Karen and I called our 1980 Greyhound trip The Grand Tour because it was so comprehensive. We made a figure 8 up east and through the southwest. We left Louisville on August 3. Our momentum increased as we approached Washington, D.C. In D.C., I showed Karen the best of what I had seen 3 years before: the White House, Washington Monument & Bureau of Engraving and Printing. In the Capitol, Karen touched the same white circle I had. At the Shakespeare Library, I got a picture of her standing by the statue of Puck.
We ate lunch in the National Gallery, and Karen and I were taken with many of the same paintings. She preferred the Lincoln Memorial to the Jefferson as she recalled the way the states were engraved around the top of the building.
The National Archives was still open when we got there, and we saw the Constitution. Karen wanted to see Ford's Theater, where Lincoln was shot. We chanced upon it as we were leaving. Lincoln was taken from the theater and died in the house across the street.
Leaving D.C., we headed for New York City. At daybreak, we took a subway to Battery Park and ferried to the Statue of Liberty.
The Statue is a green Colossus located on Liberty Island in New York Harbor. Its color is due to the rusting of copper. The Statue is operated by the National Park Service. We climbed to the crown and looked out the small openings. It was a strenuous test in the heat. From the ferry, the Manhattan skyline was well-defined. The Twin Towers of the World Trade Center were prominent. I looked back and forth from the skyline to the Statue.
New York City is composed of 5 boroughs. The island of Manhattan is the biggie. The others are Brooklyn, Queens, the Bronx & Staten Island. Brooklyn and Queens are on Long Island. Only the Bronx is on the mainland.
Karen was surprised by the amount of farmland in upstate New York as we continued toward Niagara Falls. We got a room in Rochester and had pizza. We crossed the border into Canada, and Karen was out of the U.S. for the first time.
The town of Niagara Falls is in the province of Ontario. The falls is a natural barrier between the 2 countries. The American Falls is to the left. The Canadian Horseshoe Falls is to the right. It gets its name from its shape. It is the most spectacular of the 2, and we rode a boat, Maid of the Mist, into the curve of the horseshoe. We wore raincoats, which got wet from the spray.
We left Niagara Falls for Toronto, where we ascended the CN Tower. It was currently the world's tallest structure. From its height, we saw what an enormous city Toronto is. We peered across Lake Ontario. The Niagara River flows between Lakes Erie and Ontario. Water from 4 Great Lakes flows over Niagara Falls into Lake Ontario on its way to the Atlantic Ocean. Our travels gave me a geographical sense of North America.
Karen and I spent the night in Toronto. A false alarm drove us from our hotel. The next morning, we enjoyed a streetcar ride. Street signs reminded me that French is a second language in Canada. Canadian money is in the same denominations as U.S. currency. A 10-15% premium was paid on American money.
We left Ontario at Windsor and entered the U.S. at Detroit. The eastern swing of the Grand Tour had ended. We returned to the house in Lebanon and rested for 3 days before heading west.
The western swing began. On the way to Tucson, we spent a few morning hours in Dallas. We saw the book depository from which John Kennedy was assassinated.
Arriving in Tucson, we rented a car and drove to the Saguaro National Monument. There are 3 sections of the desert: the Great Basin in Nevada, Mojave in California & Sonoran in southern Arizona. The Saguaro cactus is found in the Sonoran. We drove through mile after mile of these cactuses. Some of them reminded me of people. The forest was peaceful, and Karen and I were amazed that the Saguaros were so localized.
We became familiar with 4 species of cactuses. 1) The Saguaro can live as long as 200 years. Arms do not appear until it is 75 years old. 2) Prickly Pear leaves are flat like Mickey Mouse ears. 3) The Fishhook Barrel is named for its shape and fishhook-like spines. 4) The Organ Pipe has arms that grow right out of the ground.
We went to Tucson's San Xavier Mission, opened in 1798. We caught a glimpse of old Spain. The Spaniards were unaffected by the Protestant Reformation and came to the southwest to spread Catholicism. The mission is known as the White Dove of the Desert and can be seen perched and shining from a considerable distance.
We ended up in Las Vegas even though we had not planned it. Vegas is a magnet! We returned there from Tijuana, Mexico, via San Diego and Hollywood. In Hollywood, we took the Universal City tour, driving through old movie sets.
Once in Vegas, the memories flowed. We again tried the hot corner of Caesar's, MGM, the Dunes & the Flamingo Hilton. We spent 8 days and nights in Vegas and stayed at the Granada Inn, up the street from last year's spot.
We made trips while in Vegas, one to the Grand Canyon and one to Reno, Virginia City & Lake Tahoe.
Virginia City is a mining town from the 1870s. It is the home of the Bonanza series and the Comstock Lode, the silver strike responsible for its existence. The town's population has dwindled from 40,000 to 700. Renovated saloons survive off tourism.
Lake Tahoe resembled other places we had seen. There were the Ponderosa pines of Yosemite, the blue waters of Lake Mead & a touch of Reno. The place was a composite! When we finally left Las Vegas, Ann-Margret was once more at Caesar's. She was there in June, 1979, and I felt like we had come full circle.
Reaching Salt Lake City, we assumed the same route I traveled in 1978. Salt Lake City remains clean and hospitable. The Mormons have not forgotten their past. The spirit of Brigham Young presides over Temple Square with unquestioned authority. Young brought his people from Illinois to Salt Lake in 1847. He had 27 wives and 56 children! Karen and I visited his home called the Beehive.
We had a full day in this town. We took in the Natural History Museum at the University of Utah. It was strong in geology and on the subject of dinosaurs. The geographical location of a university affects its curriculum.
We had lunch at the Shakespeare Dinner House and toured the State Capitol Building. That night, we attended a presentation at the Hansen Planetarium. We gained admission to the astronomy library. Returning to the bus terminal, I was reminded of the uniqueness of this city by the light reflecting from the LDS Temple.
I glanced at a newspaper. Ronald Reagan was on the front page. He would be elected in November. Times were changing as they always do.
It was on to Yellowstone. I wondered why the condensation from the hot springs was more abundant than during my previous visit. Karen said it was the cold weather. It was like seeing your breath on a cold day. Hot springs are caused by molten lava.
We sighted animals: elk, buffalo & moose. We saw Old Faithful erupt. It was August 27, and we spent the night in West Yellowstone, Montana. We were told that during the winter it can go as low as -60. Ice remains on the lake until June, and we saw sleet.
I became aware of the layout of the Park. The river flows from Yellowstone Lake through the canyon and into the Missouri River.
Coming back from Idaho Falls, we saw the Grand Tetons in the distance. We ate lunch in Pocatello. In Cheyenne, we toured the Capitol and the Wyoming State Museum. The Grand Tour ended in Denver!
Originally written August, 1980