love the San Francisco area, too. I see about your journal, love that, too!

    • Thanks for the suggestions, Linda. I am not opposed to detouring on the way home. There are some places that I always thought i might like to visit. This just might be the opportunity to do so.

  10. After you hit Cheyenne, you’ll come to Casper WY. I live here. If you end up staying here… let’s go to dinner! If you like history, there’s a wonderful museum right off the freeway called The National Historic Trails museum. Casper is the place where the trials divide, Mormon trail, Oregon Trail and even has a bit about the Pony Express. It’s a really great museum. We also have Fort Caspar which is fun to see. Lots of good food and lodging here.

  11. Erika Haak

    Oh wow! What a cool trip! I think besides any national parks that were in a few hundred miles; I would stop in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Chicago, Salt Lake City, and Sacramento. I think Yosemite should be the top of your list–it really isn’t that far from where you are going! I love that time at the end of summer, you will have a great trip! We are going to Southern CA in March to see my brother and flying to get there, but taking a side trip to Zion National Park in Utah!

  12. Driving west sounds like a great idea. But according to your calculations you are planning to drive about 10 hours a day which seems like a lot to me. I’ve driven across country five times (!) in my younger days, always with someone. Things happen, sometimes you lose time for one reason or another, and a 10-hour day behind the wheel can takes it’s toll on your body. Will Kathy be driving as well?
    I agree that visiting whatever national parks you can visit, going or coming back, you must do. They are all gorgeous out west. I agree that it’s a good idea to take a different route back, just because you can see so much more that way and probably won’t be doing this again.
    Don’t plan too much; enjoy the freedom to come and go as you please. California is my favorite place in the US, so leave time to enjoy what it has to offer! Be sure to drive on the coast; the scenery is spectacular. Have fun! We are all eager to hear about your adventures.

    • Thanks for all of the great info and advice. Kathy will be sharing the driving and I have us a day of no driving in case things come up or if we want to spend a little extra time somewhere.

  13. This sounds wonderful! And best of all I’ll get to read all about it upon your return!

  14. This is great fun to read all the people along your route. I 80 may have good pie but it is just a great big truck stop. More fun to head into Iowa City or Des Moines and check out what is happening. I have a feeling your trip is going to take much longer than you think if you begin to visit so many new friends! Enjoy!

  15. What an exciting opportunity, Bob! I have always wanted to do this. I loved reading some of the ideas offered in the comments, too. Looking forward to reading all about this!

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