For about the last six months, I have dreamed about a long trip out west. I love the west. I have actually done more than dream about it, I have planned it. Next week our departure time will finally arrive. The reservations have all been made and paid. I have mapped out our day-by-day itinerary. I’m calling this trip our Louisiana Purchase Land trip, because it includes many of those states. Over the next two weeks, we will drive through parts of ten states. Our trek will include two states I’ve never visited, five for Jean, and seven for Drew.

We are scheduled to fly out of Atlanta next Thursday on a one-way flight to North Dakota. None of us have visited North Dakota. I have reserved a rental car there to drive back home. After a night in Bismarck, our first scheduled stop is a tour of The Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, in Washburn, North Dakota, and then we head west to Teddy Roosevelt National Park, for a couple of days. In that area we will take in Badlands Dinosaur Museum and see The Medora Musical. Then we’ll head south to spend a couple of days in Rapid City, South Dakota. We will stop before we get there for a visit in the wild-west town of Deadwood. Then we’re off to see Lincoln, Roosevelt (Teddy), Jefferson, and Washington. While in the Mt. Rushmore area we will also take a gander at Crazy Horse’s carving, venture through Badlands National Park, and go buy a tee-shirt at Wall Drugstore that says, “Wall Drugstore.” On the way to see Scott’s Bluff, in Nebraska, we can stop by the Museum of Fur Trade, Carhenge, and visit Dobby’s Frontier Town, in Alliance. Next we are off to North Platte, Nebraska, but before we get there we’ll stop for lunch at the historic Front Street Café, in Ogallala. Who knows, Captains Gus McCrae and Woodrow Call might still be hanging around there. North Platte has The Gold Spike Tower, Buffalo Bill State Park, Grain Bin Antiques, and Lincoln County Museum. Next on the agenda is a place I’ve wanted to see since my childhood...Dodge City, Kansas. Marshall Matt Dillion is there, well, at least his statue. Before we’re told to “Get out of Dodge,” we’ll visit Boot Hill Museum, see a gunfight and a variety show. Then we’re off to Wichita, Kansas, where we will visit Old Cowtown Museum and bunk down for the night. After the next night then in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma, we’ll head on over to Branson, Missouri for a few days. There we will take in some music shows, including the multi-talented Petersen Family, and spend a day at Silver Dollar City. Then it will be time to point the ole rental car toward home. Since we will pass through Memphis, Tennessee/Southaven, Mississippi, where we lived for nine years, we will spend our last night on the road there. There isn’t much there we haven’t seen, but some old friends we’d like to see. Oh, and great barbecue!

We do love to travel. Planning, scheming and dreaming are almost as much fun as the trip itself. That’s a good thing, because thanks to Corona this one won’t happen, at least not now. In my mind, I’ve already been and I have thoroughly enjoyed the virtual trip. I hope you were able to come along with us as you read. One day, hopefully in the not too distant future, we’ll make this trip for real. Until then, we can only dream about the trip we didn’t take, and hope all those tickets and hotel rooms I paid in advance will soon be refunded.

—Bill King is a native of Rainsville, where he and his wife graduated from Plainview High School. King is a director of missions in Opelika, a writer, musician and author. His column appears in the Times-Journal weekend edition. Visit for more information.

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