Cannonball Run (with a 2-year-old)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

2,726 miles. 

In a hurry.

With a 2-year-old.

This is going to be fun.

My wife and I are doing a 2,726-mile Cannonball Run across the USA. With our two-year-old granddaughter. This is going to be fun! Click To Tweet

Cannonball Run

If you’re a Baby Boomer, you most likely remember the 1981 Burt Reynold’s hit Cannonball Run.  If not, you can watch the entire movie below, on YouTube!

The comedy was based on an actual (and illegal) cross-country race and inspired the dreams of millions of teenagers, including this writer.  It didn’t hurt that Farrah Fawcett was in the movie, but my dreams weren’t focused (as much) on her as they were on driving fast.  There’s something strangely appealing about the prospect of driving coast-to-coast as fast as humanly possible. 

I was 18-years old when Cannonball Run came out, and that dream of racing across the USA has never really died.

Well, that dream is finally becoming a reality.

Sort of.

I’m doing a Cannonball Run, but with a 2-year old.

Why We’re Doing A Cannonball Run

Our daughter is moving closer! 

After 3 years in the Pacific Northwest, her military husband has new orders.  Fortunately for us, those orders will place him “just down the road” from us in Fort Rucker, Alabama!  His assignment near Seattle concludes on October 30th, and they have a new job to start in Alabama on November 10th.  They’d like to arrive as early as possible in November to close on their new home purchase and get settled before the new job begins.

Only one problem:

They have 2 Jeeps, 4 dogs, and a 2-year-old daughter.

Grandma & Grandpa to the rescue! 

We’ve agreed to help with the move and will be caring for their 2-year-old daughter during the Cannonball Run, freeing them up to take care of the dogs en route.  We’re excited to be able to play a more active role in our granddaughter’s childhood, and it starts now!

The Westbound Leg – A Life of Leisure

As you read these words, we’ll be just a few hours from home (apologies in advance for being unable to reply to your comments, but rest assured I’ll read every one).  We’re launching our Westbound leg early Wednesday morning, with a leisurely and unstructured journey across the USA.  We’re taking our time on the way out, Because We Can

We’ve charted a few destinations and will be spending time at our favorite places “Out West”, including an October visit to Yellowstone National Park, when the crowds of summer will (hopefully) be gone.  We’re also going to stay a few days at Custer State Park in South Dakota, as well as a visit to my Aunt and Uncle on their Idaho ranch.

Ah, the life of leisure.  Too bad it won’t last.

The Cannonball Run awaits.

Anderson Island – our sanctuary


An Island In The Sound

During our 7,000-mile rail journey, we stayed for a week on Anderson Island and quickly fell in love.  It’s a gorgeous island in Puget Sound, just off the coast from Steilacoom, WA.  A short ferry ride away from the hustle and bustle of the Seattle/Tacoma metropolitan area, it will be our sanctuary as we prepare for our Eastbound Cannonball Run.  It’s also a beautiful ferry ride over to our daughter’s home at Joint Base Lewis McChord. 

We’ve booked a nice home on the island through AirBnB, and are looking forward to spending some time in one of our favorite places on earth during our final visit with our daughter in the Pacific Northwest.

The Cannonball Run

On the morning of October 30th, we’ll grab an early ferry off the island, swing by our daughter’s house, lock our 2-year-old granddaughter into her car seat, and head East.  A few hours later, after our son-in-law gets his military checkout inspection finalized, they’ll follow along behind in their 2 Jeeps with their 4 dogs. 

The Cannonball Run begins.

For the next few days, our Subaru Outback will be flying East.  No hotels booked, no planned itinerary.

Just miles and miles, as fast as we can cover them.

We’ll go as far as our endurance (and precious 2-year-old cargo) allows, then scout out “dog-friendly” hotels, preferably with an indoor pool.  We’ll get the two rooms booked, then let our granddaughter jump into the pool to burn off some energy until her parents catch up.

Repeat.  Repeat. Repeat.

How long will it take?  We haven’t a clue.  Doing simple math:

  • 2,726 miles/4 Days = 681 miles/day  (seems a bit optimistic, but possible)
  • 2,726 miles/5 Days = 545 miles/day  (dang, 5 days of > 500 miles sounds tiring)
  • 2,726 miles/6 Days = 454 miles/day  (still seems tough, but we’ve got to beat 6 days)

Yep, it’s going to be a marathon.

But, Wow, what an experience!

My Second Sabbatical of 2020

As you’ll recall, I took a month off during our Great Escape RV trip across Michigan’s Upper Penisula. Given the intensity of our Cannonball Run, I’m planning on doing the same for the next month.  I’ll miss you all, and trust you understand.  Priorities, right?

If you’re interested in following along on our journey, you can join me via the following Social Media platforms.  

  • Instagram:  My “go-to” site for posting scenic shots throughout our journey. 
  • Facebook:  I’ll post from time to time during our journey, along with some of the best photos.
  • Twitter:  Join along with my 10k followers to get some quick throughs from the road.

If you’d rather wait for my blog posts, no worries.  I’ll be back on the keyboard in mid-November, recovering from the marathon at the new World HQ of The Retirement Manifesto’s Treehouse Writing Studio.


2,726 miles. 

In a hurry.

With a 2-year-old.

This is going to be fun.


  1. It WILL be fun!!! I love cross country road trips. We generally are doing it pulling our trailer. We affectionately refer to them as “death marches”. Before I retired our time was tied to our PTO so we always do/did 800+ mile days so we could use our precious days enjoying the beautiful parks.
    We visited Yellowstone, Tetons and Custer in June. You are going to be pleasantly surprised how wonderful it is with the dramatically decreased volume of visitors. No international visitors, no tour buses and all the cabins and lodges closed. The gift shops and some restaurants are open. Plus the fall leaves!!!
    Have a wonderful trip!

  2. “Adventures” like this are one of the things that I look forward to when I finally get to retirement. It would be awesome to be able to do things like this with no timeline (other than the endurance of a 2 year old) and we’ll get there when we get there. No worries about needing to get back to the job. No worries about what is going on at the job while I am gone. Those are the days I am looking forward to some day.

  3. Sounds like an amazing (and worthy) road trip Fritz!

    As in retirement, the experience matters more than the miles covered. That’s why I’m glad to hear of the stops and sites you’ll visit. Whether it takes four or six days driving back, I’m sure it will be memorable with a 2-year old. Enjoy the drive and keep safe!

  4. Fritz, we’ve come to love you and your wife like family. Therefore I must say, “Safety FIRST, then Fun, then Timeliness“. I will spare the details but am reminded of a tragic incident of our dear friends who just had to get to the coast and on their boat Friday night after putting in a full day. Their desire for a half day more on their boat nearly cost them both their lives. BE SAFE! We’re only 18 in our minds! Our Grandchildren have a lifetime ahead of them, if not your too. Remember, you are RETIRED.

  5. I had a friend many years ago who actually participated in the real Cannonball Run, which started at a bar in Darien, Conn., and concluded in Hermosa Beach, Calif. He said it was wild, barely enough time at gas stops to go to the bathroom. At one point somewhere in Utah (I think) they got into a race with a state trooper that topped out at about 100 mph. Trooper evidently thought what they were doing was cool and let them go on their merry way. Hopefully you’ll be a little more conservative, especially with such precious cargo! Best of luck.

  6. Sounds amazing, between all the fantastic scenery you will travel through, and just the fun you will have with your granddaughter.
    After a day or two, if things are proving a tad difficult with the wee lady spending too much in the car, you can always choose to go a bit slower, take an extra day or two, and let your daughter and her husband go ahead of you. Yeah, they have to find a hotel for themselves, and I am sure the wee lady will be fine with you guys for a day or two – less stress

  7. Fritz, you’re a wild man. Cross country road trips are such a blast! I’m sure you’ll have a great time, just make sure you have your ‘A’ game on with all that driving. The adventures never end in retirement, apparently your ‘someday’ for the cross country road trip was October 14th 2020, good for you. Have a great trip, make lots of wonderful memories, and remember retirement is all about risk management so you can enjoy the next adventure too. Happy travels.

  8. I’m soooooo HAPPY your family is moving closer to home! You are gonna have too much fun spoiling your granddaughter to the max now. Safe travels and will look forward to your insta posts.

  9. Fritz and fam, enjoy, be safe and enjoy. You will make priceless memories along the way.
    I doubt your journey will take you thru Colorado, but there’s always a room with a view here. And, a 2 year old’s toys! Lol

  10. Wow Fritz! What an adventure! The daily milage sounds taxing but to have your family all that much closer going forward sounds like a great payoff. Good luck and happy travels!

  11. We were going to buy an RV this year to enjoy our new retirement but held off because travelling seemed challenging during the massive pandemic outbreak in the southern US. Just wondering if you follow any special procedures or have tips on how you stay safe during COVID while possibly visiting campgrounds, hotels and Airbnbs?

    1. Hi Marcie, I read your comment and thought I might reply even though it was directed to Fritz.My wife and I have been traveling in our rv since labor with no issues. We are from Arizona. We have been through New Mexico, Kansas, Oklahoma, Nebraska, Iowa, on our way to the Northern Michigan when we decided to make a u-turn and go to Texas coast and help out with the hurricane relief efforts (where we are now). In all that travel we had no problems with anything related to covid. The campgrounds for the most part are about halp full or less, common for this time of year in our opinion. The “normal stuff” of social distance, masks (although a lot of people dont wear them and most places don’t require them), and hand washing. Just the regular cdc guidelines are in place and everything has been just fine. Most of the campgrounds are more expensive this year, not the state and federal, just the private ones. A lot of the restaurants are still take out only, but that has not been an issue at all. Plenty of them are open for dine-in if you want. Also, we have noticed a ton of ‘help wanted’ signs in every state, so it appears to us that things are headed back to normal rather then the other way around.

      If you guys are thinking about buying an rv and getting on the road to enjoy your retirement I would encourage you to make the leap. Be smart about covid, take the normal precautions, but dont let that stop you. Ihope you found some of my information helpful.

      1. Thanks for sharing this info. It’s super helpful to get an update from someone who has experienced things first hand.

  12. Best of luck. Hope that trip is going well. I will add your post to my Sunday reads. I think readers will enjoy following along. I will as well.

    Be safe. Enjoy.


  13. Precious family road trips…

    There is nothing in this world worth more than experiencing relationship in a small space, carefree with changing sceneries!

    A friend of mine who died from cancer in his late 50’s…his last wish was having one last road trip with his family. It was too late.

    Just do it every chance you have!

  14. This is awesome! Lol! (I’m laughing because my wife and I are actively planning this same trip for next Spring!) Our daughter is stationed at JBLM and we are flying out to move (drive) her back to the East Coast for her next assignment too (…luckily she only has one dog but he’s 100lbs!) We are planning a couple of weeks to drive home and planning to site-see as much as possible on our SLOW “Cannon Ball Run” as possible! Yellowstone is definitely on the itinerary for us too! Safe travels and enjoy you special time with the grand daughter! It will be a lifetime trip to remember for you and your gran daughter as well!

Comments are closed.