DC & Midwest Trip | August 2019 | Day 5
On Friday, August 9, we rose early and checked out of our hotel at 5am. We walked to the nearest metro station and rode to DCA. We picked up a rental car and began our journey West.
I can honestly say we’ve been planning this trip for 2 years now, since the day we set foot on the island at the end of our last cross country road trip. One of the main things we miss about living on the mainland is having the ability to take long road trips — to plan different routes around points of interest, enter new counties, and know that there are miles and miles of open road ahead of us. It was going to be impossible to fit everything we wanted to do into just 11 days, so we focused on what was most important — seeing our families — and found points of interest along the way.
When planning out our first day, Curtis figured the driving time would be about 14 hours. I thought about it, and responded, “That sounds really nice.” We took 395 to 495 to highway 50 making our way to interstate 66. Virginia is going to be a hard state to finish county-wise thanks to their ‘city counties’, where we actually have to drive into cities. We were able to knock out 2 of those on this trip (along with 7 ‘real counties’), but it’ll be a long time before we can complete it. (Unless we end up with orders to Norfolk or DC, in which case we’ll have nothing better to do…)
Anyway, we stayed on I-66 until it ran into 81, then took 48 which turned into 55 in West Virginia. We had brought our old Atlas from home which has held up surprisingly well for being used so much for over 5 years — but decided that after this trip, it’ll be time to retire it. There were too many new roads or highway improvements that weren’t on the map.
Our first stop of the day was to hike Maryland’s high point, which actually begins in West Virginia along WV-24. We parked on the side of the road and began hiking up the trail. It was foggy and chilly outside, which gave the woods a cool, eerie feel. The trail was well-marked and easy to follow, though steep and rocky at parts.
We crossed into Maryland, stopping to take pictures with the boundary marker, then summited the high point after a mile of climbing. We took pictures, found a Geocache, then made our way back down. An easy 2 mile hike to 3360 feet of elevation for our 15th state high point! (Check out our Alltrails recording here.)
We drove all the way across West Virginia on highway 50, which started out slow and tedious behind slow traffic on winding mountain roads, but finally turned into a 4 lane highway with beautiful views. We crossed into Ohio and stopped for lunch in Athens at one of the fast food places we’ve missed the most: Taco Johns! Yes, there were many delicious local places everywhere we went, but after living 2 years on an island deprived of our favorite fast foods, this was all we wanted!
From here, we took OH-33 up to Columbus, around the Southeast side, then continued on 33 up to Bellefontaine. Here we made our second and last stop for another highpoint: Campbell Hill, Ohio’s highest point at 1550 feet above sea level. Another easy accomplishment for state high point #16.
We continued driving 33 up to Indiana, around Fort Wayne and North on 69, then West on 96 to Grand Rapids. We made it to Curtis’ parent’s house just before 10 and were reunited with his parents, younger brother and sister, and all the pets — including their new puppy, Sweets. A happy ending to a fun filled day of driving!