Category Archives: Travels

My Travel Blog

The first leg (2,366 miles) of my 8,000 mile drive to the Pacific and back this summer


Prepping our trusty (hopefully) 2003 Roadtrek camper van for its first big journey.  Catheryn flies to Denver, then we head west through Nevada/Utah deserts. Stop in San Francisco/Petaluma  to visit friends and Evan, and pick-up Philip, who’s flying in from Portland, Maine.

Leisurely drive up the California Coast to spend a few days in Redwood National Park, then back to SF.

Catheryn and Philip fly east,  but I drive back the northern route through Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, the Dakotas, then down through Baltimore to visit old friends– then home to Davidson, NC.

The first leg of the trip West– Davidson to Denver, about 7 days mostly off-Interstate.

Will shoot vast quantity of stills and video, and blog each night for Atlas Obscura— mostly from State and National Park lands.  The van has a kitchenette, so will buy/cook food from farmer’s markets and groceries– with some exceptions.  Seeking quirky museums, ghost towns, old theaters, and all manner of roadside curiosities, personalities, and neglected cultures

Old Movie Theaters

A collection of forgotten theaters
discovered in my travels

I passed through Cheyenne, Oklahoma to avoid the Interstate for a few hundred miles between Oklahoma City and Amarillo, TX.  Cheyenne is almost at the exact half-way point between the East and West Coasts.

It is also close to the Battle of Washita site where Gen. George Custer led his soldiers on a  murderous winter-night raid against a Cheyenne encampment of mostly peaceful, children and women, killing over 100.

The town is more than 100 miles from any city, about 65 miles from an Interstate Hwy, and has been shrinking for decades.  Now, nearly every store on the main street is abandoned.  Someone tried to renovate this beautiful deco movie theater, but stopped– probably several years ago.  Not much of a future for little Cheyenne, except for people who want to visit sites of America’s great massacres.

On Travel-Part 1; First Memories

A ‘truck farm’ on Maryland’s eastern shore. One of my first memories.

Travel has been a big part of me—well, forever.  I was born in Salisbury, Maryland, a moderate size town on the Eastern Shore, surrounded by  fields of tomatoes, corn strawberries, and squash—‘truck farm country.  We lived in a small comfortable  house on about an acre of land  on the edge of town that bordered pine woods stitched together by lazy creeks.  It was a 45 minute drive to the Atlantic ocean’s broad sandy beaches, which for many years were my favorite place in the world. These are my first memories, from about 3 years old.

It’s a short memory, because at 4 my father was transferred to the big city of Baltimore.  We traded our open spaces and agricultural setting for a brick row house with a tiny yard, and a hundred neighbors.  It was all new—we walked to a little shopping strip with a bowling alley, sandwich shop, hobby shop, small lunch counter, and a couple pharmacies with soda fountains and twirling comic book racks.  We were 100 yards from a main street where an electric streetcar glided and jerked you to downtown through a dozen different-looking neighborhoods to Baltimore’s giant skyscrapers, gilded age office buildings,  large, comfy department stores, and a mysterious downtown wharf.

Baltimore Inner Harbor c. 1955. An exciting contrast to Maryland’s Eastern Shore where I was born

At four, I learned that life in one spot would not be my world.  We returned regularly to the land of endless truck farms to visit family friends, driving for hours, even crossing the Chesapeake Bay on a new, suspension bridge that soared 200 feet over the water. It was a good contrast, leaving the row houses and shopping centers and electric streetcars behind.

My mother had two brothers, who lived with their families, just outside Washington DC, about an hour away.  We made many Sunday trips there.  I enjoyed staring out the window of the big Chevy 2-door sedan, mesmerized as the trees of the Baltimore-Washington Parkway whizzed by.   I still love looking out windows of moving planes, trains, and cars, for hours on end.

It made me dream of one day making trips all over the world on a motorcycle through the woods, ignoring roads, stopping when I wanted, and experiencing the thrill of the new and different.

Prepping an 8,000 mile trip across the USA and back– in a Chevy Van

A cool day in January, practicing for the 8,000 mile journey.

At the end of May, I’m heading from Davidson, NC to Northern California, and back. In my Roadtrek 190 camper van, I’ll mostly follow the ‘blue highways’.

First leg will be south on I-85  through Alabama (want to see Selma).  Passing New Orleans (been there, done that) then go slowly through Cajun Country to dip deep into Texas’ Gulf Coast.  At Galveston, turning North.

Then through the Texas, a corner of New Mexico and the Colorado deserts, to pick up my wife, Catheryn, who doesn’t have as much available time as I, and so flying to Denver.

We continue in the camper van for the next 10 days, cross the Rockies, then  Utah and Nevada.  We slide through California, stopping on the coast in Petaluma, to visit with our son Evan, and his friend Rachel for a few days.  Then up the Northern California coast to Redwood  National Forest for several days.  Return to Petaluma to visit a few more days, then Catheryn flies back to Charlotte.

I drive the van back East, this time looping through northern Nevada, Wyoming (Yellowstone), then the Dakota Badlands,  infamous Standing Rock, and the Pine Ridge Reservation.  Meander through Iowa, Ohio and the Virginias.  Estimate to Back in Davidson around the end of June.

Planning to do a lot of writing and shoot/edit stills & video on the way.  Will post regularly here.

For the month of July,  I will park the van outside the little Appalachian village of Bakersville, NC.  I’m working on a documentary about a 150 year old water-driven grist mill there, and will shoot, write, edit and live in the van outside the mill.  It may be haunted– we’ll see!