Western Road Trip July 2018

We usually try to plan our trips a year in advance. This year has gotten kind of turned around and instead of doing a 2 weeks SW Road trip in September/October, We are saving a week and going to meet Dave and Adrienne in Alaska in the fall. The other week we will be going to the SW in early July! I’ll be trying to update this post through out the trip so it’ll be a live trip report.

Dave and Adrienne from the post: The Most Beulah-ful Place


There are a couple things I want to do with the Sequoia in preparation for this trip to make it a bit more comfy and liveable. It will be around 3200 miles in 8 days. I’ve been meaning to purchase some things for a while in regards to making the Sequoia a better road trip vehicle. I’ve ordered the ARB 8ft x 8ft awning as well as the ARB awning room which has wind/rain protection walls that roll away and leave mosquito nets there and if it’s cooler or were in a place that doesn’t have a lot or bugs the mosquito netting rolls away as well do you can use it as just a sun awning. I’m going to build a bed platform structure (drawers can come later) so we have a bit of room for storage underneath. Simple 2nd battery setup for a 12V fan, charging devices and emergency starting if primary engine battery were to die. These are just a few of the upgrades I have planned this far. This trip kind of snuck up on us so I don’t have a lot of time or money to do all of the things I would like to do before we go.

Besides getting the Sequoia comfy and up to snuff, I enjoy making lists of things to pack like, clothes, tools, camera/electeonics gear, emergency break down gear, cooking items, toiletries, etc. Not only do I enjoy it but it really reduces the amount of times I say, “OH SHIT I FORGOT THE (RANDOM ITEM).” through out the trip.

Route planning:

Quick general out line of our route if we don’t decide to change it:

We are leaving after work and hitting the road to try to make it to Omaha Nebraska. We are planning on staying in the Cabela’s parking lot in La Vista, NE for a quick night sleep then onto Rocky Mountain National Park and sleeping on Deep Creek BLM land. After RMNP we are going to head over to Grand Mesa National Forest for free camping again. From Grand Mesa we will head over to Moab, UT. We will be staying at a hotel at this point of the trip because it will be hot as heck and a shower wouldn’t be too bad at the half point of the trip. After Moab we will drive over to Santa Fe, NM. After this we will stop in Phantom Canyon, CO (BLM land). The following day we will head home.

June 29th, 2018:

We woke up after staying up way too late hanging out with our neighbor and headed to work. I dropped Katie off so I could just pick her up at the end of the day and we’d head out from there. Our goal was to make it to and stay at Cabela’s in La Vista NE. La Vista is just 20 minutes south west Omaha, NE. We ENDED UP making it all the way to Aurora, NE because I actually felt pretty good and decided to keep going! We found a free campsite on our favorite free campsites websites that was in a city park called Streeter Park. It was a VERY nice place to stay for free.

It had electricity, a dump station, bathrooms and a safe atmosphere. We pulled in around 10:30PM and immediately prepped the sequoia for bed. Which i’ll go into further detail later. We hit the hay and the ONLY shitty part of this night was the fact that it was 95 degrees F and I didn’t want to run the ac on the Sequoia all night so we just turned on the fans and hunkered down. Needless to say I did not sleep much.

June 30th, 2018:

I woke up around 4AM and laid around until 5AM. At that point I wanted to get on the road and get a jump start on the day. Only sleeping a couple hours I didn’t feel totally rested BUT vacation mode set in and i felt totally fine the 700 miles i drove. We stopped at bear head lake and walked the .6 mile loop around the lake. It started raining and so there was no line to get a parking spot for us. We ended up walking around the lake and then leaving right away because of the weather. From here our route was on the Trail Ridge Road. This road was totally fine until you reached 11000 ft in elevation. We then started to get some low hanging clouds with fog and rain mixed in.

We continued on because we didn’t have any option. We made it to the top and visitor center at 12,150 ft in elevation. Before we got to the Visitor Center we endured, fog so dense you couldn’t see 10 ft in front of you, wind gusts at 75 mph at the same time as thousands of feet of drop offs on either side of the road. We took a couple pictures from the top after the clouds cleared out!

We got down though and made it to our first free National Forest Campsite right out side the town of Granby. The campsite was in the Arapaho National Forest just 5 to 10 miles off of the main road through Granby. There are numerous spots here. We picked the first open spot that happened to be wide open. Right when we arrived there were major wind gust up to 30 miles per hour but our trusty brand spanky new ARB awning served us well!

I went through a phase of anxiety and doubt if this site was okay for us since but we decided to stay and it turned out to be an awesome experience. We went to bed and when we woke up it was 30 degrees!!! It was crazy to be so warm the day prior and then wake up to sub freezing temperatures! I wish i could say I slept great but I did not.

July 1st, 2018:

WE WOKE UP AND IT WAS 30 DEGREES F!!! I just had to get that out of my system one more time. We left Arapaho National Forest around 5:30 to 6 AM after making some coffee and eating a quick breakfast. We then were on our way to Grand Mesa National Forest. After the mountain pass the day prior i was pretty anxious and nervous that we were going to have to go up to 11,000 feet again to our next camp site. But we the
reason we picked this campsite is because it was going to be cool and dry up there as apposed to 100 degrees at the base of these mountains. Grand Mesa is the World’s Largest Flat topped mountain. I didn’t really think anything of it because the switch backs didn’t look too intimidating, I don’t know why or how but i froze up about 95% of the way up to our intended free site and had to pull over and catch my breathe. I also could not calm down and ruined the cool evening for us and decided the only thing that would make me feel better was to go back down the mountain. Katie being the best wife in the world agreed to do whatever made me feel better and we then went into Grand Junction. We sprung for a hotel to catch our breath and relax. On the way to the Hotel we thought it’d be a good idea to stop at a brewery in town before we went to the hotel. I figured i was fatigued from driving so much and not sleeping nearly enough to make these mountain passes safely and will regret it for a while yet. The hotel was very nice and had an indoor and outdoor pool. The reviews on hotels.com were”fabulous” and only 75 bucks so we thought we would go for it. We got there and it looked good enough! The room was clean, the pools were comfy and scarce of people! We spent the rest of the day lounging by the pool, hydrating, dehydrating, and catching up on texts and emails from people back home.

July 2nd, 2018:

We woke up and checked out of our hotel after breakfast. I’ve stayed at quite a few hotels in my life and never have I ever been surrounded by hotel staff while i eat breakfast. You had to have a paper pass to go into the breakfast area as well as not leave with anything from the breakfast area as there were hotel staff guarding the exits. We stopped by Colorado National Monument on the way to Moab. It was a pretty area. After that we headed down to Canyonlands and drove thru the park and hiked a couple shorter hikes. After that we went to our hotel and checked in. This hotel was supposedly recently renovated and it looked decent. Newer snap together fake wood floors, newer furniture sets and newer bathroom items. HOWEVER this hotel does not give you shampoo, microwave, refrigerator, hair dryer, safe, do not disturb sign, pool towels, and coffee in the room or in the lobby(even though there was a coffee maker in the lobby). I will not stay at another Motel 6 unless it is a last resort situation for these reasons. After we got settled and brought in anything that would melt or get damaged from the oppressive heat from the Sequoia we headed out to Arches to scout where we wanted to watch the sun rise the next day. We ended up driving the whole park and doing a couple short hikes and taking some pictures! After this we went into town to Moab Brewery for a late lunch and beer. Katie saw that one of her high school friends was in Moab as well! So we met up with her and her husband for a beer and appetizers at The Blu Pig BBQ. Me and Brandon hit it off pretty damn well!! We stayed a bit to late. We said our good byes and headed back to our hotel.

July 3rd, 2018:

Today we got up before the sun and headed up to Arches! We ended up diverting from our set spots we found the day prior and went to a different spot and it turned out to be decent! We also hiked the other hikes that we wanted to do but didnt the day prior including, landscape arch, orange cliffs overlook, a couple in the windows section. We then headed back to the hotel to tidy up the sequoia, catch up on our journals and caught up on our budget ledger. We got some burger king and took a little nap!

July 4th, 2018:

We woke up early, tidy’ed our hotel room and packed up our bags and then headed down to the Sequoia. We hit the road around 700AM and were on our way to Grand Teton National Forest and more specific Gros Ventre Wilderness Area to find our free camping spot for the night! We arrived after driving down the forest road for a couple miles which was actually pretty rough and as we did that i noticed the ol Sequoia developed a weird squeak on the front left side only when it went over bumps.. This kind of worries me because the road in here was a little washed out and graded. Anyway when we got about half way down the road to the actual Granite Creek Campground we noticed almost all of the dispersed camping spots were taken.

So we took the last one that was available! We could have gone down the road all the way to the pay campground and hot spring pool but we decided to snatch up this spot. We do not regret it. It was one of the most picture-esque spots we’ve ever stayed and on the 4th of July no less… We the people of the USA should appreciate, take care of, and use our National Parks, BLM land, National Forests and everything else that has been set aside for us to enjoy nature and America at it’s rawest.

July 5th, 2018:

When we left Gros Ventre after drinking some coffee and taking some more pictures! We headed up the road to Grand Teton National park for the day!
It was hot and busy! We saw jenny lake and drove thru colter bay on jackson lake. We took some pictures but it was just too busy and too hot to go
to far. We then headed up to Teton National Forest to find a place to stay for the night. We got a bit anxious and weird at this point. So we went to the Lodge for a quick breather.

We found a spot and it was busy with people but better than paying for a hotel room or a pay campground. We hung around and walked around the national forest.
We hit the hay a little early because we were tired and prepping for the next day.

July 6th, 2018:

We woke up and hit the road around 8am. I had it in my head that we would try to get home today. After driving for 9 hours and making it to Chamberlain
SD Katie decided it’d be best to get a hotel room and rest up. So we just drove all day and got in early evening.

July 7th, 2018:

We made it home after about 6 hours and got the dogs, unpacked the SUV and threw in a load of laundry.




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