On April 1, 2003, Barbara Windsor (ex-wife of 42 years) and I left on a long-anticipated trip that we affectionately referred to for several years as “The Pie Trip.” The trip was officially named “Round America” and covered all 50 states, over 2,500 towns, and over 29,000 miles. The trip ended on August 26, 2003. We wrote about the trip each night in our Daily Journal.
The idea for this trip originated in 2000. I proposed to Barbara that we go on “The Pie Trip” — just take off and travel the country and “eat pie.” We would go on the backroads and eat in cafes and diners where the locals eat (where they always have pie) and just learn about the places we go and the people we meet. We would write a book about the experience.
We became busy with other things, and the trip was postponed. I was more than a little disappointed when I discovered a book titled American Pie published in 2002 that had a strikingly similar concept and a great name. But the idea for the trip was bolstered by my experience driving a 1955 Chevy Police Car from Dallas to Orlando.
The police car was the Andy Griffith car — 55 Chevy. Bill bought it as part of a fleet of police cars to be positioned at each HOTTIES restaurant because everyone knows how much the police love donuts! People wanted to have their pictures taken with the HOTTIES police cars. One of Bill’s great memories is driving the ’55 from Texas to Florida. It took six hours longer than the trip normally takes because the car drew crowds and they wanted to ask about HOTTIES and the police car!”
We wanted to do something unique on our trip, so we decided to visit all 50 states in one trip in a vehicle marked to tell everyone what we were doing.
The new plan was to go entirely around the country with a well-planned route. We would visit all 50 states. I mapped an itinerary that took us from Savannah to Daytona Beach to Miami to Key West to New Orleans to Brownsville to Tucson to San Diego to Los Angeles to Flagstaff to Santa Fe to St. Louis to Nashville to Atlanta to Louisville to Des Moines, to Denver to Salt Lake City to Las Vegas to Los Angeles to San Francisco to Bellingham to Anchorage to Minot to Duluth to Mackinac Island to Toledo to Cleveland to Buffalo to Burlington to Fort Kent Maine to Calais to Providence to New York to Washington DC to Norfolk to Myrtle Beach to Charleston to Savannah and all spots in between. Last stop was Hawaii to complete our American tour. If you look at a map, you’ll see that we essentially outlined the USA and completed one circle through the non-border states. We visited all 50 states and passed through at least 2,500 towns. We logged over 29,000 miles by car.
We saw major sights, but we also saw other attractions such as the world’s largest ball of twine, the smallest church in America, the Forrest Gump bus bench, a house built entirely out of one log, the spinach capital of the world, several infamous donut shops, the Roswell UFO Museum, a ship turned into a barber shop called the Barber Ship, the underground missile silos in North Dakota, the Judy Garland Museum, the James Dean Memorial, the Ben & Jerry’s factory, and assorted roadside attractions. We made special detours to visit some highly-regarded pie places as well as to see Mount Rushmore and Anchorage.
We tried to eat where the locals eat…unless the locals eat at franchised restaurants…as we sought to concentrate on good, independent local places and “slow food.” Nothing too fancy; diners and cafes were our #1 choice. We tracked each restaurant we visited and the roadfood we ate, and we have preserved that for posterity on our Road Food page.
We will be writing one or more books about our experiences. We have not finalized a decision on the title of the book. We will write about the towns we visit, the sights we see, the people we meet, and the pie we eat…so we may call it The Pie Trip.
Yet a family tradition has been to end our vacations by creating a list of the best and worst of the trip. Best meal, worst meal, best city, worst city, best excuse, worst expenditure — some serious and some funny. As we approached the trip, we compiled a master list of bests and worsts to consider as we traveled, so another possibility for the title is Best and Worst of the USA.
But what was unique about the trip is that it chronicled a trip entirely ‘ROUND AMERICA — around the homeland. In these times of concern for our homeland, our security, and our borders, we looked for patriotic photo ops. So, we may call the book ‘Round America. I currently favor either Stay Home or Chasing the Sun. A complete list of the possible book titles is available for your review and comment.
We wrote daily, and we have provided a daily account and photos on the website. We tracked our experiences with a Scorecard as well — tracking various and sundry “vital statistics,” and we kept a running report on the best and worst of the trip.
Now that the first trip Round America is over, we have months of work ahead as we add much more information to the website. And as we take future trips, we will continue to add information and photos. We hope you will check in on us occasionally by visiting the website — www.roundamerica.com.