Roadtrips often remind me of childhood trips. Growing up my mom was a school teacher. We would spend our school year in Texas and our summers in Minnesota with our grandparents, Paul Bunyan and the one hundred thousand lakes.
One specific roadtrip comes to mind. We packed up, as we usually did, and took the long way through the west coast. We picked up my grandfather in Arizona and continued through California, Oregon, Washington and cut clear across the top row of states to Minnesota. It was three weeks in the car. We saw wonderful things like the Jelly Belly Factory, the Redwoods, Crater Lake, the Space Needle, and tons of monuments in between. I always remember the Oregon coast. Driving with the ocean on one side and the purple mountains majesty on the other, I was in sheer awe at 13 years old. The picture is something I carry with me often. That summer my sister and I had a difficult time riding in the car for any reason. It was a feat!
When 2020 began, I would’ve never dreamed of planning a roadtrip but here we are and here is this unexpected and wonderful trip.
My first part of my Wedding Season came to a bit of a standstill with the pandemic and I had the opportunity to visit my mom, throw here a mini retirement party and help her drive to Minnesota. I still had a backyard wedding in Wisconsin that would end my trip. Two weeks before I flew to Texas one of my friends posted from the Badlands. Wow, I forgot how amazing that place was. I was inspired to look at the map and called my mom, asking if she would be open to a detour to go visit the National Park.
She started to throw some ideas out, we both got out our maps and planned a ‘long way home’ roadtrip exploring state parks, national monuments and ghosttowns. Indy, my sweet dog, was ready for an adventure + so were we.
We passed through the corner of New Mexico, explored the less traveled back roads of Colorado, into the best of Wyoming and the Black Hills of South Dakota before arriving home.
Highlights were Independence ghost town, the Stanley Hotel in Estes Park [closed], Phoenix Gold Mine, Devil’s Tower, Custer State Park, Crazy Horse Monument and what inspired it all, the unforgettable Badlands National Park.
If you are inspired as I was, I created some tips and things I used to plan this during a pandemic and otherwise. I hope you enjoy this collection of some of my favorite moments.
*Social Distancing was very important for us as we have family members and friends we were seeing once we arrived home. We always had masks handy, had a routine for sanitizing hotel rooms and food, and kept distance from all we came in contact with. Ghost towns have been practicing social [and spiritual you could say] distancing for years.*