2015 Travel Plans

On January 28, 2015 · 7 Comments

Twelve Mile Circle has some bold travel plans for 2015 if I do say so myself. I’ll keep it domestic this year unlike 2014 although I might cross the border into Canada briefly during one of the trips. As always, I welcome assistance as I begin my initial planning. Please feel free to offer comments or suggestions if any of my upcoming targets match your vast travel experiences. You all know what I like: weird geography; obscure parks; quirky roadside attractions; unusual boundaries and easy highpoints. The usual stuff. I’ve been able to visit several places suggested by users that I didn’t know about previously (e.g., Capulin Volcano National Monument) and I thoroughly enjoyed them.

Great Allegheny Passage

My travel season will begin with the Great Allegheny Passage. This trail was cobbled together from several abandoned railroad lines formerly operated by the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, Pittsburgh and Lake Erie Railroad, Union Railroad and the Western Maryland Railway. Now the GAP is a 150 mile (240 kilometre) hiking and biking trail between Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Cumberland, Maryland. I plan to bike the length of the GAP on a long weekend sometime in mid/late April with a friend, the exact date depending on when the Big Savage Tunnel opens for the season.

The GAP should offer riverside passages, amazing tunnels and bridges, and wonderful scenery. I also hope to stop at Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater as well as the town of Confluence, which was featured on 12MC awhile ago.

Cape Cod

Cape Cod, Massachusetts (NASA, International Space Station Science, 05/08/07)
Cape Cod, Massachusetts (NASA, International Space Station Science, 05/08/07)
by NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, on Flickr (cc)

Cape Cod will happen in mid-May. I’ve never been to the cape before so that’s sufficient justification right there. It will also coincide with a significant wedding anniversary so that actually provides the real impetus. With luck, I might also be able to pick up Dukes and/or Nantucket Counties. Those are two difficult pickups and I’d love to add them to my county counting list. I also hope to add to my lighthouse and ferry lists.

Thousand Islands

Zavikon Island by Sergio, on Flickr (cc)

This one is less definite than the others. We’re thinking seriously about touring the Thousand Islands region between New York and Ontario, sometime in mid-July. The early plan was to find a spot within a day’s drive of Washington, DC and this seemed like an interesting place that I’d never explored before. This trip could just as easily switch to New York’s Lake Erie coastline or perhaps to one of the Finger Lakes we’ve not seen before, instead. It depends on what we find during our research and what seems most interesting.

Center of the Nation

This trip will follow the path designated by Mainly Marathons, specifically their Center of the Nation Series in September. Previously 12MC covered my adventures during their Dust Bowl series and their Riverboat series, plus two races at their Appalachian series. Once again I will stress that I am not a runner, I am the driver who transports a runner from one location to another. I would never imply or pretend that I had the stamina for something this extreme. However, rumor has it that I might partake in the 5K option each day during the series this time. That way I won’t feel guilty about snacking on all of their goodies at the start/finish line like I’ve been doing at previous races.

This time it’s six races in six states in six days. My driving duties will add an entire raft of new counties in some rather obscure areas of the United States to my lifetime list. The races will be held at,

  • Day 1 (Sept. 14): Baker, Montana
  • Day 2 (Sept. 15): Bowman, North Dakota
  • Day 3 (Sept. 16): Belle Fourche, South Dakota
  • Day 4 (Sept. 17): Sundance, Wyoming
  • Day 5 (Sept. 18): Chadron, Nebraska
  • Day 6 (Sept. 19): Sterling, Colorado

I can’t say enough good things about Mainly Marathons or its participants. It’s a great group of people albeit with one very unusual hobby.

Anyway that’s what I have planned over the next several months. Let me know if there are sights along the way I shouldn’t miss.

On January 28, 2015 · 7 Comments

7 Responses to “2015 Travel Plans”

  1. Pat D says:

    A few suggestions for the Center of the Nation trip:
    –Carhenge, 3 mi north of Alliance, NE on Nebraska 87. Like Stonehenge, except the stones are replaced with junked cars.
    — The geographic center of the USA, including Alaska and Hawaii, is north of Belle Fourche, SD off US85, in the middle of nowhere
    –Panorama Point, high point of Nebraska, near the NE-WY-CO tripoint
    –Spearfish Canyon and D.C. Booth Fish Hatchery, near Spearfish, SD
    –And of course Devils Tower and Mt. Rushmore

  2. hipsterdoofus says:

    A little out of your way on the Center of the Nation, but Jewel Cave is just West of Custer. Also Custer State Park is nice with lots of Wild donkeys that will stick their head in your car given the chance and also some bison.

  3. Michael K says:

    – Wall Drug is completely ridiculous. Might be right up your alley although an hour or so out of the way (Wall, SD.
    – In Custer State Park, almost directly along your route, your car may be stopped by a small herd of wild burros that insist on payment in the form of rice cakes (available at the visitor center) before allowing you to proceed.

  4. Alan K says:

    If you make it to Devil’s Tower – an easy detour between Belle Fourche and Sundance – give yourself enough time to walk the trail around the base of the tower. It’s an easy 1.3 mile paved trail starting from the visitor center, and the views of the tower from close up are amazing.

  5. Mike Lowe says:

    Considering how it’s not easy to get from Texas to SD/WY, I’m glad I did the trip. Now we have a kid. He’s cute and all but NOT a road tripper. Anyway, my wife and I traveled there as newlyweds since we are state counters. The county counting started later.

    The badlands are nice. Maybe you can drive through some while entering the area from the east.

    I fully concur with the awesomeness of Devil’s Tower. You must see it up close at the base. Don’t rush that one. My dad’s a geologist so I enjoyed the science of the tower’s creation, cooling, crystal structure, etc.

    Wall Drug might be doable while you are driving into the area from the east. Give it 10-15 minutes as a “what the heck” thing to do.

    Make sure you do as many of the pigtail bridges as possible. Turn around and do them from the opposite direction too.

    You’re in the Sturgis area too. Take a quick drive through downtown. Then whenever you see pictures of the bike rally, enjoy the contrast. The town center was all but deserted when my wife and I visited during Easter weekend 2005.

    Custer State Park was nice for us. Yes we were stopped by large animals. However, don’t sweat it if it doesn’t fit your itinerary.

    I haven’t done much research but there is Harney Peak. It’s kind of an outlier mountain. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harney_Peak for more info.

    We stayed the night at Deadwood, SD. There is http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deadwood,_South_Dakota for more info.

    I enjoyed Mt. Rushmore more for the flags and stuff in the visitor center than the mountain itself. Then again, I am into vexillology. Bring strong binoculars or a small telescope for an up-close look at the sculpture.

    If in the area, there is the Crazy Horse sculpture. I think we went into the parking area but didn’t stay long. Things may have changed since 2005. See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crazy_Horse_Memorial .

    I look forward to the cool stories. You’re going to have a month of articles from this road trip.

  6. Kevin K says:

    About an hour west of Sterling is the Pawnee National Grassland and Pawnee Buttes.



    To get to the buttes is a decent hike, but IIRC it’s not difficult. Bring water, because the whole grassland is a good demonstration of “middle of nowhere”. The views are worth the hike for sure, in both landscape and wildlife. There used to be steps cut into the north side of the East Butte, although that was a while ago, they have closed it to climbing since then. A lot of ravines and gullies in the area to explore too.

    The buttes and the grassland give a great feel for what the pioneers encountered on their way west. A lot of open land and prairie with minimal human influence. My Boy Scout troop used to go camping out there every October, so it’s pretty kid-friendly if you take the whole family.

  7. Ross Finlayson says:

    I agree with Mike Lowe: The “Crazy Horse” sculpture is a ‘must see’. When I was touring SD a few years ago, I found it even more impressive than Mount Rushmore. It’s sobering, however, to realize that it will probably not be completed in our lifetime.

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