Thursday, June 21, 2018

Great American Western Road Trip: Summer 2018

4 weeks,
3 kids,
1 van,
16 different lodgings,
5400+ miles,
12+ National or State Parks & Monuments...
1 Epic Adventure?

Great American Western Road Trip: Summer 2018

This trip has been years in the making. My parents (mom, mostly) have been planning how to celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary since at least the year 2004. There were some wild ideas, like taking everyone in an RV across the Arctic Circle to Prudhoe Bay. This trip may look adventurous, but we did not have google "what kind of gun is best for defending against a charging grizzly bear?" as part of our trip research. (By the way, my mom had tagged Greg as the marksman for the Arctic trip-- really, she had considered this question). They settled on a week at the resort at Custer State Park in South Dakota. There is a large lodge there as well as smaller cabins, hotel-style rooms and camping. Lots of activities are available at the resort and in the park itself: hiking, fishing, horseback riding, paddleboarding and even a chuck wagon cookout. Custer is also conveniently located to many must-see National Parks & Monuments: Mt. Rushmore, Wind Cave, the Badlands and Devil's Tower. (Ok, Devil's Tower is a little far to be called convenient and my cousin balked at going so far just for the day. But I told her that's because she's too young to remember Close Encounters of the Third Kind, so she didn't get a vote. Also, this movie was just released again, digitally remastered, so we must go!)

We really got down to business 2 years ago when my parents had to reserve and put down a deposit on the Reunion Cabin at Custer State Park Resort. Then we started thinking about what we might do on the way out and the way back from our family home base in Pensacola, FL. It turns out there is a lot of beautiful stuff to see and fun things to do over the 5000 miles of America that we would need to cover. So, we decided to see some of it. And I do mean some. There is a lot we will miss, even in the places we will stop.  In summer and fall 2017 we started making reservations at the busy National Parks, which often book up 8-12 months in advance. By now, the last of our advance reservations have been made, routes planned, meet-ups with friends arranged, day visit itineraries detailed, meals planned, party caterers booked and this blog architecture is coming together.  I even prepared by reading and listening to accounts of other epic American road trips: Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck, On the Road by Jack Kerouac and The Lost Continent by Bill Bryson. (By the way, Travels with Charley was far superior to the other two-- yes, even to Kerouac. But, it's John Steinbeck, so, of course... right?)

All that is left now is the doing and the going. We are excited and, yes, mildly apprehensive. I will be in the car with my parents for 3 weeks with our two girls and my nephew. Things could get interesting. I mean, just two years ago, my parents got so upset with me while driving from JFK (where we had flown to from the Middle East) to Florida that they actually opened the van door at a red light and jumped out. Seriously, that happened. So stay tuned, this will be epic... one way or another.



Total Miles

Day 1: The Long Haul West
Pensacola, FL to Shreveport, LA
Florida,  Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana


Day 2: West Across Texas
Shreveport, LA to Amarillo, TX
Kids in Cars, Texas, 100th Meridian, Road Trip Dining,


Day 3: Capulin Volcano National Monument & the Great Sand Dunes (Barely)
Capulin Volcano, Spring Creek Wildfire, Great Sand Dunes
(Photo)

Day 4: Great Sand Dunes
Great Sand Dunes National Park
(Photo)

Day 5: Arches National Park
Arches National Park
Bonus Post: Delicate Arch Hike
(Photo)

Day 6: Goblin Valley State Park & Capitol Reef
Goblin Valley State Park, Capitol Reef
(Photo)

Day 7: Shoshonee Falls & Craters of the Moon
Shoshone Falls, Craters of the Moon
(Photo)

Day 8: North to Glacier National Park via National Bison Range
National Bison Range, Whitefish, MT
Bonus Post: Greg Rejoins the Group

Day 9: Glacier National Park
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

Day 10: Glacier National Park
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

Day 11: Bozeman, MT to the Grand Teton National Park (+ NW Yellowstone)
Bozeman, The Ables
(Photo)

Day 12: Grand Tetons
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

Day 13: Grand Tetons & Yellowstone
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

Day 14: Yellowstone
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

Day 15: Yellowstone
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

Day 16: Thermopolis and Casper, WY
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

Day 17: Custer State Park, South Dakota
Arrival & Preparations, Reunion Cabin Lives Up to Its Name
(Photo)

Day 18: Custer State Park, South Dakota
Horseback Riding, Grace Coolidge Walk-In Fishing Area
(Photo)

Day 19: Custer State Park, South Dakota
Mt. Rushmore, Sylvan Lake, Anniversary Party
(Photo)

Day 20: Custer State Park, South Dakota
Badlands, Wounded Knee
(Photo)

Day 21: Custer State Park, South Dakota
Sunday Gulch Trail, Chuck Wagon Dinner
(Photo)

Day 22: Custer State Park, South Dakota
Wind Cave, Crazy Horse Light Show
(Photo)

Day 23: Custer State Park, South Dakota
Devil's Tower, Scenic Custer
(Photo)

Day 24: Leaving Custer
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

Day 25: South to Kansas City
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

Day 26: The Campbells
Greg departs, The Campbells, Lamoni, IA
(Photo)

Day 27: The Long Haul South, Part 1
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

Day 28: The Long Haul South, Part 2
Stay Tuned!
(Photo)

That's All, Folks

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1 comments:

  1. Love the picture of you with the kids Kacey. Impressed with the meticulous planning! Will keep checking you journey until Custer:-)

    ReplyDelete

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