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Wrapping it up

The completed journey. The black line starts in Georgia and marks the start of the trip. The red line marks the return trip home from Alaska

And there it is – the entire trip.  I began the trip on May 30, and it ended 112 days later on September 18.  Take a look at my original plan here.  I was pretty close to matching that.

On left: odometer just before heading out. On right: odometer at the end of the trip

The traveled a total of 25,821 miles.  To offer some perspective, note that the circumference of the Earth is 24,901 miles.  Another way to think of it is that’s almost five roundtrips from NYC to LA.  I’m proud that I was able to travel that distance without A) going crazy, and B) getting sick of driving.

You might recall I put up some trip stats back when I was in the state of Washington, before heading north into Canada.  Now that the roadtrip is over, I figure it’s time to see what’s different and what has stayed the same since late July.

Total miles: 25, 821

Total gas expenditures: ~$2,933

Most expensive gas (US): $4.59/gal – Big Sur, CA

Most expensive gas (Canada): USD equivalent of ~$7.60/gal – Swift River, Yukon Territory

Least expensive gas (US): $2.43 – Newport News, VA

Least expensive gas (Canada): USD equivalent of ~$3.64/gal – Calgary, Alberta

States traveled through: 39

Largest rest areas: Kansas

Nicest rest areas: Illinois/Kansas

Not-so-nice rest areas: California (takes the cake in the US), and Northern Canada (not much out there)

National Parks visited: US – 12, Canada – 2

Pulled over: 3 times.  One for speeding and rolling through a stop sign.  Two other times for a busted headlight.

Tickets received: 1.  $100 fine courtesy a cop in Guernsey, Wyoming

Tickets received in my 2005 cross-country trip: 3 – Virginia, California, and you guessed it…Wyoming

State that has it out for me, but I still like the place nonetheless: Wyoming

Total paid in tolls: $148.15

Most expensive toll: $11 – Verrazano Bridge, NYC

Total number of oil changes: 8.  In order:

– Gulfbreeze, FL

– Endwell, NY

– Mishiwaka, IN

– Midland, TX

– Hillsboro, OR

– Palmer, AK

– Westminster, CO

– Gaithersburg, MD

Total vehicle maintenance costs: $1,386.70

Largest single expenditure related to the car: $606.35 (oil change + new tires in Hillsboro, OR)

Money spent on washing the car: ~$65

Replaced windshields: 1 (fully covered by insurance, thankfully)

Replaced headlight bulbs: 3

AAA usage: 1 – battery jump

Flat tires: 0

Hotel/Motel/B&B stays: 7 (two for free – thanks Rachel and John)

Cheapest attraction/excursion: $4 – Wright Brothers Memorial in Kitty Hawk, NC

Most expensive attraction/excursion: $77.33 – Wildlife boat tour in Alaska

Planetariums visited: 1 – Morehead Planetarium at UNC Chapel Hill (check it out…it’s amazing)

Darkest sky/most stars ever seen: Big Bend National Park, TX

Hidden gem in the middle of nowhere: Cosmosphere space museum – Hutchinson, KS

Camera accessories lost: 2 (lens cap and LCD cover).  No worries, purchased replacements

Ferry rides: 3 (2 in the state of Washington, 1 going from VT to NY)

Most expensive ferry: $17.50 – Lake Champlain ferry

Showers taken at truck stops: 4 (thank you, Flying J)

Haircuts: 5

Close bear encounters: 1 – Anchorage, AK

Friends that would readily abandon me in a bear attack: 1 (hahah… just playing, Matt)

Website hits, to date: 17,173

Some searches that brought people to this site: monumental walley; tempereate rainforest picture long ways; joe in carlsbad texas; 69 dreams; experience in taiwan; owners name + 14 lighthouse rd campobell; how did the religions spread; unique canadian flag; alaska and mara and andrew; day 26 break up

Friends I visited with/hiked with/ate with, etc: too many to count

Friends/friends of friends/family homes I’ve stayed in: 32

And once again, the important stats are the ones listed last. Thanks to all those who helped make this such a memorable trip. Not only did you let me “couchsurf,” but the mere fact of being able to hang out and spend time with all you guys is what was important to me.  And also thanks to the many who offered a place to stay, but we didn’t get the chance to link up because of timing or other logistics.  I’m very grateful.

This trip was one I won’t ever forget.  I got to see so many spectacular places and meet up with so many friendly people.  Just like I realized after my roadtrip in 2005, I gained a further appreciation for how beautiful this country is (as is Canada), and that the people living here is what helps make it so beautiful.  And like I commented back in 2005, nothing mushy happened like “finding myself” or any New Agey BS, but there’s some things I came to realize while being out on the road, and the biggest realization was how amazing it is to share these spectacular places with others.  Sometimes on the trip I’d find myself in a national park, or at a lake, or staring at mountains, and I’d wish I had a friend there to share the experience with.  Not that I was bummed to be there on my own, but there’s far too much beauty in this country to just enjoy it by yourself for an extended time.  Many have asked me, “Would you do it again?”  And I think the answer is “No.”  Others have to see what I’ve been able to see, so maybe if I can show off some of these places to a friend I would go, but to enjoy them all by myself once again might be a bit too selfish.  It’s a double-edged sword, though…someone would have to travel with me for an extended length of time – that might be a bit tough.  Maybe we decide to meet up at key locations so everybody keeps their sanity.

Others have asked me, “What was the highlight of the trip?”  I can never answer that question.  There were far too many “highlights” in my book.  Some just off the top of my head – seeing a rocket launch at Cape Canaveral, being at the St. Louis Gateway Arch on the Fourth of July, pulling up to the “Welcome to Alaska” sign at the Canada/AK border, taking pictures of the Milky Way in Big Bend National Park, meeting my nephews in Texas and Oregon, hiking Mt. Marathon in Alaska, visiting Crater Lake for the third time in my life, hanging with my friends in Maryland, seeing Oregon Trail wagon ruts in Wyoming, hiking the Angels Landing Trail at Zion National Park, watching the first rays of the morning sun hit the US….the list goes on and on.  I can never identify something as the “highlight” since I’ve experienced way too much to narrow it down. I’m pretty thrilled that’s the case.  Even before I set out on this trip and was in the planning phase, I didn’t expect I’d have such vivid memories when the trip ended.

Although it’s a little sad the trip is over, I now have new adventures in the works.  In less than a week I fly to Asia for a little personal trip.  I’ll be visiting Nepal and hanging with Lucky Monk, and then from there I head to Japan to meet up with a friend I made during my last trip to Asia.  I’ll be back in about a month, but then a few months later, in January, is my tentative leave date for my Peace Corps assignment.  I’m grateful I had the chance to explore a lot of the country before I leave it for two years.  I think my experience seeing miles and miles of the US will help make me a good ambassador, not to mention helping me appreciate what we have here while I work in the developing world.  So one adventure is over and done with…but many more to look forward to in the coming months.

Thanks to everybody out there who followed the website.  I didn’t expect so many people to be intereted in the journey, and it was a pleasure to share my time on the road with all of you.  Thanks to all of those who commented and gave me suggestions of things to see…some of the best finds across the country are not the ones in books or on a map, but the ones people share with you in casual conversation.

It’s been a thrill to be on the road for the entire summer.  When I left my job at the end of May, I had a strong feeling that it was the right choice, and it’s only been further confirmed here at the end of the trip.  This roadtrip has been long in the works.  In fact, in my old job in Bethesda, I made a rough route in GoogleMaps of what I planned to see.  I printed it out and hung it in my cubicle as an ‘escape’ from the daily drudgery (lesson learned, GoogleMaps only allows about 25 or so destinations in one route).  To go from that rough plan on a printout to adding 26,000 miles on my vehicle was, indeed, living a dream.

Speaking of my car, I owe much of my positive experience on the road to having a reliable vehicle that never gave me any grief, despite the fact we covered about two years’ worth of driving in just a matter of months.  The only money I spent on the vehicle during this trip was for regular wear-and-tear items, in addition to regular maintenance.  I was an advocate for Mazda before this trip, and I’ll remain that way for the rest of my life.  This week will be my last few days with the car as I’m selling it to my sister.  The Mazda6 has been great to me this past four years, and I finished my last summer with the car in style.

I feel very lucky that the roadtrip was even more successful than I imagined it could be.  The stars aligned for a great experience, and I’m so very grateful I’ll have this as a memory to last me the rest of my life.

Thanks for joining me on this ride.

joe

P.S.  Stay tuned to this site over the next few days as I’ll be putting together a roadtrip slideshow to visually recap the experience.

  1. Caroline
    September 21, 2010 at 9:47 am

    What a beautiful journey, congratulations.

  2. Melissa
    September 21, 2010 at 10:02 am

    Great concluding post! The stats are fun to read. Thanks for sharing your experience and giving me lots of ideas for when I travel. That’s awesome you drove the same distance as the circumference of our planet. Best of luck in the peace corps!

  3. Colleen
    September 21, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    Nice work, Jipster! But, you’re just in denial — it’s clear by your post that you have found more of yourself… you just don’t want to call it that! Haha…leave it to your counselor sister to add extra meaning to your blog.

    Thanks for taking such good care of the car!

  4. Color Me Green
    September 22, 2010 at 12:05 am

    Congratulations Joey C!!! Thanks for letting us all in on your great experience. Great seeing you twice during the trip. Godbless and goodluck in the coming months!

  5. Jonathan Satria
    September 22, 2010 at 1:29 am

    I’m glad you were able to finish up the trip that was only in the works back in summer ’08… and I’m even more glad to have met someone with the courage to embark on such a journey! All the best Joe.

  6. December 12, 2010 at 11:39 am

    Wow you had one amazing journey! This is inspiring! I want to take a long road trip now!

  7. November 4, 2011 at 9:33 am

    Sounds like you had a great time, guess I’m a little late to your roadtrip, but I’m sure it will be fun to read back through your journey, we’re really excited to be hitting the road soon as a family, so I can’t get enough of other people’s travel stories right now 🙂

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