Our Itinerary

Day 1 (July 8)

Olympia, WA to Boise, ID: Leaving home and visiting family in Boise. Also dropping off our dogs with relatives!

Day 2 (July 9)

Boise, ID to Cheyenne, WY: Our longest driving leg of the trip, 750 miles! Visited Minidoka, WW2 Japanese internment camp. Stop in Laramie, WY for dinner and see Matthew Shepard Memorial Bench on the campus of the University of Wyoming.

Day 3 (July 10)

Cheyenne, WY to Omaha, NE: Another long drive, but our plan all along was to go east faster than going west. We drove around Cheyenne and looked at the synagogue, before heading east over the flat Nebraska plains. We stopped at the Golden Spike Tower in North Platte, NE, a visitor center and observation tower overlooking the world’s largest rail yard.

Day 4 (July 11)

Omaha, NE to Chicago, IL: A long drive across the state of Iowa. After breakfast in a Jewish deli in Omaha (and a look at a historic synagogue in Council Bluffs, IA), we drove past the corn of Iowa before stopping for lunch and ice cream at Lagomarcino’s, an old fashioned soda fountain in Moline, IL. We took some outdoor time at Starved Rock State Park in IL before arriving in Chicago for a dinner of deep dish pizza and time with cousins.

Day 5 (July 12)

A day without driving! After walking to breakfast in downtown Oak Park (with a detour to the Frank Lloyd Wright house and studio), we hopped on the train to downtown Chicago to walk around Millennium Park and visit the Art Institute of Chicago. In the late afternoon after heading back to our cousin’s house, we went out to the Jolly Inn, a Polish buffet in Chicago’s Polish neighborhood.

Day 6 (July 13)

Chicago, IL to Ypsilanti, MI. We drive to visit more relatives, Yohanna’s aunt and family. After arriving we all head to Dearborn to visit the Arab American National Museum and to Shatila, a large Arab bakery and cafe within the Arab neighborhood. We head back for a Shabbat dinner and visiting and relaxing.

Day 7 (July 14)

Ypsilanti, MI to Somerset, PA. We have a Shabbat brunch at Bomber, a restaurant in Ypsilanti that honors the area’s history as a site for building aircraft during WWII. (The original restaurant was open 24 hours since the factories were open 24 hours.) We then drove to Pittsburgh for a pit stop (pun intended), visiting a park at the confluence of the three rivers and dinner. We all agreed it was a beautiful city. We then continued on to Somerset, PA to stop.

Day 8 (July 15)

Somerset, PA to Gaithersburg, MD. When we made our original plans, we had planned to drive all the way to the DC area on Day 7. Wanting to cut out another long driving day, we had broken up the trip and spent the night in Somerset. Little did we realize at the time that we were about 25 minutes away from the Flight 93 National Memorial, commemorating the plane that went down in a field in rural Pennsylvania on 9/11. After visiting, we drove to our easternmost destination, the DC area, to visit with Seth’s family. We then dropped the kids with their grandparents before heading to the Pearlstone Retreat Center for a retreat through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality. The road trip will pick up in a few days!

Days 9-14 (July 16-21)

The DC area. Yohanna and Seth attended a retreat through the Institute for Jewish Spirituality, and the kids have time with their grandparents. On July 20, we visited the US Holocaust Museum, especially focusing on the new exhibit on America and the Holocaust. One more day following of family time before hitting the road once again!

Day 15 (July 22)

Bethesda, MD to Blacksburg, VA. We head south with a stop in Charlottesville, VA to visit the town and pay homage to the location of the white supremacist violence of last summer. We then continue on to Blacksburg where we visit with some family.

Day 16 (July 23)

Blacksburg, VA to Atlanta, GA. When we got to Atlanta, we went first to the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site, a section of the city that includes his birth place, Ebenezer Baptist Church where he preached, and the King Center, which includes his gravesite.

Day 17 (July 24)

Atlanta, GA. Spent the day in Atlanta, starting with the Center for Civil and Human Rights. Then we had some sightseeing time at the World of Coca-Cola, Centennial Park and the CNN Center. (And we had our favorite meal of the trip at the Atlanta Breakfast Club)

Day 18 (July 25)

Atlanta, GA to Montgomery, AL to Selma, AL. We head to Montgomery first thing in the morning and spend the day in Montgomery visiting the various civil rights related sites. We see the Civil Rights Memorial at the Southern Poverty Law Center (though the memorial itself was being worked on), the Dexter Avenue Church and the Alabama State Capitol. We then went to the new Legacy Museum and the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, both very powerful. We then drove Route 80, the path of the Selma to Montgomery march, and in Selma, we walked across the Edmund Pettus Bridge. (After dinner at Lannie’s Bar-B-Q)

Day 19 (July 26)

Selma, AL to Memphis, TN. On our way out of town we drove past Temple Mishkan Israel, the synagogue of the local community, a beautiful building that still maintains a small congregation. Then we drove past Brown AME Church, the headquarters and starting point for the Selma to Montgomery marches. We then headed to Birmingham to visit the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church, where a KKK bomb killed four girls attending Sunday school, and walked around the park nearby, the epicenter of the protests in Birmingham that now is dedicated to that history. Passing through Mississippi we pulled into Memphis for the night. (We had an unplanned pitstop as we drove through Woodstock, AL, made famous by the podcast S-Town.)

Day 20 (July 27)

Memphis, TN to St. Louis, MO. The night before we checked out Beale Street, this morning we went to the National Civil Rights Museum located in the Lorraine Motel, the site of King’s assassination. Very powerful. (We also drove past the site of his final speech.) We then hit the road and stopped at Trail of Tears State Park in Missouri, a location where the Cherokee crossed the Mississippi on their forced relocation. In St. Louis we went to Shabbat services at the Central Reform Congregation (and, by chance, heard a presentation by Stosh Cotler, CEO of Bend the Arc) and had some late night Shabbat fun at the City Museum.

Day 21 (July 28)

St. Louis, MO to Oakley, KS. The final day of our justice touring took us to Topeka, KS where we visited the school that sparked Brown v. Board of Education, which is now a national historic site. We also visited Equality House, a rainbow-painted house celebrating LGBTQ equality located across the street from the hateful Westboro Baptist Church. Then across the flat plains of Kansas to stop for the night in Oakley.

Day 22 (July 29)

Oakley, KS to Idaho Springs, CO. Our main touring is over as we make our way back home. After a pit stop to do laundry we drove to Colorado Springs to spend the afternoon with family, then added some more distance before pulling over for the night (at a creek side motel in the Rockies!)

Day 23 (July 30)

Idaho Springs, CO to Moab, UT. A day of nature and exploration as we make our way to the NW. After a beautiful drive we go to Arches National Park to see some amazing scenery, then put in early for the night.

Day 24 (July 31)

Moab, UT to Boise, ID. A long day of driving to Yohanna’s family to visit and pick up our dogs. On the way we stopped at the Golden Spike National Historic Site, where the transcontinental railroad was completed (with a lot of immigrant labor), and a surprise Rocket garden at a Northrup Grumman site nearby.

Day 25 (August 1)

Boise, ID to Olympia, WA. The day-long drive HOME!