There sure is a lot to reflect on here, maybe enough for two entries. I’ll just try to go in some sort of logical progression about things we learned, and things we would do differently, and where we might go next.
The most obvious things are stuff like route, time and accommodations. Although our route was boring on occasion, we (well, mostly I) selected it, and parts of it, for particular reasons. There were people or places we wanted to see, so we went there. What I learned about the upper and central Midwest is, except for certain individual locations, which may be very spread out, there’s not a lot to see or do of the kinds of things we like. We did the Ingalls-Wilder stops because we were up that way anyhow. I doubt I would make that sort of trip again because now we have seen it and now we know. We’re really glad we saw the thirteen states we went through, because we just hadn’t seen some of them at all, and now we have, and we wanted to know what was out there. Joyce has five states left to see, which will largely determine where we go next.
We certainly did the right thing by avoiding cities. We only went into Memphis and Chattanooga, and Memphis wasn’t worth it. We are not interested in “nightlife” or “entertainment” or drinking ourselves into oblivion. We hate traffic, noise, dirt and crowds. These things don’t excite us a bit. Except for airports and necessary evils like finding the VA, I doubt we’ll ever deliberately tour a city again, at least, not in North America. Europe is an entirely different story, but it is so easy to travel there, we will probably delay returning there until our late 70s, because anyone can do Europe. We’ll save what’s left of our youth and strength for the more adventurous kinds of travel we prefer at the moment.
As to the time spent, seven weeks is too much, at least of that type of travel. We’ve decided to limit ourselves to six next time, and see how that goes. A lot of the strain of travel had to do with accommodations, and now we have learned a lot more about those. You know, we’ve been traveling for decades, but that doesn’t mean we know it all, because many things have changed in recent years that make road tripping harder than it used to be, and one of them is mean people. So we now know some things to do to avoid them.
Regarding accommodations, we would pay more for a better quality of service. We would scrupulously avoid certain chains, and deliberately seek out others. We wanted to use La Quinta as exclusively as possible, but they aren’t in all the places we wanted to be. So we learned which chains to avoid, and which are a suitable substitute. The best for traveling with animals is La Quinta. Americinn is the most quiet and probably the most attractive. Holiday Inn Express is the most luxurious. And Belmont is second in all categories. We’re sending them all letters of appreciation with a few suggestions on how to become ideal.
That’s enough for one entry. Watch for another one soon.