On June 1, 2012, my wife, two teen sons and I embarked on a RV trip across the USA. This trip had been part of our retirement dream for some years. At ages 15 and 14, we felt the boys were still young enough to enjoy this trip and old enough to actually remember it. If they were much older, we are sure girls, cars and summer jobs would consume their attention. :)

Below is our trip log with some photos so we can share this adventure with our friends and family.


Well, our trip was a big success. We ended up traveling through 21 states, visited 11 National Parks and Monuments. In one month we experienced a low temperature of 16 degrees our first night in Yellowstone and a high temperature of 113 degrees in Death Valley. Our elevation ranged from 282 feet below sea level to 10,998 feet.

The truck and camper despite being 13 years old both performed flawlessly. We were lucky to have no accidents or mechanical issues. We did get a cracked closet door mirror compliments of the poorly maintained I-40 in Texas. But that is a minor thing and we are happy that was the only problem.

We traveled a total of 7,888 miles. I am not the type who over analyzes stuff that I have little control over, so I didn't really track MPG's and such, but I did do spot checks now and again and it seemed to range between 5 and 8 mpg depending on the terrain. The most we paid for gas was 4.31/gal in Yellowstone park and the cheapest was 2.94/gal on our last fill up near home. Most of the gas was in the 3.50/gal range it seemed. We consider this a victory as a few months ago the talking heads on TV were guessing 5.00/gal after memorial day.

We got to see many animals we have never seen before. And even tasted some of them. We all learned a lot about our country and come to appreciate the varied landscapes and climates.

It is my hope that the boys both remember this experience and that they have learned from the trip. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to take a trip like this while our kids are still at home.

No Photos
June 29-30, 2012

The last two days of our trip were both long 580 mile days, but uneventful. We arrived home safely. Our only issue was the heat was so extreme, we felt it too hot inside the RV for the cats, so they rode with us in the truck.

Although we all really had a wonderful month long road trip, it felt good to be home.
June 28, 2012

New Mexico
Today we started the long drive back home to Tennessee. We ended today's drive in Amarillo, Tx. While there we had dinner at the famous Big Texan steakhouse. It was a very nice atmoshpere. The steaks were large and OK, but we still like Outback better. It was fun watching some guys try to finish the 72 oz steak dinner. The fellow that was there while we were gave up a few minutes before the 60 minute time limit. Photos
June 27, 2012

Durango, Co
Silverton, Co
Today we drove to Durango, Co and boarded the Durango-Silverton Narrow Guage Railroad along the Aminas River and rode it 45 miles to Silverton, Co. The train ride was wonderful. The tips I read on Tripadvisor.com about getting gondola seats on the right side were spot on. We enjoyed every minute of the ride. Once in Silverton, we went to a local restaurant and got a buffet lunch which was pretty decent. Overall, we were all a bit disappointed with Silverton. We were expecting a more historic feel with maybe some museums and exhibits. Instead, it was just a bunch of t-shirt and trinket shops in old buildings. I guess it would be cool if you were into shopping.

For the return trip, we chose the bus. It was faster and we got to ride on Route 550 over two passes near 11,000 feet. Once in Durango, we walked around some of the shops downtown, then headed back to the campground to relax the rest of the evening.

Today pretty much concludes the major attractions on our one month adventure. The next three days will be pretty much truckin east on I-40 to get back home. It has been a fantastic trip and today was a perfect finale.
June 26, 2012

Mesa Verde

This morning we went on a guided tour of the Cliff Palace dwellings. These are stone and mud buildings constructed under cliff overhangs. Afterwards, we took another guided tour of the Long House dwellings on the adjacent mesa.

We returned to the rv to take a break and dinner, then went out again to self tour the Spruce Tree dwellings. All of these are amazing. The roads through the park are very twisty and steep. In most cases I would consider them fun, but in a one ton crew cab dually, it was way too much like work.

We could see some brush fire smoke in the distance a couple ridgelines over. As far as we know, there is no danger to where we are.
June 25, 2012

Today we drove from Grand Canyon NP to Mesa Verde NP. We left via the east exit and stopped to take in a last view of the canyon. The drive was mostly two lane road through the desert in Navajo and Ute reservation. We stopped for some shopping in Cameron which had a really nice native american arts and craft trading post.

Once in Mesa Verde, we set up the camper then Gary and I set off to find propane refill which turned into a lot of running around. But we finally did find a local campground that offered it. I guess coming from a heavier populated area, we take for granted that services out here can be limited.

Here, just as in the Grand Canyon, there is a total burn ban due to the extreme fire conditions. That means no wood or charcoal fires at all. It kind of takes away from the camping experience, but I certainly understand why. As we climbed the mesa, we could see smoke off in the distance from some fires. There are major fire in northern Colorado this year. No risk here for now.

Tomorrow we tour 900 year old native cliff dwelling ruins.
June 24, 2012

Grand Canyon

This morning as I was having my coffee, a huge bull elk walked right up our camper. At one point as I was taking pictures, he looked right at me and started walking my way. I moved to put the truck between he and I and then he turned.

A bit later I struck up a conversation with the fellow in the camper next to us. I mentioned his Maryland tags and we started talking about where we were from. Turns out he lived in the same town I grew up in and at one time lived a block from where I grew up. Turns out we knew many of the same people. Small world.

We first took our bicycles and rode the west Hermits rim trail. That was great. Only the shuttle buses, hikers, and bicyclists can use this 8 mile road. So we were able to enjoy the canyon with nearly no other people around. Every now and then, we would meet up with a handful of folks at the shuttle stops, but soon we would pedal away or they would scurry for the next shuttle. There were several nice overlooks that the shuttle didn't stop at so we had them all to ourselves.

After we finished the bicycling, we had lunch then drove the truck out the east desert view road and visited some old indian ruins and viewed the canyon some more.

We returned to the RV and cooked dinner. Around 7:30, we headed back to the canyon rim to view the sunset. We then attended a ranger program, then hiked back to the campground.
June 23, 2012

Hoover Dam
Route 66
This morning we drove a few miles to the Hoover Dam and took the power plant tour and self explored. We met up briefly again with our friends Mike & Val who presented us with some very nice hats and a London Bridge souvenir. Thanks guys!

We then returned to our campground, had lunch and connected the RV for our drive to Grand Canyon. At Kingman, we left I-40 and drove a 85 mile segment of historic route 66. Along the way we stopped at Hackberry General Store which had a lot of route 66 antiques on display.

We continued our drive to Trailer Village at the Grand Canyon. It was too late to really do much canyon sight seeing so we just relaxed the rest of the evening.
June 22, 2012

Death Valley

This morning I woke just in time to catch the sunrise over Lake Mead. After breakfast we met our friends Mike & Val and drove to Death Valley. We spent time at Dantes View and Badwater Basin, the lowest point in the western hemisphere. Todays high was around 112 degrees. We had lunch at Furnace Creek, then said goodbye to Mike & Val and drove back to Las Vegas to my high school friend Leo's beautiful home where he treated us to a great dinner. It was a good visit. It was a great day with friends. Photos
June 21, 2012

Today we drove from Virgin, Ut to Lake Mead adding two more states to our trip. Arizona and Nevada. We set up the RV at Lake Mead RV Resort. We then drove into Las Vegas to visit the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop made famous by the History Channel show, Pawn Stars. But once we got there we found a long line of folks standing in 103 degree heat waiting to get in. We are fans... but not that much.

We then met our friends Mike & Val at Excaliber. We talked a while to catch up then we had a buffet dinner. Later we walked to several major casinos and rode the monorail to see the strip at night. At one casino we had some ice cream from IcePan. It is hand mixed and pan froze right in front of us and was the best ice cream I have ever had.
June 20, 2012

Zion NP

Today we drove into Zion NP and did something we have never done before. Canyoneering. That is basically exploring a canyon in one way or another. This particular way was to hike the river bed of the Virgin River into the canyon area called the narrows. Since the water level was low, in many areas we were able to walk across dry river bed edges. But in many other places we were near chest deep in 60 degree water. The hike was fairly easy but in some sections the rocks were slick and it was like hiking on greased bowling balls. After 3 miles, the canyon walls really closed in tight together and it was a very unique feeling standing in water with canyon walls 20 feet either side and rising 1000 feet above you. It is by far one of the coolest things we did so far I think. And also literally cool. We didn't even have a clue it was near 100 degrees today. Well, until we exited the canyon anyway.

It is hard to share this experience with pictures, but I did take some vertical panoramics that may give you some sence of how neat this was. In the narrowest sections it was pretty dark and those pics didn't come out.
June 19, 2012


Today we drove from Moab, Ut to Zion, Ut. For the most part, an uneventful drive... EXCEPT...

Lisa was our hero today for quick thinking. I left Moab with full tank. When we passed Green River, there was a gas station but I still had over 3/4 tank so figured I would wait. 10 miles later there was a sign "NO SERVICES NEXT 100 MILES" Really?? You idiots couldn't have put that sign BEFORE the last gas station?? Morons! So I did the math and was pretty sure I could make 100 miles with little worry. And then I hit the mountains. And I climbed, and climbed, and climbed. All the while burning way more gas than I figured. So I started driving as best I could to minimize the rpms. But at about 40 miles from Salina which was where the next gas was, I was almost certain we would not make it.

Then we seen a sign Rest Area 1 mile and Lisa asked... "Could we make it if the camper wasn't hooked?" Why yes I think we could! So we exited in the rest area, dropped off the RV, then headed to Salina 29 miles away. We made it just fine. Based on the hills I had to climb between that rest stop and Salina, I am near certain we would not have made it with RV. It added 60 miles and about an hour to our drive today, but it sure beat being that guy who ran out of gas. LOL!

Thank you Lisa for the obvious solution I completely overlooked!! We continued our drive and arrived at the Zion River RV Resort in Virgin, Ut by early afternoon.
No Photos
June 18, 2012

Moab, Ut

Colorado Rafting
We spent most of today on a raft trip on the Colorado River. There were only mild rapids in the section we did, but it was still a lot of fun and a great way to beat the heat. We rafted a 14 mile section northeast of Moab. Water temp was only about 74 degrees which felt a bit cool in the morning, but by late afternoon was very refreshing. Photos
June 17, 2012

Moab, Ut

Canyonland NP
Today can be summed up in one word. H O T !

We started by hopping on the bicycles and riding the paved trail out of town to the trailhead for the Bar M off road trail. That was a mistake. I should have trucked the bikes to the trailhead. By the time Lisa and I pedalled the 8 miles all uphill, with the heat, we had nothing left for the offroad trail. But I didn't feel too bad because even the boys only had enough left to do a few offroad miles before they turned back. But, the good part was the 5 to 7% downhill grade back to the RV on the paved trail was a blast!

After we cooled down some and grabbed lunch, we drove to Canyonlands National Park for sight seeing.

Early evening, Lisa and I went to the store to restock our supplies while the boys enjoyed the pool. After we got back, the family treated me to a great charcoaled steak dinner for fathers day.
June 16, 2012

Moab, Ut

Arches NP
Hwy 128
This morning I started the day like most. I got up before everyone else and grabbed a cup of coffee and sat outside the RV reading. All of a sudden I hear CLICK and then I am getting soaked. Lawn sprinklers. OK, I get the using sprinklers for grass in the desert, but does it have to be at 6am?? LOL.

Today we went to Arches National Park. We drove the entire loop and hiked to both Delicate Arch and Landscape Arch. The hikes were fun but with little shade, desert heat and over slick rock, it sure seemed like more than 5 miles. Both hikes are worth the effort though. Especially for Landscape Arch as it is known that this one could collapse at anytime and be gone forever.

We then drove along the Colorado River on Hwy 128 a bit. This is a scenic drive with steep canyons on both sides.

Lisa and I went back to the RV and relaxed while the boys went to the campground pool area.
June 15, 2012

Today we left the Jackson Hole area and drove to Moab, Ut. It was a very long 470 miles. Most of the drive was on two lane highways with lots of steep grades. Utah must have tons of highway funds because I have never seen so much road construction in my life. Provo Canyon was a very scenic ride the few times I could actually look away from the yellow line. LOL. We arrived in Moab around 7pm and we are now all set-up and ready to play here for three days. Photos
June 14, 2012

Grand Tetons

We left Yellowstone today via the south entrance. Shortly thereafter we enter the Grand Tetons National Park. We drove to Jenny Lake where we took a ferry across the lake to get to the trailhead of the Cascade Canyon Trail. We hiked it for several miles. It was one of the best hikes I have done. A little bit too many people in the first mile, but then it thinned out nicely and we went for stretches without seeing anyone else.

We then drove a few miles south of Grand Tetons to a KOA where we dropped anchor for the night. Tomorrow we make the long trek to Moab, UT where the highs are expected around 100 the next few days. Guess we can pack away these jackets we needed in Yellowstone.
June 13, 2012


Mammoth Springs
Lamar Valley
Dunraven Pass
Today we explored the northern part of Yellowstone. We started with a visit to Mammoth Hot Springs. It is a neat place that you often see pictures of steaming water gently rolling off of greenish blue terraces stacked high along a hillside. Well, what they don't tell you is those pictures where likely taken in the late 1970's when it was last really active. Like Steamboat Geyser, many of these thermal features are unpredicable when they will be active. Still worth the visit though.

We then did some souvenir shopping at the Mammoth area and also in Gardener.

Later we headed toward the northeast section of the park. We drove through the Lamar Valley where the larger herds of wildlife often can be found. We stopped and had a packed picnic lunch, then headed over Dunraven Pass where we found plenty of snow still along the road. The boys thought it was neat they could play in snow in middle of June. But they soon got cold. I reminded them that in two days we would be in Moab where the highs next week are expected to be near 100. There were several areas on this road that had me sweating. The road in places had zero shoulder. White line and then drop off. Add to that oncoming motorists with one eye on road and other on scenery and it wouldn't take much to be a problem. We did fine though. But we did see a car in front of us nearly dive over the edge obviously not watching the road.

Late afternoon we got back to RV where Lisa and I relaxed while the boys went to add to their cabin. As dusk approached, we headed out again to spot wildlife. Tomorrow we break camp and head to Grand Tetons for one day.
June 12, 2012


Grand Canyon
This morning Lisa and I let the boys sleep in and we left before 5 am to watch the sunrise over the lake. It was a beautiful morning. We then rode around a bit looking at wildlife before heading back to the RV to rattle the kids cages.

As I was coming back from our sunrise drive, I noticed a symbol at our campgound visitor center that indicated wireless. Since we are in a complete cell and internet dead zone at our campground, I grabbed my laptop and headed in asking where the wireless was. The ranger chuckled and said I wasn't the first to make that mistake. The symbol meant they had an amphitheater. Opps. He noticed my boy scout patch on my jacket and asked if I heard of the NPS Scout-Ranger program one can earn by completing some paperwork, taking some hikes, and by attending some ranger guided programs. He gave me the info and the boys and I spent about an hour filling out some Yellowstone trivia stuff. Then we attended a ranger program that we already planned to see anyway. We had already done enough hikes in Yellowstone. We all earned the Scout-Ranger patch which I thought was cool.

We then visited the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I was skeptical that it really would be much to see, but wow! It was impressive. There are two waterfalls that were still rushing with snow melt. We took several hikes around the rim and to the falls. One was called Uncle Toms Trail and decended 500 feet into the canyon via a trail and a 328 step steel rickity staircase bolted to the rock cliff. Having a fear of heights, I found the hike not only physically challenging, but nerve wrecking. But the view of the lower falls was worth the effort. I would say the canyon was my favorite part of yellowstone. Sadly we learned just a few days before, a 18 year old ranger, first day on the job fell 400 feet to her death here. Apparently left the trail system to get her photo taken near the edge and lost her footing. It is easy to see how easy that could happen. The other day my sons pulled the same bonehead stunt while I wasn't looking in the Badlands and I read them the riot act. After hearing of this sad accident, they now understand why.

When we got back to the RV, Lisa and I just chilled out. The boys decided to go into the woods by our campground and build a cabin out of fallen lodge pole pine. Where they get the energy.. I dunno!
June 11, 2012


Old Faithful
Paint Pots
Norris Basin
On our first day in Yellowstone we started by visiting Old Faithful. After watching it go off at 10:30am, we walked around the area and got to see a few more geysers erupt. This is by far the best collection of hydrothermal features. On the drive there, we got to see a HUGE bear walking right along the road. Later we got up close to a bison. Further on in Hayden Valley we got to see a coyote just minutes after taking a elk calf. We stopped at several other smaller hydrothermal attractions.

We returned to the RV for some early dinner. We headed out again and visited the Norris Basin geysers. We hiked the back loop, viewed some wildlife and then drove to the east side of the lake to catch the sunset. It was a very full day and everyone is now very tired.
June 10, 2012

South Dakota
Today we said goodbye to the Black Hills and started the long drive to Yellowstone. A few days ago I made the decision to enter Yellowstone from the north entrance through Montana instead of the east entrance. My reason was because it was less mountainous, but it worked out well since a snow storm left the Sylva Pass on the east entrance snow covered. The winds were absolutely wicked and slowed our pace considerably. We also had periods of rain and snow. It took us 13 hours to drive the 550 miles. Once we got into Yellowstone, we were surprised at how cold it was for June. The low temperature will be in the 20's tonight. The next three days look to be nicer weather with highs around 60. The 50 miles we drove in the park to get to our campsite on Yellowstone Lake showed us a taste of what we will get to experience the next few days. Photos
June 09, 2012

Mt. Rushmore
Crazy Horse
Jewel Cave
We started the day with a pancake breakfast prepared by my son Gary. We then drove to Mt. Rushmore. It was as grand and magnificant as I had expected. We walked the base trail and toured the museum.

We then headed to Crazy Horse. To be honest, we were not that impressed. I do believe it will be grand once completed, but after over 60 years, it looks like a strip mine with a face on it. I couldn't help thinking the natives who loved the Black Hills would be shocked at how it is being defaced in their name. At this current rate, it will not be finished for my great grand kids to appreciate.

We then drove through Custer, SD and had a picnic lunch at Commanche picnic area in the national forest. Afterwards, we went to Jewel Cave National Monument and took the 1 1/2 hour tour. Jewel Cave is the second longest cave system known in the US. Mammoth Cave in Kentucky is the first.

We went back to the RV for dinner and to relaxed a bit. Around 8pm, we went back to Mt. Rushmore for the lighting ceromony. Unfortunately a severe thunderstorm rolled in and shut down the evening programs. We did get to see it lit up though. The drive back was crazy with heavy rain and hail. We have a tornado warnings here for another 30 minutes. Not a great feeling in a RV.

Tomorrow we make the long drive to Yellowstone. They are calling for an inch or so of snow tonight and tomorrow morning, then changing to rain. I sure hope we don't have to deal with towing the RV through snow.
June 08, 2012

This morning we headed out on scenic SD44, aka Rimrock Highway towards The Badlands. We spent the day driving to, through and in the Badlands. The weather was perfect today.

After the Badlands, we stopped in Wall, SD and visited Wall Drug. This is now a bustling tourist stop that was made popular after the original owners started the business during the depression. After almost gone out of business, they had the idea of offering free water to travelers to and from Yellowstone. Soon the business boomed and it has been an icon since. While there, the boys and I just had to try a buffalo burger. Lisa passed as she is not a burger fan. It was different, but I have had better burgers.

The past few nights, the boys disappeared to the pool area as soon as we got back to the campground and weren't seen until late. Well it turns out there are several cute little teen girls they have friended. I think they will both miss South Dakota. :)
June 07, 2012

Spearfish Canyon
Devils Tower
Today it was raining on and off. We decided the Spearfish Canyon drive would be best for a wet day. I had made a decision yesterday that when we drive to Yellowstone in a few days we would take the alternate route through Montana and enter from the north entrance instead of using the east entrance. This was based on some info I got from a fellow RV'er on the mountain grades for the east route. By doing this, we would miss Devils Tower, so I added that to todays Spearfish drive. It turned out to be a good day with only periodic periods of rain. By doing Devils Tower today we were able to spend more time than if we did it as part of our long drive.

On the way back we drove through Sturgis. Both this and driving through Spearfish Canyon had us wishing we were on my motorcycle instead. I think a future trip to this area on the motorcycle will be added to the to-do list.
June 06, 2012

South Dakota
Today started out as yesterday ended. Corn field after corn field. But eventually after driving a couple hours into South Dakota the scenery started getting more interesting. In Mitchell, SD we took a break and visited the corn palace. A building covered in corn art since 1896. Each year they change the design. We made lunch while parked in Mitchell and continued on. As we closed in on Rapid City we got a few glimpses of the badlands which we will visit on one of our days here. The Happy Holidays RV park seems like a good choice and will make a good base the next 4 nights as we explore the area. I look forward to doing something other than towing a RV for a few days. Photos
June 05, 2012

Today was an easy 430 miles of driving mercifully made shorter by yesterdays extra driving. All I can say about today is BORING! Although I certainly appreciate the importance of our nations bread basket... I sure am glad I don't live here. Anyway we are all set up for the evening in a nice KOA in Onawa, Ia along Blue Lake which is adjacent to... you guessed it... a corn field. LOL! Photos
June 04, 2012

West Virginia
Todays planned route had us driving from Huntington, WV 410 miles and ending up near the middle of Illinois. But because the weather was so good, the boys were acting somewhat human, and it was still early when we got near our planned stop, we decided to continue on past St. Louis, MO to make tomorrows drive much easier. So we ended up doing 540 miles today. Only glitch was as we were all ohh'in and ahh'in at the big arch, I missed the exit to I-70, so we got to see parts of St. Louis most would rather skip as Ms. Garmin got us back to I-70 west. After we got west of all the metro area we found a nice little campground in Jonesburg, MO. So, since our planned stop was 15 miles off of the main route, we only have a 430 mile drive instead of 595 mile tomorrow. Photos
June 03, 2012

Huntington, WV

Last lazy day
Today we just spent the day relaxing at the campground and visiting with my brother Chuck. The boys walked over to a nearby small waterpark and spent the day. Looking at our agenda, this will be our last chance for a truly lazy day for the rest of the month. From here on, we are either laying down lots of highway miles, or visiting attractions.

Probably no updates the next three days since we will be mainly driving to get to our next base near Rapid City, SD.
No Photos
June 02, 2012

Huntington, WV

Farm Museum
We started today by visiting the Farm Heritage Museum. Very interesting and educational. They had many live exhibits. It is nice not only seeing old stuff, but to see how it was actually used back in the day.

After lunch Lisa and I went to a local flea market while the boys swam. In the evening, we attended my nieces wedding. Hard to believe she has grown into a beautiful young woman already.
June 01, 2012

Adventure Begins

Today we started the adventure by leaving our home in east TN and heading for our first stop in Huntington, WV. The weather today was terrible for driving. Fog and rain with periods of heavy rain with wind. Combined with the mountainous drive, it was a stressful but uneventful 330 miles. We started today with 58,887 miles on the truck. Shortly after we arrived in Huntington, the skies cleared, so my sons wasted no time jumping in the swimming lake despite the 63 degree outside temps. No Photos
May 28, 2012

Ready To Roll

Well, we are just about ready to roll. The RV is all cleaned up with new tires and brakes, the truck serviced, and all reservations made. All that remains is loading the RV with our cloths and some food and off we go!

For testing, I have linked some pictures of the RV using the Flickr account I will use for these trip photos.