on returning home from a road trip to nowhere

From Sunday, September 1 to Friday, October 4, 2019, I went on a massive road trip, which I called the “Road Trip to Nowhere;” it was the longest road trip I’ve ever taken other than the one I took after college in 1979.  I mainly covered the horizontal lands of the Great Plains: Nebraska, South Dakota and North Dakota, but I also made stops in Ohio; Illinois; Wyoming; Colorado; Topeka, Kansas; St. Louis, Missouri; and Greeneville, Tennessee. Overall, I drove 7,505.6 miles.

The trip was all about the Lewis & Clark expedition and the Missouri River; pioneers, farmers, and Native Americans in the Great Plains; stark landscapes such as the Badlands and Theodore Roosevelt National Park; soldiers in various forts in the Great Plains; and the American bison. I loved stopping at small museums where I learned about local culture and was introduced to artists such as Harvey Dunn, Terry Redlin and Karl Bodmer – artists who captured the Great Plains both past and present. I encountered the World’s Largest Buffalo; the world’s largest ball of stamps; the World’s Only Corn Palace; and giant grasshoppers, fish and pheasants on the Enchanted Highway. I found replicas of Viking ships and Scandinavian churches. I crossed the Canadian border and extended a hand to our northern neighbors at the International Peace Garden.  I visited the childhood homes of novelists and celebrities such as Willa Cather and Johnny Carson. I learned more American history here than I have in any of my other travels, and even in all my years of schooling.

I did most of this trip solo, but Mike flew to Rapid City, South Dakota and accompanied me to Denver, CO, from where he flew back home.  We visited our son in Denver and went on several hikes with him. I also spent several days with my sister in Murphysboro, Illinois on my way home.

Here is my Polarsteps map for the trip, the first showing the journey all the way from my home in Virginia, and the second concentrated on the Dakotas and Nebraska, the focus of my “Road Trip to Nowhere.”

I wrote quite a number of posts about my “Road Trip to Nowhere:”

  1. call to place: the road trip to nowhere
  2. anticipation & preparation: road trip to nowhere
  3. on journey: virginia to cincinnati on a “road trip to nowhere”
  4. art journal spreads: tiffany glass & road trip to nowhere
  5. art journal spreads: road trip to nowhere {illinois to nebraska}
  6. art journal spreads: nebraska to south dakota
  7. on journey: finding justice in cincinnati, ohio, and onward to springfield, illinois
  8. lincoln’s boyhood home in springfield, illinois
  9. art journal spreads: south dakota to north dakota
  10. on journey: springfield to omaha (& a first encounter with the corps of discovery)
  11. the epitome of kindness at boys town in omaha
  12. the gerald ford birthsite in omaha
  13. the joslyn art museum in omaha
  14. art journal spreads: north dakota
  15. a walk around the old market in omaha, nebraska
  16. art journal spreads: bismarck to medora, north dakota
  17. tower of the four winds & the desoto national wildlife refuge
  18. nebraska: fort atkinson state historical park & the swedish heritage center
  19. native american portraits
  20. norfolk, nebraska: childhood home of johnny carson
  21. art journal spreads: medora, north dakota to wall, south dakota
  22. on journey: following lewis & clark from yankton to ponca state park
  23. a day in sioux falls, south dakota
  24. sioux falls to mitchell corn palace to the ingalls home
  25. brookings to watertown, south dakota
  26. on journey: watertown, south dakota to fargo, north dakota
  27. fargo to jamestown, north dakota
  28. north dakota’s big skies & the international peace garden
  29. north dakota: the scandinavian heritage center & the knife river indian villages
  30. washburn, north dakota: the lewis & clark interpretive center and fort mandan
  31. the north dakota heritage center {the horse, native peoples & north dakota history}
  32. the north dakota heritage center in bismarck: adaptation gallery
  33. bismarck art alley
  34. mandan to the enchanted highway to watford city, north dakota
  35. fort union trading post national historic site & grasshopper encounters
  36. theodore roosevelt national park (north unit)
  37. theodore roosevelt national park (south unit)
  38. the north dakota cowboy hall of fame & medora
  39. on journey: medora to devils tower to deadwood, south dakota
  40. tatanka: story of the bison & spearfish canyon
  41. south dakota: sturgis, bear butte & wall
  42. the badlands, south dakota
  43. south dakota: minuteman missile national historic site & prairie homestead historic site
  44. the journey museum in rapid city, south dakota
  45. south dakota: mount rushmore & jewel cave national monument
  46. south dakota: crazy horse memorial & chapel in the hills
  47. south dakota: custer state park
  48. south dakota: custer, wind cave national park, & rapid city
  49. on journey: rapid city, s.d. to toadstool geologic park to fort robinson state park
  50. scotts bluff national monument in nebraska
  51. chimney rock national historic site, nebraska
  52. cheyenne, wyoming: the wyoming state capitol, sanford’s grub, & the wrangler
  53. the cheyenne depot museum & cowgirls of the west
  54. cheyenne: a historic walk, frontier days, & mid mod etc.
  55. rocky mountain national park, colorado
  56. around & about fort collins, colorado
  57. denver: flatirons vista & larimer square
  58. denver to grand island, nebraska: front street, fort cody trading post, & a pony express station
  59. grand island, nebraska to topeka, kansas: wilber, beatrice & red cloud
  60. topeka, kansas: brown v. board of education national historic site
  61. ulysses s. grant national historic site in st. louis & a couple of days in murphysboro, illinois
  62. greeneville, tennessee: andrew johnson national historic site & homeward bound

Besides filling three journals on this trip with details and observations, I also did some art journal spreads in the journals.

I sent some postcards home to myself from each of the three major states I visited.


South Dakota:

North Dakota:

Overall, this was a fantastic trip where I learned much about the history of our country and the settlers and Native Americans who shaped it.

*September 1 to October 4, 2019*

**Drove: 7,505.6 miles**