On the Road Again: Our Next Big Adventure

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If you’ve been following my Tweets at all, you might have caught wind of the fact that we’re about to take off again…but this time for six weeks straight. (I know, I know…back from Hawaii for all of three days and already we’ve begun packing for the next trip! If it makes you feel any better, a lot of my time in Hawaii was spent getting up at 6am and working under East Coast deadline. It wasn’t all laying by the pool.)

Back to the announcement at hand…we’re jumping on board and taking a stab at this whole digital nomad business. I kid, I kid. Like staycation, that’s a term that is used so tirelessly in the travel blogging world that it makes me a bit suicidal. But we are seizing opportunities: You see, I’ve worked so much already this year that I’ve made about 75 percent of my usual salary on a good year (the beauty of being self employed). And SVV has the unique opportunity not to work for a few months as well; as such, a couple friends are subletting our apartment for two months and we’re hitting the road. First up, we’re traveling the West for six weeks, then we’re meeting both SVV’s and my parents in Montreal for two weeks of follies in Canada and New England.

It’s going to be epic.

But I suppose you might be interested in hearing more about our Western travels now. SVV’s parents bought a luxury trailer a couple years ago for family use. So far the family, uh, hasn’t used it (other than his parents who have taken it up to Oregon for a couple of long stretches). Back in November when we realized it looked like SVV might have a few months off, we asked if we could monopolize the thing for a few weeks—it started off as three and, as I got ambitious with plotting Google maps, quickly jumped up to six and change. And so here we are, exactly three weeks from our departure date with few plans other than a couple campground bookings and a tentative itinerary for where we’ll stop.

We’ll be covering 10 states in 42 days—a distance of more than 4,200 miles.

Here’s where you come in. I’d love any insider tips, must-dos, must-eats, places we just can’t pass without stopping by, etc. in the following destinations:

  • Salt Lake City, Utah
  • Moab/Canyonlands, Utah
  • Grand Junction, Colorado
  • Boulder, Colorado
  • Cheyenne, Wyoming
  • Rapid City/Mt. Rushmore, South Dakota
  • Badlands/Black Hills, South Dakota
  • Enchanted Highway/Dickinson, North Dakota
  • Billings, Montana
  • Bozeman, Montana
  • Missoula, Montana
  • Bigfork/Whitefish/Glacier National Park, Montana
  • Big Sky, Montana
  • Yellowstone/Grand Tetons, Wyoming
  • Jackson Hole, Wyoming
  • Craters of the Moon/Sun Valley/Ketchum, Idaho
  • Boise, Idaho
  • Lake Abert, Oregon
  • Plumas National Forest, California

I’ve been to a few of these places, but the majority of spots are foreign to both SVV and me, and we’re sort of going at this blindly, which for a Severe Type A Planner myself is about the most stressful idea ever.

Oh, and we’ll be taking Ella, too. Of course we will. Being without her for 12 days in Hawaii about killed us; as if we could leave her for a full 46 days! (The final count being 46, as we’ll stay at SVV’s parents’ house in suburban Fair Oaks for a couple days on each end.)

So go ahead, spill, chime in. Show us your local knowledge and travel-planning chops. Also, playlists. Yes, your ultimate road trip playlist: That would particularly come in handy, lest we be at risk for murdering each other in the back of a trailer on day three, our carcasses left to rot inside the 19-foot vehicle for months until buzzards replace where our living bodies used to sit and SVV’s parents start to wonder why their trailer never made it back safe and sound. We’ll be forever indebted if you help us prevent this likely occurrence!

COMMENTS
  • April 24, 2011
    SVV

    Brother, can you spare a gas card?

  • April 24, 2011

    Sounds awesome! What’s the “luxury trailer’ — a motor home or a fifth wheel you’ll tow behind a truck? Need a visual.

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      It’s a towable, 19-foot, pop-out trailer–but it has a fancy kitchen and dining area, a TV and DVD player, two beds, the works! I’m excited to simplify for once =)

      • April 24, 2011

        Love it. We have a used, not-so-fancy pop-UP trailer we take on camping weekends, but for a longer adventure, for sure I’d want something a bit more luxe.

        I hope you’ll have time to stop by Colorado National Monument in Grand Junction. Perhaps not so awe-inspiring as incredible Arches National Park (you MUST hike to Delicate Arch if you haven’t – it’s the quintessential hike and rock formation), but still some cool sandstone scenery.

        • April 24, 2011
          Kristin

          Thanks, Kara! We’re definitely doing the Arches hikes–I used to lead trips through Arizona and Utah, so I’m stoked to show Scott the Moab and Canyonlands area, as he’s never been and Arches is one of my favorite parks anywhere.

          Colorado National Monument–check and check. Added it to the list! Thank you!

  • April 24, 2011

    Some great destinations. What a fun trip. You know where to find me if you need road trip tune recommendations!

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Um YES. Music. YES. Do you have a playlist in your iTunes you could screen grab for me to make it easier on you? =)

  • April 24, 2011

    Mmmmm, US West Roadtrip. How I envy thee. I will gather some ideas, anecdotes and stupid things you should not do and send you an email as it will be too big for this comment (I hope).

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Awesome. That’s what I like to hear!

  • April 24, 2011

    Ooh, I have recs in Utah and near Yellowstone, from trips I’ve taken in the past few years. I’ll send you a (long) email later today or tomorrow!

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Amazing. Thank you! I should have thought to go to you before we even started planning, ha! =)

  • April 24, 2011
    Brandy

    I am so jealous! I have always wanted to do a roadtrip like this one! I wish I had some recommendations but since I’ve never even been to the West Coast beyond an airport stopover, I don’t have any suggestions. I’m sure you guys will have a blast.

  • April 24, 2011

    So excited about your trip! We really want to do something similar at some point in the West Coast so I can’t wait to see how y’all do it. And, definitely put up a post on the luxury trailer! We want to see your soon-to-be-new digs.

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      That’s a promise! We won’t have it with us for three weeks (the in-laws are heading down the coast in it in the meantime), but first road trip post will probably be about our mobile digs =)

  • April 24, 2011
    Leah

    Does SVV have a job? How can you guys afford to do this? especially with gas prices rising towards $ridiculous?

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      I’m sure a lot of people are wondering that, and I will definitely do a wrap-up post at the end of the trip on how we budgeted and what our total travel expenses were.

      We’ve figured out that our total mileage will be around 4,200 miles and that gas will run us between $1,600 and $2,000 overall in a six-week period (and that’s estimating on the high end at about $5 a gallon). Our total rent and bills in San Francisco far exceed that sum monthly, and since we’re subletting and won’t have any of those expenses, our goal is simply to not exceed what we normally pay to live. I’ve always been good about putting money away in my savings account, so if need be, we can dip into that (though it’s not looking like we’re going to have to).

      We bought the annual national parks pass for $80, which admits your entire vehicle into the majority of parks we’re visiting (most of which charge $25 or so if you were to pay per entry). We’ll be self-catering, as the trailer has a full kitchen and fridge, so that saves on eating out. The trailer is owned by his parents, so we don’t have to pay rental fees, insurance, etc. We will have to pay for campsites, which seem to range $20 to $30 a night for a full hookup (more expensive than I anticipated), and so as to not have to pay nightly, we’ll also spend some nights living the high life in the Wal-Mart parking lots =) We’ve been given a lot of good tips from fellow road trippers, such as learning that you can sleep in any Wal-Mart parking lot for free!

      Yes, we are a dual-income household. We’re both self-employed, so we’ll have money coming in at that time, too. (Though we’ve both tried to work as much as possible this spring so we can take some days not working to just enjoy ourselves.)

      And we did pick about the worst possible summer to do this…in San Francisco, the cheapest gas near us is already $4.69 a gallon, ugh =/ But the timing just worked out perfectly for us, and we couldn’t say no to this opportunity.

  • April 24, 2011

    Hey! I lived in Whitefish, MT for a year…so if you need any specific recs for that part of the world, let me know! It’s too bad not much of Glacier will be open yet, but it’s so incredibly beautiful up there. I spent my entire summer hiking through the park. Have fun!

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Victoria, I would love anything you have to recommend in that area! We don’t know a whole lot about it, though we were planning on spending a couple days in West Glacier (saving that part till mid- to late-June in hopes it will be open), a night or two in Bigfork and a night in Whitefish. (We’ll also be hitting up Missoula, Billings, Big Sky, Livingston, etc.)

      What were your favorite summer activities to do in the area? Or favorite hikes? Thanks!

      • April 24, 2011

        Oh, I’m so glad you’ll be there in June…sometimes they get the Going-to-the-Sun road open towards the end of the month and that is a must (although, I would def park the trailer somewhere else. You hug those curves pretty tight and they are not for the faint of heart!). They’ll post the progress of the snow plows on the website so you can keep track of when it’ll open. http://www.nps.gov/applications/glac/roadstatus/roadstatus.cfm. It’s so cool to see all the animals just hanging out by the road when you drive past.
        An easy hike on the Western Entrance is Avanlanche Creek and it’s AMAZING in the early summer when the water is really rushing. Takes maybe a couple of hours. I used to do it like once a week.
        Whitefish has a ski resort that used to be called Big Mountain, but I think they renamed it to avoid confusion with Big Sky. I think it’s Whitefish Mt. now. In the summer, they have the Danny On trail which is fun. Also typical zipline and Alpine slide stuff.
        The restaurants are all good there, but if you are breakfast people there is a place called Loula’s, that’s right off main street, that Samuel still swears are the best pancakes he’s ever had. They are as big as your head.
        I loved living there (although the 9months of winter were a bit much) and can’t wait to get back into Glacier. By far my favorite National Park. I could go on and on…but I won’t. Let me know if you want more and I’ll email!

  • April 24, 2011

    Omg, I”m so jealous!! Most of those places are either place I want to go, or have been and are dying to go again. Have fun and can’t wait to see all the pics coming out of this trip.

  • April 24, 2011
    Jenny

    Near Mt Rushmore we drove the Scenic Highway which has tunnels that frame the Presidents (two each way), it was a cool way to see more of the area. We also enjoyed the Firehouse Brewery. I spent 4 weeks travelling around the USA and am itching to do something similar again.

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      We know nothing about the Dakotas, so this is super helpful, Jenny. Plus, we’re always looking for great photo opps. Thanks!

  • April 24, 2011
    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Sadly, I don’t think we have time to go there—on this trip—though I’ve heard it’s just magnificent. I tried to figure out a way to detour there, but we’d have to cut another stop out–it’s just so far north!

  • April 24, 2011

    Holy ass crackers! I’m not sure I’ve been on that many trips in my lifetime! I’m psyched to hear all about your adventures!

    We don’t really do the playlist thing on road trips. (With one exception. We have been known to sing through the original Broadway recording of Rent. But we’ll never admit to it in public.) Instead, we listen to podcasts, favorite being Radio Lab, This American Life, and of course, Savage Love. When I did the 2,000 mile drive from Wichita to Saratoga Springs by myself, I made it through with my sanity by listening to hour after hour of Savage Love. (And as an added bonus, I was *really* horny by the time I got there!)

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      You, Kyle and I would be good road trip companions, as I do indeed know every word to Rent. Three-part harmony anyone? (Dibs on Mimi! I’d make an excellent exotic dancer…NOT.)

      Savage Love, on the other hand—you’ll have to listen to that one alone =)

  • April 24, 2011
    helen

    my husband tells me zax pizza in moab is really tasty. unfortunately it had already closed for the day when we blew through town during our road trip. have a fabulous time!

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Adding it to the list–thanks, Helen! I love Moab and am so excited to go back to Arches after eight years!

  • April 24, 2011

    Oh, this sounds amazing! I’m so excited for you guys and cannot wait to follow along. Several of your stops are on my “must visit” list as well. I’ve been to a couple others, but am not familiar enough to share must-see or must-do tips, I’m afraid. I have no doubt that you’ll find the best of the best in each place though, and I’m thrilled to come along for the ride. And a road trip with your fur babe in tow? Pure awesomeness. ๐Ÿ™‚

  • April 24, 2011
    Marisol

    We actually spent some time in Boulder (and the area) this weekend, showing my boyfriend’s family around. We’re all major beer fans and since we had taken them to the Oskar Blues brewery in Longmont (also suggested-the most fun brewery tour I’ve had) last time they were here, we took them to the original Oskar Blue’s restaurant in Lyons, Co (it’s about 15 mi from Boulder). The food is amazing and they have some beers there that are not sold in stores, as they make them in limited batches. We got a growler of G’Knight’s Imperial Red to go, which we enjoyed later that evening, back in Denver. There’s a really great candy shop on Pearl St Mall (I think it’s called Powell’s) and Pearl St Mall is full of artists trying to make a little dough while performing for the shoppers and diners. The Mork and Mindy house (exterior filmed for the series) is also in a neighborhood near Pearl St. Chautauqua Park has tons of trails and a great view of the Flatirons. Interestingly, the opening of Mork and Mindy was filmed at Chautauqua. ๐Ÿ™‚

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Awesome, awesome, awesome. Thanks, Marisol! I’m such a Colorado fan, but this will be my first time in Boulder. I’m stoked!

  • April 24, 2011

    Oh man I cannot wait to follow this trip, my hubby and I have always wanted to do an RV roadtrip through the country – I have type A planning anxiety so I want to see how you survive!

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Andi, you and I should never plan a trip together! It would either be the best thing ever or a total disaster, ha =) Yeah, Scott’s all about “flying by the seat of our pants,” and the thought of NOT HAVING ALL OF OUR CAMPSITES BOOKED BEFORE WE GO pretty much has me in hysterics. Heaven forbid we be spontaneous for once!

      • April 25, 2011

        Oh yes, you and I would be freaking out. I need to know every detail too. Funny Mr. Misadventures and I fully plan out everything down to the places we are going to eat, but when we get to where we are going we usually throw out half the plans. It is sort of like our fail safe!

  • April 24, 2011

    Kristin, this looks like a fab western road trip (and the eastern part too). When you’re in Glacier, find time to drive to Polebridge. It’s a bit off the beaten path but a fun quirky stop in the Glacier area. We’ll be spending our summer about an hour south of Missoula in the Bitterroot Valley. Lots of Lewis and Clark history if you drive that way.

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Thanks, Donna! Happy to have the recommendations as we’ve never been to Montana at all. Sounds like a great summer you’ve got planned for yourself, as well. Happy trails to you and your family!

  • April 24, 2011

    See that “Kelowna” dot on the upper left of the map? I’m less than an hour from there. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Excited for you guys!

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Um, well if you’re down in Montana this summer, email me! =)

      Wish we had time to cross the border! We’re actually going to be in (eastern) Canada in July and again in August…

  • April 24, 2011
    Nicole

    A few years ago, a couple friends and I did Grand Tetons and Yellowstone. Yellowstone is a must, don’t get me wrong, but if I had the trip to do again, I would have spent even more time in Grand Tetons. Less burnt wasteland, less RV (no offense) drive-by-ers. We hiked around the main trails in Grand Tetons July 4th weekend and only saw two other groups of people in 6 hours. Plus Jackson Hole is a cool town with a bunch of fun places to eat and drink (make sure you don’t miss a photo opp at the bar where you sit in saddles).

    The couple I went with lived in Boulder for a few years and did A LOT of parks in the West. If you’re interested, I could connect you. Let me know.

    Have fun!!

    • April 24, 2011
      Kristin

      Haha, no offense taken. Weโ€™ll definitely try to be as respectful and non-offensive as RVers can be =)

      Thatโ€™s really good to know. Weโ€™re revising our Yellowstone itinerary daily, as we just canโ€™t decide how many days we need where. Right now, weโ€™re doing three nights in the Big Sky area, three nights in the Wyoming part of Yellowstone and four nights in Jackson Hole, but maybe we should reallocate and stay in the Tetons a couple nights instead? We were planning to go into them and do some hikes while in Jackson/Yellowstone, but camping within hadnโ€™t occurred to me.

      Thank you!

  • April 24, 2011

    Oooh Montreal, Montreal! That’s one place I really want to visit for sure!

    As for travel tips, I am embarrassingly not well traveled within the U.S.. However, Colorado is gorgeous. That’s really all I have to say about that ๐Ÿ™‚ Sorry.

  • April 24, 2011

    Sorry you aren’t making it to the canyon but sounds like an awesome journey. When looking for RV parks try http://www.rvparkreviews.com/ Have a great time, like who couldn’t. It’s back to TX for me this week then drive back to AZ the following week.

  • April 25, 2011

    Life is a highway by Cochrane? I kid ๐Ÿ™‚

  • April 25, 2011
    Maria

    I CANNOT wait to read about your adventure! There’s nothing I love more than American road trips! And luxury trailer? I’ve always wanted to step foot in one of those monsters so feel free to devote a whole post for the trailer ๐Ÿ™‚ Happy planning!

    • April 25, 2011
      Kristin

      I totally will! It’s small–it’s not a proper RV, but rather a towable attachment–but it’s super nice inside. As in, the kitchen might be nicer than our own apartment’s =)

  • April 25, 2011

    Fuuuuuuun! I <3 roadtrips!!! Can't wait to see what kind of adventures that 3 of you get up to!

  • April 25, 2011
    CJ

    This is actually one of my dream trips (well, in my head, my stops would probably stretch more east, but several do overlap), and I am so happy for you! I don’t have any tips on the west, but I was just in Montreal last August, and if you decide to go to Quebec City, there are these lovely/amazing/picturesque falls right nearby (only a few hours from Montreal). They are called Montmorency and rumor has it they are taller than Niagara. As for the playlist… well, I’m more of an audiobook person (and I think the best planning for that is going to your library and downloading several books on CD in advance- although, if you have an audible.com membership, the prices aren’t that bad), but I do think a good playlist would involve travel-themed songs: 500 Miles, Life is a Highway, On the Road Again, Born to Run, Route 66, Get Outta My Dreams (And Into My Car), Hit the Road Jack, etc. Happy planning!

    • April 25, 2011
      Kristin

      Thanks for the great tips, CJ! I’ve never done audiobooks before, but my MIL was suggesting the Song & Ice series (that the new Game of Thrones show is based on), so we were thinking of trying that out. I’ve never heard about audible.com, so that’s an excellent recommendation.

      And actually, we will be in QC–just for a day, as it’s a cruise–so I’ll investigate if we have enough time to make Montmorency happen. You’re just a wealth of helpful information!

      • April 28, 2011
        CJ

        I actually just had those books recommended to me as well- there must be something to them! Oh, if you are only in QC for one day the falls probably aren’t worth it; there is way too much good stuff to see in the city itself. And the plaines d’Abraham also have beautiful views (and it’s a great place for a picnic). Well, I am glad to give you any information I can– you’ve (unknowingly) helped me plan numerous trips!

        • April 28, 2011
          Kristin

          OK, we’ll tour the city instead–good to know! I’ve honestly been so busy planning our road trip, I’m letting my mom take care of all the cruise details. It’s nice to have someone else plan your vacation for a change =)

  • April 25, 2011

    That sounds like an awesome road trip! Seems like you will be covering some distance over the six weeks. One day i would like to set out across America in a van with the future kids with nothing but a surfboard and a full tank of petrol. Guess I will end up doing that back in Australia some day too! Good luck with your new adventure!

    • April 25, 2011
      Kristin

      Ha! I like that plan. Though you’ll probably have to circumnavigate the country vs. following our inland path if you want to put that board to use =)

      Likewise, I’d like to do the same with Australia, as well. I’ve only been there twice–and each time, just eight or nine days–and one needs six months to a year to do Australia justice, I think!

  • April 25, 2011

    Wow! What an adventure! I would love to do that in California to visit all the national parks and don’t worry about camping and the bears!! I want to go to yellowstone someday! I’ve heard it is amazing!!

    I have a feeling that I will become addicted to this blog because I see Kyle hepp’s comments and Andi’s comments here and those 2 are some of my favorite people in the world!

    I have no recommendations for the places that you are going. I need to work on my US travel ouside the 2 coasts!

  • April 25, 2011

    I can vouch for Bozeman/Big Sky. Gorgeous! Your trip sounds so fantastic!

    For long road trips, the Modern Love Machine and I usually horde Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me and This American Life podcasts — since they’re both about an hour long, they make the time fly by!

  • April 25, 2011

    Oh, wow – this sounds great. We’re huge fans of Glacier National Park and โ€“ no matter how much traveling we are doing โ€“ always try to make it there every summer. The hiking is out of this world. It’ll probably still be pretty snowed in when you visit, but at least you can get an idea of the beauty of the area. Enjoy!

    • April 25, 2011
      Kristin

      Kent, do you have any favorite hikes or other activities in Glacier? So far, we have nothing on the itinerary–we just know we’ll spend a few days in West GNP, a day or two in Bigfork, and a day in Whitefish. Thank you!

      • April 26, 2011

        I think you’re going to be too early for any good hiking. The best trails (and the AMAZING Going to the Sun highway that crosses the park) don’t typically become free of snow until July. However, you’ll get a good idea of the beauty of the area when you hang on on the fringe in West Glacier, Whitefish and the Flathead Lake (Bigfork) area. East Glacier has a great Mexican restaurant. Here’s a review from Frommer’s (of course):

        http://www.frommers.com/destinations/glaciernationalpark/D52052.html

  • April 25, 2011

    Looks so fun! I’ve been too many of these places – but, just the nearby university for a track or cross country race. ๐Ÿ™‚ (Like, Missoula – cool college town, and beautiful campus). If you’re looking for another NP – check out Zion (on the way to Arches – great (and Arches is wonderful too. I wasn’t that impressed with Canyonland though, maybe we missed something?) I’m excited to hear more about this in the coming months/posts! Enjoy!

    • April 25, 2011
      Kristin

      Sara, I’d love to go back to Zion but it’s too far south of our route for this trip. I’m bummed! But I’ll visit again someday I’m sure…

  • April 25, 2011

    If you get the chance, I encourage you to have a bison steak at Little Bear Inn in Cheyenne. Tasty, and a sweet place (they have rocking chairs!). Also, we took a breakfast horseback ride through the mountains (and the ride went over the CO border and then back into WY again) that was simply lovely. I can’t remember the name of the place, but if you’re interested let me know and I’ll find out.

    If you find yourself wanting to stop in the Ft. Collins area, there’s a great little bar called the Mishawaka bar that’s right on the Poudre river. A great place to hang out for a beer after you’ve been dipping a toe in the river.

    Have a great time! This sounds like an amazing adventure, and to say I’m a little jealous would be an understatement.

  • April 25, 2011

    I live just a couple hours south of the Black Hills and have been there numerous times! Crazy Horse National Monument hosts a Volksmarch each year. It’s the only time of the year (that I know of) that you can hike to the top of Crazy Horse’s arm. Admission is free for the people participating (suggested donation of 3 cans of food). It’s a 6.2 mile round-trip hike and the view from Crazy Horse is amazing! This year it is on June 4th and 5th. Plus you get to visit the museum after the hike and it is very interesting. Of course there is Mount Rushmore, which is a must. Needles Highway is also a must…with a stop at the beautiful Sylvan Lake! It is breathtaking! The highway is 8 miles east of Custer and winds its way North. It might be kind of iffy with your vehicle. Devil’s Tower is fairly close to the Black Hills. Deadwood is also a must see town. Sturgis is only about a 1/2 hour from Deadwood, but there won’t be much going on as the rally doesn’t start until August. There are also a bunch of “tourist traps” throughout the hills, between Rapid City and Custer…Bear Country USA (with lots of bears, elk, etc.), Old Macdonald’s Farm (good for kids), Repitle Gardens (snakes, huge tortoises, lots of stuff), Cosmos Mystery Area, etc. There is also an 1800s train that travels from Keystone to Hill City or vice versa (or round-trip). It’s a nice little ride through the wilderness. And finally, there are a few caves you could explore…Wind Cave, Jewel Cave, and many more. Here is a good website for more info on everything. http://www.blackhillsbadlands.com/ ENJOY YOUR TRIP!

    • April 26, 2011
      Kristin

      I’m so bummed we are JUST missing the festival by one week! Ahhh. Wish we could push back our time in SD to make that happen. But I really appreciate all your suggestions, as the Dakotas are honestly the area we know nothing about! We just really, really wanted an excuse to see the Badlands–and to pose our puppy in front of the presidents =)

  • April 25, 2011

    This is something I would absolutely love to do! it sounds so wonderful.

    I absolutely love Yellowstone. I highly recommend the Lamar valley aka The Serengeti of Yellowstone. It requires an extremely early morning but is worth every minute of it. We had our teenage children with us and both you do it every morning.

    • April 26, 2011
      Kristin

      Done and done–we will definitely visit it…and take our binoculars!

  • April 25, 2011

    This line cracked me up:

    “…weโ€™re sort of going at this blindly, which for a Severe Type A Planner myself is about the most stressful idea ever.”

    It’s so something I would say.

    We love to listen to books on tape when we travel! Kills two birds with one stone and passes the time super quick. Too bad they don’t have these on CD yet, because this was awesome back when we had a cassette player to play them: http://www.amazon.com/Worlds-Greatest-Instant-Expert-Learning/dp/B001CTYX0G .

    • April 25, 2011

      I agree books on tape would be great. If I drove to work I would get into that more. Right now I am addicted to Adele, Mumford & Sons, and Freelance Whales.

      Awesome itinerary!

  • April 26, 2011

    Sounds like an amazing trip. I can’t believe there’s actually a place called Big Sky! Love it.

    If there’s one thing that my epic but rushed trip across the US by train made me realise (SF – CHI – NYC) it’s that it’s definitely a country you need to see by land. Flying from place to place, though it might be relatively cheap these days, just doesn’t give you that same epic sense of grandeur. It’s beautiful countryside and it deserves to be seen!

    My dream trip is a multi month month road trip – through Australia or the US or anywhere really, so I’m pleased I’ll get to live vicariously through your posts.

    • April 26, 2011
      Kristin

      That’s AWESOME that you did that train trip! I’ve written about that Amtrak route various times before and am dying to do it, even if you don’t get to see as much as you would by car.

      I, too, would like to do an all-encompassing trip of Australia! Like the US, it’s such a massive country that can only be seen over a period of many weeks (or months).

  • April 26, 2011
    sbc

    Sounds like an awesome trip!! Wish the husband & I had a more flexible work schedule to do something like this. Glacier is by far my fav national park. Many Glacier is my favorite area, on the east side of the park. There is some really great hiking in this area, but in June it is likely for a lot of trails to still be closed. Check out http://glacier.nationalparkschat.com/phpBB3/index.php – this site has lots of great info on visiting Glacier & some of the locals could probably recommend some trails that might be doable early in the season.

    Love Grand Teton & Yellowstone as well. We really loved taking a float trip down the Snake RIver in Grand Teton & hiking in the Jenny Lake area. Our favorite in Yellowstone is getting up early & watching the wildlife in Lamar Valley(make sure you bring some binoculars or scope). We enjoy dining out in Jackson – it is nice to have some really tasty meals after you have been eating lots of breakfasts & lunches on the trails or while “stalking wildlife” in the parks. I really like Rendezvous Bistro & Merry Piglets.

    • April 26, 2011
      Kristin

      You’re right: Most of the Going-to-the-Sun Road doesn’t even open until the end of June. Bummer! But we pushed back our trip as much as possible. At least parts of the park are open, so we’ll get a slice of Glacier.

      Thanks so much for the Jackson/Yellowstone recs, too! Adding them to my ever-growing spreadsheet =)

  • April 26, 2011
    k

    Oh I am so jealous – I love roadtrips and I love the western US. I have been many of the places you are heading and they are incredible! (Although you are skipping my most favorite national park – Zion!). Have a wonderful trip!

    • April 27, 2011
      Kristin

      I KNOW. But I used to work in that area and have thus been there a few times, and it’s so far off the route we’re already driving that I couldn’t justify that big of a detour for one park! Bummer, I know.

  • April 27, 2011

    Totally hike the flatirons in Boulder, it’s awesome. Also if you happen to be there on a Saturday, the farmer’s market is going on and it’s a really great place to pick up snacks for the hike. Breakfast you should eat at Lucille’s. I recommend the breakfast rice pudding with fruit compote on top but the hubs loved the cajun breakfast. SO FAB. If you have time, swing up to Estes Park. It’s so amazing and the hiking is off the charts.

    If you do a search on my blog, there is a bunch of info on what we did in Colorado ๐Ÿ™‚

    • April 27, 2011
      Kristin

      Will do! Thanks, Jess. I’ve been wanting to visit Boulder for YEARS.

  • April 28, 2011

    oh gosh, oh gosh – I am sooooo jealous!! wow!! really sounds like an epic trip!
    as being from germany I do not have local tips for you other then ENJOY EVERY MINUTE OF IT!! ๐Ÿ™‚
    I am dreaming for so long to do a real, long American road trip! so cool!!
    ๐Ÿ˜‰

    • April 28, 2011
      Kristin

      Well, when we take our RV overseas, we know who to call for Europe tips! =)

  • April 28, 2011

    This is awesome. I’ve been trying to get jparks on board for even just a week long RV road trip and he’s not sold. So jealous.

    • April 28, 2011
      Kristin

      jparks is so clearly NOT American. (I kid, I kid.) You and Truman can join us! We have room for one other and a baby on the other side of the trailer, heh.

  • April 29, 2011

    Chris had a burned CD from college called “Shit for the trip.” We brought it along on our last trip to Bakersfield and it (UNFORTUNATELY!) was too scratched to play. So! We made a Shit for the Trip II and put Eminem, Ke$ha, Cee Lo Green, and Nicki Minaj on it. Very upbeat!

  • April 30, 2011

    This sounds like a blast!! I can’t understand why the family hasn’t used it yet – I bet they will after they see all the adventures you’ll soon be having in it!

  • May 2, 2011
    Briel K.

    Wow, this sounds amazing. I can’t wait to read about your travel adventures!

    My sister and I are taking two weeks this summer and driving from Orlando to New York so I am going to be making some playlists soon. If I manage to do so before you leave I’ll let you know!

  • May 5, 2011
    Donna

    Chico Hot Springs, Pray, MT. Not far from the Northwest entrance (I think) of Yellowstone. You will enjoy the long soak in a big hot pool after all your days of showering in an RV.

  • May 11, 2011

    I’m so excited for you! And you two are actually going to a ton of places we missed, so it’ll be fun to see what you discover. ๐Ÿ™‚

    In Boise, I would definitely suggest getting some Basque food – we ate at Leku Ona (I think the name was….) and it was a little pricey but so yummy. And in Salt Lake City there’s this cool cafe (One World Cafe) where they grow a lot of their own vegetables and cook healthy food. But their main thing is only charging people what they can afford…. and folks can wash dishes for a meal or something. The food was good and interesting (and way healthy) and the mission was definitely one we wanted to support.

    And make sure you float in the Salt Lake when you’re there! If you go to Antelope Island (one of the better places to swim in the lake, we read) you can also see water buffalo if you drive around. You might have to search a bit, but there’s a pretty big herd of them on the island.

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