This trip was conceived while I was on my 6 week trip around Europe by trains. It occurred to me that while Europe was very beautiful and exciting, I was equally sure my own country must be every bit as beautiful. And the fact that I had only seen about 25% of it sealed the deal and thus this trip.
The clincher was the fact that I was almost killed in an automobile accident on May 31, 2012. Three of my friends and I were just sitting at a stop light when we were slammed from behind killing two of my friends and sending me to the hospital for over a month. That kind of experience changes your entire attitude and priorities; you realize just how short and tenuous life really is. I know my friend John had no idea that just one hour after he had shot his age of 75 for the first time in his life he would be dead.
My advice to all of my readers is do not put off anything you have been dreaming about doing. If you can afford it do it.
There are no guarantees of tomorrow.
So how do you go about planning such a long journey? Our country is so vast and there is no effective way of using trains. Most National Parks are nowhere near our deteriorating rail system (A national disgrace). So I knew I would have to drive. But that was a problem. At age 76 and having a heart problem my cardiologist and my three daughters wouldn’t hear of me going alone. So who could I “sucker” uh, persuade to make an 11,460 mile 8 week tour of the United States?
There was really only one person I thought of who might be talked into going with me, Ron Schneider. He was an old high school football buddy. I had not seen him for over 40 years. But we got along as if the 40 years were 40 days. We were sitting having dinner when I told him of my desire to travel to all the national parks and see as much of America as I possibly could. He was intrigued and said he would go with me next summer. Yeah! I now had a person that would not only go with me but pay half the expenses.
This was in September and we agreed we would leave next May. NOW WHAT?
Fortunately I was a member of AAA and they were an immense help in planning this trip. In a few weeks I had road maps from every state in the country along with specialty maps of all the National Parks. Booklets on all the parks, including information on all the camp sites, restaurants, and hotels including price ranges.
It took me several days to lay out a travel plan for the most efficient use of the roads I wanted to drive in order to see what I wanted to see and the best use of our gasoline. I did not want to just travel the interstate system but wanted to see some of the back country such as old Rt. 66 etc. Much to our surprise some of it still exists.
In December, 2012 a local Buick dealer called me about trading my 2008 Ford Fusion for a 2013 Buick La Cross. He made me a deal I couldn’t refuse. What a perfect car for the trip. It had satellite radio, On Star navigation system, and the E-assist engine which used only one gallon for every 38 miles at 70 miles per hour.
We hit the road May 15, 2013. This is the story of our adventures.
About the Author Donald R. Cassidy C.L.U.
I joined the army shortly after my undergraduate college years. I spent the next 3 years as the fire control commander of a U.S Army Corporal Missile Battalion which was stationed at White Sands Proving Grounds, New Mexico.
Upon my discharge from the military I entered the Insurance industry where I spent the next 45 years. I completed my graduate level work at The American College; at the Huebner School for Advanced Insurance Studies collimating in my receiving the Professional designation of C.L.U.
Some years later my partner Jim Fenner and I learned that Universal Studios was going to locate a theme park in Orlando, Florida. The theme park was going to have the ability to produce feature motion pictures.
We became involved and were instrumental in funding the production of several feature films that were produced by Quest Studios, located on the back lot facilities of Universal Studios.
Subsequently I served as the director of Clinical Science for Xavier University School of Medicine.
I retired as the President and CEO of The International Medical Education Corporation.
Now I travel and write about my trips.