GOGART II – Introduction

GOGART II has come and gone.  I will start posting reviews for our 2012 “Girls Only Great American Roadtrip” now that we are home.  We intended to post along the way, but we discovered we had extremely limited service and wanted to make sure we could share this trip properly with all of you, so I will start posting pictures in the order of our trip. 

If you have any questions about how we planned this trip or want help planning your own GOGART, let me know.


I think you should know the background information for our trip though – since I only gave bits and pieces before we left.

About a year ago I was reading Roadside America’s website, looking for things to see when we went to Washington, DC over the summer, and I came across the “Madonnas of the Trail”.

A recurring piece of public statuary stands in twelve locations from Maryland to California, tracing a historic travel route from “covered wagon days.” The statue is the Madonna of the Trail, an 18-ft. tall tribute to the pioneer mothers who traveled west with their husbands and children.  (I thought, if they could do it, so could we, and we should at least try.)

The Madonna of the Trail is a pinkish, stony-faced pioneer Mom (she really looks very much like actor Robert Culp), in long dress and bonnet, strutting westward with a rifle on one arm, an infant on the other, another little cruncher grasping Mom’s skirt .

The Madonnas of the Trail were a project of the National Society of Daughters of the American Revolution, dedicated in 1928-29. They are strung along the National Old Trails Road, now mostly Rt. 40. Artist August Leimbach created the mold. The poured algonite stone sculptures — a mixture of crushed marble, Missouri granite, stone, cement and lead ore — are identical. The historical info on the base of each varies from locale to locale.

Nearly all of 10-ft. tall, five ton pioneer mothers face west; Bethesda, Maryland’s faces east towards Washington, and Upland, California’s faces south (Springfield, Ohio’s has been reported to face south as well).  Sadly, we forgot to check on this when we got to Ohio.

To properly honor the pioneer spirit, one should retrace the entire trail, and photograph all twelve cookie cutter statues. Or, with less honor, take twelve photos of one and say you saw ’em all…but we chose to do the entire trail and see our beautiful country while we were at it.  And what a beautiful country we have.  Since the statues are identical (even though the dedications and wordings on the bases are different at each one) we brought along signs so we could remember which statue was where.   I highly recommend you doing this if you decide to make this trip. 

The statues are located in the following cities:

  1. Bethesda, Maryland
  2. Beallsville, Pennsylvania
  3. Wheeling, West Virginia
  4. Springfield, Ohio
  5. Richmond, Indiana
  6. Vandalia, Illinois
  7. Lexington, Missouri
  8. Council Grove, Kansas
  9. Lamar, Colorado
  10. Albuquerque, New Mexico
  11. Springerville, Arizona
  12. Upland, California

So, we divided up the trip into manageable (well, sort of!) chunks of mileage, and started filling in the hours with cool, weird and awesome  “Americana” types of things to see and do.  We arranged our to have our meals at places featured on The Food Network’s show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” (how else do you hear about where to find donuts with bacon sprinkles?).    We booked our hotels through Hotwire.  I love Hotwire.  We rented our car (a mid-sized SUV) through Hotwire (I really love Hotwire) and picked it up at the Baltimore airport.   I used a coupon from my 2013 Entertainment Book, (I love my Enterainment Book too) and got a free upgrade to a beautiful mini-van.   We flew home from Los Angeles 9 days after we left Maryland.  

We filled the van with our luggage, cameras, GPS units, way too much food, first aid kits, signs, Gart (our faithful travel companion and roaming gnome) and a nifty cooler that once transported human organs to a hospital operating room (just kidding – ok, maybe not) filled with water and diet cokes, and most importantly, our itinerary.  This was Friday night.

We went to dinner to celebrate our upcoming travels, and went to sleep early so that we could get up at 5:00 a.m. on Saturday and head to Bethesda, Maryland to find the first Madonna statue. 

Saturday morning we got up on schedule, were dressed and ready to leave on our trip across America.  We got out to the parking lot and saw this:


Yep, the car and all our stuff was gone.  Vanished.  

There was no broken glass on the ground, so we were hoping it was not actually broken in to or stolen.  There were the suspicious looking white scratches on the ground through.   Hmmmm.

We called building management and found out that because we did not have a proper building parking tag hanging from our mirror, that the towing company AND local police were kind enough to come at 2:30 in the morning and take our car to the towed-car prison which is located about 30 minutes out of our way. 

What a way to start a trip. 

Thanks Henry.

Anyway, all of our worldly trip possessions were still in the car so we paid our dues and started out on our trip across the country.  Who knew that the only trouble we would have on our journey would be in our own garage?

So, now you have the basics.  I will start posting pictures based on days and categories.  I will group them as much as possible so you don’t get clobbered with email notices about new posts. 

We had a great time while crossing our great country.  We are very fortunate to have had this experience.  If anyone wants to come on GOGART III with us, just let me know.


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