Sunday, November 15, 2020

Genealogy Road Trip 2020

I haven’t published any posts in a while and if you have wondered why…let me explain.

At the end of June I retired from work as a Special Education Teacher. I had worked at this job full time for over 35 years. What to do next? Lots of Genealogy among other things!! Well, in March, a week before Covid hit, I brought home my first ever camper, a 2020 Winnebago Travato.

Several years ago I decided that to celebrate my retirement I wanted to do a Genealogy Road Trip. I started keeping a list on Evernote with places I wanted to go visit and basic information I wanted to learn. Yes, you can keep a list in many of the family tree software programs but this was a little different type of list. I arranged items/locations by states and that helped me plan my trip, more or less.

Harley and I started our “Enjoy the Journey Road Trip 2020” at the end of July and just returned a couple of weeks ago after traveling for over 3 months, 10,000 miles and visiting 27 states.

I decided that despite Covid I still wanted to go on my trip. I listened to the experts about how to stay safe and used all the necessary precautions I could to keep myself and others safe. As I was getting ready to leave on my trip my son suggested that before I begin this journey I should think about what my primary goal was for the trip and then see if what I thought before beginning was still true at the end. (Great idea and made me think of all the trips he and I took while he was growing up. I would ask him each day what his favorite part of the trip had been and saved many of those on a postcard from the place we visited.)

With Covid I knew that I had to be FLEXIBLE, that things were likely to change as I headed around the country. Along with genealogy information or pictures to gather there were people I wanted to meet. I had found and corresponded with several newly discovered cousins through DNA that I really wanted to meet for the first time. There were also family and friends to see. The answer to my son’s question before I started was…I wanted to see the people and spend time with them. The genealogy information could wait (a lot of places may be closed due to Covid) but the people were the top priority!

So, how did I do? I was able to meet one first cousin, one second cousin and one third cousin I had never met. I was able to see a dear friend I hadn’t seen in years, see other friends and spend precious time with my family as we created many new memories.

What about the genealogy research you ask? Well, I was able to visit a lot of cemeteries. That’s one place that is easy to visit during Covid. Several were way out of the way and it look some time looking but I found them!

Oh, where to begin looking?? This might take a while.

I think Harley was getting tired of traipsing through all the cemeteries with me but it was a good time for a walk. I only found one cemetery in Pennsylvania that stated no dogs were allowed.

I did get to add in some unexpected little side trips. I grew up watching old westerns and when I saw a sign for this cemetery I just had to stop…

(click on images to enlarge)

Gravesite for Billy the Kid

How ironic that as I walked in to the cemetery, good friend and fellow blogger, Diane Gould Hall would call me. Like she knew I was going in to a cemetery lol.

I found it very valuable to physically be in the areas that my ancestors lived. Yes, I could look locations up on maps but it’s not the same as actually being there. Physically being there gave me insight in to distances people might have traveled, how far they lived from each other, what the terrain was like, etc.? Talking to the people also led to new discoveries and/or new leads to pursue that I hadn’t thought of before.

I was able to visit two county buildings and gather information so I could go and stand on land ancestors had once owned which was so amazing! (See post Gerald G. Warner, Land Owner.  More to follow in later posts on other discoveries.) It was exciting to go back to my Evernote list and say…’Done’ next to certain items.

Hopefully, the next time I start out on my road trip Covid will be a thing of the past, or at least under control enough, so that I will be able to cross more things off my list. While driving I decided on another visual that will help me concentrate my efforts back East on searching all the different towns where my many ancestral lines lived. I also needed to figure out the whole camping thing as well as traveling full time with a dog. That adds a new layer to going and doing research. This is the main reason I didn’t do more blogging while on the road. Several posts were started but I was unable to finish them with everything else that I had to do and that I was learning about camping in general.

Well, my camper is unpacked, cleaned and restocked. Ready for the next road trip. I thought about the ‘purpose’ of my trip. My answer was still the same as when I began-to see and spend time with the people that I cared about.

A very special thank-you to all who helped make this an amazing trip! If I was unable to see you this year then I hope I will be able to see you on the next trip. 

What a beautiful country we live in!

If you have any corrections or additions or stories to share I look forward to hearing them.

Enjoy the journey,


  1. What a wonderful journey you had. I hope there are many more to come. Although I missed you a lot, we were still able to stay in touch. Cheers my friend ❤️

    1. Thank-you so much Diane. What an incrdible trip but more writing next time.

  2. Very cool indeed! I hope to be able to take extended family history trips in a few years. Nice ride, too!

    1. Thanks Paul! Yes, it was amazing to think I really did it.

  3. What a wonderful trip. The biggest plus was you didn't let Covid keep you from fulfilling your dream after retirement!

    1. Thank-you so much Lisa! Yes, I tried to be very careful but I was able to do it and am very grateful that I was able to.

  4. What a nice rig and an awesome trip. You make great points about the value of being their in person. It's a beautiful country indeed!

    1. Thank-you Lisa! Yes, seeing the areas and visualizing the land really helps put things in perspective. I also found talking out who and what I was researching with local people has led to some interesting searches I hadn't thought of previously.