An American Odyssey

Places to visit in San Francisco:-
1. Golden Gate, Chinatown and view of Alcatraz. Turn right out of airport on Airport Blvd. (I.H. 101) and continue N.
2. Return via Golden Gate Park and El Camino Real for Hills of Eternity Cemetery (Wyatt Earp/Josephine Sarah Marcus).
3. Other recommendations.


San Francisco – Los Angeles.
Distance: 387 miles; 620 km.
Estimated driving time 6-7 hours – 1 break.
Route evaluation. – Overview:
Mainly a populated area (not necessarily contiguous) with few, if any, isolated tracts and apparently no difficult terrain.
Main scheme: Leave San Francisco by Highway 101. Follow south to Los Angeles.

Highway 101 runs directly outside San Francisco International Airport and starts out SSE alongside evidence of the San Andreas Fault. Both the topographic AND aerial photos show this clearly. Continuing SE out of San Jose, the Southern Pacific Railroad runs parallel to the highway, and continues to do so off and on for virtually the whole journey, through what appears to be fairly flat country albeit with hills on either side – undulating and not much over 250-350 ft. AMSL. Apart from traversing a quarry area which seems to be hilly (not mountainous) just N of Salinas, the highway continues SE over very flat, or at most, gently rolling hills on either side of the highway - no more than 60 ft. AMSL. All this appears to be cultivated agricultural land.
In the vicinity of King City, 150 miles {270 km} S of San Francisco, the hills W of the highway rise more steeply and are furrowed by canyons. With one or two breaks this terrain seems to continue for some distance with the highway following what appears to be the valley floor of the fault line, along the course of the Salinas River.
After Santa Maria the Highway enters into a hilly area with the road snaking its way in and around. The hills seem to be crowding in on the Highway (scenic?). The Highway turns right (S) and crosses the Santa Ynez River at Solvang and again enters a hilly area. Skirting the Santa Ynez Range 184 miles {294 km} W of Los Angeles, the road hits the coast and turns left (E), towards Santa Barbara, 91 miles {146 km} from L.A.
From Santa Barbara to Los Angeles the coast road seems to pass through mainly urban or semi-urban contiguous areas. Leave the State Highway 101 at Encino turning south on Highway 405 (San Diego Freeway) for approx. 8 miles {13 km}. Turn left (NE) onto Santa Monica Blvd and right at the diagonal Wilshire Blvd intersection then right again for S. Spalding.

Places to visit in Los Angeles:
1. Family visits
2. Hillside Park Cemetery, Culver City (Al Jolson; Jack Benny; Allen Sherman, et al.).
3. Forest Lawn Cemetery, Glendale Avenue (Alan Ladd; Clark Gable; Humphrey Bogart, et al).
4. San Fernando Mission Cemetery – Bob Hope.
5. Beverley Hills.
6. Hollywood.
7. Other recommendations.
Los Angeles – Las Vegas.
Distance: 272 miles; 435 km.
Estimated driving time 5-6 hours – 1 break?
Route evaluation – Overview:
Although shorter, this section may prove somewhat more difficult than our journey from San Francisco to L-A. It will be our first encounter with parts of the “wide open spaces” of the American continent and some elevated plateau areas.

Most of the topographical maps on line for this section date from 1969 and the first stretches of the present Highway 15 were apparently not even in existence, the route then being covered by minor urban and suburban roads which were only later reconstructed and integrated into the State and Interstate systems.
Main scheme: Leave Los Angeles via Ontario and San Bernardino (north-east) - Highway 15 – Barstow – Las Vegas.

Leave Los Angeles to the NE via Ontario. At Ontario it is necessary to seek out I.H. 15 (not shown on 1969 maps), and turn off for Devore and Barstow. All this area thus far appears urban and metropolitan but on leaving Ontario and heading NE, the route passes through a mountain range. Some of the contours show heights of 2-2,500 ft. However the Highway skirts the range and at Devore turns north along a canyon accompanied by a railroad. At the NE exit of the range there appears to be a plain – probably a plateau - marked at 3,000 ft. The Highway continues NE and the contours are far apart. The highway crosses the Mojave River at Barstow traveling slightly north of east. The area may still be plateau-like with isolated hills dotted here and there to the south of the highway. The Union Pacific Railroad is parallel to the Highway.

Beyond Baker, the Highway seems to climb gently from about 1,500 ft to 3,000 ft. over a distance of approximately 10 miles {16 km}, but the contours are far apart so the gradient should be gentle.
At Clark Mountain there is a mountain pass and immediately before the State line the Highway crosses the dried-up Ivanpah Lake. The relatively short remaining distance into Las Vegas appears to be similar.

Places to visit in Las Vegas:
1. Family visits.
2. General sightseeing.
3. Other recommendations

Las Vegas – Tombstone.
Distance: 444 miles; 710 km.
Estimated driving time 9-10 hours – 3 breaks.
Route Evaluation – Overview:
This is quite a long leg with some stretches which appear to be isolated and it would be wise to confirm before leaving if difficulties should be expected for any reason, and/or whether the Highway infrastructure and emergency services are in place and adequate.

Main scheme: Leave Las Vegas (SE), via Highway 93 – Kingman; Highway 40/93 – Phoenix; Highway 10 – Tucson – Benson - Tombstone.

The first 22 miles {35 km} takes us to the Hoover Dam via Henderson City (Highway 93/95), and the Highway actually crosses the Dam just after Boulder City. Although fairly flat, the land is still high at about 2,100 ft. The Highway is accompanied by the Union Pacific Railroad and traverses a mountainous area via various passes shortly before Boulder City, subsequently crossing the Hoover Dam. Generally the Highway is following the NW/SE trend of the contours so the going should not be difficult. For many miles the Highway is running straight SE apparently through a mining area (whether abandoned “old western” or current I don’t know), with many springs marked on the topographical maps.
(Sacred sites photographer Martin Gray, POB 4111, Sedona, 86340 – 928 282 3324).
Just before Kingman there is a hilly area but after leaving the city (E) on Highway 93 the country seems fairly flat again at around the 1-1,500 ft mark. About 16 miles E of Kingman the Highway runs through a cutting and after about another 5 miles {8 km} Highway 93 turns south at an intersection.
For many miles the Highway continues to run parallel with the contours through an area peppered with ranches (quite a few are marked) so presumably there is vegetation here and we are neither in a rocky area nor a desert zone.
In the meantime we have climbed to around 2-3,000 ft. The area is fairly mountainous but seems to be not excessively so. 60 miles {96 km} or so NW of Phoenix and just north of Wickenburg, the Highway meets, crosses and then runs parallel with THE ATCHESON TOPEKA AND SANTA FE RAILROAD!!!!

Do yuh hear that whis-tle down the line?-
I fig-ure that it's en-gine num-ber for-ty nine,-
She's the on-ly one that-'ll sound that way.-
On The Atch-i-son To-pe-ka and The San-ta Fe-
See the ol' smoke ris-in' 'round the bend,-
I reck-on that she knows she's gon-na meet a friend,-
Folks a-round these parts get the time o'day-
From the Atch-i-son, To-pe-ka and the San-ta Fe.- Here she comes!____
Ooh,- Ooh,- Ooh,- Hey, Jim, yuh bet-ter git the rig!-
Ooh,-Ooh,-Ooh,___She's got a list o' pas-sen-gers that's pret-ty big-
And they'll all want lifts to Brown's Ho-tel,-
'Cause lots o'them been trav-el-in' for quite a spell,-
All the way from Phil-a-del-phi-ay,- On The Atch-i-son, To-pe-ka And The San-ta Fe.- Do yuh San-ta Fe.-

The long run from Kingman – the latter half, after the “ranching area” – is broken by a few cities here and there, like Glendale and Sun City, especially approaching Phoenix. At Phoenix we leave Highway 93 and join Highway 10 and apart from the slight diversion to Tombstone this takes us all the way to Pensacola. (We should have used this highway direct from Los Angeles, had we not visited with Michelle in Las Vegas).
The Highway continues mainly south passing through several towns. Some miles south of Phoenix, aerial photos show the land clearly sectioned off for agriculture and the route continues without any apparently obvious hazard-ous features as far as Tucson.
Tucson sits in between two pronounced mountains to the NE and to the W. The Highway continues first SE then E at Mountain View Store. A short while later at Benson, we turn S for 14 miles {21 km} to Tombstone.

Places to visit in Tombstone:
1. OK Corral.
2. The Tombstone Epitaph newspaper museum.
3. Other recommendations.

Tombstone – El Paso
Distance: 280 Miles; 448 km.
Estimated driving time 6 hours – one break.
Route evaluation – Overview:
Again there is some quite high ground for about 130 miles {208 km}. However in eastern New Mexico the southern tail end of the Rockies begin to fall behind.
Main scheme: Return to Benson; continue east on Highway 10 – Las Cruces. Turn right (S) Highway 10 – El Paso.


Return to Benson and turn E on Highway 10. The land is quite high – above the 3,000 ft mark with many stream-beds marked (probably like the Negev?). Just beyond the Cochise intersection there seems to be a large sand tract or salt-bed off to the south of the Highway. As far as Wilcox, the Highway has a strong trend to the NE before turning more easterly when approaching Bowie (3,790 ft). San Simon is 16 miles {25 km} down the road and only about 7 miles {11 km} from the State line. Lots of mines are indicated but it is not clear if they are worked or abandoned. Other than that there doesn’t seem to be much evidence of organized settlements or urban centers until Lordsburg. Just off to the south of Lordsburg is the Ghost Town of the same name (visit?).
The land is still high – above 4,000 ft. and after traveling SE for a few miles beyond Lordsburg the Highway suddenly kicks slightly round an elbow-bend to travel in a NE direction and passes through what appears to show (on an aerial photo) as a hilly wooded section before arriving at Deming. Throughout the entire section the Southern Pacific Railroad has been just north of the Highway. Since Deming, the land has been dropping considerably and about 9-10 miles {15-16 km} E. of the town we are down to no more than 1-1,300 ft. It would seem that the high lands have been traversed.
6 miles {9 km} W of Las Cruces there is a fork in the road and Highway 10 is the right fork. As we trend SSE away from Las Cruces the Atcheson Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad again joins us. Between Anthony and Westway (all short distances) we cross from Dona Ana County, NM into El Paso County TX. El Paso nestles on the border of the State of Mexico.
Places to visit in El Paso:
1. Beaumont General Hospital – North Piedras Street (directly off Highway 10).
2. The Holocaust Museum, 401 Wallenburg Drive.
3. Other recommendations.

El Paso – San Antonio.
Distance: 564 miles; 900 km.
Estimated driving time 10 hours – 3 breaks.
Route Evaluation – Overview:
This is the longest of all the days, crossing two-thirds of the largest state in the Union. Parts of it – particularly in the west – are likely to be featureless and possibly tiring. Later the terrain becomes more populated and interesting. No real mountainous areas but apparently wooded hilly areas further east.

Main scheme:
Leave El Paso (SE), via Highway 10 – Fort Stockton – Ozona (Davy Crockett Monument) – San Antonio.
For about 50 miles {80 km} the Highway runs SE along the border with Mexico and the Rio Grande before kicking more easterly through a narrow gap in the Malone Mountains at Skunk Canyon. This appears to be quite a long haul east with not very many urban centers. Every so often there are outcroppings of isolated mountains and small ranges. The aerial photos show what appear to be isolated buildings along the Highway (gas-stations?) set in a scrub prairie. Just after Kent, Highway 10 forks SE to the right towards Fort Stockton. After the fork the terrain becomes less dreary and there is evidence of agriculture and even agricultural experimental stations with a few townships dotted here and there and many (power?) windmills.
At Fort Stockton we cross the Atchison Topeka and Santa Fe Railroad that comes up from the SW behind our right shoulder and continues to the NE. At Sheffield, about 65 miles {106 km} E of Fort Stockton we cross the Pecos River and we have entered hilly country with the Highway snaking its way between the ranges. Afterwards the terrain again seems to become somewhat barren.
Just after Ozona is the DAVY CROCKETT memorial. There seems to be quite a bit of vegetation and hills beyond Ozona approaching and beyond Sonora. At Junction – about 96 miles {154 km} NE of San Antonio – the Highway begins running SE, dropping down on San Antonio. For over 150 miles {240 km}, the elevation has been around the 2,000 ft. mark and the entire area has been dotted with ranches. The terrain remains more or less the same for the ride into San Antonio.

Places to visit in San Antonio.
1. The Alamo.
2. Other recommendations.

San Antonio – New Orleans.
Distance: 530 miles; 848 km.
Estimated driving time 10-11 hours – 3 breaks
Route evaluation – Overview:
Another long leg but the landscape seems to be less wilderness-like, more populated and crossed by many roads with vegetation – the long stretches of prairie have been left behind – widespread cattle-ranches? And the land appears to be given over to more formal and organized agriculture.
Main scheme: Leave San Antonio (east) Highway 10 – Houston – Beaumont – (Louisiana) – Lake Charles – La-Fayette – Baton Rouge – (Mississippi) - New Orleans.
Leave San Antonio at the NE by Highway 10 and in about 25 miles {40 km}, cross the Guadeloupe River just short of Seguin and then just to the north of Seguin, where the Highway skirts the city adjacent to the airport, cross the South Pacific Railroad. The countryside here seems to be composed of low rolling hills and the “wide open spaces” of western Texas left behind with this area being much more settled and farmed.
A large number of towns both before and after San Antonio have pure German names like Weimar, New Berlin, Schulenburg, and so on, suggesting perhaps that this area was once settled by German immigrants who brought with them the names of towns they were familiar with back home.
The countryside remains more or less uniform all the way with no outstanding features. About 12 miles {19 km} W of Houston we cross the River Brazos. The last stretch of road into Houston is parallel to the Missouri Kansas Texas Railroad.
(Michael Jackson’s phone number: 281 343 5835).
Highway 10 enters Houston directly from the west running right through the center of town and out the other side. Somewhat to the east of Houston, Highway 10 bears away slightly to the north for Beaumont while a more southern highway makes its way towards Port Arthur. After Beaumont the Highway continues to reach NE near Orange in order to circumvent the extensive gas-fields and nature preserves to the south, continuing east through Louisiana to Lake Charles, Lafayette, Baton Rouge and across the flood plains of the Mississippi to turn SE, cross the Mississippi river and makes its way into New Orleans.

Places to visit in New Orleans:
1. Historic New Orleans.
2. Jazz places.
3. Other recommendations.

New Orleans – Pensacola (Navarre Beach).
Distance: 175 miles; 280 km.
Estimated driving time 2-3 hours – no breaks.
Route evaluation – Overview:
Coastal drive initially across delta lands between large urban areas, traversing four states – Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida. No difficulties envisaged.
Main scheme: Leave New Orleans by Highway 10 (E) (Mississippi) – Mobile (Alabama) – (Florida) - Pensacola -Navarre Beach.
Leaving New Orleans to the northeast along the SE coast of Lake Porthartrain, Highway 10 crosses a causeway on the lake to the far shore across a strait. The Highway heads almost exactly N and just bypasses Slidell that lies to the E of the Highway, then turns E to cross the State line into Alabama. NASA has testing grounds in this area. The Gulf of Mexico itself has gradually arched up to meet us and as we continue we pass Gulfport on our right. As with the Mississippi delta this area too appears to have extensive swamps.
After running E as far as Pascagoula the Highway turns NE for Mobile. The Highway crosses Mobile Bay – again on a causeway - and turns SE heading into Pensacola. In Pensacola, the Highway becomes urban, running south through the city to the sea, turns E and we then cross the strait of Pensacola Bay on Highway 93 turning E on Highway 98 for Navarre Beach along Navarre Parkway.

Places to visit in Pensacola/Navarre Beach:
1. Family visits.
2. Other recommendations.

Navarre Beach – Fort Payne.
Distance: 341 miles; 545 km.
Estimated driving time: 6-7 hours -1 break.
Route evaluation – Overview:
Starting our journey towards the north, the country should be fairly easy. The land is fertile and arable and much cultivated. The area is populated with no dangerously isolated or hazardous areas. North east of Birmingham the land seems to become somewhat mountainous but the ranges are aligned parallel to our route (SW-NE) rather than across it. Given their direction, they seem to be the tail-end, southeasterly extension of the Appalachian system.
Main scheme:
Leave Pensacola (N) Highways 29/97 – Jnct. 57 (Highway 65) – (Alabama) Montgomery – Birmingham - Leave Birmingham (NE) Highway 59–Gadsden–Fort Payne.
Return to Pensacola and head N out of the city on Highway 29. About 5-6 miles {9 km} N of Cantonment, turn off Highway 29 NW onto Highway 97 for Atmore.
N.B. Try not to miss this turn-off – it can be corrected later but this is the better route!
At Atmore follow local Highway 21 N out of the town for a few miles to Junction 57 on Highway 65. TURN NE. Highway 65 runs consistently NE only turning slightly N after Greenville for the run up to Montgomery. The Highway leaves Montgomery to the NW via Prattville and then somewhat NNE just before Clanton and on to Birmingham skirting the Double Oak Mountains off to the NE just before hitting town.
Exit Birmingham to the northeast on Highway 59 for Gadsden. There are several mountain ranges here but they lie along our route and not across it. Gadsden itself is set in a mountainous area. Continue on for Fort Payne.

Fort Payne – Muncie (via o/n at Hodgenville).
Distance: 500 miles; 800 km.
Estimated driving time: 9-10 hours - 2 breaks.
Route evaluation – Overview:
The nature of the countryside from here to Indiana, via Kentucky promises to be most beautiful and scenic with wooded hills and valleys, alpine-like in the extreme with many rivers, lakes and waterways.
Main scheme: Leave Fort Payne – NE – Highway 59 – Sulphur Springs - (Georgia) – Trenton – (Tennessee) – Chattanooga – Highway 27 - Dayton – Spring City – Highway 68 – Crossville – Cookeville – Lebanon – Nashville – Highway 65 – (Kentucky) – Bowling Green – Sonora - Hodgenville.
This entire journey appears to be through heavily afforested and beautiful hill country.
Leave Fort Payne in the northeast on Highway 59. A short distance beyond Sulphur Springs we cross the border for the extreme northwest corner of Georgia, which is crossed very quickly, via Trenton into Tennessee and Chattanooga. Exit Chattanooga to the north on Highway 27 for Dayton, continuing after a brief visit to the Courthouse and the site of the William Jennings Bryan University, northeast for Spring City where we turn northwest on Highway 68 for Crossville, Cookeville, Lebanon and Nashville. Possibly an opportunity to side-step north to Jamestown and Pall Mall for Sergeant Alvin York’s birthplace; in Nashville the State Capitol has a statue out front.
At Nashville we rejoin Highway 65 and continue north into Kentucky crossing the State line at Mitchellville. Beyond Bowling Green – which we by-pass – we continue to Sonora making a slight diversion to the right on State Highway 84 for a few miles to Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace and an overnight stop at Hodgenville (Cruise-Inn-Motel – 270-358-9998) afterwards returning to Sonora for Highway 65. Continue north through the mountains to Louisville crossing the Ohio River and the State line into Indiana, continuing north via Scottsburg, Seymour, Columbus, Edinburg and Franklin for Indianapolis and then NE for Muncie.
See continuation for estimates of mileages and look here for all the topographical maps I downloaded and printed out, covering the entire route.

Estimated mileages:-
San Francisco – Los Angeles…………387
Day’s total = 387
Family visits/overnight stops

Los Angeles – Nevada State line…….230
Nevada State line - Las Vegas…..……42
Day’s total = 272
Accumulated Total = 659
Family visits/overnight stops

Las Vegas – Arizona State line………...25
Arizona State line -Tucson ...................373
Tucson – Tombstone…(via Benson)..…57
Day’s total = 459
Accumulated Total = 1118
Overnight stop.

Tombstone - return to Benson…………14
Benson – New Mexico State line………80
New Mexico State line - Las Cruces…...34
Las Cruces – Texas State line………….25
Texas State line - El Paso………………15
Day’s total = 280
Accumulated Total = 1398
Overnight stop.

El Paso – San Antonio………………...564
Accumulated Total = 1962
Visit/Overnight stop.
San Antonio – Houston……………….197
Houston – Beaumont…………………...69
Beaumont – Louisiana State line……….25
Louisiana State line – Lake Charles……35
Lake Charles – New Orleans………….207
Day’s total = 533
Accumulated Total = 2495
Visit/Overnight stop.

New Orleans – Mississippi State line………….…36
Mississippi State line- Alabama State line……….75
Alabama State line – Florida State line…………..72
Florida State line – Navarre beach……………….30
Day’s total = 213
Accumulated Total = 2708
Visit/overnight stops. End of west-east leg.

Pensacola – Highway 29/97/21 – Jnct. 57 (Highway 65)…………….50
Jnct. 57 – Birmingham……………………………………………….190
Birmingham – Gadsden……………………………………………….66
Gadsden – Fort Payne…………………………………………………35
Day’s total = 341
Accumulated Total = 3049
Overnight stop.

Fort Payne – Georgia State line……………………………………….25
Georgia State line – Tennessee State line………………………………4
Tennessee State line – Chattanooga…………………………………...10
Chattanooga – Dayton…………………………………………………60
Dayton – Rockwood…………………………………………………...30
Rockwood – Nashville………………………………………………..225
Nashville – Kentucky State line………………………………………..40
Kentucky State line – Hodgenville (Abraham Lincoln’s birthplace)…..81
Day’s total = 471
Accumulated Total = 3520
Visits/Overnight stop.

Sonora – Louisville…………………………………………………….50
Louisville – Indianapolis……………………………………………..114
Indianapolis – MUNCIE………………………………………………57
Day’s total = 221
Accumulated Total = 3741.

States traversed in sequence: California; Nevada; Arizona; New Mexico; Texas; Louisiana; Mississippi; Alabama; Florida; Alabama; Georgia; Tennessee; Kentucky; Indiana.

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