This entry is part 29 of 29 in the series Coast-to-coast: San Francisco to Savannah

April 29, 2024

Coast-to-coast: San Francisco to Savannah (Part 29)

By Simon J. Lau

Today, we departed from Kingman. Founded during the late 19th century amid the railroad and mining boom, its early history is intertwined with the development of the region’s transportation and mining industries. Its historic downtown district still showcases architectural remnants of this era, offering a glimpse into the town’s past prosperity.

I was impressed by just how much there was to do in Kingman. It’s one of the larger towns, but still little-known, along Route 66. The town is also very well-maintained! For instance, the roads and sidewalks along Main Street are being fully repaved, and there are several hip breweries, including the one we visited yesterday. I’m still not sure why this place is relatively popular, but I like it!

Knowing that I would be returning to California today, where gas prices are high (they have actually gone up since I left, if you can believe that), I smuggled in out-of-state gas. 😅 I filled up my 5-gallon jerry can with $3/gallon gas. At this particular gas station in California, I paid $5.09/gallon to top off my tank. Still, I saved $10. Take that, California!

As a final salute to my trip, I thought I’d spend the rest of this post describing one of the historic cross-country journeys that inspired me.

In 1903, Horatio Nelson Jackson made history by completing the first transcontinental automobile journey across America. Accompanied by his mechanic, Sewall K. Crocker, and a pit bull named Bud. Jackson and his team embarked on this ambitious adventure from San Francisco to New York City. Driving a used Winton touring car named the “Vermont,” Jackson faced numerous challenges, including rough terrain, mechanical breakdowns, and a lack of roads. Along the way, they relied on the kindness of strangers for assistance and guidance. Despite these obstacles, Jackson and his team persevered, traversing deserts, mountains, and plains, and arriving in New York City on July 26, 1903, after a journey lasting 63 days. Their remarkable feat captured the imagination of the American public and marked a significant milestone in the history of automobile travel in the United States.

Photo courtesy of PBS’ documentary by Ken Burns, Horatio’s Drive

I was so inspired by this story that when we purchased our Mazda, we named it Horatio in honor of Jackson. I never imagined when we named it then that it would foreshadow my own cross-country American road trip now. But it did! 

You’re amazing, Horatio (the little silver Mazda)! Not once did you ever let us down.

I especially loved that Jackson brought Bud, a pit bull, along for the ride. Bud wasn’t initially part of this expedition. It’s said that as early as Sacramento, Jackson was looking for a dog to accompany them. In Idaho, he finally stumbled upon that chance when someone offered Bud to him as their mascot. Convinced, Jackson paid $15 for Bud and the team became a trio.

This dog immediately began attracting attention from the media, where many tall tales were told about how Jackson had procured him (including one story that claimed Bud was saved from a dog fight). Jackson went on to say that “Bud soon became an enthusiast for motoring,” learning to keep an eye on the road for bumps and turns. At the end of the trip, Bud lived a full life with Jackson and his family in Vermont. More importantly, he was a great breed ambassador! 

Photo courtesy of PBS’ documentary by Ken Burns, Horatio’s Drive

Similar to Jackson, I also traveled cross-country with a pit bull! Although Bud and Jackson preceded us by over 100 years, we bested them in one important way: we traveled coast-to-coast… and back! I’d say that’s a feather in our cap. High five, Bruno! We did it!

Many years ago, while traveling abroad, I met a guy from Wales. He mentioned how he thought Americans were unusual because they seemed to value traveling abroad much more than traveling domestically. “You have a big backyard, you should explore it!” That’s always stuck with me. 

Over the years, I’ve spent much more time exploring my backyard, including road-tripping across the West Coast and Southwest. This trip, however, has opened my eyes to large swaths of the American South and Midwest that I’ve never seen previously. It’s been a neat experience and something that I’m sure to write more about soon! In the meantime, as I like to tell others: Have fun, get out, and explore!

Finally, our route. Unlike previous posts, this last route includes a map of all our overnight stops from our entire journey (excluding day trips, side trips, and detours). In terms of total distance traveled (including day trips, side trips, and detours), we covered nearly 7,500 miles (or over 12,000 km)! Today alone our drive was over 600 miles (or almost 1,000 km). What a trip!

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