To start the day, I took Cooper (my dog) for a long walk around the area we stayed overnight. It’s just such a cool area with some nice scenery, wide-open space, cool rock formations, and mountains surrounding the area. I had to spend some time taking it in. Here’s a better picture of where we parked. And here are some random pictures I took while we were on our walk.
Where Did Mike Go?
Just a dude driving around in a van.
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Upon waking up, I noticed that the roads were definitely wet, but not in terrible condition. I was worried about some of the low-lying areas leaving though. I really didn’t feel like getting stranded in the middle of nowhere. But, there’s only one way to find out if the roads are passable. If they weren’t I would drive back to the camping area and wait for the roads to dry.
Now we’re starting to get into the good part of the trip. It’s starting to become less about putting in miles and more about enjoying the places I’m traveling through. My original goal was to stop at a free camping area next to Lake Merideth. Upon arrival, everything seemed ok at first. It looked like a decent enough place to park overnight. but then I started having second thoughts about
Now we’re talkin’! I know most people find the plain states to be, well, pretty plain. But I absolutely love it. Wide open space, no traffic, little congestion, friendly people… to me states like Nebraska and Kansas are wonderful. So needless to say, this was a good day. I was still trying to get some miles in, but the further west I got, the more I was enjoying myself. I
Now that the van was working as it should, I wanted to get some miles under the tires. Normally I like to limit my driving to a few hours per day, but this was going to be a long stretch. My goal is to get to Colorado in just a few days, then slow down and enjoy the mountains. I also usually like to avoid highways and take the country
Before winter hit, I wanted to take another trip out west. I planned it all out, got an oil change, tire rotation, cleaned and loaded the van up, and was all set to hit the open road. Unfortunately, the night before I left, I discovered my battery system was malfunctioning. Here’s what it was doing. After unsuccessful attempts to resolve the problem with tech support over the phone, I was
I decided to just stay in the area today to take in the views and drive the Badlands Loop which is a route that goes right through the canyon. I would then circle back around and camp out in the same spot. The Badlands is yet another place that feels like it’s from another planet! The landscape during some parts of this drive just didn’t look Earthly. I’m not sure
Today I was going from my mountain paradise west of Custer State Park to the Badlands, which wasn’t too far away. It seemed like almost half my trip was just getting off the mountain! The roads leaving the mountain were really sloppy from all the rain overnight, and I woke up to some pretty dense fog, making it an interesting trek down, but my van handled it like a champ.
Today was awesome. I’ve been so excited to get to the Badlands that I was just sort of going through Custer State Park since it was so close. Little did I know it would be one of my favorite places! I absolutely loved Custer State Park and will absolutely be back. As for Mount Rushmore… I’m just going to come out and say it. It’s kinda dumb! 😀 I know
This is going to be a short entry, but not because I didn’t enjoy the day. Quite the opposite, actually! Today was mostly just going from point A to point B. I wanted to get close to Mount Rushmore and there was a nice free camping area up on a mountain in Deadwood, SD. Before I started creating this journal entry, I realized I took very few pictures and no
Before I got started on my drive today, I decided to stop and get an oil change on the van. The manual for my van states the first oil change should be done at 7,000 miles and/or when the oil light comes on. However, my van recently passed 5,000 miles and I decided to get it changed a little early. I’ve really run the van hard and have driven on
Today’s drive went through Yellowstone starting from the West Entrance and exiting through the East Entrance. While I made a few quick stops along the way in some scenic overlook areas, the only extended stop I made was to the Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. I’ve quickly learned that Yellowstone is best enjoyed on foot by hiking to cool places, but since the trails are not dog friendly and I’m not
Everyone knows how incredible Yellowstone is, so I don’t need to explain it. My first trip was from the Grand Tetons south of Yellowstone, up north, and then out to West Yellowstone to camp for the night. Old Faithful and that entire area around it was absolutely amazing. Old Faithful was due to erupt just 15 minutes after I arrived, so that was pretty convenient. I didn’t take a picture
My original plan was to just go through Yellowstone and skip the Grand Teton Mountains. US Route 191 from the Grand Tetons to Yellowstone was still closed for the season, meaning if I wanted to see both, I’d need to go into the Grand Teton Mountains, turn around at the road closure, and backtrack over 100 miles to enter Yellowstone. But the Grand Teton Mountains were just too close to
As the old saying goes, “half the fun is getting there.” Today I was headed for the Grand Tetons, but the drive getting there was epic. The vast openness of Montana is really something that is foreign to most of us. There is just absolutely nothing around except nature, some farms, and cattle. After being in some wooded places, the long-distance unobstructed views were a nice change. I once again
After taking a day to relax in Florence, it was time to head on down the road as I make my way towards the Grand Teton National Park. Boy was I in for a treat today. The drive was just incredible! I got used to the dense forests and trees, but Montana is much more open and spacious, which provides for some really amazing views. I know I always say
Before we left civilization again, I wanted to stop by one of Cooper’s favorite places to stock up on goodies. The Petco Trail! I was really looking forward to the drive today. Route 12 across Idaho, which I heard was an amazing drive and it did not disappoint. This is a long winding road the follows the Lochsa River and the beautiful scenery just didn’t quit the entire ride across.
I contemplated staying at Mesa an extra day, but I really needed to get some work done and internet speeds at that campground were hardly usable, so it was time to head out. There weren’t many places to camp out between Mesa and Clarkston. There were either only paid campgrounds or places that had zero internet connection at all, and my route after Clarkston basically had no cell/internet connection for
After spending the night in a rather crowded parking lot, which was surprisingly quiet and peaceful, I walked around for just a little bit to stretch our legs before we drove around Mount Hood. Here’s the “campground” I stayed at: I really don’t want to say anything negative about where I parked overnight. No, it wasn’t a private campsite next to a sparkling stream that I had all to myself
The night before I was going to drive up to Mount Rainier, it was raining where I was at and in the upper 30s. They closed the road going up but expected it to reopen in the morning, which it did. The road was still closed near the top though. So even though I knew it was still snowing up there, I was really surprised at how much snow they
I didn’t know much about Olympic National Forest, so driving through there was pretty cool as I really didn’t know what to expect at any given turn. I kept thinking it seemed like a rainforest, and little did I know that it actually is! Olympic National Forest is part of the Hoh Rainforest. Pretty cool! Here’s some pictures of various places we stopped in Olympic National Forest along our way
After a really great drive through the Cascade Mountains, I was in for a rude snap back to reality as I reentered civilization. Initially the trip was nice and scenic, but it very quickly grew congested. From malfunctioning traffic lights to bumper-to-bumper traffic jams on the expressway, I was already missing the remote places I got to visit in the recent week. Between me getting a late start and the
I was really excited about this drive. I thought I’d have to take Highway 2 around the Cascades to the south as route 20, which goes right through the Cascades, was still closed for the season. Some years they are able to open the road in late April, and other years it’s as long as mid-June. I did some investigating online, and it appeared they had the road cleared of
I originally was going to stay at Washburn Lake for a couple of days. Since it was such a great place with such great internet, I figured I could get some work done, enjoy the views, and also wait to see if the North Cascades Highway would be reopening. After missing out on driving Road to the Sun, I was really hoping I could take the North Cascades Highway, but
Ok, now this was a treat. Pretty much every place I’ve been, I’ve said “this is my favorite place yet.” But really, this is my favorite place yet! I originally left Colville with the intention of setting up camp at Serenity Lake. The land around Serenity Lake is owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM). BLM land really is like the wild west, and not just because most of