Our Chalet Truck Camper

Our Chalet Truck Camper

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

End of the western trip - home again

Home again, home again after ending the trip with a visit to family in VA. Mom was doing well this visit so that made the ending even sweeter.

Would we take this trip again? A resounding YES now that we have an overview of parts of the west and know what places we would like to concentrate more time in. As the t-shirt says "Utah Rocks" and that state in particular deserved a lot more time than we were able to give to exploring.

Every road turn out west the scenery changes, not like the east which is older, tamer and greener. In general, the western roads, even way back roads, are in better shape than the eastern roads. That is probably due to a lot less traffic on them. We'd often go for many, many miles on back roads and never see another soul. Our local roads getting close to home are in horrible shape and a bone rattling welcome home. Kudos to the highway departments out west.

My best places visited were Capital Reef/Grand Wash for the incredible geology, Custer State Park particularly the internal roads Wildlife Loop and Needles Highway, and Yellowstone for the diversity in wildlife and geology,

Joe's best - Devil's Tower and the walk around it because it stood alone and wasn't in amongst a blaze of rock formations so you could study it, Wyoming and Utah overall and Canyonlands National Park.

Joe's worst - Zion National Park due to having to take the crowded shuttles, Anasazi State Park in Boulder, Utah which was very small and a comparatively expensive entry fee, Amana Colonies in Iowa because he felt it was just shopping.

Anne's worst - also Zion crowds with really high temperatures and the shuttle, Memphis for the poor road conditions, signage and trash/litter.

We were best prepared for: map routing with Delorme Street Atlas software. Really like this program because we can change it on the fly, look ahead for fuel stops, re-provisioning (known as Super Wal-Mart), get the name of geographic features, find the smallest roads possible.

We were worse prepared for: the heat. Even though I was raised in VA where the heat is quite high, I've lived in Maine since my 20s. The western heat is dry but it is intense and lasts well into the night. I'd forgotten how draining of energy that can be and how on edge it can make you. The Host's AC worked perfectly but you cannot live in AC when you are out to walk, hike and see the sights. At least we drank a lot of water each day so it probably wasn't as draining as I'm remembering.

Things that will stick with me: The Oklahoma City National Memorial for the Murrah Building bombing. This is a MUST see if you are anywhere close by. Mesa Verde Cliff Dwellings, first look down into the Hoo Doos at Bryce Canyon, crossing the mud washes at Palo Duro State Park in Texas, Fossil Butte National Monument.

Questions I wonder: Why all the horses and no one is every riding them? We saw many thousands of horses and only time we ever saw anyone riding was on a pack ride in Bryce.

Sorry we missed: Meteor Crater, Death Valley, more boon docking in the desert, BLM lands and Grasslands.

TC is now emptied of all gear, ready to be washed and cleaned up tomorrow, oil change Monday, and then repacked for whatever small trips the summer brings.

We averaged 11.34mpg, spent just over $3,100 in diesel, travelled over 8,700 miles and are very sorry it is over. Sure it isn't fun spending the diesel money but I'll have these memories for a lifetime and can replay them when I'm old and can not longer go! Get on the road as often as you can everyone, short trip or long, local or new. No telling what will happen with cost, health, family, etc. tomorrow so do it NOW! and never, ever look back.


Anonymous said...

Welcome home you two! What a wonderful journey, and thank you so much for sharing it with the rest of us. Meteor Crater in the summer can be as touristy as Zion so next time plan to go out of season; ditto Death Valley - best time is December! Thanks again, this has been a fabulous travelogue.

Knitman said...

Now this is something I would love to do.I adore road trips.

Sheila said...

I had to drop you a line to tell you that Joe and I are proud owners of a tent trailer. We took it on it's first run last weekend. What a learning curve. Your western trip looks great. Too bad Zion was so hot!