A new question for these pandemic times… how can we go and visit my mother and the rest of our Georgia-based family, safely, and without having to spend two weeks beforehand in quarantine? Miranda came up with a kinda crazy, kinda cool solution – renting an RV and doing a road trip, so that we “quarantine” while traveling across the country. She pitched the idea to me, suggesting that we visit some of our National Parks along the way and turning it into a big vacation/adventure. I have to admit that I was a bit skeptical at first. But, considering that I am retired, the season is ramping down with Freedom Boat Club, and I am being being offered the gift of spending a couple of weeks with my daughter…. how could I possibly say no?
Both Gwen and I have fond memories and many stories of cross-country road trips when we were younger. We did a small road trip with Miranda on our way out to Seattle 12 years ago, driving from Milwaukee on the Northern Route across country and visiting (well, really driving through) sites such as the Badlands of South Dakota, Devil’s Tower, Mt Rushmore, and a tiny bit of Yellowstone. We drove my dearly departed BMW M3 and stayed at hotels, taking about 4-5 days to make the drive. We had a great time, and we were glad to have Miranda experience at least a little bit of road tripping. Now Miranda and I will have a chance to do a real road trip and along the way experience some of our most famous national parks for the first time. Unfortunately, Gwen will not be able to join us because of her commitment to her 6 months locums gig out on the Olympic Peninsula.
We did some internet searching to find a route that included some of our bucket list national parks, which looks something like this:
Our route will cover nearly 4200 miles over 21 days, visiting the following places:
- North Cascades (OK, maybe this shouldn’t count, since we are just driving through this on the first day)
- Ride the Hiawatha Rail Trail in Idaho
- Glacier NP in Montana, camping in Flathead National Forest
- Yellowstone NP, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming
- Grand Teton NP, Wyoming
- Rockport State Park, Utah
- Zion Canyon NP, Utah
- Arches NP , Utah
- Canyonlands NP, Utah
- Mesa Verde NP, Colorado
- Santa Fe National Forest, New Mexico
- Carlsbad Caverns NP, New Mexico
- Cedar Hill State Park, Texas
- Lake Ouachita State Park, Arkansas
- Seven Points Campground, TN
- Ending in/around Atlanta, GA
I’m pretty excited about the number of National Parks that we’ll be able to visit, albeit briefly. Of those on the list, I’ve only been to Carlsbad Caverns and Yellowstone (a short stop at Mammoth Hot Springs on the way out to Seattle). We do have three long (400+ mile) days, but also have several multi-day stops. Our median day is about 219 miles.
We are doing a one-way rental of a “Standard” size RV from Cruise America. Miranda has done an outstanding job of organizing the trip, reserving the RV and campsites along the entire route, and is now busily working on our meal and provisioning plans. The RV, as you might guess, is set up much like a boat. It has fresh and waste water systems, range, refrigerator and microwave oven, air conditioning and both a generator and external power hookups (and of course, a waste water pump out system). It is not cheap to rent, nor is it particularly cheap to travel by RV, particularly if you stay in places with full hookups. We are paying a steep per-mile rate, and I am told that the expected fuel economy is single digit miles per gallon. We could probably fly first class and quarantine in a 4 star hotel for less, but what fun would that be?
We leave next Friday, September 11th and expect to arrive in Georgia sometime around the first of October. We’ll try to post regular updates as we go. If you’ve been to any of the places we plan to visit, we’d love to hear your recommendations… feel free to leave a comment below.