RECAP: Leg 1 of Our Year-Long Adventure
Well, we made it through the first of our trip’s six legs.
It doesn’t actually seem that impressive when I think about only being a fraction finished with our trip. But it definitely feels impressive.
Up until we left for our trip on August 18th, our minds were completely wrapped around this first chunk of the trip. We realized that in our first seven weeks, we would have a really good feel for how our travel lives would be. And that would either be a good thing or a bad thing.
Thankfully, we could not have had a much smoother first seven weeks on the road.
To recap, here is a map with the National Parks we visited. You can click the links below to read more about our visits.
Brown Vs Board of Ed Rd Wamego Trip on Roadtrippers
- Great Sand Dunes: video / feature post
- Mesa Verde: video / feature post
- Petrified Forest: video / feature post
- Grand Canyon: video / feature post / Rim-to-Rim-to-Rim adventure
- Zion: video / feature post
- Great Basin: video / feature post
- Bryce Canyon: video / feature post
- Capitol Reef: video / feature post
- Canyonlands: video / feature post
- Arches: video / feature post
- Black Canyon of the Gunnison: video / feature post
Here is a fun infographic we put together to give you a sense of our first leg, by the numbers:
In addition to National Parks, we attempted to visit numerous National Park Service sites, which includes monuments, recreation areas, historic sites, and other designations. Here are the NPS sites we visited:
- Stops along the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail
- Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
- Tallgrass National Prairie
- Canyon de Chelly National Monument
- Hubbell Trading Post National Historic Site
- Walnut Canyon National Monument
- Wupatki National Monument
- Sunset Crater National Monument
- Cedar Breaks National Monument
- Glen Canyon National Recreation Area
- Colorado National Monument
If you read our park itineraries and followed our trips, you know that our first leg was fast and furious, and we squeezed a lot into each area we visited. Thankfully, our next leg will be slightly more relaxed.
From the past seven weeks, here are a few things that went really well:
- Sleeping. Cole and I both sleep really well on our Big Agnes sleeping pads in our LL Bean 20* down sleeping bags almost every night. I sleep a little too well and never want to wake up in the morning.
- Working. Blogging from the road has been much easier than expected. We are able to write and edit videos in the car, and usually sit for a three- or four-hour uploading/blogging session at a coffee shop where we put it all together. Cell service has been spotty out west, but we have been able to post to social media consistently.
- Living out of our car. This one has been the most pleasant surprise. Living out of our car is easy! We never don’t have what we need, because it is literally within an arm’s length at all times. I’d say we use about 50% of what we own regularly, and another 25% occasionally. We pared down a bit of that final 25% when we were home for the weekend. It’s crazy how we own so much and use so little. Kinda makes me want to go all tiny-home-movement and never buy anything again. Kinda.
- Marriage. One of the most frequent questions we get is, How do you not kill each other? And, since I love my quiet alone time, I thought this aspect would be more trying, but it’s not. The best part of this trip is that we’re doing it together. Our relationship and communication skills have grown a lot. Communication really changes when conflicts must be immediately resolved.
Of course, not everything has been perfect. Here are a few things we’re still working on improving:
- Eating. We eat fairly healthy most of the time, but still find ourselves lethargic when we don’t get big, protein-rich meals, especially breakfast. Luckily our sponsored Paleonola works great as a healthy breakfast or trail snack. Fresh food and produce is hard because even though we have a cooler we don’t want to buy a bag of ice every day. We’re still working on discovering non-perishable healthy meals that also fuel us for a day of hiking and exploring. If you have any ideas, let us know!
- Relaxing. Cole has always maintained a cram-everything-in lifestyle, even in Kansas City, but I’m used to having designated times throughout the day that are mine for relaxing. We got by on adrenaline a lot this first leg, but as we prepare for the next, we are looking for ways to carve out time in our days for quiet relaxation and some reflection time. I’m a big fan of meditation and yoga, so those will be worked in a bit more in the next few weeks as well.
- Connecting. We want this trip to go beyond the two of us. We want to have this personal soul-searching experience but we also are trying to reach out and connect with as many people as possible. We are definitely trying to improve in this area.
After a few days of reflection and relaxation, we are happy to be back on the road and back in the parks. So where are we heading? Well, east. Northeast first, hopefully to catch some fall colors, and then down the east coast towards warmer weather and beaches. Our life is rough 🙂 Here are the parks we’ll be visiting:
- Cuyahoga Valley
- Great Smoky Mountains
- Dry Tortugas
- U.S. Virgin Islands
- Mammoth Cave
In mid-December, we’ll take about three weeks off for spending time with both sides of the family over Christmas.
Mostly, we want to take this time to thank all of YOU who follow along and support our efforts to promote the National Parks. Without people reading and commenting and keeping up with our social media outlets, we wouldn’t have nearly the motivation it takes to maintain a project like this.
We have already seen some amazing places. We are so grateful for the opportunity to be on this trip… and to share it with all of you.
Elizabeth & Cole
P.S. Psssst! For you STLers, our story will be featured in this Sunday’s issue of The Post Dispatch in Joe Holleman’s column! Keep an eye out for us!