Good company in a journey makes the way seem shorter. — Izaak Walton
Here are the proposed daily routes for the first leg. They have been planned around three things: 1. Avoiding big cities and highways with heavy traffic (especially trucks!), 2. About 350 miles or seven driving hours, whichever is less and 3. Stops at places of interest or where friends and acquaintances can join with me. I welcome input from anyone following the blog who has local knowledge and can suggest improvements.
DAY ONE – Assuming a departure date of April 15, 2021 I plan to depart Colorado Springs and drive to Great Bend, KS, a distance of about 360 miles for a relatively typical first day distance, especially since I lose an hour crossing into the central time zone. Why Great Bend? Well, if you draw a straight line between Colorado Springs and Key Largo FL, there is no road that follows that line (In fact, part of it would require the Elan to be amphibious!) so the best I can do is head generally in that direction. Using Google maps and avoiding Interstates as I am committed to do, I will take Colorado 94 east through Punkin Center to US 287 and then to Eads where I will head east on CO 96 which becomes KS 96 and runs through the many small towns that will make Great Bend seem like a major metropolis. The road traverses mostly farming and ranching prairie and I expect it to be sort of boring yet peaceful. It will be a pretty lonely first day.
DAY TWO– April 16, Great Bend, KS to Harrison, AR – This will be a mighty day of 438 miles which will be among the longest mileage days of the entire trip. Why? Because there is literally NO lodging after Branson. I don’t want to stop in Branson because it is too short a day and well, because, Branson! There is a lot of straight road in the first part of the day, but then I get a lot of twisty stuff in southern Missouri and into Arkansas. This could be a sleeper set of great roads or it may just be tiring. On another trip, I was driving at night through similar Arkansas backroads in a BMW 540 heading toward Daytona and I must admit I just wished it would end. One place I look forward to seeing is Eureka Springs AR which has a great reputation.
DAY THREE – April 17, Harrison, AR to Aberdeen, MS – This looks to be a long day of winding roads and small towns. Most of the morning will be spent in Arkansas where the towns are barely more than crossroads other than the origination town of Harrison, then Marshall and the bigger town of Clinton. Hmm, Clinton in Arkansas…coincidence?? Finally, I will reach Helena for the first time to be seen again in about 30 days in Montana, though this is the last town in AR. Now it is Mississippi time and the big gig is Oxford, the home of Ole Miss and Faulkner. I think some time spent here will be a plus so I may do just that. If I don’t tarry too long, I can make it across the Natchez Trace, through Egypt and on to my rest at Aberdeen.
DAY FOUR – April 18, Aberdeen, MS to Marianna, FL – This day is a pretty short and straight run southeast but it includes three pretty big cities to work through, Tuscaloosa, Montgomery and Dothan. The only real concern I have with my little Elan is the stop and crawl of city traffic. This day looks ominous. At least may I have a few options if I want to take the perimeter multilane road that loops all three cities. If it looks as though there is not a lot of big truck traffic, it may be better to just hug the right lane and keep rolling along and sacrifice a bit of two lane for convenience and stress reduction. The good news; I stay in the Central Time Zone.
DAY FIVE – April 19, Marianna to Davenport, FL – Some old familiar roads today, as this is mostly the same route I took in 2012 to LOG 32 in Orlando. Highway 98 runs across the panhandle and down the center of the peninsula through small towns until it crosses Interstate 4 with a bunch of motels. I can pick one get some supper and rest up for the final push to the first goal: the Southeast point.
DAY SIX – April 20, Davenport to Card Sound Road to Belle Glade – The final day of the first leg will be a morning run of about 4.5 hours which should allow time to document the arrival at the southeastern most point of the continental US and enjoy a nice meal at Alabama Jack’s within sight of the end of the road. Then I will retrace my steps a bit to either Belle Glade, FL or my sister’s house in East Naples across Florida, have a celebratory drink and get ready to head to Maine on the second leg of the eastern loop.
Hi, I’m Ross and I’m a tripoholic. I love driving especially in my old cars and then writing about the adventure that always follows. I’m old enough to know better but that doesn’t stop me. If you like stories of the road, every word true no matter how far fetched it may seem, then grab a beer or a cup of coffee and join me!
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