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Road Trip 2009 hits 3,000 miles outside Craters of the Moon

The odometer may read 1,000 miles, but it's been the equivalent of a full trip across the United States since Road Trip 2009 got under way. And what a trip it's been.

At exactly 3,000 miles into Road Trip 2009, CNET News reporter Daniel Terdiman and the Audi Q7 TDI clean diesel SUV he's road-testing were on the road alongside Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve. Daniel Terdiman/CNET

CRATERS OF THE MOON, Idaho--It's hard for me to believe, because I still feel like I just started Road Trip 2009, but I've already driven enough miles to have crossed the entire United States.

Already it's been 18 days, and on Wednesday, I hit exactly 3,000 miles since I started this project. And it was in one of the most foreign and awe-inspiring places I've ever seen: alongside the road adjacent to Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve.

I'll post a story and photo gallery on this huge and incredible place tomorrow, so I won't get into details on it now. But suffice it to say that if you spend any time here, you know a little bit about what it must be like to walk on surfaces that aren't here on Earth.

The odometer may read 1,000 miles, but Road Trip 2009 has actually been on the highways of Colorado, Utah, and Idaho--with brief crossings into Arizona and Nevada--for 3,000 miles already. How many more miles will there be? Daniel Terdiman/CNET

Since I hit 2,000 miles, meanwhile, I've been extremely busy. I've stopped by the Golden Spike National Historic Site, where the Union Pacific and Central Pacific railroads met for the first time, forming the transcontinental railroad. I've walked on Robert Smithson's masterpiece of an earthwork, Spiral Jetty, which seems to float on top of the Great Salt Lake. At the Utah Test & Training Range, I've seen how the U.S. Air Force trains its pilots on America's largest bombing range. I've played with my iPhone and seen how it integrates seamlessly with the Audi Q7 TDI I'm road-testing. And I've been the first reporter to see the completed Ares I test rocket that will be fired in August in what will be an important first step to getting people back to the moon.

Now, I've moved on, have visited Craters of the Moon, and have urged my readers to help me figure out what to do in Boise, Idaho. I've also picked your brains about the best apps for the new iPhone 3GS.

Each year, Road Trip challenges me with an incredible roster of destinations and a non-stop pace. But it's always worth it. And whether I'm driving enough miles to cross the country, or adding enough miles to return again, I'm going to keep on sharing my experiences with you. I hope you enjoy them.

For the next several weeks, Geek Gestalt will be on Road Trip 2009. After driving more than 12,000 miles in the Pacific Northwest, the Southwest, and the Southeast over the last three years, I'll be writing about and photographing the best in technology, science, military, nature, aviation and more in Idaho, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, and Colorado. If you have a suggestion for someplace to visit, drop me a line. And in the meantime, join the Road Trip 2009 Facebook page and follow my Twitter feed.