Here's where things get a little shaky. As of right now, the route for this section of the trip looks more like a pulse during a heart attack than anything else. We have some trouble spots here, and that's simply because we haven't reached an extensive level of planning for these further-away spots, as well as for the fact that we need to make some adjustments.
But we can still talk about it. For now, the map has us leaving Minneapolis and heading south. This is no longer the case. For scenery's sake, we'll be lunging northwest and then plummeting south through the badlands of North and South Dakota, possibly coming close to Bismarck, Nd. But unless necessitated by the weather, I don't think we'll be seeing all that much civilization while we're in this neck of the woods.
Let's say we do stop in Bismarck. Our next realistic stop on our original route brings us through South Dakota, through Nebraska, to Wichita, Ks. (home of Jack Straw), after a stomach-curdling 13 1/2 hour drive on more roads and highways than I'd care to mention. Basically, this leg of the trip will be somewhat the converse of the previous, which involved a swing north and visits to a handful of major urban center. This plunge south will involve a lot more nature, and probably a lot more open road. And lord knows I don't know anyone in these parts. So I'll be pushing for camping, hiking, birdwatching and other such back-to-basics activities.
After Wichita, the next stop brings us to the big city of Dallas, Tx. Paired with its sister city, Ft. Worth, this large cultural destination awaits us after a carefully executed drive through outrageous Oklahoma, five and a half hours and 350 miles on Route 35. This is primarily to fulfill the Texas obligation, because frankly, we don't know where else to go besides Houston or San Antonio. I'd love to have my mind changed before we go, not because I don't want to go to Dallas, but because none of us really know the best things to see or where they are. We're trying to learn as much as we can, as quickly as possible, about the country through TV documentaries, books, internet sources and so on. The more feedback I have, the better decisions we can make when the time comes.
Anyway, after Dallas comes a drive north to Amarillo, Tx., a six and a half hour drive, mostly on Route 287. This is more of a stop in the middle than a destination in and of itself, but a good place to stop and rest our feet.
After Amarillo comes a big deal for all of us in Denver, Co. The mile high city is seven and a half hours away from Amarillo, mostly on routes 87 and 25, and is home to a handful of wanderlusting classmates of mine from high school, with whom I'll have to get back in touch before we arrive. Denver lies in the Rocky Mountains, and is surrounded by a handful of other smaller, interesting locales like Boulder and Ft. Collins, which we plan on exploring as well.
Now, the map is inaccurate once again at this particular juncture, as we will not be doing any backtracking on the same road, unless something so irresistible draws us back south to Denver. Our plan from here is a general drive south through the Rockies, however we have to do it. This may lead us to miss Albuquerque, Nm., or it may not. Or maybe someone will fill me in on the Albuquerque scene to the point that we simply won't be able to skip it. A lot can happen between now and then.
Either way, there doesn't seem to be any reason for us to miss Flagstaff, Az. I'd like to experience some of the southwest, and I've been told that Flagstaff is a perfect place to do just that. Joey insists that we're going to a rodeo during this trip at some point, so this might be an opportune moment to do just that. And I want nothing more than to spend the night underneath an Arizona sky. Hopefully more than one.
We'll hit the Grand Canyon, and wherever Bryce and Zion Canyons are, I've been duly informed of their magnificence as well, so count them in. But our next major city in the itinerary is none other than Las Vegas, Nv. We'll get there after just over four hours of driving on routes 40 and 93. I can say for a fact that nobody I know lives out here, and we'll be visiting the casinos but definitely not sleeping in them, for finances' sake.
Wherever we sleep (Death Valley, anyone?), we're at the home stretch. The last leg brings up the West Coast.