By: Paul S. Cilwa Viewed: 8/24/2019
Posted: 5/7/2016
Topics/Keywords: #Travel #Cross-Country Page Views: 2357
How Keith and I crossed the country in search of relatives.
Map of cross-country trip.

My fiancé, Keith, has been to the Northeast (specifically, Boston) but has not otherwise traveled the East Coast. When I turned 65, I decided to celebrate with a nice, long road trip. So my kids got together and, with their help, we drove cross-country to visit my daughters in Virginia and West Virginia, and my sisters and some of their kids in Florida.

My intention was to live-blog along the way, but various computer and Internet issues conspired to prevent that. But I'm home now, and have been able to (finally) post the many amazing photos of our journey.

If you can't make a trip like this on your own, at least you can experience it vicariously here!

From Home To Monument Valley

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/9/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #MonumentValley #Utah #Arizona Page Views: 1884
All about the first day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

So this is the morning we set out on our Grand Tour of the Southern United States. Our route started at Keith and Paul's Hogan and, before the days' travel was through, ended at Monument Valley.

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From Monument Valley to South Fork, Colorado

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/10/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Colorado #GardenoftheGods #SouthFork Page Views: 1870
All about the second day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today's route took us from Monument Valley to the town of South Fork, Colorado.

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From South Fork to Kit Carson, Colorado

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/11/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Colorado #GardenoftheGods Page Views: 1872
All about the third day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today's drive was intended to be a true marathon, some 14 hours from Colorado to the mountains of Missouri. Alas, the spirits were willing but the flesh couldn't manage such a long drive and, in point of fact, we never even made it out of Colorado before we succumbed to weariness and spent yet another more-expensive-than-planned night at a motel, as the temperature was still in the thirties, making it too cold to camp.

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From Kit Carson, Colorado to Graham Cave State Park

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/12/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Missouri #GrahamCaveStatePark #KitCarson #Colorado Page Views: 1871
All about the fourth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

After several days of relatively short drives and motels and restaurants, I was concerned that we were running through our money too fast (does anyone on vacation not experience this?), and was determined to reach Graham State Park for camping. Originally we had intended to stay there for two days; but as we were now running a day behind and had scheduled to meet family members a couple of days hence, we had to modify our plans to stay just one night.

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From Missouri to Zanesville, Ohio

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/13/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Missouri #Illinois #Indiana #Ohio #Zanesville Page Views: 1956
All about the fifth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today's route took us from the mountains of Missouri through 3 other states, and finally, to our first real destination: my daughter's new house in Reston, Virginia!

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From Zanesville, Ohio to Reston, Virginia

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/14/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Zanesville #Ohio #Reston #Virginia Page Views: 1885
All about the sixth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today's route took us from a Motel 6 with a conference room (?!) in Ohio, to our first real destination: my daughter's new home in Reston, Virginia!

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The Smithsonian Museums

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/15/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Washington #DistrictofColumbia #SmithsonianMusuems Page Views: 1968
All about the seventh day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today's schedule had us visiting Washington, DC and the Smithsonian museums. Many people think there's only one Smithsonian "Museum". That's the old building that sits on the National Mall. But, actually, most of those buildings are additional Smithsonian Museums, such as the Museum of Modern Art, the Natural History and the Air and Space Museums, and of course the newest addition, the Native American Museum. Which we didn't actually go in to see.

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From Reston to Bluefield, West Virginia

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/16/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Reston #Virginia #Bluefield #WestVirginia Page Views: 1888
All about the eighth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today's drive took us from super-civilized nothern Virginia to rural West Virginia, and my first granddaughter's other grandparents.

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From Bluefield, West Virginia to Asheboro, North Carolina

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/17/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #WestVirginia #NorthCarolina Page Views: 1849
All about the ninth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today we stayed with a a dear friend from high school in anti-gay North Carolina, who was anxious that we know not everyone in North Carolina feels that way.

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From Asheboro, North Carolina, to St Augustine, Florida

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/18/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #NorthCarolina #SouthCarolina #Georgia #St.Augustine #Florida Page Views: 1940
All about the tenth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today we had another marathon drive, from rural North Carolina to sunny Florida, during which Keith got his first look at East Coast palm trees.

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Old St. Augustine

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/19/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #St.Augustine #Florida Page Views: 1971
All about the eleventh day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

There is one thing about my home town of St. Augustine that makes it different from every other town in the world: its unique "Historic Section", a place where ancient houses and wine shops have been physically restored and now serve as living museums, shops, and even a cigar factory (open to visitors curious as to how cigars are made). And, yes, a few are actually inhabited and serving as…homes.

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Jayla and Treaty Park

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/20/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #St.Augustine #Florida Page Views: 1913
All about the twelfth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

There is so much history in the St. Augustine area, and I have so much family there, as well. So, today we spent time with both.

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From St Augustine to Blue Cypress, Florida

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/21/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #St.Augustine #Florida #AlexanderSprings #OcalaNationalForest #BlueCypress Page Views: 1868
All about the thirteenth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today we traveled from my sister's house in St. Augustine down to the depths of Central Florida, with a swimming stop at my very favorite spot there, Alexander Springs State Park.

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From Blue Cypress to Big Pine Key

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/22/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #BlueCypress #Florida #BigPineKey Page Views: 1962
All about the fourteenth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today we drove through the Fort Lauderdale, Miami, and on the Florida Keys Scenic Highway. And then there were our adventures with figuring how best to deal with Florida's many toll roads, many of which do not accept cash or credit.

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Bahia Honda

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/23/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #BahiaHondaStatePark #Florida Page Views: 1872
All about the fifteenth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

After such an unpleasant night, I was surprised to find I awoke before Keith (not, in itself that unusual) and was unexpectedly rested. So I decided to photograph the surroundings before changing campgrounds.

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Key West

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/24/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #KeyWest #Florida Page Views: 2061
All about the sixteenth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

The Florida Keys got their name this way: The early Spanish explorers called small islands, cayos. When the British took over, they heard the Spanish word cayo and thought it was "key", which in the accent of sailors (think pirates) was pronounced similarly. Key West followed a similar pattern: The indigenous people used Key West as a place to place the bodies of their dead, where they could decompose in peace. The Spaniards called it Cayo Hueso, or "island of bones." But the pronunciation of hueso is similar to "west", and since Key West is the westernmost Key with a reliable source of fresh water, the name stuck. Interestingly, Spanish-speaking locals still use the original name when referring to their island.

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Kayaking in the Keys

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/25/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #SeaKayaking #Florida #CowKey #StockIsland Page Views: 1949
All about the seventeenth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Anxious to make the most of our time in the Keys, Keith and I decided this was the day we would go sea kayaking near Key West.

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The Blue Hole

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/26/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #BlueHole #BigPineKey #Florida Page Views: 1857
All about the eighteenth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today we left our camping gear on Summerland Key (Pirates' Cove) for an intense inspection of Key West.

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From the Florida Keys to Myakka State Park

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/27/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #BigPineKey #Florida #MyakkaRiverStatePark Page Views: 1841
All about the ninteenth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today we drove back over the Florida Keys Scenic Highway, through the Everglades, and up to a beautiful if bear-infested state park to spend the night.

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From Myakka River State Park to Lakeland, Florida

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/28/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #MyakkaRiverStatePark #Lakeland #Florida Page Views: 1861
All about the twentieth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today's travels took us near Tampa and to a visit with my oldest high school friend. (Oldest refers to the time we've known each other, not to age—I'm actually older than he is, by a few months.) But first…there was a matter of a bear or alligator.

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From Lakeland to Wright Lake

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/29/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Florida #WrightLake #Lakeland #WeekiWacheeSpringsStatePark Page Views: 1943
All about the twenty-first day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today's travels took us to Weeki Wachee Springs State Park and into the Florida Panhandle as we continued our trek back home.

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From Wright Lake to New Orleans

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 4/30/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #WrightLake #Florida #Alabama #Mississippi #Louisiana #NewOrleans Page Views: 2550
All about the twenty-second day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today we finally left Florida behind for the steamy jazz of New Orleans.

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From New Orleans to Wichita Falls, Texas

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/1/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #NewOrleans #Louisiana #WichitaFalls #Texas Page Views: 1857
All about the twenty-third day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

Today, after a little more sightseeing, we left New Orleans for Texas. Our desired landmarks seen, we could now concentrate on getting back home.

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From Wichita Falls, Texas to Farmington, New Mexico

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/2/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Texas #SaltFlat Page Views: 1870
All about the twenty-fourth day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

This was the next to the last day of our monster camping trip, and we spent it driving.

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From Farmington, New Mexico to Home

By: Paul S. Cilwa Occurred: 5/3/2016
Topics: #Travel #65thBirthdayTrip #Farmington #NewMexico #Arizona Page Views: 1816
All about the last day of my 65th Birthday Trip.

This was the last day of the most exhausting yet extraordinary trip I've yet taken. Three weeks on the road, living in a tent (and a few sofas), taking so many photos my cellphone is worn out…and today, we finally came full circle and returned home.

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