Dave and Dot's 25th Anniverary Tour
Or how we went on a 5 week vacation without anyone missing us back home . . . (except the dog)!
So, What's This All About ?
Our 25th "Anniverary" trip was the first extended vacation (of four, so far) that was dreamed up as a special celebration of a specific anniversary that in the future would happen at each increment of 5 years of marriage (. . . 25, 30, 35, 40 etc). Although I know that many couples have taken extended vacations similar to ours, I don't think they were ever planned specifically around an anniversary . . . But of course, I am sure I'd be wrong!
This particular trip began in Orlando, Florida, which was initially intended to be the starting point of a trip arching across the United States eventually arriving back at home (Sacramento, CA) 5 weeks later. As plans progressed we realized that flying one way and driving the return was basically cost prohibitive and after much thought we whittled it down to a tour of the Southeast U.S. with round trip air, which was a much better alternative. Although we had our limits, cost was not the only deciding factor for the change in our itinerary.
The unique thing about this particular trip is that after it was planned and everything was in place, 9/11 happened, just 18 days before we were to hop on a plane and head to the East Coast. Fortunately for us, the planes started flying again about a week before our trip and the only change we had to make was adding an extra day in Orlando instead of night in Tallahassee, FL which was about the halfway point of the next stop in our adventure.
How The Whole Idea Got Started
I think I spent the better part of the year before this trip, making all the plans. It didn't take much discussion to decide that it would be a vacation of some sort but the how, when, where and how long were totally my idea.
I had mentioned earlier that the trip initially began as a cross-country arch across the U.S., and that idea held on for a quite a few months. We had planned to stop and visit friends we had met over the years who had moved away and of course hit all the " tourist traps" we could find along the way. But the cost went up mostly due to the one-way flight to Florida and the rental car we picked up there, being dropped off back in California. Try it sometime. I think you would be mildly amused (and surprised) at the cost of something so simple! Especially after 9/11 . . . Nobody flies one-way without coming under suspicion of the FBI it would seem. We also were not sure how we would fill 5 weeks of time. There are long stretches of the U.S. where there is nothing, which meant long days of, well, nothing! Compacting the trip into a smaller area meant a denser population and the less likely we would be stranded in the middle of nowhere if something should happen.
Well when all the decision-making was done, at the beginning of 2001, our "little adventure" ended up starting and ending in Orlando, FL; made it's way through 13 states; looked on a map like the outline of the state of Louisiana; and lasted 5 weeks . . . one week for every 5 years of marriage; and included our two oldest granddaughters and 8 of our friends! How's that for a vacation?
So Where Did We Go?
Five weeks on the road . . . It looked like a lot on paper. It sounded like a lot to everyone we told. Fortunately, I am a meticulous planner (and a little OCD!) so everything was documented, punctuated, scrutinized . . . well you get the idea. So here is our basic itinerary of cities where we stayed overnight:
Week 1 - Orlando, FL
Week 2 - New Orleans, LA; Memphis, TN; Branson, MO
Week 3 - Kansas City, KS; Albany, MO
Week 4 - St. Louis, MO; Nashville, TN; Atlanta, GA
Week 5 - Charleston, SC; St. Augustine, FL; Orlando, FL
Our original plans included our two oldest granddaughters joining us for the entire trip, but their parents would only let them go for a week. The rest of the people were all friends from our church, 2 couples and 4 singles, and made for a very interesting group of travelers.
We would all leave Sacramento together on Saturday, September 29, but the rest of the group would return a week later and we would continue on for the remaining 4 weeks returning on November 3, 2001. What we didn't know then was that just 18 days before we left a cataclysmic, life altering, world event would change everything about this trip . . . Well, almost everything!
To the left you will see license plates from each state we visited and the full map of our trip. At right are maps showing each leg of our journey. You can click on each map to get a larger version that you can read or even save (pdf) & print.
So, click the button and we hope you enjoy our adventure . . .
Your Hosts, Dave & Dot