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Cross Country 2019 – Statistics at a Glance

Just how many miles did our Cross Country tour guests travel? How many hotels did they sleep in? How many National Parks did they visit? Find the answers to these questions and more in Tour Director Gene Gray’s…

2019 Cross Country Statistics at a Glance!

20 Hotels:
Drury Inn & Suites NW, Grove City, OH
Drury Inn & Suites, Louisville East, KY
Country Inn & Suites, Nashville, TN
Hilton Garden Inn, Little Rock, AR
Hampton Inn Oklahoma City NW, OK
Country Inn & Suites, Amarillo, TX
Drury Inn & Suites, Albuquerque, NM
Hampton Inn, Sedona, AZ
Drury Inn & Suites, Chandler, AZ
Doubletree Hotel, San Diego, CA
Sportsmen’s Lodge Studio City, CA
New York New York Hotel & Casino, Las Vegas, NV
Holiday Inn Express, Flagstaff, AZ
Aarchway Inn, Moab, UT
Drury Inn & Suites, Denver, CO
Comfort Inn & Suites, Hays, KS
Drury Inn & Suites Kansas City, MO
Drury Plaza Downtown, St. Louis, MO
Drury Inn Indianapolis, IN
Drury Plaza Hotel, Cleveland, OH
(That’s 9 Drury Inns!)

34 Attractions:
Louisville Slugger Museum & Factory, KY
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, KY
Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY
Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, TN
Graceland & Elvis, Memphis, TN
Clinton Presidential Library, Little Rock, AR
Oklahoma City Memorial Museum, OK
Jack Sisemore Travel & RV Museum, Amarillo, TX
Big Texan Steak Ranch, Amarillo, TX
Cadillac Ranch, Amarillo, TX
Sandia Peak Tramway, Albuquerque, NM
Petrified Forest & Painted Desert, AZ
Coyote Canyon Jeep Tour (Pink Jeep), Sedona, AZ
Western Spirit Museum, Scottsdale, AZ
Grand Canyon National Park, AZ
Old Town San Diego, CA
Historic Downtown San Juan Capistrano
San Diego Zoo
Mission San Juan Capistrano
San Diego Bay Cruise on Spirit of San Diego
Warner Brothers Studio Tour, Los Angeles
Arches National Park
Canyonlands Dinner & Night Cruise, UT
Harry S. Truman Presidential Library
Bingham-Waggoner Estate, Independence
Arabia Steamboat Mus, Kansas City, MO
Old Courthouse, St. Louis, MO
Gateway Arch, St. Louis
Farmers Market & Hollywood Walk of Fame
Las Vegas NV Attractions (Create Your Own)
St. Louis Riverboat Cruise
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, IN
Farewell Dinner at Hofbrauhaus Restaurant, Cleveland, OH
Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, OH

3 Boat Cruises:
San Diego Bay Cruise (Day 12)
Canyonlands National Park Night Cruise on the Colorado River (Day 19)
St. Louis Riverboat Cruise (Day 24)

7 National Parks or Memorials:
Central School Museum, Little Rock, Arkansas
Oklahoma City Memorial Museum (Day 6)
Petrified Forest and Painted Desert National Park, Arizona (Day 9)
Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona (Day 18)
Canyonlands National Park, Utah by Night (Day 19)
Arches National Park, Utah (Day 20)
Gateway Arch National Park, St. Louis, Missouri

2 Iconic Race Tracks:
Churchill Downs, Louisville, KY (Day 3)
Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Speedway, IN (Day 25)

18 Museums & Tours:
Louisville Slugger Museum, KY (Day 2)
Evan Williams Bourbon Experience, Louisville, KY (Day 2)
Kentucky Derby Museum, Louisville, KY (Day 3)
Graceland (The Elvis Experience) in Memphis, TN (Day 4)
President Clinton Memorial Library, Little Rock, AR (Day 5)
Oklahoma City Memorial Museum, OK (Day 6)
Jack Sizemore Travel & RV Museum, Amarillo, TX (Day 7)
Coyote Canyon Pink Jeep Tour, Sedona, AZ (Day 10)
Western Spirit Museum, Scottsdale, AZ (Day 10)
San Diego Zoo (Day 12)
Mission San Juan Capistrano, CA (Day 13)
Warner Brothers Studio Tour, Los Angeles, CA (Day 14)
Arabia Steamboat Museum, Kansas City, MO (Day 22)
Bingham-Waggoner Estate, Independence, MO (Day 23)
Harry S. Truman Presidential Library, Independence, MO (Day 23)
Old Courthouse, St. Louis, MO (Day 24)
Indianapolis Motor Speedway Museum, IN (Day 25)
Rock N’ Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland, OH (Day 26)

2 Attractions That Take Us Up Up & Away:
Sandia Peak Tramway in Albuquerque, New Mexico (Day 8)
St. Louis Arch Tram Ride in St. Louis, Missouri

Show(s):
Grand Ole Opry, Nashville, TN (Day 3)
Las Vegas – On Own (Days 15 & 16)
Light Show on the Colorado River in Canyonlands National Park (Day 19)

Meals Provided by Starr:
20 Breakfasts: Days 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25, 26 & 27
3 Lunches: Louisville Slugger Museum (Day 2)
$15 Voucher at Vernon’s Smokehouse at Graceland (Day 4)
Petrified Forest National Park (Day 9)
4 Dinners: Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo, TX (Day 7), Canyonlands Dutch Oven Dinner on the Banks of the Colorado River (Day 19), Rigazzi’s Restaurant in St. Louis (Day 23), Hofbrauhaus Restaurant in Cleveland (Day 26)

6 Breakfasts On Own:
Days 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, & 17

We Traveled Through 19 States:
NJ, PA, WV, OH, KY, TN, AR, OK, TX, NM, AZ, CA, NV, UT, CO, KS, MO, IL, IN

We Slept in 20 Different Cities and 14 States:
Grove City, OH; Louisville, KY; Nashville, TN; Little Rock, AR; Oklahoma City, OK; Amarillo, TX; Albuquerque, NM; Sedona, AZ; Chandler, AZ; Dan Diego, CA; Los Angeles, CA; Las Vegas, NV; Flagstaff, AZ; Moab, UT; Denver, CO; Hays, KS; Kansas City, MO; St. Louis, MO; Indianapolis, IN; Cleveland, OH

We Stayed in 7 Capital Cities in the United States:
Grove City (Columbus), Ohio; Nashville, Tennessee; Little Rock, Arkansas; Oklahoma City, Oklahoma; Chandler (Phoenix), Arizona; Denver, Colorado; and Indianapolis, Indiana

We Passed Through 4 Time Zones:
Eastern, Central, Mountain, & Pacific Time Zones

We Rode on These Major Routes and Highways:
• I-76 West, I-70 West into Grove City, Ohio
• I-71 South to Louisville, Kentucky
• I-65 South to Nashville, Tennessee
• I-40 West (AKA Route 66) to Memphis, Tennessee, Little Rock, Arkansas, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, Amarillo, Texas, & Albuquerque, New Mexico
• I-40 West & Route 89A South to Sedona, Arizona
• I-17 South to Scottsdale, Arizona
• I-8 West into San Diego, California
• I-5 North to Los Angeles, California
• I-10 East & I-15 North to Las Vegas, Nevada
• I-40 East to Flagstaff, Arizona
• Arizona Route 89 North to Route 64 West to the Grand Canyon
• Arizona Route 89 North to Route 160 East to Utah Route 191 North to Moab, Utah, Canyonlands, and Arches National Park
• I-70 East to Denver, Colorado, Hays, Kansas, Kansas City, Missouri, St. Louis, Missouri, and Indianapolis, Indiana
• I-70 East to I-71 North to Cleveland, Ohio
• I-80 South to I-76 East to Home

Starr Bus #206 with Bus Driver Walt Deminski and Tour Director Gene Gray

The Total Number of Miles We Rode was 6,921.

How much fun we had: INFINITE!

The Science Behind Fall Foliage

The Science Behind Fall Foliage

There’s something about fall weather that people just seem to love. From drinking apple cider to hayrides, and dressing in spooky costumes for Halloween, fall is a great old pumpkin of fun. But my favorite part of fall is watching the leaves change color and turn into brilliant shades of red and yellow before floating to the ground. But why do the leaves do what they do? Come with me on a scientific journey as we find out why! So welcome to Melanie’s fall foliage spectacular! I will be taking the role of sort-of a Bill Nye the Science Guy character as we discuss the interesting science behind fall leaves.

 

Nighttime Gives Leaves Their Color

When I was in school, we learned what makes leaves green is this magic little stuff called Chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is what enables the leaves to take carbon dioxide from the air and convert it into the sugars and starch that feed the plant. When the days begin to get shorter and the temperature starts to drop, the trees begin to go into a state of dormancy or hibernation and slow down their food making process thus producing less chlorophyll. It’s kind of like how our skin gets paler in the winter because we are outside much less often. Well, except I am a human and these are leaves, but you get the picture.

 

 

 

The Chemistry of Great Foliage

There are three pigments that give leaves their color:

Chlorophyll uses the energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into food for the plant and gives the leaves their green color.

Carotenoids are the pigment that give many fruits and vegetables, like carrots and bananas, their bright yellow/orange coloring. They are always present in the leaves, but are often masked by the green of the chlorophyll.

Anthocyanins are responsible for the red coloring of cranberries, apples, and other fruits and vegetables. This pigment only shows up in autumn under the right circumstances and is not produced by all trees.

Every color observed during the fall is a result of the mixing of varying amounts of chlorophyll residue and other pigments in the leaf. As the days become shorter and the chlorophyll breaks down, the carotenoids get their opportunity to shine through, thus giving the leaves their common yellow/orange coloring. In the warm autumn days, the leaves can produce a lot of sugar, but cold nights prevent the sugar sap from flowing from the leaf veins into the branches and down the trunk. In order to recover the nutrients in the leaves before they fall, the tree produces anthocyanins and the result is brilliant red leaves.

So, what is the perfect combination for a fabulous display of fall foliage? The winning combination is a warm growing season with a lot of moisture in the air, a summer that isn’t too hot or too dry, and a warm, sunny autumn with cold nights. These cold nights are very important, but temperatures need to stay above freezing as frost will cause more subdued reds. A severe drought will delay the leaves changing color, and a warm wet fall will dampen the intensity of the colors. Heavy wind or rain can also cause the leaves to fall before they fully develop color.

 

The Science Behind Purple Leaves

Temperature, sunlight, and soil moisture all play roles in how exactly the leaves will look in the fall. We know what exactly causes the leaves to change, but what determines what color they will turn into? Back to anthocyanins! The key to getting purple leaves is also cooler nighttime air. If you notice, we haven’t had a whole lot of purple and red leaves this year, and that’s probably because the nights have been warmer. Science is cool, right?

 

So the next time you look out the window and see a glistening leaf floating gently to the ground, think about the fascinating science behind it!