Jean and Dan return home to Cary, North Carolina after traveling 10,300 miles through 15 states to visit 12 western National Parks over 63 days in Jenny, 1950 Willys Overland Jeep Station Wagon
OK, so here we are back in Cary, North Carolina snug and warm in our modest abode the evening before Thanksgiving. Five weeks since we completed our 10,000 mile adventure, we are still getting back to normal (our normal anyway). I am pretty much back in the daily routine and not having dreams about climbing tall mountains in 2nd gear (to often, anyway).
It is fitting that we are coming up on Thanksgiving, as we are very grateful for having the opportunity to experience the great adventure of driving our old Jeep station wagon across the country, then tracing the path of the 1920 Park-to-Park Tour, and making our way back home again.
We are grateful for the kindness, encouragement, and invaluable assistance that so many people extended during the preparations for, and during the length of the Trek.
Truly, we would probably never have attempted the Trek and certainly we would never have accomplished it had not been for the support of both friends and especially previous strangers (now friends) that stood by us along the way.
The members of the Triangle Chapter of the Antique Automobile Club of America, the members of the Old Willys Forum and Willys Tech chat groups, Mike & Michael who came to the rescue in eastern Kentucky, the Whiteleys who provided support and encouragement with the Tour route, Diane at the Hinckley Library, our daughter Jeanette and her family who added additional enjoyment to our time in Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, Laurie and Jeff who met with us with their Jeeps along the way, the personnel at shops that provided maintenance and repair services including Scott who treated Jenny as his personal “baby” during the engine difficulties in Denver, friends and family who provided a bit of home during our travels, and all the many people along the way who provided guidance and shared their interest and experiences in old cars – we thank you all.
Above all, I am personally deeply appreciative of the companionship and unwavering support, confidence, and guidance that my wife Jean provided throughout the fun times and challenges of the journey. Deducting the early my morning blogging sessions in hotel lobbies and other occasional separations, we spent something of the order of 1,200 hours in each other’s company over the length of the Trek; a fair amount of it in the confines of our station wagon’s cabin. Not that we did not have our “disagreements” (we laugh about them now), but their always remained a sense of togetherness and concern for each other’s enjoyment of the trip.
Not wanting to misplace any of the memories of the Trek, we have spent a fair amount of time this past five weeks documenting our 63 day journey. We started by logging 217 fuel stops, meals, and lodgings on a spread sheet. Surprisingly for a guy who regularly forgets garbage day, in all but a very few instances, I was able to picture the location clearly in my mind as we recorded it. The quirky filling station, the “creative” food offerings, the imaginative accommodations, and of course, the amazing sites that we visited – visions of virtually all the locations came back to me. At times I found myself getting a little choked up at the awe of it all and thinking “we really did this”.
Incidentally, over the 44 individual locations where we stayed, the only item that we left behind was one pair of non-prescription sunglasses. This is impressive if one considers that at virtually every stop we dragged to our lodging not only two suitcases of personal items, but also two computers, two internet hot-spots, a printer/copier/scanner, two iPhones, a total of seven associated chargers and cable sets, and an invaluable power strip.
For those who are interested in the numbers, here are the totals derived from our spread sheet:
- Total Trek Distance……………………10,025 miles*
- States Visited……………………………..15
- Total Fuel…………………………………..526.8 gallons
- Average Fuel Economy..…………….19.0 mpg*
- Total Trek Duration…..………………..63 days
- Number of Lodging Locations……44 individual sites
- Park-to-Park Circuit Distance……..6,252 miles*
*Compensating for Jeep Odometer error of ~ 3% high
As far as the investment that we made in the Trek, all that we wish to say is that the experience was priceless and worth every penny. (This from a guy who in his younger years would to turn the check book (pre credit cards) over to his wife and excuse himself to the rest room or car when the restaurant or motel check came because to know the cost would put a serious damper on his vacation)
So, as Jean prepares fixin’s for tomorrow’s Thanksgiving dinner with friends and family, I wish you all well and thank you for being a part of our amazing Trek and our lives.
Hooray!! We did it with your help!