Y’all, we had the best time on our road trip out west. We started on June 4th and got home by June 15th. We saw everything we wanted to see plus a few extras that we didn’t plan on. That’s a true road trip, you keep moving and stop on a whim. We had a rule in the car, if one person voted to stop we stopped.
Day 1 (Sunday) : We left our house later than I had wanted because I cracked a molar the night before I kind of freaked out. After finally deciding that it was OK and if I had issues, I would just find a dentist along the way, we left. We headed towards Iowa since we were picking up my friend Jenn, who was going to take most of the trip with us. We drove from NC to Chillicothe, Ohio and spent the night. We made a quick stop in Point Pleasant, West Virginia to see the Mothman. That night my son realized there were burial mounds about 2 miles from the hotel so we decided we had to do THAT the next morning.
Day 2 (Monday): As I mentioned before, we used the Obama Era “Every Kid in a Park” pass from the government to get into parks all across the country on this trip and we used their passport program. You get a stamp at every park and my kids loved this part of checking into places. So we stopped at the burial mounds in Ohio that morning before heading towards Iowa. That night we stayed in Davenport, IA. We wanted to pick Jenn up by 10AM the next day.
Day 3 (Tuesday): We headed out to see Jenn. We got to her house around 10AM as planned and she jumped in the car with her stuff. We headed to Villisca, Iowa to see the Ax Murder House. This was on my list of Want To Do. We spent a good amount of time here and got on the road toward New Mexico that afternoon. We drove through Missouri for a minute and into Kansas. We spent the night in Kansas.
Day 4 (Wednesday): We stopped in to see The Big Well and the town of Greensburg which was wiped out by a tornado in 2007, which I remember seeing on that Storm Chasers show. We spent a good amount of time here and then headed towards Liberal, Kansas where we visited Dorothy’s house. This was about lunch time so we had a good amount of time to eat some lunch and see some sights. That night we made it to Santa Rosa, New Mexico. Time flies when you are gaining time zones. We explored this town quite a bit. Got to see some remains of old churches and cool graveyards.
Day 5 (Thursday): We headed towards Albuquerque in the morning. I remembered that Breaking Bad was filmed there and wanted to see a couple of show sites. So we googled Walter White’s house. We ended up there and the owners were sitting outside. I asked if I could take a picture and they told me that I could from across the street. After that I needed to pick up my daughter’s prescription at a CVS and it just happened to be right beside the car wash from the show so we got a picture of that too. Very cool. As we left town, we saw signs for Petroglyphs so we stopped for a little bit to check it out. After that, we got back on the road and hit up Petrified Forest in the afternoon. We spent a lot of time in the park and stopped at every overlook to see. We ended our evening at Winslow, Arizona where you can actually Stand on The Corner and see a flat-bed Ford. We stopped in Flagstaff for the night.
Day 6 (Friday): This was the day we wanted to make it to London Bridge in Lake Havasu, Arizona. My son really wanted to go here and see it, so this was one of our main destinations. We spent a good amount of time here and had lunch at the foot of the bridge. From there we started to look at the map, we knew we would be in this region a while since we wanted to go to the Grand Canyon the next day. So I really wanted to go to Oatman, Arizona. I was NOT SORRY I took everyone here although they were all not sure and thought I lost my mind. Wild Burros. Yes, donkeys everywhere and I loved every single minute of it. We walked around and went into the stores, petted sweet burros and just enjoyed ourselves. I had also read about Olive Oatman last year so visiting a town named for her was pretty cool. I highly suggest taking this small detour when you are out west. After Oatman, we drove up into Nevada for a minute so I could log the state for geocaching. On our way there, we routed ourselves through the Mojave Desert in California. We had dinner just outside of Laughlin, Nevada and made our way back to Williams, Arizona that night to be in place for the Grand Canyon in the morning.
Day 7 (Saturday): GRAND CANYON DAY! We were pretty excited to do this one. We got up and headed an hour up the road to the Grand Canyon. We stopped at every over look and every place that had stamps. We bought some snacks in the grocery store and just enjoyed ourselves. I think my kids really enjoyed seeing the Grand Canyon and I had only ever flown over it. We did the South Rim and ate lunch there. We left the area about 2 in the afternoon and headed towards Utah. We made it to Moab, Utah for the night.
Day 8 (Sunday): Arches National Park was in our sights this morning and boy am I glad we went early. The line to get in when we left around lunch time was insane. We spent some time in Moab in the morning and mailed post cards from their post office. We geocached a bit here to kill time until the park visitor center opened. I loved this park, it was amazing to see. Once we left, we headed north to the interstate that would take us through the Rocky Mountains and into Colorado. My daughter is from Denver, so she really wanted to see where she was born. By the end of this day, we were in Denver.
Day 9 (Monday): We spent some time at Dinosaur Ridge and Red Rocks in the morning and then headed out to the town we used to live in. We went by the old house and took a look at the Air Force Base. From there we headed north to Wyoming and into Nebraska. We stayed in mid Nebraska that night. Nothing else really major happened that day because we were driving through Nebraska.
Day 10 (Tuesday): We drove on to Iowa. We stopped for lunch at a famous cafe where a movie was filmed and then we dropped Jenn off. From there, we headed south to see a friend in Missouri. We got there just about dinner time or just before. I got to see Quirkyblogger again and the kids and I headed east from there. We stayed in Hannibal, MO that night so we could see the Gateway Arch in the morning.
Day 11 (Wednesday): We went to Gateway Arch. Because of construction, we couldn’t get too close to it but were sent to a courthouse a few blocks away. It was still pretty cool to visit and we will go back sometime when they aren’t working on it. That night we stayed in Kentucky after visiting Mammoth Cave just as they closed for the day. So that is on the list to go back and see.
Day 12 (Thursday): We stopped at the Cumberland Gap in the morning and then headed home. We arrived home around 3 in the afternoon and we were so glad to be back. We had an amazing trip and I would do it all over again. If anything, we may have added a couple of sites to see since we had until Saturday to be home. My son was glad to be home for his birthday though.
So let me tell you the big secret to making this happen. We didn’t have a strict plan. We flew by the seat of our pants and stayed at whatever hotel was available. The only time this became an issue was in Flagstaff but it still worked out and we had a place to stay. We kept a good attitude and an open mind about stopping to see whatever we wanted to see.