Wednesday, June 15, 2016
Day 7 - We were headed from the Grand Tetons to San Francisco. I (despite Ryan's protesting - before we left home) that we couldn't do the 15 hour drive - it would just be too much. We only had one afternoon to spend in San Francisco so I wanted to be as close as possible. So, I picked Reno. I don't know why exactly but it was about the distance I wanted. We got up early - we had 749 miles to travel - approximately 11 hours and 49 minutes. Ryan and I got up at the crack of dawn and headed out. It was cold, cloudy and lots of snow on the ground. We had been driving about an hour - making pretty good time when we started noticing signs for warnings that we were headed for the Teton pass. We started seeing signs of a truck on an incline. As we progressed, we started seeing that it started giving grade percents. The final portion was a 10% grade up and a 10% grade down. My normal, go-with-the-flow, nothing-ruffles-his-feathers husband was sweating it! We were going 5 miles and hour. Then, it started snowing. It was absolutely crazy. But my rock star handled it like a pro!
Friday, June 10, 2016
Rejuvenated by the fact that we were finally going to be in the same place two nights (even at a questionable site), we hit the ground running. The forecast was calling for rain, rain and more rain. It was COLD! I had checked all the weather reports, so I was expecting the highs and lows but for some reason, it just seemed colder. I have to say that day, we didn't wear enough layers. Thankfully, it rained all the way on the drive and then it rained all the way back to the campsite. For the most part, we were dry the whole day. It was definitely something to add to our "blessings" list. We got to the park a bit later than I had hoped. Some of the time / mileage charts can be misleading. It really was 20 minutes to the entrance to the park - but then another 40 to park and explore.
Thursday, June 2, 2016
Day 5 - We're headed to the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, 436 miles. This was the hardest RV park to reserve beforehand that was a full hookup. I ended up googling a site rather than getting a recommendation from my GoodSam book. A couple in South Dakota told us that a new park had opened in Yellowstone that had full hook ups - they had camped two days outside the park, waiting for it to open. We decided to take our chances with the one I had reserved. We pretty much decided it was definitely one on the bottom of the like list. First of all, the people weren't all that friendly and we were in the second part at the very back - way far away from the wifi. Everywhere I made reservations, I asked for a pull-through and to be near the bathroom/showers. This one had one but it was in a barn - complete with a sliding barn door, with no handle. This was also the first place we were stopping for two nights.
Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Today was our first "short" drive - 116 miles, but we (aka I) had it jammed packed. Our initial plan was to go to Wall Drug and then the RV park, park Betty White and jump in our van to head to the other sites. I decided mid-way that maybe I should call the places and double check the hours. I'm so thankful that I did. Mt. Rushmore told me they were closing at 4:00 pm but Crazy Horse was open until 8:00pm. We switched up our schedule and kept a trucking. Our first stop was Wall Drug. It still remains one of Alexa's favorite places. We laughed because all of the billboards kept advertising "free water since 1931". We never saw that free water. We also discovered that we were ahead of the summer rush and somethings just weren't open yet or they were making repairs, getting ready for the busy season. No matter, we still had a great time.
Friday, May 27, 2016
Day 3 - We headed out of Waterloo, IA and got back on the road. Today, we were traveling 582 miles - approximately 8 hours and 31 minutes to Interior, South Dakota. It did take us a little longer than that, but nothing like yesterday! I was very particular about the campgrounds we staying in. The Good Sam book I ordered was huge and quite daunting but any one who knows me, knows I lived by the ratings. Anyway, at most National Parks, there is camping but it is dry camping - meaning no water and no hook up - sewer or electricity. As much as I love a good rating, I am totally sold out to having water and power. In some places, finding those "full hook up" sites were a challenge. The first two nights, we camped at KOA's, so everything was neat and orderly. Let's just say camp number 3 was quite a wake up. The people were very friendly, it was just a bit run down and there were no smoking rules. We came out of the shower smelling worse than when we went in. But, like every other site up until now, we just barely passed through. The Badlands were amazing. So far, it has been some of my kids very favorite. It was rough, rugged, beautiful, raw and untamed. As soon as we pulled in, the kids hopped in the van and headed over. They ran and explored until night fall. It was the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen.
Tuesday, May 24, 2016
Day 2 - Destination: Waterloo, Iowa, 8 hours 2 minutes, 544 miles. The first couple days of our trip, we were just trying to majorly cover ground. Time wise, we were closer to our designated time, much closer than day one. Unlike the first day, we had time to get to the campground and unwind a bit - play on the playground, throw the football around and cook on our grill. All in all, it was a great day. Since the only time we stopped was to get gas, the kids started using those breaks to their advantage to get up and stretch. As the miles turned to hours, people found creative ways to catch a few zzzz's. Little man soon learned that dad was the candy source. When we would stop, Ryan would go into the store and little man would scream "bring 'us' back some candy!" This particular trip, Ryan brought some crazy sour candy. This is the face he made every single time - kept us entertained for at least 20 miles or so. Our campsite for the day. We were so glad to finally arrive!
Tuesday, May 17, 2016
So, after list-making, packing, cooking and freezing food for a solid week, Sunday finally arrived! I had spent all of Saturday loading and reloading, trying to figure out my method to my madness. I "thought" I was in pretty good shape on Saturday night. Sunday morning came and (as usual) there were a few more loose ends to tie up and we ended up leaving two hours later that I had hoped. Let me tell you, traveling on Sunday (especially for the first day) is the way to go! We encountered absolutely no traffic, which was great - we were slow enough as it was. We were trucking along pretty well until we hit the mountains of West Virginia. I felt like we were in the "Little Engine that Could". It made it easily, it just was slow moving. Our scheduled 537 miles ended up taking 10 and a half hours! That was a rough first day. By the time we got to our campsite in Dayton, OH, we had an improvised supper of sandwiches and crashed. On day one we covered - NC, VA, WV, OH. Here are a few pictures from day one:
After months of light planning and a full week of nothing but planning, we are off. I was going to start with the update of our trial run we did in March. The kids and I took "Betty White" (our RV's name - no, we are not Betty White fans - it's just that she's old and a little ruff around the edges, and white, obviously.) for a weekend trip to Asheboro. It went pretty well - our first camping experience in an RV, my first time driving and setting up. I was going to start that way but then moving my son home from college happened, my daughter's college graduation happened, prom happened and next thing I knew - it was time to go. The week before last was complete insanity for us. Last week, I spent listing and listing and more listing. I had already mapped out our trip but I was fine tuning it - planning our food and listing what we would need in each spot. Here are a few pictures of our "getting ready" process:(sorry there are no picture descriptions. Our wi-fi has been spotty - at best!)