Ruffled Feathers and Spilled Milk

Farming with ducks and dairy goats, chickens and children.

Are We There Yet?

Posted on | February 19, 2017 | 7 Comments

The most time-consuming part of MegaTrip II is over.  That would be the planning part.  It started last year a couple weeks after we came back from MegaTrip I and I booked reservations in the National Parks.  Which needs to be done almost a year in advance.  Then I started collecting Fodor’s and Frommer’s and Lonely Planet from the used bookstore.  Then I spent hours online with Google Maps and TripAdvisor and Yelp.

But the hardest part isn’t figuring out which path to take and which stops to make along the way.  The hardest part isn’t finding sites and activities that appeal to the interests of 6 very different people.  It isn’t juggling the National Parks pass, Groupon, Yipit, and other discounts to keep down the costs.  It isn’t searching through hotel sites, and VRBO and airbnb.

The hardest part starts now.  The waiting.

Because once you have looked at all the pictures and read all the reviews and have printed your 12 page travel guide—-with mileage and drive time; sites and hikes; restaurants and lodging—-you need to go.  Now.

As a matter of fact, it seems like every minute that you are not on MegaTrip II is a waste of your life.  If it wasn’t for the fact that it takes 6 months of work to afford a MegaTrip, I’d be on the road right now.

So I guess waiting is the only option.  In the meantime, please review my trip plans.  Let me know if you have any tips for the sites we are visiting.  Please pass along any coupons or discounts or free activities in the areas we’ll be traveling.  Restaurants or cool places to eat; food we absolutely need to try.  Whatever you think we are missing.  Because I left a margin on my 12 page planner for all your advice.  And The Other Half’s favorite part of the trip is trying to read all those scribbles I put in the margin for him to decipher while I’m driving.

Here goes:

King’s Mountain National Military Park, Blacksburg, SC   Battlefield trail

Caesar’s Head State Park, Cleveland, SC   Raven Cliff Falls hiking trail

Atlanta, GA: Sweet Georgia’s Juke Joint, Margaret Mitchell Sqaure, Tabernacle, SkyView Atlanta, Georgia Dome, CNN, Centennial Park, Martin Luther King Jr National Historic Site, World of Coca Cola, Atlanta History Center, Walking Dead film sites

Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site, Tuskegee, AL

Biloxi Lighthouse, Biloxi, MS

New Orleans, LA:  Jazzy Pass for trolleys, Germaine Wells Mardi Gras Museum, Bourbon St, New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum, Gallier House, Old Ursaline Convent, French Market, Jackson Square, Pirate Alley, Cafe Du Monde, Washington Artillery Park, Frenchmen St, Barataria Preserve (Plametto Trail, Bayou Coquille Trail, March Overlook Trail)

LSU Rural Life Museum, Baton Rouge, LA

Spindletop-Gladys City Boomtown Museum, Beaumont, TX

San Antonio, TX: River Walk, Alamo

Carlsbad Caverns, NM   Natural Entrance trail

Roswell, NM: International UFO Museum and Research Center, Roswell Museum and Art Center

Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, Tularosa, NM

Eagle Ranch Pistachios, Alamogordo, NM

White Sands National Monument, NM   Dune Life Nature trail

Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, Silver City, NM

Tombstone, AZ: OK Corral Historic Complex, Boothill Graveyard

Saguaro National Park, AZ    Red Hills Visitor Center, Scenic Baja Loop, Valley View Overlook trail, Signal Hill Petroglyph trail

Phoenix, AZ: Just spending the night here.  Places to see?  Places to eat?

Joshua Tree National Park, CA   Black Rock Nature Center, High View Nature Trail

Bakersfield, CA: Just spending the night here.  Places to see?  Places to eat?

Sequoia National Forest, CA     Giant Forest Museum, Big Trees trail, Moro Rock, General Sherman Tree, Congress trail, Big Stump trail

Fresno, CA: eat dinner at In-N-Out Burger

Yosemite National Park, CA    Sentinel Dome trail, Glacier Pt trail, Tunnel View, Birdalveil Fall trail, Cathedral beach, Mist trail to Vernal Falls, Ansel Adams Gallery, Lower Falls trail, El Capitan, Grove of Giant Sequoias trail, Olmsted Pt trail, Pothole Dome and Tuolomne River trail

San Francisco, CA: Union Square, Dragon’s Gate, ChinaTown( Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory , Golden Gate Bakery  for egg custard), Little Italy, Washington Square Park, North Beach, Filbert St steps, Telegraph Hill, Coit Tower, Embarcadero, Pier 39 sea lions, Pier 45 Musee Mecanique, Fisherman’s Wharf, Lombard Coroked St, Nobb Hill, Golden Gate Bridge

Muir Woods, Mill Valley, CA    Ben Johnson trail

Lake Tahoe, NV   Sand Harbor Beach, Sand Pt Nature trail

Death Valley National Park, CA     Darwins Falls hike, Mosaic Canyon trail, Sand Dunes, Mustard Canyon, Harmony Borax Works trail, Zabriskie Point, Twenty Mule Canyon, Dante’s View

Las Vegas Strip, NV: Bellagio Fountains, Caesar’s Palace Fall of Atlantis and aquarium, Mirage volcano, Treasure Island outdoor show, The Ventian/The Palazzo waterfall/atrium, LINQ Promenade, Paris Eiffel Tower, Las Vegas Sign at Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino

Hoover Dam Bypass/Mike O’Callaghan-Tillman Memorial Bridge, NV

Grand Canyon National Park, AZ South Rim trail, Desert View Dr

Cliff Palace Mesa Verde National Park, CO    Cliff Palace, Balcony House, Chapin Mesa Archaeological Museum, Spruce Tree House, Park Point Overlook

Albuquerque, NM: Old Town tour of Bottger Mansion, Rattlesnake Museum, La Placita, San Felipe de Neri, Guadalupe Chapel, Museum Sculpture Garden

Petroglyph National Monument, NM   Piedras Marcadas Canyon trail

Sandia Peak Tramway, NM

Amarillo, TX: Cadillac Ranch, Ozymandias on the Plains, Floaitng Mesa, Combine City, Historic Rte 66, The Big Texan Steak Ranch

Paris, TX:  Eiffel Tower

West Monroe, LA:  Duck Dynasty Warehouse, Willie’s Diner, Black Bayou Lake Nature trail and overlook

Vicksburg National Military Park, MS

Birmingham, AL : Civil Rights Heritage trail, Vulcan Park

Chatanooga, TN: Just spending the night here.  Places to see?  Places to eat?

Rock City, Lookout Mountain, GA    Lover;s Leap, See 7 States, Fairyland Caverns, Swing-A-Long Bridge

That’s it.  That’s enough.

Are we there yet?


7 Responses to “Are We There Yet?”

  1. Katherine Williams
    February 19th, 2017 @ 3:17 pm

    I have such strong feelings about this itinerary. First of all, do not go to Atlanta. Skip Atlanta. The only thing to see in Atlanta is traffic. Maybe go to Savanna instead? Or just keep driving straight through Georgia.

    Carlsbad is kind of interesting. But not more interesting than Luray caverns in Va. (Which we can do on a day trip.) And Rosewell is a town made to serve truckers hauling nuclear waste. Really — I didn’t feel safe with my kids there. So maybe take West Texas and Southern NM off your map? It. Is. A. Hell. Hole. It’s the worst highway in the US. If every citizen saw what is going on down there we would convert from oil tomorrow. Here’s from my notes of that trip: “Today we drove the sketchiest highway in the United States: 176 across southeastern New Mexico into west Texas. 200 marginally paved miles through oil wells, some actively burning, passing special bulk fluid tankers destined for WIPP. Yes, that is a fucking nuclear waste storage facility. I can’t really express how horrifying and exhausting…” I was being polite and staid in my description. HELL. HOLE. Unsafe, ugly, uninteresting, no where to stop or to pee, nothing to see but degradation.

    That said, the northern part of NM is worth any extra time and money you have to spend. You can’t miss — it’s all good. Gorgeous, interesting, delicious, rich, historic, awe inspiring, etc etc etc.

  2. peggy ruske
    February 20th, 2017 @ 5:04 am

    Ages ago my mother and I went to New Mexico with a day or two in Arizona. We only had 5 days at Easter. We did get to Acoma Pueblo, Santa Fe, the Petrified Forest and some of the cliff dwellings. We crammed a lot in but it was well worth the time. We flew into Albuquerque and rented a car. Would do it again!

  3. Jill Hallenbeck
    February 20th, 2017 @ 5:33 am

    How many days in Yosemite? The trails are long and oh so gorgeous. Texas is a big state… I envy your getting to do this with the kiddos; they will remember it forever.

  4. carolyn christman
    February 20th, 2017 @ 5:46 pm

    I agree with the comments above — basically skip the sites that are close and concentrate on the truly amazing stuff that is so far away. For example, drop by the SC sites but skip Atlanta. My favorites from the list above are YOSEMITE with the huge redwood community, a place I wanted to stay forever — give yourself some time to just sit here and feel it. There are places to get off the beaten path and away from the other people. GRAND CANYON is similar to Yosemite in its spectacle though it is harder to get away from the tourist trails and enjoy the feeling of the place. plus very hot. So you might think about the North Rim?
    Yosemite is just fabulous and gorgeous though the valley attracts a big crowd. You’ll need to get above the valley to get some space. Death Valley is totally memorable — it can be seen from space for gosh sakes — and one of the most extreme environments in the US. You will have to make room in your car for water. It is good to visit places that can be fatal — but even in Death Valley there is all kinds of tiny life. I loved being there (didn’t want to live there) When we did our trip to the SW we alternated natural wonders with human-built wonders (and/or crap depending on one’s point of view) so that still works as a basic plan. Las Vegas is a sight but I woulnd’t spend days there. And, finally, be prepared to drop plans and improvise when you all find something you absolutely love. And, also, keep looking for great pieces of pie! love carolyn

  5. Sandy
    February 20th, 2017 @ 6:39 pm

    I am assuming this is a summer trip. You have listed several stops in the desert. Desert temps can easily climb to well over 100 in the summer. Death Valley can go over 120. I doubt that you will even be able to get out of the car. I live in San Diego. We try to avoid the desert after about May 1 if at all possible unless the temps are still reasonable. Good luck, keep checking the weather, and drink lots and lots of water.

  6. Katherine Williams
    February 22nd, 2017 @ 6:27 am

    I forgot about Death Valley. That would be a great thing to drive through the night. Through the day, in the summer, it is well apart from any kind of desert experience you’ve already had. It’s dangerous, grueling, monotonous, and not fun at all. I did it (because I was a kid and an idiot) in the summer over one long day. In terms of endurance, it was harder than childbirth. I’m not joking. The INSIDE of my car got too hot to touch. And you can’t count on the a/c in your car to stand up to the heat. It is a dangerous thing to do in the summer in the day. In the night it would be mostly boring (and I’m not sure if the ONE gas station in the middle stays open?) but stepping outside to see the stars in Death Valley? That might (*might*) be worth it. 🙂

  7. Kim
    February 22nd, 2017 @ 7:27 pm

    SA: Visit Alcatraz, go on the first boat, take lunch and enjoy! So much fun and a guided tour tells you all it’s history. Even the fridge magnets are worth a purchase.
    LV: include a visit to the Bellagio conservatory whilst there, amazing to see and they change the theme every few months to fit in with the latest holiday.
    Death Valley: drove through in September and it was hotter than a two dollar pistol. Definitely worth seeing and take an egg to fry on the roadside, very odd to see!

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