From Rochester, New York.

Home. 5547 miles total. And I’m sitting here staring at the US map fantasizing about our next trip.

We got here about noon. It’s 2:45 now and we’re unpacked. I went for groceries. Jim went over to his office to check mail. Now I need to organize photos and sort through our maps and guidebooks. Making a note to review all our motels over at Trip Advisor — my civic duty. (I swear it makes a difference — last spring I was crabbing about motels not having channel listings for the TV and this trip every motel had them, even though one was  completely wrong. Does it sound totally bourgeois to be complaining about TV amid the natural grandeur of the West? Ok, I’ll own that.)

Highlight of the trip? I think Mesa Verde National Park (Colorado) wins the overall: scenic wow, cultural wow, and giddy sense of accomplishment at the end of the day (playing out in big smiles over dinner). Maybe because it was the first national park we visited in a series of them that combine “breath-taking” with “hair-raising.”

Was there a low point? As a rule, I’m not a fan of grumpy travelers. But I did have the odd moment of disoriented hysteria, like the very north end of Yellowstone, where friendly “parkiness” suddenly shifted to some kind of landscape from Jupiter and I was sure we’d taken a wrong turn. There were construction delays, but we turned those into opportunities to open the windows, breathe, listen, take a few pix. And there was that moment in Custer State Park (South Dakota, opposite Mount Rushmore), where I’d just negotiated a series of hairpin curves and there, barreling at me in the wrong lane was an asshole in a sports car — I applied brakes (I was only going 15 mph) and the asshole swerved. I gave him the evil eye. Nothing like an adrenaline rush at 3 PM.

And I’m sorry Minnesota got grayed out with rain.

Where do I want to return to? Idaho is my first reaction. Love those lonely highways.

More later…

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