Excerpted from East Coast Exploration: Reno By Way of Beantown
The Northeast corner of the United States holds some of America’s richest history and features incredible landmarks that most of us only read about in textbooks when we were kids. Boston, specifically, is a magnet to history buffs as it features the Freedom Trail — a 2.5-mile marked route that leads visitors along a string of historically significant locations within city limits. Sports fans have Fenway Park to look forward to and those who simply have a deep appreciation for beautiful cities always have Beantown to check off their list of must-visit destinations.
Yep, Boston is unlike any other town in New England (or in the world for that matter), and hopefully those living in the general vicinity take advantage of what the city has to offer on a regular basis. Either way, it’s an ideal “point A” to circle on the map, and for those planning to fly to Nevada for Reno Rendezvous July 7-9, tell the travel agent to refund your tickets. Let’s take a ride west, friends. Let’s see and live all the things you would’ve missed while napping between beverage services and munching on “free” pretzels.
HITTING THE ROAD
Well, the time has come to saddle up and hit the highway, but don’t fret, there is much more to see on the long journey west. The map puts Reno at more than 3,000 miles and 42 hours away from this point — mere suggestions of the quickest blast through the country. Our intent is making the most of the trip; we’ll be counting memories instead of hours on the road and racking up life experiences, not just miles, on the odometer. Instead of taking the northern route of Interstate 90 to Interstate 80, we’ll stick to a path that will lead through Connecticut, past Philly and Baltimore, and into Louisville, Kentucky, St. Louis, Kansas City, Missouri, and beyond. It’s going to be an extended trek, but one that will be well worth the time and effort spent squeezing every ounce of sheer awesomeness from it.
I-90 west will lead you through I-84, I-91, CT-15 south and I-287 west. When heading down I-81, stick to I-68 west for a little Maryland Panhandle cruise. There are great back roads in this region, and some with great historical significance. I-68 in Cumberland is also known as the Old National Road, which was the nation’s first attempt at a federal highway built in the 1800s. Along the way, keep your eyes peeled for one of the few remaining tollgates designed to help pay for the road’s upkeep. Settlers would use this road as a launching point as they headed for Oregon, San Francisco, Colorado and other states out West. This route also passes by the Antietam National Battlefield, which is the site where the bloodiest day of battle during the Civil War took place (Sept. 17, 1862).
The next major populous cities along the way will be Charleston, West Virginia, Lexington, Kentucky, and then Louisville not too far after. But in between are amazing roads on every side of you while cruising along I-79 south to I-64 west. Louisville would be a good place for a layover, as it does offer a couple quirky visits that could make for good stories. Colonel Hartland Sanders, aka the founder of Kentucky Fried Chicken, is buried in Louisville, and believe it or not, his memorial site is very rarely without bouquets of fresh-cut flowers. Also located in Louisville, is the Louisville Slugger Museum and Factory.
CROSSING THE MISSISSIPPI
A short four hours away from Louisville is good ol’ St. Louis, which is reached the quickest by staying on I-64 West. Now, the obvious landmark is the Arch, which is the Gateway to the West. Since that’s the direction you’re heading, a quick pit stop may be a requirement to set the mood. If you plan on staying here for the night, stop by the Missouri Civil War museum that is housed in the 1905 Jefferson Barracks Post Exchange building. A little further westward in Kansas City is the National World War I Museum, where there’s an impressive permanent exhibition that features original objects and documents dating from 1914-1919.
Interstate 70 west will take you to Denver, which is just about 600 miles away from KC. This route will pass through the small towns of Kansas and eastern Colorado. Wings Over The Rockies Air and Space Museum will be there to greet you upon arrival. Fans of the Star Wars franchise will jump with glee to see the life-sized X-Wing Starfighter on display. Those wanting to see historical U.S. Air Force aircraft will get their fill, and fans of space technology will get a chance to take in the impressive displays of spacecraft and missile technology.
Continuing west on I-70 will wind through the Arapaho National Forest. This leg of the trip will help tune down the loud, big city noise in exchange for the sounds of glorious nature. Depending on how much isolation you want to indulge in, you can cut clear across the rest of Colorado, straight through Utah, and nearly all the way to California, as Reno teeters on the California-Nevada border. I-70 will meet up with US-50 west just past I-15 in Utah. US-50 cuts through the center of Nevada to I-80 west to Reno. Taking this way limits the use for major interstate highways and will bless those who take it with serene, picturesque landscapes before diving into the lively, exciting Rendezvous epicenter. It’s nearly a 1,000-mile haul from Denver, but it should prove to be the most exciting stretch yet. Those looking to explore the wild frontier will get every opportunity to do so.
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