Our route starts at our home in Seattle and takes us south to Portland and San Francisco. Then east to a string of National Parks in California, Utah and Arizona before looping back to San Diego and the world’s busy land border crossing at Tijuana.
Below you’ll find updates of places we’re visiting and our usual cheeky shenanigans. Also, we’ll try to add useful information about our budget, internet availability, and road conditions.
Start: June 19, Escondido, California
Finish: June 26, Seattle, Washington!!!
Tents Skunked: 1
Overlanders Met: 14
Beer belly weight gain: Too much
From San Diego we head due north to return home to Seattle. We stop off in as many breweries as possible and do our best to survive the combat camping style of California.
We left Stone Brewery just after 2pm, full on delicious food and having soaked up most of the beer samplers. Unfortunately our next stop was 50 miles the other side of LA and little did we know, traffic in LA starts promptly at 2:30. We sat for 3 hours crawling along and stopped at the first available campsite around 7pm. They were full, and so was the next one and the next one. The 4th camp ground told us it would be $103 for a site, but they were also full.
Start: June 10, Galveston Texas
Finish: June 19, Escondido, California
Beers Tasted: 21
Hotest Recorded Temperature: 112F
Back from Overland Expo, we hang out with the family for a few weeks while waiting for news that Blue has arrived in Galveston.Then we swelter in the Texas heat for a few days, and head west on a mission to finally enjoy the delious microbrews we've so missed traveling south of the border.
Our original plan was to drive from Flagstaff to Texas to get the car. But the ship was delayed so much, it was actually cheaper to fly back to Seattle for a few weeks and then return to Galveston when the ship was in.
Start: May 16, Phoenix Arizona
Finish: May 18, Phoenix Arizona
Books Sold at Overland Expo 2013: 124
Star Wars Conventions attended: 1
New Friends made: Lost count
Our last few months in South America were crazy busy, especially getting the cookbook finished and printed in time for Overland expo. Leaving Blue sitting at the port in Santos Brazil, we fly back to Seattle, say hi to the family and three days later fly down to Phoenix Arizona. We pick up a rental car and have a much deserved burger before heading over to Walmart to buy some supplies for our exhibitors booth.
We receive word that Blue has been loaded onto the shipping vessel, have a great time expo and finally wrap up a crazy weekend with a little fun.
This article is part of our Internet and Phone Report series.
General Availability: Very High
Quality of Bandwidth: Excellent if signal strength is high
Frequency of internet in hotels: Very High
Frequency of internet in campgrounds: Very High in RV parks, Medium in other campsites, Low in national parks
Average cost to connect: Usually free. Places with fee usually charge $1/hour or $5/day. But cost can go as high as $10/hour.
Compared to the rest of the world, finding free wifi in the USA is easy. However, it does help to know where to look. Here are a few lessons we learned while on the road in the US.
It has become practically mandatory for RV parks, hostels, motels, hotels and resorts to offer internet access. Thankfully this service is free at most touristy places in the US. In business hotels, cities, or remote areas, this might not be the case. It is safe to say that our experience in the western US has been much more positive than, for example, the Australian outback.
This article is part of our Budget and Money Report series.
Our per diem expenses cover food, lodging, gas and other supplies and travel costs for three people. We travel in a 1997 Toyota 4Runner, tent camp in paid facilities roughly 70% of our nights and eat less than 10% of our meals in restaurants. This budget does not reflect personal spending money, which is mostly used to buy souvenirs and booze. We don't track this money, but we do know we have not come close to spending our budgeted amount of $10 per person per day.
This is part one of a series of articles that aim to provide fellow travelers with an overview of our expenses as we continue our journey through the Americas. This article covers the 30 days we spent along the west coast and southwestern states of the U.S.
Why go to all this trouble, you my ask? And why should you care? First, if we had more resources such as this as we planned our trip it would have taken us a lot less time to come up with a budget had faith in. And second, if you are thinking about traveling but have no idea how much it might cost or how you can save money, our budget recaps should give you a few good pointers.
After five nights of freezing cold in Moab, we are ready for some warmth. Good thing I checked the weather at the Grand Canyon...overnight low of 18 frigid degrees. Our consensus: screw that. The result? Cut two days from our tour of the canyon, spend one expensive night in a hotel room, and move on to warm, sunny Lake Havasu as soon as humanly possible.
Did I mention we spent the night in a hotel room? That's the third night we've spent indoors since our trip began and the first night on a mattress in over three weeks. Totally worth it.
Canyonlands is the second national park we planned to visit from our base camp in Moab. Little did we know, mother nature would have a few nasty surprises in store for us following our near-miss while hiking in Arches National Park.
Regardless of the rainy, frigid weather, we were able to visit the northern part of Canyonlands, named Island in the Sky. Our third day in Moab brought rain, more rain, and cold. Luckily the sky cleared around noon and after warming up in the local internet cafe, suitably caffeinated, we were ready to hit the road.
Start: Sunday October 23, Zion National Park, UT
Finish: Tuesday October 25, Moab, UT
Days on the Road: 21
Miles Driven: 1870
Miles Hiked: 13.2
The drive from Zion to Moab took us about five hours, three or four Spanish lessons, a couple scenic viewpoints and a stop for lunch on the side of the freeway after missing the last turnoff for 40 miles.
We've been camped in Moab for the past six days, the longest we've spent in one place since our trip started. Partly because it's a nice, quiet campground with wifi, but mostly because it's the cheapest place we've found thus far. It's also close to both Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, the source of our next few days entertainment.
Start: Thursday October 20, Death Valley, UT
Finish: Sunday October 23, Zion National Park, UT
Days on the Road: 15
Days for wet boots to dry: 3
Three days in Zion National Park brought a never-ending highway of tourists, not-so-emerald pools, six wet boots and one amazing hike in a canyon.
If you're headed to Zion, The Narrows is not to be missed. Don't get me wrong, the rest of the park is spectacular, but hiking in a river through a slot canyon that can be 15 feet across and hundreds of feet tall is indescribable.
Runner up for the weekend: watching Real Steel on a six-story-tall IMAX screen at the Zion Canyon Giant Screen Theater.
I love the desert. I love everything about it. Some can’t stand it, these God-forsaken places. I worship them, like a lizard worships hot asphalt. We spent less than 24 hours in Death Valley National Park. It was barely long enough to remember what I love so much about the desert.
Days on the Road: 14
High temperature: 96 degrees
Number of desert dwelling animals seen: 3
I swear I'm going to pistol whip the next person who says, "it's a dry heat."
The night before we camped at 7800 feet, it was a frigid 33°. The next day we descend over 8000 feet into Death Valley. It is 96° and mercifully temperatures are falling, it was 103° two days earlier.
The weather this time of year is quite pleasant the park ranger says. "It's a dry heat", she says. I fail to make the distinction. Jessica is in heaven, recharging her batteries she calls it. I'm counting the minutes until sunset, and Kobus is on the lookout for pet tarantulas.
From San Francisco we drove 200 miles east to Yosemite National Park. Our plan was to spend four nights in the park, but after a series of unexpected campground closures and fully-booked sites in the valley, we opted to leave two days early. Luckily we were able to see a whole lot of the park in the time we spent camped at the end of Yosemite Valley.
After a long day of driving we made it to San Francisco by dinner time. The plan was to meet up with Marcell, a friend of Jessica and Kobus' from back in the cruise ship days, and crash on his floor for a couple nights. The weather was amazing, 80 degrees and sunny both days, we couldn't have picked a better time to visit San Francisco.
Start: October 10 - Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park
End: October 13 - San Francisco
Miles Driven: 362
Number of Salmon Not Caught: All of them
Days of Rain: 0!
Gigantic Trees: Lots
Week two brought us better weather and some awesome scenery. We spent three nights camping in Jedidiah Smith Redwoods State Park on the Smith River. King salmon were running and Kobus and I spent most of our time flailing about on the water.
Start: October 6 - University Place, Washington
Finish: October 10 - Crescent City, California
Miles Driven: 506
Number of Fish Caught and Eaten: 3
Days Camping: 6
Days of Rain: 6
It has begun. Six days down, 450ish to go. In that time we've traveled from our home state of Washington to northern California. It hasn't stopped raining since we arrived in Oregon, Jessica and Kobus spent last night sleeping in a pond now known as Lake LifeRemotely. Our gear is soaked and we're looking forward to a bit of sunshine.