Road Trip USA! Day One – The adventure begins. Packing, Planning & Travel.

 

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Our Two Week Road Trip USA Story:

Here is the Cliff Notes Version of our Trip:

My husband was a rock star planner for this experience.  He planned awesome places to stay, fun excursions and thought through all the important details like sleeping arrangements, shipping, rental cars and food!  All the planning allowed for some flexibility when needed and so much fun!  We didn’t have to ‘worry’ about daily activities of living as they were all handled prior to arrival.

Locations visited:  Jackson Hole, Yellowstone, Devil’s Tower, Deadwood, Mount Rushmore, Crazy Horse, Grand Tetons, Salt Lake City, Moab, Grand Canyon, Carlsbad Caverns & Albuquerque.

 Down and dirty:  My family of five (Quinn & I and our girls ages 9, 11 and 13.) frequent flyer miles to fly our family to Jackson Hole, Wyoming where we rented multiple vehicles (will explain later) to tour Wyoming, South Dakota, Utah, Arizona and New Mexico.

Total Cost of Trip:  I will calculate grand total and the end of our 14 day adventure, but share costs as we go…

Packing:

Each person packed a carry on and a back pack.  We had to pack creatively because our temperatures would vary from 36 to 100 degrees Fahrenheit. Layers was the way to go! We packed enough for about 7 days with intentions of doing laundry half way through our trip.

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Prior to our arrival in Wyoming, Quinn ordered and shipped a cot, tea kettle and sleeping bag to their local UPS store for pick up to help us with warming water for coffee, oatmeal and while in Yellowstone, hot chocolate!  Being a family of 5 means someone needed a cot & sleeping bag to sleep on through this trip.

UPS in Jackson Hole (970 W. Broadway Suite E, Jackson WY 83001 307-733-9250) would hold your items for $5 for a ‘small package’ and $10 for a large package.  For reference, our package was considered ‘small.’

DAY ONE:

Saturday, August 20th 2016

Due to our early flight time, we had the kids go to bed in what they were going to wear on the airplane…yoga pants, t-shirts and then throw on a hoodie sweatshirt in the morning (the hoody they would use in Yellowstone) and their bulky hiking shoes.

We were dropped off at the airport for a 7:58am (ouch!) flight from Raleigh to Dallas.  Checking in and going through security took about an hour and went pretty seamless.  Good news!  Our kids were all prescreened and were not required to take their shoes off!

 

When we got off our plane in Dallas we could tell right away by the enormous lines at customer service and people everywhere that “Houston, we had a problem!”  It was muggy, but Dallas to me, is always muggy.  We looked up at the departure/arrival flights and quickly discovered over 75% of the flights and been CANCELLED for the last two days because of record rainfall, 10 inches, in two days!  By the grace of the universe above, our flight was ‘ON TIME’ and based on the looks on the tired, hangry people in the airport, we were so grateful.  We were starving by the time we landed (1pmish) and with quick layover, we picked up some sandwiches and boarded.

Our flight to Jackson Hole was AMAZINGLY awesome.  We were on a newer plane and there was more space and each of us had our own T.V. to watch from a plethora of movies!  Our family thought this was so fun!  Two of us did not have headphones and when I asked the stewardess to purchase two sets ($5/set) he very kindly walked passed me and just dropped them in my lap and kept walking…

The landing in to Jackson Hole was out of this world!  Beautiful landscape and got us so excited for our trip.  You land in a very small airport in the middle of nowhere next to the Grand Tetons! We took a shuttle to the rental car facility Alamo (1225 State Highway 22, Jackson Hole) and picked up our minivan #1.

 

Our first stop was the UPS store to pick up our shipped items (cot, sleeping bag and tea kettle).  Everything was there and we unpacked it all in the parking lot and in the rear of their store they have a recycling dumpster we tossed the trash.

While Quinn was picking up our items, there was the cutest used book store next to the UPS store that the girls and I explored.  Unfortunately, we had very little space available for souvenirs so no books were purchased (much to my eldest dismay – they had some beautiful books!)

After that stop, everyone was starving and tired from being up early and travel and we found the cutest outdoor tavern called “Cuttthroat Tavern” (1140 West Highway 22 Jackson, WY 83001) and sat outside on a balcony and ate the most delicious Gardenburgers and French fries, ever!  Quinn and I drank a beer and the girls had Shirley Temples.  We Cheered the beginning of our adventure!

Quinn and I both were on the same page with eating out and meals on this trip.  A cheap meal for us is a minimum of about $40 and on average, & $75.  A two week trip??  3 meals a day??  Snacks??  That would kill our budget!  We would much rather save our money on food and spend it on experiences!

We spent time googling road trip/camping meal planning prior to arriving and had a menu created and shopping list for when we arrived.  We did agree, to a few treat meals on the trip and this was one!  I think because we agreed to a few special meals “out” when they occurred there were a treat!  Also, I must say, our breakfasts and our picnics were some of my favorite memories of our trip!  We ate well, slow and enjoyed it so much. I will share our shopping list in a moment.

After filling up everyone’s tummies, we went food and supply shopping!  We did our research prior to arrival and knew there was a Kmart (510 US-89, Jackson, WY 83002), Albertsons Grocery Store (105 Buffalo Way, Jackson, WY 83001) and a Whole Food or Wild Oats type of Natural Food Store called Jackson Whole Grocery (1155 South Highway 89)within a few miles of each other.  Being vegetarian, this was awesome as we could stock up on vegetarian lunch meat & some deli types of food.

We bought 2 coolers & 3 stackable tubs to organize our food.  We filled one cooler with breakfast food and drinks (so we would only have to carry one cooler in the hotel at night) and the other contained our lunch/dinner items.  We used gallon size ziplock bags to make two ‘ice packs’ per cooler.  We double bagged the ziplocks in case of a rip/tear/leak and at night when we checked in to a hotel we would refill the ice bags and then again in the morning, before we left.  My middle daughter became our “ice girl” and handled this task for the family!

Our total food cost including supplies, such as, coolers, tubs, plastic wear, toiletries, etc (not included eating out) was $851.73.   That was 42 meals and snacks for a family of five for 14 days.

We designated one cooler the ‘breakfast cooler’ and the other cooler held other perishable items.  We had 3 stackable tubs and we organized them as follows: 1. snacks 2. lunch items 3. paper products.

The shopping took several hours and by the time we left to make it to Yellowstone it was near sunset.  We had a pretty hefty drive ahead but it was wonderful because we drove with the sun setting and it was stunning!

We arrived late (around 10pm) at the Old Faithful Snow Lodge ( and my word the stars!!!  It was COLD.  When we left Raleigh, NC there were heat warnings and Yellowstone at night is in the 30s!  The website describes this lodge as ‘rustic’ and we had to laugh…the only ‘rustic’ part about this lodge was there was no T.V.!  The lobby and rooms are wooden/cabinish and so adorable.  They have the cutest little teddy bear soaps in the rooms and we loved how respectful they were of the environment in everything they do.  Recycling, Reusing, Reduction is the theme everywhere.

Everyone showered & snuggled in for the night. Sweet dreams.

 

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