Conclusion

Now that you've read about our trip, you're probably wondering how two people with an annual salary under $2,000 (for me at least) were able to manage a trip like this. Well, primarily I have to blame Mom and Dad. The use of the car was what made this trip possible, we surely would not have been able to rent a car. Everything else came out of our pockets; gas, food, lodging, and supplies and surprisingly, did not cost too much. Because the cost looks insurmountable to a no-income college student like myself, below are some statistics concerning our expenses.

GAS 431.42
LODGING 258.86
FOOD 600.31
Groceries 265.05
Restaurant/Convenience Store 335.26
FEES 124.80
Turnpikes 19.95
Public Transport 19.85
Park Fees/Activities 74.00
Laundry 7.00
Showers 4.00
SUPPLIES 334.67
Miscellaneous 36.00
Car Repairs 29.00
Film 123.00
Film Developing 120.37
Ice 9.00
Postage/Letters 17.30
PERSONAL 286.69
Tent 199.00
Books, Maps, Music 82.19
Other 5.50
TOTAL 2036.75
TOTAL (without personal items) 1750.06

I learned that film costs a lot but I think it's worth it. Well, maybe not so much, but, I'm glad we took pictures, I usually don't. Some are of the attitude that pictures distract from the "experience" but I disagree. If you shoot the right things, pictures can bring the reality of that moment right back to you years later. Unfortunately, you're the only person which has this sense of this reality and, therefore, showing your pictures to other people is usually less fulfilling for that person. But, it's good to take them anyway.

I'm still impressed with the fact that excluding the personal things we bought or needed at the onset, the total for each of us for the entire trip was only $875. That isn't too harsh on the savings.

Now that I've returned, the question I'm asked most is, "What was your favorite place or part of the country?" This question, for me, is really impossible to answer. I don't think I have a favorite part of the country. Anyway, I haven't been to every part of the country yet so I can't really answer this question. I do have several favorite places within each region we visited though. In the southwest I really liked Dead Horse State Park in southeast Utah, it was really a surprise. Also the northeast part of New Mexico was beautiful I thought. It's a bit like a desert but is covered in green grass instead of sand. I also was surprised to see rain forests in the Northwest. The Cascades were beautiful and the lushness of the area was very nice. Of course, along with that comes a lot of clouds and rain. Hey, if you want lush you gotta put up with the rain and clouds, right? Also, eastern Washington was quite nice too, I'll have to spend more time there someday. I could go on but you get the idea.

There were several parks I'd wished we'd had time to see but it was either impossible to get there or it just didn't work out time-wise. Some we had to leave for the next trip were Chaco Canyon, Devil's Postpile, Gooseneck State Park in Utah, Wind Cave, and many Anasazi sites in the Southwest. A few were just too far out of reach like Glacier and North Cascades National Parks, most of Colorado, and the extreme Southern part of Arizona and New Mexico.

Over the 36 days we were gone, we traveled 11,799 miles through 25 states. Our highest elevation was in Yosemite at 9,945 feet and our lowest was in Death Valley somewhere under 200 feet below sea level. I estimated that only about one-third, or 4,000 miles, of our travels were on interstate highways. Not too bad. If you don't know by now, I like to keep off the interstates. It, in my view, is the fast food of traveling. I like to take my time (usually) and see all the weird and outrageous things people will do like the huge strawberry at Strawberry Point, Iowa, the Corn Palace at Mitchell, South Dakota, and the small town of Malfunction Junction near the border of California and Oregon.

So, those are the stats and this is a wrap. Hopefully the next trip won't be to far from now, although I don't wish to have to undertake a project of this magnitude for a while I must admit.