Thoughts on the road- Starting our Adventure
It was a warm spring day when we started our adventure. No job, no house just our trailer and the road. We embraced that we were not on a time schedule and hit the road. We stopped at the rest stop to stretch our legs and then stopped for lunch. It felt good not to have to check email and see what is going on while traveling.
To be able to start this adventure it took a lot of planning. We knew we wanted to travel the country and visit national parks. So which parks and how will we travel there? How much should we book ahead and how fluid did we want things to be. Based on reading blogs and our experience to date in booking campgrounds we knew that if we didn’t want to dry camp we needed to book ahead.
The route needed to be figured out first, our starting point was the San Francisco Bay Area and ending point was Portland Oregon. We knew that Zion, Bryce and Mt. Rushmore were must have places we wanted to visit. I spent hours searching different National Parks, maps, RV blogs, Pet Blogs, mapping trip tools and different Ipad applications. I purchased a few books some for my Kindle and others hardcopy. One that I purchased to help with research and we have used a lot during the trip is National Geographic Guide to National Parks of the United States, 8th Edition (National Geographic Guide to the National Parks of the United States)
It showed the most campground options and was very easy to use. So I would sit and play with the route, until I came up with the baseline of which major national parks/monuments and points of interest to visit:
- Sequoia and Kings Canyon
- Death Valley
- Las Vegas
- Grand Canyon North Rim
- Capitol Reef
- Rocky Mountain
- Mt. Rushmore
- Crazy Horse
- Devils Tower
Then the research started, I also downloaded an app for my Ipad; National Parks by Chimani
We were taking our dog with us and most National Parks and National Monuments don’t allow dogs beyond the parking lots. We needed to research what we would do with our dog. In most towns there were places that specialized in dog boarding or daycare. I also purchased a book and App to aide in this search:
Dogfriendly.Com’s United States and Canada Dog Travel Guide: Dog-Friendly Accommodations, Beaches, Public Transportation, National Parks, Attractions. They also have a blog with lots of great information.
The last piece of the puzzle was timing, when were we going to start this journey. That would be driven by the sale of our house, we couldn’t even plan anything until we knew that timing. We also had some important family events going on so we couldn’t leave any earlier than April 18th. That was our fist line in the sand, hit the road on the 18th. The big question; would the home sale line up with that or push it out. Thankfully our home closed in plenty of time.
Once we were in contract on our home we felt we could start planning our trip out. I was playing with different ways to keep track of what we were booking but settled on a basic Excel spreadsheet with all the dates listed in each row and then filling in the places as we moved across the country. Once I had it all figured out then I transferred the information to my calendar so that it would sync with my phone, computer and Ipad. I also loaded the information to the cloud and downloaded the excel file onto my Ipad and phone for reference. Then I printed it out on 11×17 paper to keep in the car, wasn’t sure what our internet connectivity would be like along the road.
We used a combination of several different tools to figure out our path, leveraging AAA trip planner (TripTik) and Good Sam’s trip planner. Both were memberships we already had and both have different benefits and features. The nice thing about Good Sam’s planner is it takes in account your RV size with the routing. Using these tools helped us determine distance between each location and determine where we needed to insert additional stops. Our goal was to spend between 3 to 5 hours max on the road between each stop. We planned either 2 to 5 days at each stop. We also needed to keep in mind that Memorial day was going to be in our window of travel so that needed to be considered as well.
So with a rough outline of our path my husband and I spent a weekend booking our trip, locating places to stay, checking reviews from AllStays (All A RVer needs: Campgrounds, Fuel, Parking, Washes and more) and Trip Advisor before determining where we wanted to stay. I used my Ipad and laptop and my husband was on his laptop verifying via google maps the distance between each place. At the end of plotting out the trip it felt like we had already been on a journey, a virtual one. Now the big question, what would the trip be like. Did our research pay off and what about the place that took only cash or check. Was it going to be okay?
We removed two major National Park from our list, the North Rim of the Grand Canyon because it did not open until May 15th and by then we would be in South Dakota. We also removed Capitol Reef because we were concerned we would be tired of all the red rock items. I guess we will have to plan another trip in the future and catch all the parks and areas we did not reach. There are so many beautiful places and so much history to learn about. The only thing we planned out was campsites and dog day care. What we did at each stop or park was going to be planned out in the moment. Our goal was to enjoy the sights around us, be flexible and embrace the journey. Do you enjoy planning a trip or just winging it?
Embracing the Journey.
#EmbracetheJourney #Day2DayTravels #Findyourpark?