We are staying at a small, intimate campground located in White Bird, Idaho tonight as I write this blog post; day 42 into our trip. The last 22 days (since our first trip recap) have been filled with more exciting adventures and several challenges as we made our way through the Northern Rockies and Plains and finally into the Northwest where we have been for the last few days. The landscape has changed from fields of corn, sunflowers, soy bean and wheat in the Upper Midwest to a dessert like landscape, rolling hills and tall canyon like cliffs with rivers winding through them.
This section of the trip we reached the large National Parks, including Yellowstone, which is America’s first National Park established in 1872. Read more about this park at Lucas’ blog The Traveling Turtle. The parks are beautiful and majestic. Books and TV documentaries do not do these areas justice. They are beyond what you can imagine; vibrant colors, tall cliffs, animals roaming free, waterfalls, towering snow-capped mountains, caves, and impressive man-made structures.
As beautiful and memorable as this area is however, it presents other challenges to travelers. Especially those who rely on technology. We encountered many areas with no cell phone signal (we have Verizon), and poor wifi at a few of the campgrounds – surprisingly the best wifi connection we had was in the Grand Teton area at the campground we stayed at. It was so reliable that we got caught up on work, school, Facebook posts, Instagram uploads, downloading new apps and games and even watched several episodes of our favorite TV shows online. While in South Dakota, we visited the local Books-a-Million store for several hours over a period of two days to use their wifi. We all enjoyed this change of scenery.
States we have traveled through:
- South Dakota
- Montana – visited this state while at Bighorn Canyon National Park
Our campground stops have included:
- Eagle RV Park (Thermopolis, WY)
- Teton Range Resort (Moran, WY)
- Craters of the Moon/Arco KOA (Arco, ID)
- Hi Valley RV Park (Boise, ID)
- SwiftWater RV Park (White Bird, ID)
Our field trips/activities:
- Trip to western side of South Dakota to see sites:
- Badlands National Park (hiked the Door Trail, Window Trail and Fossil Exhibit Trail)
- Wall Drug
- Black Hills Petrified Forest to learn about geology
- Geographic center of the nation where we visited the 1876 Johnny Spaulding Cabin, Tri-State Museum and Center of the Nation visitor center in Belle Fourche
- Historic City of Deadwood – read Jacob’s blog post about this place
- Mammoth Site Hot Springs (learned more about the geology of the Black Hills area and what happened to the Mammoths and other animals in this area when a sink hole occurred)
- Wind Cave National Park in Hot Springs (toured and learned about the 6th longest cave in the world). Hiked up the Rankin Ridge Nature Trail.
- Mount Rushmore (saw lighting ceremony)
- Crazy Horse (learned about Native American history and culture)
- Trip to Wyoming to see sites:
- Devils Tower National Monument
- Hot Springs State Park in Thermopolis (learned about the natural hot springs and the geology of the area)
- Legend Rock (an important petroglyph site, which features hundreds of individual petroglyphs spread across the face of the rocks)
- Bighorn Canyon National Park – read Lucas’ blog post about this park
- Grand Teton National Park
- Yellowstone National Park
- Trip to Idaho to see sites:
- Craters of the Moon National Monument & Preserve (learned about this interesting geological area)
- White Knob Ghost Town (learned about the history of this mining community now defunct)
- Zoo Boise
- Downtown Boise (talked with local business owners, saw art graffiti section of town)
- Hell’s Canyon
We miss our family and friends as well as our faithful dog Dakota who stayed behind based on our veterinarian’s recommendation. She has an anxious personality and would not do well on this type of quick-moving trip. She is quite comfortable with my parents. Her home away from home. We will reunite with her in April 2015.
Our oldest son was having a hard time being away from his friends. Social media did not help this cause. He would see pictures and read updates of what his friends were doing on Facebook – school events, baseball/soccer games, local fairs and festivals, etc. He has struggled with this from day one but has slowly found ways to put everything into perspective. This is a learning process for him as he discovers how to deal with emotions he has not felt before. It has been lonely on the road for all of us since we are traveling at a time of year when there are fewer campers where we stay. This means fewer kids. We have kept busy however as a family and I feel that has helped all of us to cope with missing New Hampshire.
Now that we have almost reached the west coast, we look forward to slowing down and staying in areas for longer periods of time. We are off to Spokane and Seattle, WA on Monday, October 13th.