Diane's favorite picture of Me as Intrepid Explorer.
One other things Diane and I have been keeping track of throughout our journey is a list of what Diane calls "Superlatives," the bests and worsts of where we've been.
Before we got any further, a disclaimer: This list is based on our experiences and observations and is in no way scientific or based on research into reliable facts. There are just the impressions of a woman and her dog, but we think our impressions are pretty reliable.
- Saddest attempt to capitalize on nature's splendor: Niagara Falls
- The fact is nothing humans can build can compete with the wonder of the falls, which perhaps explain why the town of Niagara is so sad.
- Most beautiful waterway to drive along at sunset: The Erie Canal.
- The reflection of sunset in the calm, still waters is stunning.
- Saddest evidence of how humans ruin everything: Lake Erie
- Oh the pollution. The lake stank. And was full of bacteria and algae. It was sad.
- Worst toll road rest areas: I90
- Worst cell phone reception, small town category: Tomah, WI
- Bounciest highway: Madison, WI
- It looked smooth but looks can be deceiving. We bumped and bounced so much we thought parts were going to start flying off.
- Most picturesque farms
- Fewest Walmarts
- Darkest interstate highway
- Craziest sky
- Best weather-watching
- Greatest concentration of pickup trucks
- Most freight trains
- Most Scenic Turnouts on the Interstate
- Most enthusiastic sport climbers
- We spent more time in Wyoming than anywhere else (6 nights!), which was enough to make a number of observations. Montana may be the home of Big Sky, but we didn't go anywhere with a bigger sky than Wyoming. It was big and crazy. You can watch storms swirling thirty miles away, and the ceaseless wind absolutely will knock you down. There are scenic pull-offs or "turnouts" constantly along the highway so you can enjoy the vast sky and brutal wind. Everyone here has a pickup truck and freight trains rumble constantly across the high plains. There's a lot of rock climbing here, mostly bolted routes
- Most Scenic National Forest Drive: The Loop Road from Sinks Canyon through Shoshone National Forest
- It's mostly a dirt road but it is smooth and can be driven by any sort of car, no off-road vehicle required.
- Steepest paved road in Eastern Colorado: Magnolia Road (20% grades!)
- Todd's brother-in-law Ian informed us that Magnolia Road is actually, factually one of the steepest paved roads in the state. We should NOT have driven on it. Seriously.
- Most festive vibe: Boulder
- Boulder feels like a beach town with no ocean even though it is also a real city where people have real jobs.
- Most dog friendly city town: Boulder
- Residents of Boulder can get have their dog certified to be off-leash! They go and do some kind of test and then they get a special tag so their dogs can be off-leash in public. How progressive is that?
- Brightest High Beams
- You've never seen anything like it (unless you're from Idaho)
- Greatest Proportion of Land Designated as National Forest
- Take a look on a map and you'll see what I mean
- Friendliest People
- Camping in Idaho was the first time people stopped to ask us questions about the Big Rolling Crate. Sure, here and there we'd had comments from people before Idaho, but in Idaho people introduced themselves, asked questions, told us their stories, and suggested places we might like to visit.
- Biggest Mosquitos West of Maine
- Meanest Horseflies
- Most Plentiful Hot Springs
- If the people we talked to at the hot spring we visited are to be believed, this is factual. They said there are more hot springs in Idaho than any other state.
- Greatest Concentration of Small, Independent Roadside Coffee Stands
- The Most Letters on Hillsides
- Every town seems to have a hill, and on every hill, written very large, is the first letter of the town's name. M for Missoula, F for Frenchtown, B for Butte, you get the idea.
- Best Electric Light Show
- The thunderstorm we witnessed was intense and beautiful and, we suspect, not usual around these parts
- Worst State to Drive Through
- We drove through 19 states and our suspicion that Connecticut is the worst state to drive through was only confirmed.
- Best Place to Spend a Week by the Sea
- Place We Most Want to Live
- Our travels were amazing, but at the end of it all, we love living in Central Mass!