backpacking, Somewhere in between

Manistee National Forest, Michigan

Clyde and I finally embarked on our first backpacking trip! Since lightweight supplies are pretty pricy, we didn’t invest in these items on our fast-paced car-camping trip last year. This rainy weekend hike made us realize we have some more investing to do… like better quality sleeping pads and water-wicking, quick-drying hiking clothes. Also… in the supposedly bear scarce lower peninsula of Michigan, Clyde spotted the first bear we’ve ever encountered inside a campground. The good news, I think my bear fear has worn off because I slept like a baby in the tent that night!

Best part of this trip… visiting Lindsay, Katie, and Apollo at their Garden Fort farm!

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2013 trip, Cincinnati, OH, family, friends, Somewhere in between

Cliff-Notes version

A photo summary of our favorite times on the 9 week park-hopping journey.  The memories we made on this trip are once in a lifetime and worth every moment of temporary joblessness and homelessness post-adventure. Like the designer Stefan Sagmeister, I highly recommend injecting a few years of retirement into your younger years. It completely reinvigorates creativity and appreciation for everything in our great big world.

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2013 trip, Somewhere in between

The end of our travel adventure… for now

Sadly, our amazing 9 week adventure across the United States is over… for now. While we settle back into our hometown, here are some of the best stats and tips from our trip:

We traveled: 12,730 miles (a smidge over our estimated 8,000. not only did we grossly underestimate the hundreds of miles traveled in parks, but we went 1,200 miles out of our way to Texas and Louisiana when the parks closed.)

Gas mileage: 27.2 mpg

Parks visited: 12.25 National Parks and dozens of Forest and State Parks (I’m only counting 1/4 of Death Valley since it was closed.)

Parks we missed due to the Government Shutdown: 6 National Parks (Joshua Tree, Grand Canyon, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Canyonlands, and Arches)

Nights we tent camped: 17

Nights we slept in the car at a Walmart parking lot: 17 (two of those nights were actually rest stops)

Nights we slept in the car at a campground: 12 (pitiful, I know, but this was mostly due to cold or rainy weather, sometimes bears.)

Nights indoors with friends or family: 13

Most expensive gas price: $5.38 (just outside of Death Valley in the Mojave Desert, CA)

Cheapest gas price: $2.89 (in St. Louis, MO. but we didn’t fill up in Texas, where I think gas was as cheap as $2.50)

States we visited: 22 (only states we missed West of the Mississippi: Kansas, Oklahoma, and North Dakota)

Weight of our supplies and sleeping platform in the car: 400 pounds

Number of tickets we got: 0 (although we were pulled over once in Minneapolis for driving on a bus-only road. I blame it on poor signage.)

Number of bears we saw: 4 (two safely from the road, two semi-safely while hiking, zero while camping)

Number of oil changes: 2 synthetic (one in Casper, one in Colorado Springs)

Did we stay on budget? YES! (And we’re happy to dish out tips on how to camp across the country for 9 weeks under $3,000.)

We researched and planned our car camper for months, and it paid off because our systems worked out even better than we could’ve ever anticipated. It wasn’t hard at all to stay organized and clean, allowing maximum time for exploring.

Later this week, I’ll post a picture of our anticipated route versus our actual route. See photos of our car/camper organization below.

Sleeping platform with Thermarest sleeping pads, sleeping bags, and pillows on top. 4 storage containers below: 1 for clyde's clothes, 1 for my clothes, and 2 for kitchen and miscellaneous supplies.

Sleeping platform with Thermarest sleeping pads, sleeping bags, and pillows on top. 4 storage containers below: 1 for clyde’s clothes, 1 for my clothes, and 2 for kitchen and miscellaneous supplies.

we used the notebook to keep track of every single expense we encountered. kept separate records for gas, food, and camping fees. Our calendar was right on track until the parks shut down, then the route and timing went out the door. But it was good to have so I could quickly note what we did and where we slept each day.

we used the notebook to keep track of every single expense we encountered. kept separate records for gas, food, and camping fees. Our calendar was right on track until the parks shut down, then the route and timing went out the door. But it was good to have so I could quickly note what we did and where we slept each day.

our trusty Atlas was so mangled by the end of the trip! we highlighted all the roads we traveled and used it to verify that Google maps wasn't leading us astray.

our trusty Atlas was so mangled by the end of the trip! we highlighted all the roads we traveled and used it to verify that Google maps wasn’t leading us astray.

miscellaneous storage: body wipes, bags, bug spray, cleaning wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, small candles, charging cords, batter powered fan, laundry detergent. we bought a pack of 16 small tea light candles on the road when it started getting dark earlier. we should've bought one big citronella candle. live and learn.

miscellaneous storage: body wipes, bags, bug spray, cleaning wipes, paper towels, toilet paper, small candles, charging cords, batter powered fan, laundry detergent. we bought a pack of 16 small tea light candles on the road when it started getting dark earlier. we should’ve bought one big citronella candle. live and learn.

"kitchen" container: pots, skillets, spices, cups, kabob sticks, camp stove. propane, dish soap and dish towels. we didn't need the measuring cups.

“kitchen” container: pots, skillets, spices, cups, kabob sticks, camp stove. propane, dish soap and dish towels. we didn’t need the measuring cups.

miscellaneous items stored in pockets of the car: 5 gallon water jug, solar charging lantern, 2.5 gallon water jug, extension cord, bear spray, flash light, rope, shovel (for burying things…), denim curtains for the car, first aid kit

miscellaneous items stored in pockets of the car: 5 gallon water jug, solar charging lantern, 2.5 gallon water jug, extension cord, bear spray, flash light, rope, shovel (for burying things…), denim curtains for the car, first aid kit

tent, camp chairs, camp table, blankets, and water jugs (almost 7 gallons of water total. we only ran out once when the parks were closed because we had trouble finding places to fill them up.)

tent, camp chairs, camp table, blankets, and water jugs (almost 7 gallons of water total. we only ran out once when the parks were closed because we had trouble finding places to fill them up.)

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2013 trip, friends, Somewhere in between

St. Louis, Missouri

Before heading to St. Louis, we visited Clyde’s Uncle Al and Aunt Chrissy in Fayettville, Arkansas. We had a delicious barbecue dinner, went on a tour of Fayettville, then played some euchre. But I didn’t get any pictures!

In St. Louis, we got to spend a day in the life of the newlywed O’Connors! As our trip started a few months ago, I was sooo excited to spend time with Jon and Nicole. But as our visit drew closer, the more and more depressing it became—this was our last stop! We didn’t want the adventure to end, but we had to face reality eventually, right? :)

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2013 trip, family, Somewhere in between

Texas

Everything is seriously bigger in Texas. I never believed people when they said this, but really.

After accidentally passing Cadillac Ranch, we headed towards my cousin’s house—the Texas Lampes! Mark, my cousin, is the oldest of the 30ish grandkids and I’m the youngest! I love his family, but we never get to see them enough. Spending time with them in their natural habitat was so much fun! They treated us to authentic Tex Mex and they even had a birthday cake to celebrate when they found out it was my birthday.

We’re off to more Texas fun—updates to come! :)

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2013 trip, Somewhere in between

Sante Fe, New Mexico

Our trip took an unexpected (but exciting) turn south when we determined it was too late to backtrack to the Grand Canyon by the time it reopened. We’re adding on many more miles by going way south in Texas and then onto New Orleans before heading back to Cicinnati, but the memories we make with friends and family on our detour will be totally awesome!

Sante Fe is the most unique town I’ve ever been to. Loved the adobe architecture, old art, contemporary art, and a town full of people who really appreciate everyone’s unique artistic capabilities. This was definitely a great pit stop on the way to Texas (thanks to everyone’s great recommendations of this beautiful city!)

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