Great America - June & July, 2012

One of the most iconic and unique spots on the globe: Old Faithful in Yellowstone NP, Wyoming.


Dates: June 20 to July 18, 2012, 18 states


Areas Explored: Most of America west of the Mississippi: the Great Plains, Rocky Mountains, Snake River Valley, Pacific Northwest, Northern California, Big Sur, Mojave Desert, Sangre de Cristos, Missouri River Valley, etc.

Transportation: 2009 Grand Caravan

New Frontiers: Longest trip to date, deepest drive down the West Coast, most mileage in one trip

Cast: Scott, Jessica, Andrew (and baby in utero)


Read: A detailed journal written on the road!


Trip Notes: Day 1: Chicago to Albert Lea, MN. Day 2: To Badlands NP. Day 3: To Custer SP, SD. Day 4: To TRNP, ND. Day 5: All day in Roosevelt NP. Day 6: Across Montana to Paradise Valley. Day 7: Secured camp at Mammoth in Yellowstone NP. Day 8: All day in Yellowstone NP. Day 9: South into Grand Teton NP, WY. Day 10: To Craters of the Moon NP, ID. Day 11: Thru Oregon desert to Emigrant Springs. Day 12: The Columbia Gorge to Ilwaco, WA. Day 13: Oregon Coast to Tillamook, OR. Day 14: 4th of July, to Beverly Beach, OR. Day 15: South Oregon to Bandon, OR. Day 16: To Redwoods NP, CA. Day 17: Mendocino Coast to Walsh Landing, CA. Day 18: To San Francisco's Chinatown. Day 19: To Seaside, CA, on Monterey Bay. Day 20: Across Big Sur to San Simeon SP, CA. Day 21: To Barstow, CA. Day 22: Across the Mojave to St. George, UT. Day 23: Escalante to Farmington, NM. Day 24: To Heron Lake SP, NM. Day 25: To Alamosa, CO, in the San Luis. Day 26: To Colorado Springs, CO. Day 27: To Lenexa, KS. Day 28: Through St. Louis and back home to Chicago.

Click on route in map to see more details on part of journey.

See the sights and hear the sounds...

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Looking back!

Looking back somewhere in the Mojave Desert.

EEvery night, I found time to record the day's events in a diary (just like Lewis & Clark) on my iPod. When I could, I uploaded these to my Travelpod site for followers to keep track of us (very much unlike Lewis & Clark).
Click here to read some of these ramblings on our rambles and to see more images./span>

Yellow Mounds Overlook in Badlands NP, South Dakota. (below)

Page 1: Days 1-3 Across the Mississippi to South Dakota

"The place would see waves of tour bus people come in for their 'free doughnut.' Elderly, confused, zombie-like, nametag-wearing crowds would shuffle around blocking doorways and complaining about the system of food distribution."

The Little Missouri River in Theodore Roosevelt NP, North Dakota. (below)

Page 2: Days 4-5 The Northern High Plains

I stayed back to do chores and on my way up the hill to the van noticed other campers staring at me from two different directions. I know I'm not that interesting, so my next guess was spot on: a bison bull was near me or my path. There he was, quiet, and within seconds those four legs carried the creature right by me. I spoke softly, asking him to leave. He did oblige with a huff.  Continue reading...

Bison herd at Hayden Valley in Yellowstone NP, Wyoming. (below)
Page 3: Days 6-8 Amazing, awesome, inspiring Yellowstone 

A Japanese tourist decided to photograph our family picnic. I grabbed our camera because I was going to go take photos of him if he tried it again, but he decided pointing was better than photographing the Americans having a picnic in the woods. Perhaps this is because he comes from a country where they individually wrap gummi-bears. So eating outside must have seemed foolish and quaint.  Continue reading...


Antler archway in Jackson Square  in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. (below)
Page 4: Days 9-12 Downhill, all the way to the Pacific 

The road passes through elk and pronghorn filled fields of sage. Down a hill is a rushing river and a variety of trees. In the trees I saw a moose. When I pulled a u-turn to see it again, it was gone. I continued on with my eyes on the river and not too far down we spotted two moose in the water... After they decided we were no harm, they continued their moose activities consisting mostly of continuously twitching to remove mosquitos.  Read more...


Gray whale spouting in the Pacific Ocean, just north of Depoe Bay, Oregon. (below)
Page 5: Days 13-16 Oregon's Pacific Coast 

The deckhands unloaded half a dozen plastic totes full of salmon and crabs. The fish cleaners got to work gutting and preparing the fish. As soon as the boat pulled in, a trio of harbor seals raced to the water under the cleaners and lifted their heads up out of the water, hoping for a scrap to fall. They looked more like dogs than they usually do. Read more...

  Photo Album Click on the thumbnails to see the whole photo or to see a slideshow. 


Somewhere along CA-1 in Big Sur country, California. (below) 
Page 6: Days 16-20 California's Pacific Coast 

There were close to sixty of them snorting and huffing. Some wore faces of perfect contentment laying in the Big Sur sun, occasionally itching themselves with a fin. Another comfort to them seemed to be throwing sand on themselves. The big males bellowed, their long noses flapping, their breath making steam in the cool air.


The Sangre de Cristos Range near San Luis, Colorado. (below) 
Page 7: Days 21-28 Across the desert, over the Rockies & the Missouri  

We reached the ghost town of Cima where the road ended. Houses were falling apart and leaning precariously. One was a pile of wood already. The store promised water and refreshments, but was closed and decomposing. There were rusted out trucks from the 1950's in a fenced off lot full of sun-bleached junk beside a collection of rural route mailboxes, that must belong to no one.   Read more...

Photos copyright 2012 by S. Plencner & J. Bezold All other content copyright 2013 by S. Plencner