Road Trip Across America

By | September 30, 2008

For the past couple weeks, I’ve been on the road with my family. We wanted to visit several friends and relatives scattered across the country, so we decided to give our kids the educational experience of a cross country road trip.

In spite of the cost of gasoline, this was by far the cheapest way to visit all the people we wanted to visit. I also did some research and found that for this multi-destination trip, car travel was a more environmentally friendly method of travel than air travel, in terms of CO2 emitted.

It’s been a lot of fun, and of course we’ve made a lot of memories along the way. We started in Colorado, and went as far east as the coast of Connecticut and Rhode Island. Here are some of the highlights…

1) Fishing the “I-80 Lakes”

I-80 is one of the Interstate highways that bisects the nation from coast to coast. Throughout Nebraska, there are over 50 lakes lining the edges of I-80, which were formed when the highway was built. Since the land is so flat, they had to scoop out areas of earth for road building material. The road builders worked in conjunction with fisheries biologists to turn those 50+ holes into clear-watered fish habitats. We stopped and fished five of them, which helped break up the monotony of the road, and also resulted in some nice catches…

Kids with fish

2) Story City, Iowa

We visited some good friends in this tiny city about an hour north of Des Moines. It has the feel of what you would hope and expect a typical American small town to feel like. Some of our highlights included riding the historical Story City Carousel (see picture below), and me catching a nice “smallie” (smallmouth bass) out of a nearby river.

Story City Carousel

3) Starved Rock State Park

We were hoping to do some more fishing in this beautiful state park in Illinois. However, the Illinois River was severely flooded (as were many rivers throughout the Midwest), and much of the park was closed. We still took a nice hike and got some great views of the Illinois River valley. Here are the kids overlooking the river…

Starved Rock SP

4) Sears Tower

My wife had never been to downtown Chicago, so I thought, what could be a better way to show them than to take them to the top of its tallest skyscraper? The Sears Tower used to be the tallest building in the world, but now it’s only the tallest in North America. We were fortunate to visit it on a clear evening, so the views were excellent. Here’s a pic I took from the top…

view from Sears Tower

5) Notre Dame University

I had the privilege of sitting in on a class with my brother in law, who is in Notre Dame’s MBA program. I actually learned a few things 🙂 . The campus is top notch… here’s a pic of the kids in front of “touch down Jesus”…

touch down Jesus

6) Warren Dunes State Park

We love beaches, so we jumped at the opportunity to visit Lake Michigan on a warm September afternoon. The main road to the beach was closed, due to a collapsed bridge, so the only way to access the beach was by hiking over a large sand dune. The result was miles of white sandy beaches almost exclusively to ourselves. The waves were actually big enough for me to do a bit of body surfing!

Warren Dunes State Park
Lake Michigan

7) Yates Cider Mill

My wife’s grandfather took us to Yates Cider Mill, which is on the outer edge of the Detroit suburbs. If you’re holding a cup of cider, you don’t want to stand in one place for too long or the wasps will find you, but it was worth it… They had the best apple donuts and freshest cider that we’ve ever tasted.

Yates Cider Mill

8] Niagara Falls

Having spent many of my childhood years growing up in upstate New York, I’d been to the Falls several times, but my wife and kids needed to see it.

We spent the night on the Canadian side, which also afforded us the opportunity to stock up on the Canadian chocolate bars that we miss so much in the USA (Aero, Mr. Big, Wunderbar, Krispy Krunch, etc.). Here was the view from our hotel room…

Niagara Falls Hotel view

The Falls are still beautiful, and still as powerful as ever…

Niagara Falls

9) More Fishing

OK, so the real highlight here was visiting my grandmother in Connecticut. But catching a big bass out of the pond at her retirement community was certainly a nice perk 😉

Largemouth bass

We also visited a “secret” pond with my wife’s uncle in Michigan and my son caught a mess of bluegill.

I’m actually more of a trout fisherman, but I love bass fishing too. Come to think of it, I like catching any kind of fish. (All of our fishing was catch and release, in case you cared)

We even stopped at a Bass Pro Shops Outdoor Word on the way home, which is a fun store for anyone who is interested in fishing or other outdoor activities.

10) Mystic Seaport

This tourist attraction in Mystic, Connecticut is fun for adults and kids… especially if you enjoy learning. I think we visited at the perfect time, as the weather was perfect, yet there were no crowds. The best way I could describe it would be sort of a “living” history museum of seafaring America. Definitely one of the coolest things we saw on the trip.

Mystic Seaport

Oh, and we also ate at Mystic Pizza! Yeah, the real place where the Julia Roberts movie was based. I don’t know that it quite lived up to it’s motto: “A slice of heaven”, but it was fun and good.

11) Misquamicut State Beach

After traveling so far, we just had to make sure we truly reached the coast and saw some real Atlantic ocean waves. Visiting this beautiful state beach also allowed us to hit Rhode Island so our kids could cross another state off of their lists.


12) Penn’s Cave, Pennsylvania

Supposedly this is America’s only “all water” cavern and wildlife park.
The boat tour did not disappoint, with a humorous guide and plenty of nice views of the cave.

Penn's Cave

Those are just some of the things I was doing over the past couple weeks. The ultimate benefit was obviously the time spent with my family, and with those we visited. My wife and I also took some time to film a documentary of each of our living grandparents.

I’ve travelled cross-country many times, and I always enjoy seeing America. Road trips like this one are a great way to see a cross section of the society in which we live.

I’m happy to report that in spite of our economic recession, America seems to be alive and well. From the big cities to the small towns that I visited, Americans are still doing their thing. I did notice some struggles in the retail sector, with stores and restaurants going out of business. But at the same time, I observed plenty of new construction and new businesses being built in every state I visited.

And of course there are problems in the finance and real estate industries. My wife’s grandparents are Realtors, with many homes listed, but the potential buyers aren’t able to get loans, which makes it very difficult to get deals done. So yeah, people are facing real struggles.

Nevertheless, small towns are having autumn festivals, and people are still finding plenty of reasons to celebrate life. We encountered friendly people from many different walks of life. I felt proud to be a part of this patchwork we call America. I’m confident that whatever happens in the upcoming months, our nation will pull though it.

But this blog is not about politics, and I’m aware that only half of my readers are in the USA… so here’s the main point…

Wherever you live, be sure to get out and enjoy the land and the people. Your life will be richer for it.

As always, you are welcome to post your comments below 🙂

Have a great day!

78 thoughts on “Road Trip Across America

  1. Nadine Fletcher

    Hello Eric

    Your pictures are great. Your wife and babies are
    beautiful. Thanks for taking the time to share yourself. You are a good teacher and mentor as
    well. Happy to know you are a family man as well
    as a Business man Smile :.)

  2. Jeanette Colburn

    Eric, Those were beautiful pictures ,and nice fish. I’m glad you all had a good time and got to see your parents and friends. Thanks for sharing your life and family with us. Hope your son’s arm doesn’t give him to muh trouble.

  3. Julius

    Hello Eric,

    Thanks for sharing. Good to know that you back.

    Have you been to Dubai – United Arab Emirates. You must visit this place to…its got everything one cant imagine.

    Julius P

  4. Pete Bass

    Hey Eric,
    Looks like a fun trip you had there. I love traveling and want to do more. I got to go to Ukraine this summer and it was awesome. People there are just like people here (except they speak a different language 😉 ) I am looking forward to seeing you at Illuminate. Thank you for telling us about it. By the way I like fishing for trout the most, but smart mouth Bass are the most fun!!

  5. Sandy

    Your trip sounds super, and we know how much a trip like that can be enjoyed. We did the same thing a few years ago – had a 5th wheel, and travelled for a year in the USA. Saw some incredible places and met some interesting people. Went from the east coast to California and up to Canada. Loved every second of it.

  6. Kristina Lim

    Thanks for sharing your pictures and thoughts. I don’t remember ever hearing you talk about fishing – didn’t know you enjoyed it so much.

  7. Gus

    Hey Eric;
    That was a great catch!!!.Thanks for sharing you and your family and trip. You inspire us all. May your future be bright and fruitful.

  8. Prakash

    Hello Eric,
    It’s great to know that you had a wonderful vacation.
    It will be an honour for me if you ever visit Mauritius someday.
    Have been missing your lessons and you around.


  9. innocent

    Great pictures, great family outing. Thanks, especially for your last line where you advised we we should try to enjoy the land wherever we live.

    This really get to me, and I’m considering taking a cue from you and visit the many tourist or recreational centers in my country Nigeria.

  10. Leslie Peer

    Eric its nice to see ya Back and You have some very beutiful pictures..Its Nice to see that Family Outing is still alive and Kicking…Loved the Pictures of the New England states…Was raised in CT and lived in Mystic for a couple of Months…Making me homesick

  11. Steve Fisher

    Your a Very Blessed Man Eric!

    Its great to see you taking the time to smell the roses. Life is to short not to enjoy and the kids just grow up to darn fast, and before you know it your 50.

    Awesome Trip and Beautiful Family…
    Thanks for sharing it with us!

  12. Michaela

    Hi Eric!
    This was a wonderful trip, and no doubt about it, educational for your kids. In school those days the kids don’t learn enough geography and American History.
    I was quiet because I was out of town for 5 days, nothing spectacular, family maters to sort out.
    When my husband was alive and healthy we use to travel a lot, I was an IT consultant at that point and he accompanied me all over. Summarizing, we spent 3 years in CA: LA, Bakersfield, and San Francisco, where we tie the knots. The outdoors of SF was just incredibly reached in scenery, variety and sentimental value for us.
    In East coast my favorite places are: Niagara Falls, Lake George in Adirondack (we use to camp here), Cap Code, Cap May in south of NJ, Shenandoah Valley in Virginia (Luray cave included), and Smoky Mountains.
    I never was in Chicago as well, and I wasn’t yet in Colorado. I was in Nevada Mountains, Death Valley, Hoover Dam, and Grande Canyon.
    The kids look great and happy in your trip; you and Melissa look relaxed, I am sure you enjoy the trip as well.
    I always was amazed how the life in small American towns have there own pace, value, and meaning. The people are different then the ones in big cities, don’t you think?
    Tell you a secret; I love the small American towns, the people, the values, the outdoors, the mountains and beaches. This is a blessed country.
    When my new Blog will be ready to go, I’ll post some pictures from our trips.

    Success in SF, say Hello to Joel from me,

  13. Yvonne Bryan

    Hi Eric: Thanks for sharing and caring. It seems like you had a really enjoyable vac. Your family looks quite appreciative and happy. Thanks for the lovely pics. Yvonne

  14. mohd ariff

    Hi Eric,
    Very nice of you to share us yours private life. We like to see the World & yours manoevres is something we need to learn as how this beautiful World being created & need to find the truth “CREATOR” thats create this Universe but not by just seeing with our naked eyes. As the proverb said, seeing as if we aren’t seeing. Where is our intelligent then, we are given a life as sight to be witnessed & many of us don’t thanks to “AL MIGHT” that has created them. “Thee don’t thanks to one thats give us life”
    Remember the day you had given to comment on those people misunderstood of your Online businesses towards the Christianity of yours believing. We knew yours standing & you didn’t had the intention of getting into your religion but the interception of thinking by some people is unavoidable.
    May you like to read interpretation of Quran & hadiths thats could give us more knowledges of believable as religion’s always our choice.

    Ths, regards
    Mohd Singapore

  15. Eric

    Hi Eric,
    That was a fantastic trip across America. Thanks for sharing the experience and for all the great tips.


  16. Tammy

    Hi Gary,
    Just wondered how you were making out on the Trading Pro System? I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed, myself. I’m abou halfway through the modules. How far have you gotten? I feel really good about it (eventually) but I think I need a better grip on the basics before I proceed. I’m REALLY interested in communicating with someone who has started using the system. I wish you well!
    Thanks, in advance,

  17. Alan

    Hey Eric,

    Great Trip. I am from Tonawanda, ny (Near the falls). You mentioned upstate. I live in Atlanta and need to take my family to see the falls- your great trip is a good reminder.



  18. Romeo Idjao

    How sweet and and great it is to be with your kids at a very memorable beauties of nature.
    Really God loves you and family. Hope I cauld be with your family in the future.
    Tanks for this great experiences of yours.

  19. Paul Materazzo

    Well May i say well done.
    Its great to see a family really living life together. Were an Australian Family hoping to do a similar trip, with the wife and 3 kids, 16,14,9, in a motor home type vehicle, we want to start on the west coast and end up at the East coast, and along the way see, Hollywood, Vegas, Grand Canyon, Colorado’s, Yellowstone, Dallas, Johnson Space center, Mt Rushmore, FLorida, Nashville, Newyork and any other amazing place in the USA. Have you any Advice for Us??, Thanks Paul

  20. Eric Post author

    I think you’ll have a great time. My best advice is to really enjoy the journey, and not just the destinations. Play games in the RV. Take in the beauty of the countryside everywhere you drive. Stop and eat at some greasy little diners in the middle of nowhere. Meet some people. Do some things that the kids really want to do, whether it be going to a lake, or a pool, or a mall. And take the time to make it educational. Get some guidebooks for the places you’ll be driving through, and read interesting sections out loud for the kids.


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