We have arrived in Miami, after driving from San Diego to Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara to Washington, DC (where we stayed for four months and drove up to Cape Cod and down to Virginia Beach), and then from DC to Miami. That was one long car trip!

We are road trip aficionados, the entire family; it is our preferred method of travel when we have the time. Mostly because the four of us just like traveling and exploring together. But we also love it because it gives us a chance to explore this incredible continent that is our nation.

The United States is glorious, simply in terms of topography. Two oceans, two gulfs, mountain ranges that rival anything seen elsewhere in the world, lakes, canyons, natural wonders. The U.S. is blessed with it all.

And by driving cross-country and up and down, we’ve been able to delight in a good part of it. First impressions: California has the worst roads. Once the best in the nation, now among the worst. People in North Carolina are friendly and generous, and Knoxville, Tennessee, was unexpectedly delightful. Graceland was smaller and less gaudy than expected. Texas had more dead deer at the side of the road than we saw anywhere else in the entire trip. I mean, they were like milestone markers along the highway.

People who say that we are suffering from overpopulation simply haven’t driven much beyond the edges of major cities. Get 100 miles from any major city, and you’re sure to see lots of wide open space. This nation is vast!

The lighting in Cape Cod is unlike any light I’ve seen. Crisp, pure, blue.

New Mexico is a blend of colors that cannot be captured with a snap of a camera. Too living; too ethereal. The hues change by the minute.

South Carolina has roads similar to California, and many mobile homes in the middle of fields. Savannah is genteel and sedate. St. Augustine, FL, could use a facelift, at least along the shoreline. The sands of Florida beaches are pristine and inviting, and the trees with their Spanish moss are a sight both eerie and charming.

These quick reflections don’t do justice to the diversity of our nation, to the treasures of each state. As we drove, Tom and I reflected that it will be hard to leave the U.S. behind for a few years. And yet, we’re so thankful that we had the time to drive so much on this trip, to renew our love for this amazing place we call home. We’ll miss it, but we will come home eventually. Gratefully. With eager anticipation.