If you have followed my blogs at all, you know that we frequently take the camper on weekend, and occasionally, slightly longer treks. These have usually been focused on a single destination or event.
Early this year, my wife, Peggy, asked one evening. “The ‘Sisters’ are having a Southwest Gathering in Bryce Canyon, Utah. Do you think I could go?” She was referring to the Sisters on the Fly or SOTF, a ladies-only travel—camping—adventure group, of which she is a member.
My response was simple, “Not unless I can go, too!”
It is not that I had any objection to her going, or even going by herself, if she wanted to. It was just that it seemed like a good opportunity for me to see some parts of the country that I have always wanted to visit. And, in fact, I would get to explore Bryce Canyon and surrounding areas on my own, since the SOTF activities were to be “ladies only!”
The planning commenced.
We decided to take advantage of this event as a focal point for a 20-day tour of several western states and National Parks. While in Bryce Canyon, to avoid any conflict with the SOTF ladies-only policy, I would take along the needed gear to tent camp in a separate campground.
In addition, our camper needed some work that was best done by the factory, so the first leg of the trip would be to Le Grange, Indiana for the needed service.
All planning was scheduled around arriving in Le Grange and Bryce Canyon on time. All other planning involved a high degree of flexibility. We made no other advanced reservations for camping spots, etc. Our contingency plans included over-nighting (“boondocking” as the Sisters call it) at truck stops, Walmart parking lots, and other businesses that are camper-friendly, as well as “curbing” at the residences of other SOTF members. (“Curbing” is a practice where SOTF members make it known that other members, if passing through their areas are welcome to park their camper at their residences for a night or two.)
Our initial, proposed itinerary included the following stops in order (all times include travel time to that destination and times may overlap, so the numbers do not necessarily add up to the actual total time away):
- La Grange, Indiana—Camper service (3 days)
- Proceed to Bryce Canyon—SOTF Gathering (3 days travel plus 4-day event)
- North to Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Parks, Wyoming (3 days)
- East to Cody, Wyoming (why, I have no idea) (1 day)
- East to Devil’s Tower, Wyoming (1 day)
- Continue to Custer, SD (2 days)
- Crazy Horse Monument, South Dakota and Mount Rushmore, South Dakota (1 day)
- Badlands of SD, Minuteman Missile Historical Site (1Day)
- Return home, Tennessee (2-3 days)
The travel times were designed to include time for occasional, brief unplanned and unanticipated diversions and opportunities that presented irresistible opportunities.
For example, on the very first day, we were just out of Tennessee when we saw signs for the National Corvette Museum in Bowling Green, Kentucky. This was our first irresistible opportunity, followed later that afternoon by a stop at Mammoth Cave, Kentucky. We shared an overnight rest area with several dozen tractor trailers, and arrived promptly the next morning in La Grange.
The trip was broken down into discrete events, and each event is presented in more-or-less chronological order in this series of blogs. As you will see, many of these events were unplanned and unanticipated, but just as interesting as our defined objectives.
There is one exception to the order of these posts. The next post will cover our visit to Mount Rushmore. This is because just today, a new item on my MSN opening page had an item that described Mount Rushmore as “overpriced.” We did not see it that way, and I want my response to be timely with regards to the news post.
Now, join me as we travel, the way I have envisioned it could be.
Next: Mount Rushmore Rebuttal
Next: Corvette Museum