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Milestones of a Cross-Country Road Trip

Our 23-day cross-country road trip is coming to an end. It’s been an amazing trip. Exhausting, to be sure. Worth it? Absolutely.

In mid-July, my high school friend/college roommate and I, embarked on a cross-country road trip with our kids (Julie has twins, ages 9 and I have 2 kids, ages 9 and 7). She started in Virginia, her home state. I flew first to Pittsburgh, PA to visit another friend who has a daughter Harper's age.

Our trip took us on a northern route from Pittsburgh, through Chicago, Minneapolis, South Dakota, Wyoming, Idaho, and Oregon.

Several people have asked for some of our trip highlights so I wanted to share them here.

Table of Contents:

Number of States Visited

Total Miles

Total Drive Time

Most Mileage in One Day

Museums Visited Across the Country

National Parks Visited

National Memorials and Monuments

State Capitols Seen

Other monuments, state parks, historical, local interest

Events We Attended

Accommodation Types

Types of Animals Seen

Most Unusual Insects

Crops Grown Along the Roadways and Highways

Energy Sources Seen

Geology Observed

Total # of Junior Ranger badges earned

Family Visited

Would We Do It Again?

Number of States Visited: 11

  • Pennsylvania

  • Ohio

  • Indiana

  • Illinois

  • Wisconsin

  • Minnesota

  • South Dakota

  • Nebraska*

  • Wyoming

  • Idaho

  • Oregon

*We just crossed the state line, so it doesn't truly count. We decided, however, that we didn’t want to have 49 states on our deathbed and just be missing Nebraska when it was just 2 miles away from where we were in South Dakota.

Total Miles

4,300 miles

Total Drive Time (not elapsed time)

76 hours

Most mileage in one day

Minneapolis to Badlands, 505 miles, 7 hours 40 minutes

Museums Visited Across the Country

Andy Warhol Museum (Pittsburgh)

Carnegie Museum of Natural History (Pittsburgh)

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (Cleveland)

Paisley Park (Chanhassen, Minnesota)

Idaho Potato Museum (Blackfoot)

Minneapolis Sculpture Garden (Minneapolis)

National Parks Visited

National Monuments and Memorials Visited

State capitols seen or visited: 3

Other monuments, state parks, historical, local interest

Events We Attended

Accommodation Types

  • Covered wagon (Heart Six Ranch near Grand Teton National Park)

  • Hotels: 4

  • Friends' house: 1

  • With family (numerous stops): 5

Types of Animals seen

  • Bison

  • Rabbit

  • Marmot

  • Ground squirrels

  • Chipmunks

  • Rattlesnakes (SD)

  • Mule deer

  • Pronghorn antelope

  • Osprey

  • Mountain bluebird

  • Horses

  • Cattle

  • ·Alpaca/llamas

  • Horses

  • Goats

  • Donkeys

  • Coyote

  • Butterflies

  • Spiders

  • Salmon

  • Sturgeon

  • Lamprey

  • Turtle

  • Skunk

Most unusual insects

  • Mormon crickets

  • Japanese Lantern Beetle

Crops Grown Along the Roadways and Highways

  • Potatoes (ID)

  • Wheat (ID)

  • Corn

  • Sunflowers (SD)

  • Soybeans

  • Snap peas

  • Raspberries

  • Pear

  • Hops

  • Grapes

  • Blackberries

  • Peaches

Energy sources Seen

  • Turbines

  • Solar Panels

  • Oil derricks

  • Near nuclear reactors and the first atomic city (Idaho)

  • Coal

  • Hydro-electric

Geology observed

Volcanic (Craters of the Moon, Crater Lake, most of Oregon)

Waterfalls – MN, Yellowstone, Idaho, Crater Lake


Hot Springs








Great Lake (Lake Michigan, Lake Erie)


Lava cone

Total # of Junior Ranger badges earned: 20 (5 places, 4 kids)

Family Visited: 27

Julie and I said our goodbyes today at the Medford, Oregon Airport. The kids gave their hugs and took one last photo. Oliver promised Austin a phone call after his first day of first grade in a week, as Austin had requested. Seeing my kids bond with the kids of a lifelong friend is priceless.

Would We Do it Again?

Absolutely! We hit it hard every day and had the best sleep of our lives. Our kids adjusted to the non-routine routine of just getting up and going. They got lots of exercise, lots of laughs and I think they even learned some things along the way.

We all left with a better appreciation of what the northern U.S. looks like as you drive from east to west. You cannot beat the beauty of this country!

Happy Travels,


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