On Saturday, August 25, I began a nine-day trek that would span from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, taking me 3755 miles from San Francisco, CA to Boston, MA. Just me, my Saturn Sedan, and my digital camera. This is my photo journal, intended to capture the flavor of this strange, diverse country.

On the Thursday before leaving San Francisco, I was treated to a brilliant sunset over the bay. It served as a nice conclusion to what had been an amazing three months in California. Here are some photos I took from the Marina Bay area in Richmond.

Day 1: 730 Miles. After spending Saturday morning running from place to place, gathering everything I needed to take back to Boston, I finally left the Bay Area around 3pm, determined to make it as far as I could before finding a campsite.

A California Chihuahua, riding in style [Motion blur added]
The last palm trees I'll see for nine months
A field of marigolds in central CA
Beyond the cities, the mountains, and the beaches, this is California
A sad graveyard of abandoned tires
This is how every sunset looks when traveling east
A steal at $30. Consult the Bolan family if interested
Around 3:30 a.m., I set up camp at a KOA in western Arizona. I went to the very back of the complex to maximize my distance from the highway noise. Little did I know that I was positioning mself right next to the railroad tracks, which rumbled all night long.

Day 2: 508 Miles. I woke up fairly early on Sunday, not because I had sated my need for sleep, but because when the sun rose, my tent became an astonishingly efficient oven. The only shelter from the heat came in my nicely air conditioned car.

The railroad tracks that rumbled all night
My tent, the railroad tracks, and a tree - a rarity around here
It's probably for sale if you want it
The monotonous landscape
A plywood teepee along the roadside stands as a tribute to Native American architecture [Retouched]
Halfway across Arizona, I stumbled upon "Dinosaur Park," a tourist attraction that mixes a vast collection of petrified wood, a live buffalo exhibit, dinosour statues, a museum of indian artifacts, and a tacky gift shop. Argubaly the best $5 I've ever spent.

Quantum, my travel companion, on display at Dinosaur Park
The museum caretaker's home at Dinosaur Park
A plastic hot dog adorning a car antenna. The windows of the car featured additional Weinerschnitzel paraphernalia
I spent the evening at Dad's place in Albuquerque and finally drove to Los Alamos around midnight. It was nice to be back in a familiar bed.

Day 3: 5 Miles Hiking. I spent Monday hiking with Mom and Beth in the Jemez Mountains behind Los Alamos. As per typical summer weather, we had a beautiful morning, light thunderstorms in the afternoon, and a cool evening.

We started the day in the Valle Grande, the enormous volcanic caldera responsible for the formation of the Jemez Mountains. In a decision that is being praised by New Mexicans, the land was recently purchased by the federal government, and will be managed by the U.S. Forest Service.
A 180-degree panorama of the Valle Grande
Potentia growing along the edge of the Valle
Beth and Mom, hiking at East Fork
Mom and Beth at East Fork
A gentle shower
Rob, Mom, and Beth back at the trailhead
It's still a little shocking to see the extensive fire damage in and around Los Alamos. Grasses have finally started to grow in the burned areas, but the mountains are still covered with black trees that stand up like rows of toothpicks along the ridgeline. Without the vegetation to soak up the moistures, the flooding was particularly bad this summer, and some roads were washed away on multiple occasions.

Day 4: 383 Miles. Tuesday morning, Beth and started the drive up to Colorado. I had made arrangements to stay with Pat and Amanda in Boulder, and the four of us were planning to hike Long's Peak on Wednesday.

The fire-scarred mountains behind Los Alamos
Black Mesa near Espaņola
A graveyard near Espaņola [Retouched]
The first view of the Rio Grande Gorge in northern NM
An auto graveyard near Taos, NM
"Treasure Island II - Quality Used Skiwear." Taos, NM
A thunderhead forming over southern Colorado
As far as I can tell, these sorts of memorials are unique to the highways of the southwest. It may have something to do with the fact this this stretch of road is known for its overabundance of drunk drivers. Rest in Peace, Lito Romero.
The San Juan range, Southern CO

Day 5: 15 Miles Hiking. We woke at 2 and were on the trail by 4 a.m. Based on the beta we had received, we expected that Long's Peak would be a walk-up - And for a while, it was. But once we crossed the boulder field and passed through The Keyhole, we were presented with substantially more vertical and exposure than we had expected. Regardless, we summitted successfully before noon and made it back to the car only minutes before the beginning of the traditional afternoon ranistorm.

Beth, Pat, and Amanda at the trailhead, 4:00 a.m.
Amanda and a privy-with-a-view
Rob at sunrise
Beth at sunrise
Beth, Rob, Amanda and Pat in front of the summit
Quantum, of course, came along also
The glittering grasses of the alpine tundra
Another privy with an astonishing view
The Keyhole, where hikers pass to the south side of the mountain
Closeup of The Keyhole
Beth at The Narrows
Panorama from the summit of Long's Peak
Rob, Beth, Amanda, and Pat at the summit
Quantum at the summit
Beth and Rob at the summit
Beth at the summit
Rob at the summit
Beth at Pat at the summit
Beth descending via The Narrows
Beth, Pat, and Amanda at The Narrows
Rob at The Narrows

Day 6: 814 Miles. Take 77,227 square miles of corn fields. Add haybails liberally. Sprinkle on a few cattle. That's basically the recipe for Nebraska, which unfortunately makes for monotonous travel conditions. Nonetheless, I managed to find some interesting places without deviating very far from the Interstate.

Half of Nebraska...
"Brady's Self-Service"
Any idea what this is? [Retouched]
This guy now serves as a hubcap repository
"ICE CREAM CONES, MALTS & SODAS." That's my best guess
An abandoned tow truck
I couldn't get close enough to capture my car in the reflection
...The other half
Stop.     Smell.
I spent Thursday evening at Grandma's house in Coralville, IA, dining with the whole Jagnow clan. It was a great opportunity to catch up with them, some of whom I probably hadn't seen in well over a decade.

Day 7: 272 Miles. Friday morning offered more opportunities to visit with the Jagnows. I got to see Albert and Jenny's new place, Al and Karin's house, and the equestrian ranch where Crystal works. I left around 4pm and spent some time exploring the backroads on my way to Chicago.

Crystal and her Arabian
Grandma Jagnow in front of her Frank Lloyd Wright Prairie Craftsman
99,998... 99,999... 100,000!
A train car coupler [Retouched]
He apparently slaughtered quite a number of Native Americans. Disturbing.
Rows of corn
I spent the evening at Maggie's new place in Chicago. As usual, we engaged in deep conversation for hours - life, politics, fear, religion. Eventually, exhaustion drove us from the Chicago-style pizza parlor back to her place for some sleep.

Day 8: 468 Miles. Conversation resumed Saturday morning at a great greasy-spoon breakfast place. I left shortly after noon, but decided to spend a while touring downtown Chicago before leaving the state. I guess that's the beauty of being on one's own schedule.

The shadowy underbelly of the "L" just north of Chicago
The "L" from below
Looking down toward the water on a bridge over the Chicago River
The John Hancock Center and The Water Tower in downtown Chicago
The John Hancock Center
Something old, something new
The windows of a skyscraper, reflected in the windows of an old church
Is this a political statement?
In front of the McDonald's in downtown Chicago. It looked like he was taking some sort of survey
The House of Blues in front of twin towers
A distorted reflection
A sculpture in front of the Thompson Center
After leaving downtown Chicago, the Interstate seemed a bit mundane... So I started wandering the backroads, and was immediately greeted with some more interesting scenery.

"Self Service. Pay Here"
As far as I can tell, this is a ski jump. In Ohio.
Bee boxes in a farmer's field
By chance, I stumbled upon the Fulsom County Fair while wandering through the backroads of Ohio. I get the impression that if you live in Fulsom County, this is an eagerly anticipated annual event. For me, it was another well-spent five dollars.

I spent Saturday night at a campsite called Junction 19/80, just off the Interstate. It had a railroad theme, complete with offices fashioned from old boxcars.

Day 9: 580 Miles. On Sunday morning, I began my final sprint to Boston. Exhausted by a week of travel, I was slightly less adventurous and spent most of the day on the Interstate.

A boxcar/office at the Junction 19/80 campground
It certainly has greened up a bit since Arizona
The Newburgh-Beacon Bridge
Monday morning sunrise in Boston
So what's America all about? Mom and apple pie? As if people in other countries don't have mothers or fruity pastries. It seems to me that America is about drive-in movie theaters, gaudy dinosaur statues and tacky plastic antenna ornaments. Or maybe America is about experiencing America for one's self.

Happy Trails!

All images copyright 2001 by Rob Jagnow... But if you'd like any of the full-resolution images, or if you'd like to see the whole collection, or if you'd like permission to use the images elsewhere, please contact me and I'd be happy to oblige.