You guys — it’s time to hit the road. On Tuesday, we are finally heading west. Somehow we’ll have been here 11 weeks and one day. I’m not entirely sure how that happened. All I know is — the open road is calling our name!
Here’s what’s on the map: 6.5 weeks. 9 states. 5,000 miles. And 2 travelers ready to roam.
One big development in our plan is that — like we did on our last big road trip — we’re leaving our turtle house behind. Yes, we’re going to be car camping once again. We started talking about doing this as we slowly watched our planned 10-week trip shrink down to a 7-week trip. The camper comes will all the comforts of home, but it makes set up, break down, and days on the road go more slowly. Car camping keeps us light and quick (and hey, we can get drive-thru again!#winning ). As I type Ryan is busy building a sweet platform that’s going to elevate our car camping experience, and later in the week I’m planning a post on what we learned from our last trip, so stay tuned here and on Instagram.
Now: On to the fun stuff! Here’s a week-by-week overview of our itinerary (subject to change without notice). This is also a call for help! We want to know … where should we go, what should we see, where should we stay?! So please, comment, Instagram us, email us … especially if you know where I can find amazing gluten-free pizza. 😉
Week 1 (February 8-14)
- Tuesday, February 9: Adios, Baton Rouge!
- Tuesday – Thursday: The ten-day forecast is promising sunny skies and moderate temperatures at Galveston Island State Park. As long as the weather is pleasant, I’d like to stay here a couple of nights. Has anyone camped here? I also have my eye on Sea Rim State Park as an alternative — they have beach camping, which we’ve always wanted to try!
- Thursday – Sunday: San Antonio! We’ll be staying a few nights with my brother and his wife who live in San Antonio. I’m super excited to 1) see him, because he’s the coolest, and 2) see the sights with Ryan, who’s never been. Obviously the San Antonio River Walk and the Alamo are on our list. Anyone have restaurant recommendations? I’d also like to check out nearby Austin, and we may even make it an overnight and camp at McKinney Falls State Park. I’ve heard so many things about Austin, I’m super excited to finally get to check it out.
Week 2 (February 15-21)
- From San Antonio we’re headed towards Big Bend National Park. It wasn’t on our national parks wish list, but we’re still excited to check out Big Bend. I don’t know a lot about the park, but I’m planning on some hiking and star gazing … and maybe we’ll even cross into Mexico? (I’ve never been!)
- From Big Bend, we’re driving north to check out Carlsbad Caverns National Park, another park that hadn’t made my list! On the way I will probably try to stop in Marathon, Texas, and take 10,000 pictures of me posed in front of signs like “Marathon Coffee” and “Marathon Motel,” at which point he will remind me that I am a weenie who has yet to make the leap from half marathon to full marathon. Sigh.
- At that point, instead of heading southwest toward El Paso, we’re thinking of cutting north to see Lincoln National Forest and White Sands National Monument. Fellow travelers: What’s our best route? Are we missing out by skipping El Paso?
- From there our next destination is Tombstone, Arizona, where we will doubtless take ridiculous photos at the O.K. Corral. (I’ve got my eye on Patagonia Lake State Park for camping.)
Week 3 (February 22-28)
- After a week in southern Arizona, we’re headed north! Saguaro National Park is one obvious and important stop.
- I think we’ll just do a drive-by of Phoenix; I’m far more interested in Sedona and Flagstaff. I’ve heard great things about both cities — anyone have recommendations?
- The highlight of this week will be Grand Canyon National Park. Neither of us have been and I. Can’t. Wait. We’re planning on camping there, which should be amazing.
Week 4 (February 29-March 6)
- In week 4 we’ll turn east, leaving us about 2.5 weeks to get back to Virginia. At this point, we’re New Mexico-bound!
- En route from Arizona to New Mexico we’ll stop off at Petrified Forest National Park. This will probably be our longest driving day, but I’ve heard good things (thanks, Briana!) and of course we can’t pass up the chance to check another park off our list. We’ll be spending most of this week visiting friends in northern New Mexico.
- Once we leave the Albuquerque area, we’ll have another long driving day — this time, headed for Oklahoma City. (Should we stop in Amarillo on the way?) I’ve been eager to visit the city ever since reading an article about it in Spirit magazine, and I can’t wait to check it off my list. (We’re armed with a list of recommendations from Ryan’s aunt and uncle, who used to live there.) For camping, I’ve got my eye on Thunderbird Lake State Park.
Week 5 (March 7-March 13)
- Week 5 is the week of Arkansas! You may remember we were trying to make a trip up here just after Christmas, but we couldn’t make it work because we both got sick. Well, this is our chance. The short list of destinations includes Eureka Springs (and Thorncrown Chapel), Mount Magazine State Park, and Hot Springs National Park (another pick from our 2016 National Parks Wish List).
- After exploring Arkansas, we’ll swing back to Louisiana to pick up the camper. That will take a couple of days — and once we have the camper, our driving time will slow down again. I’m hopeful that at this point in time it will be late enough that we won’t encounter any snow with the turtle house in tow. Hopefully this isn’t just wishful thinking …
Week 6 (March 14-20)
- I’d like to hit three cities in Tennessee: Memphis, Nashville, and Knoxville. I’ve heard good things about all three, but don’t have much much planned for these spots yet. Any suggestions for things to do or places to camp?
- After spending some time in the cities, I’m sure we’ll be ready for the great outdoors again. It’s probably the wrong time of year to visit, but I can’t wait to stay in Smoky Mountain National Park.
Week 7 (March 21-27)
- Week 7, we’re almost home! I have one last stop planned: Asheville, North Carolina. The Biltmore estate is one spot on my radar, but I’d love food and sightseeing suggestions. Also — anyone know where to camp here? Right now we have the Asheville East KOA in in mind, but if anyone knows any other spots, I’d love to hear them.
- By Thursday we’ll be back in Virginia! I need to make a reservation at the Prince William Forest Campground, which is just a few miles from Quantico. On Saturday, March 26 we’ll be seeing Ryan’s brother graduate from Officer Candidate School! And, bonus: we’ll get to celebrate Easter with his family who’ll be in town.
And that’s all, folks! I’m exhausted and excited just typing that all out!
Good thing we’ve got our road trip game faces on!
So: Where should we go? What can’t we miss? And if you live on our route … can we camp in your yard? 😉