It was wheels up at 8:00 am. We set out for Yellowstone NP where we would meet my parents and my younger brother and his family. My wife Kim and I, chaperoning our two daughters Emily (14) and Kate (12) and our son David (7) all loaded into our Honda minivan Along the way we planned to visit Niagara Falls for the first time (despite living just 4 hours away for the last 30 years), knock Wrigley Field off the bucket list, visit the Badlands and see Mount Rushmore. Every route and virtually every stop was preplanned. I enjoyed the planning almost as much as the trip itself.
The road home took us south through the Tetons, across the Rocky Mountains in Colorado with stops to see family in Kansas, barbecue in Kansas City, the Arch in St. Louis. Finally the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. And then home.
15 States, 4 National Parks, 3 National Monuments and 1 state park. 5,300 miles over 19 days. It really was the trip of a lifetime for us.
Plans started almost two years before when we agreed with family that we would meet in Yellowstone NP in the summer of 2015. We had done many trips with my parents and my brother’s family, including the Grand Canyon in 2013, and several trips to northern California in the preceding years. We had flown out each time.
Kim and I had become experts at all things Disney World and had driven down from Albany 3 times. We usually made that 22-hour drive in 1 long run on the way down, with 1 night’s stop-over on the way home. We knew on this trip that we wanted to keep the driving down to 8 hours maximum per day with no overnight driving. Instead we would make each day an adventure.
We spent months researching possible itineraries, hotels, routes, sights and National Parks. We talked to friends, read a lot of websites and studied several guidebooks.
Using Google Maps, I planned out a northern route along I-90 to take out to Wyoming on the way out, and a more southern route to come home. I then found destinations that would be fun, but wouldn’t take us too far off the route, and reasonable hotels for every overnight. We relied heavily on Trip Advisor for this.
Aside from the proper clothes, sneakers, hikers and outwear, (and lots of snacks and activities for the car ride), a new Canon D60 SLR was the best piece of gear we bought for the trip. I have always been into photography, but now it was time to get serious. My brother and father and I all love “getting the shot”, and my wife Kim loves using those shots for her Shutterfly photo books and Facebook posts.
I am a very detail oriented person. I love having a plan and knowing that I have already picked out the quickest route, the best restaurant, the coolest sights and the cleanest hotel. I don’t like getting into town, spending an hour debating what to do and where to eat, only to then realize the best meal and the nicest sunset was 30 miles back. I completely understand that many people do not like to plan every detail. Like I wrote earlier – I enjoyed the planning almost as much as the trip – and the trip was a once in a lifetime.
Full photo tour available at : https://pmusser.smugmug.com/American-Road-Trip/