RealImaginaryWest 2017 Day 3 – Plains, Canyons & Mountains on Route 66

We again covered some serious mileage on Route 66, starting in Stroud, Oklahoma. We followed a good section of the original highway west of Oklahoma City. Next we made a few stops on the Texas Panhandle, including Palo Duro Canyon State Park and the Cadillac Ranch outside Amarillo. Finally we passed into New Mexico, following the highway’s pre-1937 alignment up to Las Vegas and Santa Fe.

An Early Start from the Skyliner Motel

We were packed up and ready to go at 6:15-6:30am. Vic was up in two seconds to brew coffee for Becky, just like he promised! He has some big plans for this place…more on that when we return.

38-Span Camelback Bridge

We got right back on I-44 and passed through Oklahoma City to I-40. About 15 years ago I traveled here on business. It looks like they added a very large new skyscraper since then.

We exited I-40 at US-281 so we could drive over this 38-span camelback bridge near Geary, Oklahoma. Route 66 passed over it starting in 1933…and it still keeps going on, and on, and on!

Lucille’s Route 66 Gas Station

We got back on I-40 near Hydro, Oklahoma after driving to this historic and well-maintained gas station.

Conoco Tower Station in Shamrock, Texas

Next we entered Texas, and stopped here at the Conoco Tower Station in Shamrock. Unfortunately, very little in Texas seems to be open on Sunday, so we couldn’t do much but admire the old art deco exterior.

The Leaning Tower of Texas

A proprietor purchased and moved this water tower next to his truck stop in Groom, Texas. He purposely had someone drive a tractor into this tower so it would lean about 10 degrees. This set motorists up to stop in…often frantic to warn him that the tower was tipping. He’d reply, “Oh, it’s been that way for years…can I get you anything?” You gotta love gimmicks that get people to stop!

Palo Duro Canyon State Park

Palo Duro Canyon just south of Amarillo comes in as the second longest in the country, second only to the Grand Canyon. We took a detour to come check it out, and the intention was to have lunch here.

Cadillac Ranch

This public art installation of old Cadillacs invites people to “repaint” them. I was careful not to get me or my camera spraypainted!

Late Roadside Lunch

Since we didn’t stop and make lunch in Palo Duro, and since we didn’t see anything resembling a park or a picnic area around Amarillo, we stopped at this rest area to the west on I-40 and cooked up some hamburgers.

Finding the Absaroka County Sheriff’s Office in Las Vegas, New Mexico

No photo on this for now, but we did find the old town plaza in Las Vegas, New Mexico where outside scenes for the TV series Longmire were shot. Las Vegas sat in as Durant, Wyoming. We even found the door, which was still marked for the show.

Santa Fe

The drive to Santa Fe was incredible! The sun set as we drove into town, and we checked out the old town plaza before checking in at the Kings Rest Court Inn. This place was immaculately preserved from 1939, just two years after Route 66 was realigned to connect directly across New Mexico from Santa Rosa to Albuquerque…bypassing Santa Fe entirely. We’ll actually have time to stop and smell the roses before heading west again to the Holbrook, Arizona tomorrow.

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RealImaginaryWest 2017 Day 2 – Giants, Murals & Bridges on Route 66

For our first day on Old Historic Route 66 we began at the Gemini Giant in Wilmington, Illinois. We checked out the Standard Oil gas station in Odell and the Bunyan Giant in Atlanta before stopping on the Illinois side of the Chain of Rocks Bridge in the St. Louis area. Next we drove across the Mississippi River on the McKinley Bridge and followed I-44 out of the city. We then ate lunch at The FourWay in Cuba and stopped at the Red Rocker and the Devils Elbow Bridge before proceeding into Oklahoma. We finished the day in Stroud, Oklahoma with dinner at the Rock Cafe before checking into the Skyliner Motel. Purely for the sake of time we drove mostly on I-55 and I-44…but we’re already sold on coming back for the full Route 66 experience!

Waking in Wilmington

Last night we checked into Van Duyne’s Motel in Wilmington, Illinois to begin our Route 66 adventure to the Southwest United States. As I mentioned in the previous post, there were aspects of our room that made it a no-go for travelers with particular tastes. But the room was clean, the bed was comfortable enough and the shower was good and hot when we got up at 5:15am.

The Gemini Giant

At 6:30 I dropped our key in the lockbox and we headed to our first stop, the Gemini Giant right here in Wilmington. We saw him in the dark as we came into town last night, but the early morning light made him much easier to appreciate. He’s one of several statues manufactured by International Fiberglass in Venice, California to attract customers to all sorts of retail businesses across the country.

While the original made for The Paul Bunyan Cafe on Route 66 in Flagstaff, Arizona was designed to hold an axe, so many held exhaust pipes and mufflers to advertise automotive dealers and shops that they became known as “Muffler Men”. The Gemini Giant has invited customers to stop at the Launching Pad diner since 1965. Sadly the restaurant closed in 2010 and still remains for sale today despite efforts to sell and reopen it.

The 30-foot tall Gemini Giant invites customers to the Launching Pad diner in Wilmington, Illinois.
The 30-foot tall Gemini Giant invited customers to the Launching Pad diner in Wilmington, Illinois. The restaurant closed in 2010 and is still in need of a buyer.

Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell

Opened in 1932, the Standard Oil Gas Station in Odell, Illinois used a “house and canopy” design that welcomed customers to feel at home when caring for their automotive needs. The station hasn’t sold gasoline since the 1960s and fell into disuse and disrepair by the the 1970s. Preservation began in the 1990s and included efforts and funding from the Illinois Route 66 Association and the National Park Service. The gas station was restored to its former glory by the early 2000s.

We arrived at 7:30am, way before attendants opened for visitors. There was however a button we pressed that played an interpretive audio recording. Through the window we could see that the interior is as authentically restored as the exterior.

The Standard Oil Gas Station, built in the “house and canopy” style on Route 66 in Odell, Illinois around 1932.
The Standard Oil Gas Station, built in the “house and canopy” style on Route 66 in Odell, Illinois around 1932.

Continue reading RealImaginaryWest 2017 Day 2 – Giants, Murals & Bridges on Route 66

RealImaginaryWest 2017 Day 1 – Our Adventure Begins in Illinois

Our drive on the first night of this trip is a short one for once! We drove from Middleburg Heights, Ohio near Cleveland to Wilmington, Illinois just outside Chicagoland.

Packing Up for 3½ Weeks (😮!)

I know 24 days is only a week longer than our usual road trip. For some reason it feels like we’re leaving for good. It’s weirding me out…

Anyway, I think we managed to pack everything we need except for one thing. When I picked Becky up from work to hit the road, she immediately asked about the clip that holds her phone up on the vent. I totally forgot about it. She almost wanted to go home and get it. I suggested we live without it if we can find one along the way somewhere. This worked for Becky, so we officially got on the road at 3:45pm.

Feeling Less Organized Than I’d Like

I just remembered another thing I sort-of kind-of forgot. I’ve been working out the itinerary for this trip since all the way back in January. I had to make some last-minute tweaks over the last week or two, but I did finish it. It contains the best information we have to keep on time over the next week as we make stops on Route 66. Unfortunately I neglected to print it out… Thankfully I stored it on Dropbox, so I can still get to it. But I really like to have a hard copy handy just in case my electronics fail.

I always experience a great deal of anxiety in the final week or two leading up to a road trip. I felt super confident and calm after we left for our trip to the Black Hills in July. For some reason I feel so much less organized for this trip than I’d have expected. We’ve been planning for months, most every reservation was made back in spring, and I’ve taken good notes. And yet I feel so flat-footed. Maybe I should have made up some mileage charts like I did on the last trip? Maybe the cold and rainy weather has pushed me off of my game?

Our Weather Outlook

Speaking of weather, there’s a lot going on across the country right now! For starters, we’ve had one of the coldest Augusts I can remember in Ohio. The hot and humid “dog days” of summer never came this year. It dropped below 70°F frequently this past month, when temperatures often approach or surpass 90°F. I’m glad we’re heading to the Southwest where temperatures will feel more like summer again!

The good news is that this cold snap across the Eastern United States is also holding temperatures down to a more comfortable range in Oklahoma and Texas. The bad news is that everything west of the Rocky Mountains has been experiencing a heat wave.

Continue reading RealImaginaryWest 2017 Day 1 – Our Adventure Begins in Illinois

RealImaginaryWest 2017 – Route 66 & Southwest Road Trip

This September we’ll get our kicks on Route 66 as we head to the Southwest! The “Mother Road” starts in Chicago, so we’ll drive out to Illinois and follow it all the way to Los Angeles, camping for a couple of nights at the Grand Canyon along the way. After driving all the way to the Santa Monica Pier, we’ll visit Death Valley and the “Big Five” national parks in Utah. After our stops in Colorado, we’ll have visited TEN national parks in total!

This is our longest trip by far, clocking in at 24 days! We started planning back in January and have our itinerary ready to share below. Watch for our posts on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter with the hashtag #RealImaginaryWest.

Highlights

Our route along Old Historic Route 66 to the Southwest & Canyon Country for RealImaginaryWest 2017
  • 24 days
  • 6,800 miles
  • 13 states
    OH, IN, IL, MO, KS, OK, TX, NM, AZ, CA, NV, UT, CO
  • Old Historic U.S. Route 66: “The Main Street of America”, “The Mother Road”
  • Part of the Santa Fe Trail in Eastern Colorado and across Kansas
  • 10 national parks:
    • Petrified Forest National Park
    • Grand Canyon National Park
    • Death Valley National Park
    • Zion National Park
    • Bryce Canyon National Park
    • Capitol Reef National Park
    • Canyonlands National Park
    • Arches National Park
    • Mesa Verde National Park
    • Great Sand Dunes National Park
  • Cities:
    • St. Louis
    • Tulsa
    • Oklahoma City
    • Amarillo
    • Las Vegas, New Mexico
    • Santa Fe
    • Albuquerque
    • Flagstaff
    • Los Angeles
    • Las Vegas, Nevada
    • Dodge City, Kansas
    • Kansas City
  • Also:
    • Palo Duro Canyon State Park (TX)
    • Meteor Crater (AZ)
    • Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park (CA)
    • Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (NV)
    • Valley of Fire State Park (NV)
    • Kodachrome Basin State Park (UT)
    • Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument (UT)
    • Dead Horse Point State Park (UT)
    • Natural Bridges National Monument (UT)
    • Bears Ears National Monument (UT)
    • Monument Valley (UT-AZ)
    • Fort Larned National Historic Site (KS)
    • Jefferson National Expansion Memorial (MO)

Continue reading RealImaginaryWest 2017 – Route 66 & Southwest Road Trip

RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite Day 3 – Roasting in the Badlands & Relief in the Black Hills

After a very early start at Badlands National Park, we packed up camp and made a short hike at Saddle Pass, followed by hikes on the Notch, Window, and Door Trails. Before driving the Badlands Loop Road and heading to Wall Drug, we returned to Cedar Pass Campground to get showers. After lunch and a couple of hours perusing Wall Drug, we took I-90 to Rapid City and SD-79 & SD-36 into the Black Hills and Custer State Park. Finally we followed US-16A to Bismarck Lake Campground near Custer in Black Hills National Forest.

Well today had a pretty good start with a rather dry finish… I suppose another way of putting it would be, “The Great Plains strike again!” Let me start at the beginning…

Sunrise at Badlands National Park

It all started at about 4:30am for me. I didn’t quite sleep as long as I’d hoped, but I did feel OK. The eastern horizon was already alight with the impending sunrise and birds were up singing. And just like last night, except in reverse, the moon was close to setting in the west.

Since we got to bed fairly early the night before and the forecast high would likely surpass the century mark, I woke Becky. It wasn’t supposed to get truly hot until late morning or noon. If we got up now, we could do some hiking and beat the heat as well as the crowds. While Becky moseyed to the restroom and got herself ready for the day, I packed up the tent and everything inside. We might come back later to cook or take showers, but there was no need to leave the tent up since it was already bone dry. I’m proud to say I had our bedding and tent all packed up solo in 25 minutes.

Just as the sun began to peek through the clouds over the Badlands wall, I ran off and shot a panorama of the brilliant sunrise! There were some reds but mostly oranges and violets. I would have shot the moonset too, but clouds on the western horizon totally obscured it.

Saddle Pass Trail

 

Looking up the Saddle Pass Trail in Badlands National Park. Blue markers help to identify the trail amid the indistinct terrain.
Looking up the Saddle Pass Trail. Blue markers help to identify the trail amid the indistinct terrain.

We were on the road before 6am and drove the short distance to the Saddle Pass Trailhead. The temperature was comfortable for now, around 70 degrees and low humidity. The Saddle Pass Trail is short at only 1/3 mile, but it’s a steep 216-foot climb up to the top of the Badlands wall.

We were on the road before 6am and drove the short distance to the Saddle Pass Trailhead. The temperature was comfortable for now, around 70 degrees and low humidity. The Saddle Pass Trail is short at only 1/3 mile, but it’s a steep 216-foot climb up to the top of the Badlands wall.

We started up the trail around 6am. It starts out exceptionally steep and has loose gravel footing. We were nearly halfway up when Becky decided she couldn’t go any further. It was just too much for her first thing in the morning. All the literature promised 360-degree views, so I decided to continue up to the top. The view did not disappoint!

Looking south from Saddle Pass in Badlands National Park.
Looking south from Saddle Pass. The tiny black thing in the parking lot near the tree is our car!

After shooting a few photos, one of the car from all the way up on top, I headed back down. There’s a trail that runs along the top of the Badlands wall, but I didn’t check it out because I wanted to make sure Becky was OK. I was off the trail and back at the car just 45 minutes after we arrived. Becky was starting to feel better and suggested that she probably just needed something to eat to get her energy up. While I’d guess our bodies were still on our usual Eastern Time Zone schedule, it was probably just too quick of a start to the day for her.

Up to the Door/Window/Notch Trailhead

A bighorn sheep rests in morning shade north of Cedar Pass along the Badlands Loop Road in Badlands National Park.
A bighorn sheep rests in morning shade along the Badlands Loop Road on our way to the Door/Window/Notch Trailhead.

When we visited Badlands back in 2015, our only real hike here was the Door Trail. The same trailhead actually has two other trails, the super short Window Trail, and the more challenging Notch Trail. None of the three trails are particularly long, so we had plenty of time to do all three if we wanted to. The sky was crystal clear with bright sunshine now, but the temperature was still comfortable.

We made it to the parking lot around 7am, still well ahead of the crowds. We started with the Notch Trail, which is only 1.5 miles round trip. It winds through a small canyon for about 1/3 mile or so, and then there’s a ladder that takes you up to the rim so you can continue through a slightly larger canyon. We somehow missed the ladder, and realized it when the trail suddenly ended at an impasse. We could hear people just above us, so we retraced our steps. Turns out we followed a wash and went right past the ladder. It’s pretty easy to get disoriented and lose trails here! Almost all of them, including Notch, are actually marked with stakes at regular intervals so you can tell you’re going the right way.

Becky awaits my return as I hike the section of the Notch Trail above the ladder.
Becky awaits my return as I hike the section of the Notch Trail above the ladder.

A Perilous Wrong Turn

Becky took a look at the ladder and gave it a nope. I’m afraid of heights and didn’t find it at all intimidating. The easy slope and the grip of my hiking boots made it easy to walk upright the entire way.

I then made my way around the rim and came across some signs that got me confused. One said “KEEP RIGHT”, and the other was an arrow pointing at what I thought was the way to go. I’d heard the Notch Trail could be challenging, but I was surprised it would go right up this steep wash. I forgot to even look for a marker stake. Before I knew it, the wash got too steep and too loose to safely go any further—obviously a dead end!

Continue reading RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite Day 3 – Roasting in the Badlands & Relief in the Black Hills

RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite Day 2 – The Jolly Green Giant & the Big Badlands

From our motel in Madison, Wisconsin, we followed I-90 West to Badlands National Park with brief stops at Green Giant Statue Park in Blue Earth, Minnesota and The Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota.

Despite getting in late last night, I was awake at 5am. I suppose it’s always harder to sleep in a new bed. By 6:30am we were out of the motel and refueling across the street. With all of our meat still solidly frozen, there was no need to buy ice for the cooler. After Becky grabbed a coffee at Starbucks, we were back on I-90 again by 6:50.

Crossing Wisconsin & On to Minnesota

It was a beautiful morning! Last time we passed through Wisconsin, the sky was a very strange color due to forest fire smoke from way up in Alaska and Canada. This time we had magnificent sunny blue skies and good early morning light. Wisconsin is wonderfully green and pretty in summer. We’ll definitely spend more time here on some future road trip.

Since we got going early, there were no traffic problems through the often-congested Wisconsin Dells area. When we crossed the Mississippi River into Minnesota near LaCrosse, our chances of hitting any traffic at all dropped to almost nothing.

Overlooking the Driftless Region of Wisconsin from Jacksonville Pass on I-90 near Tomah, Wisconsin on a summer morning
Overlooking the Driftless Area of Wisconsin from Jacksonville Pass on I-90 near Tomah, Wisconsin

In the past we’d never been on I-90 across Minnesota beyond the first exit. We gradually worked our way west from Pepin along the Mississippi through heavily-wooded regions of the state. As we passed directly west this time, we noticed a significant transition in the nature of the land. After winding up the hill from the Great River and onto Minnesota’s rolling hills, it was as if all the trees were different and more sparse. The land also transitioned from mostly woodland to entirely agricultural. This dramatic change told me we were now on the Great Plains.

Cumulus clouds stretch across the sky over I-90 and prairie farmlands near Blue Earth, Minnesota.
Cumulus clouds stretch across the sky over I-90 and prairie farmlands in Minnesota.

Green Giant Statue Park & Blue Earth, Minnesota

A billboard along I-90 near Blue Earth, Minnesota encourages tourists to stop and visit their 60' Jolly Green Giant.
A billboard along I-90 encourages tourists to stop and visit the 60′ Jolly Green Giant in Blue Earth, Minnesota.

By 10:50am we’d crossed half the state. We stopped for an early lunch in a small town called Blue Earth. Besides the town’s eccentric name, it also has a 55-foot, 8,000-pound statue of the Jolly Green Giant we have all seen on numerous Green Giant labels and television commercials. He made his first appearance at the dedication of I-90, as the very last section was completed near Blue Earth in 1978.

The Story of the Jolly Green Giant Statue

People gather at Green Giant Statue Park in Blue Earth, Minnesota to photograph a 60-foot tall statue of the Jolly Green Giant.
People gather at Green Giant Statue Park in Blue Earth, Minnesota to photograph a 60-foot tall statue of the Jolly Green Giant.

At the time, the Green Giant company operated a canning plant in Blue Earth and was headquartered 60 miles north in Le Sueur. The idea for erecting the statue to attract travelers on the new transcontinental freeway originated with local radio station owner Paul Hedberg. On his weekend program he would interview families passing through Blue Earth on US-169, providing them with samples of Green Giant vegetables. Many children inevitably asked where they could see the Jolly Green Giant. So with the company’s blessing, Mr. Hedberg assembled funding from local businesses to bring the Giant to life in time for the freeway dedication.

One year later, the Green Giant company merged with Pillsbury, and the brand has changed hands a few times throughout the years. However. another company still continues to can corn and peas at the plant in Blue Earth. And the statue attracts 10,000 annual visitors. Each year the Giant Days festival is held at the adjacent Fairbault County Fairgrounds.

Continue reading RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite Day 2 – The Jolly Green Giant & the Big Badlands

RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite Day 1 – Making It to Madison

We followed I-90 west from Middleburg Heights, Ohio to a Motel 6 in Madison, Wisconsin.
Lee & Becky are on the road again for their summer RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite road trip to the Black Hills!
Lee & Becky are on the road again for their summer RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite road trip to the Black Hills!

For the third year in a row, we are on the road and headed West in July! It’s been a flurry of activity these last few days. We pulled everything together and got on the road at 4:40pm this afternoon. We passed uneventfully through Chicagoland right around sunset, with just the typical slow spot Downtown. We arrived safely at a Motel 6 in Madison, Wisconsin at 10:40pm CDT.

Equipment Upgrades

Packing the car was a little more interesting this time. We’ve upgraded and added some equipment. Becky now has a respectable daypack. It has a little more room, but more importantly it redistributes most of its weight from the shoulders to the hips. She also has a pair of trekking poles to lighten the load on her knees.

I too finally have a daypack, so I can now carry more than just my camera gear. This will be critical for us in September when we hike in the arid Southwest, where we’ll both need to carry quite a bit of water to stay hydrated.

Cars make their way across the High Bridge on the Chicago Skyway at sunset.
Cars make their way across the High Bridge on the Chicago Skyway at sunset.

Continue reading RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite Day 1 – Making It to Madison

RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite – Black Hills, Badlands, Rockies, and Wildcats

Ready for our adventure to the Southwest on Route 66? So are we…but not until September! I promise I’ll share our itinerary very soon, but right now we’ve squeezed in an 11-day trip to revisit a few areas from the past two years in more depth. We’ll spend most of our time in the Black Hills and Badlands region in South Dakota/Wyoming, followed by stops at Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and the Wildcat Hills in Nebraska.

Highlights

Our route to the Badlands, Black Hills, Rockies, and Wildcat Hills for RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite
  • 11 days
  • 10 states
    OH, IN, IL, WI, MN, SD, WY, CO, NE, IA
  • 3 national parks:
  • Also:
    • Black Hills National Forest
    • Custer State Park
    • Devils Tower National Monument
    • Wildcat Hills (Western Nebraska)

Continue reading RealImaginaryWest 2017 Lite – Black Hills, Badlands, Rockies, and Wildcats

A Blog Is A Slog – Catching Up

Perfect Is the Enemy Of Good

Sorry if following my blog is like driving in bear traffic. I hope at least that you’ve enjoyed seeing the bison. 🙂

Today is March 9, 2017. Our first RealImaginaryWest road trip was in July 2015, and our second was in July 2016. I’m still editing them. :-/ There are other trips in the Eastern United States I’d like to share with you too. There are also plenty of articles I have planned, like tips on how to road trip and tent camp more successfully so you can avoid some of our mistakes, and tips on equipment and places to see. And this blog is far from the only project I’m behind on.

But alas…I have been working against depression for the better part of the last two years, and that’s slowed me down. I have been battling perfectionism, carefully editing every photo I’ve shot and every line of text I’ve written to make sure it’s vibrant, interesting, informative, fun, and…perfect. >:-/ I love looking back on what I’ve finished so far—but I am constantly fighting the urge to go back and rewrite and rearrange things until I get the larger project finished.

The good news is, I think I am going to win the war! My ambitious goal is to have all of my journal entries from RealImaginaryWest 2015 and 2016 edited and up before we leave on our next big road trip. This is really important to me because I keep thinking of all the cool places we’ve been and I still wonder how my photos turned out. I spent so much time creating so many images and writing so much background on our travels…I want to see these projects finished more than anyone!

So if anyone is actually reading this blog, I hope you’ll feel rewarded as I actually deliver! I have big plans and I believe that getting super sick four time in the last two months may have actually uncovered key underlying causes to my depression. This means that I will hopefully finally have the health I need to focus and see this through. I look forward to finally getting our stories out there to share. I also hope more than anything that I’ll have inspired other people to get out of their comfort zones and explore this wonderful world we live in! Hopefully I can share what you won’t find in the brochures that will help you to be well prepared when you embark on your own adventures!

Hey, How Was 2016?

Anyway, enough about my craziness—let’s talk about RealImaginaryWest 2016! Our first trip in 2015 was exciting, and I think Becky and I both enjoyed ourselves, but we flew very much by the seat of our pants. Becky did a marvelous job planning everything up through Day 4 in South Dakota, and I had made some plans on where we’d stay in the Badlands and Yellowstone, but there were a ton of gaps that I never thought through before we left. Planning your first road trip while you’re on it is probably not a great idea for a couple of anxiety-plagued 30-somethings! I got manic trying to see and do everything, which wore Becky out because she functions much better with more downtime and at least some semblance of routine. I eventually wore myself out too, because I ended up at the emergency room from dehydration! Everything turned out OK (we even went hiking the day after I was in the ER) but I knew at the end of the trip that it would have gone better if we set up more specific priorities.

Our first RealImaginaryWest road trip in 2015 just about fell off the rails on Day 9 of 18. I got some incredible images, like this one, but I almost ruined things for Becky…and myself, simply by trying to do too much in a day. I immediately slowed things down and saved the trip…but better and more considerate planning on my part in the first place would have prevented this!

Therefore RealImaginaryWest 2016 was much more thoroughly planned! I actually spent a great deal of time a month or two before researching and planning which specific activities and sights were important. I made several pages of notes and created a very detailed itinerary. When I shared this with people, many wrinkled their nose and said something to the effect of, “That doesn’t sound much like a vacation!” But hear me out, please!

Continue reading A Blog Is A Slog – Catching Up

RealImaginaryWest 2016 Day 1 – Our Adventure Begins in Iowa

We took I-80 west from Middleburg Heights, Ohio to the Super 8 in Davenport, Iowa.

Here We Go Again

After weeks and months of planning, we’re on the road again! We traveled 11 states, visited 5 national parks, and visited 3 Laura Ingalls Wilder towns in 2015. It was our very first big Western road trip. We loved it so much that we’re doing it again this year!

My biggest hope is also my biggest fear. (That’s when I figure the payoffs are biggest in life!) I hope that this year’s ambitious trip to travel the Oregon Trail route all the way to the coast and to four (maybe five) national parks will be doable on a realistic timetable. I really hope that it will be fun and…dare I say…epic like last year’s trip!

Continue reading RealImaginaryWest 2016 Day 1 – Our Adventure Begins in Iowa