From Colorado to Cuba, Part V: 28 days, 7,913.9 miles and 18 states
A few observations from the road:
When there are no other options for gluten-free eats on the freeway, especially late at night, Waffle House's omelets are really damn tasty. Likewise, Taco Cabana is Texas' gift to late night highway eating. They make the best posole you can get at midnight in Albuquerque.
Hiking into Carlsbad Caverns through its natural entrance at 8:30 a.m. on a fall weekday is a great cheap thrill because you're likely going to be the only tourist in the whole damn cavern. The eerie silence with the dim and distant glow of the trail lights with no one else around is worth the $6 entrance fee.
New Mexico and Louisiana certainly have the worst highways in the country. You need binoculars to read many of New Mexico's highway signs. Driving the freeways in Louisiana is like taking a virtual ride through a highway engineer's 1950s urban freeway utopia on a vibrating bed. Raised high above the city and communities they fracture, the long-obsolete Interstates 10 and 610 in New Orleans embody the worst of America's urban freeways.
It's still amazing to me that it's more affordable to visit a national park for a week than it is a state park for an hour.
Always consider plans to visit a Communist country with no diplomatic relations with the United States soft... until you've actually arrived and are smoking a Cuban cigar on the streets of Havana.
Here's the final trip tally:
States visited: Kansas, Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas and New Mexico.
Major cities visited: Kansas City, St. Louis, Indianapolis, Pittsburgh, Hagerstown, Charlottesville, Asheville, Atlanta, Charleston (SC), Savannah, Jacksonville, Miami, Miami Beach, St. Petersburg, Pensacola, New Orleans, Galveston, San Antonio, Midland, Odessa, Roswell, Albuquerque, Santa Fe, Colorado Springs, and Denver.
National Parks visited: Shenandoah NP, Harper's Ferry NHP, Great Smoky Mountains NP, Everglades, NP, Biscayne NP, Big Cypress National Preserve, New Orleans Jazz NHP, Jean Lafitte NHP, Guadalupe Mountains NP, Carlsbad Caverns NP.
Total cost for both of us (excluding the Society of Environmental Journalists' conference): $2,200.