Back roads. Greasy spoons. Family and friends. A camper without A/C. National Parks and Forests. Rams. Bison. Deer. Oh my!
Austin, NV: Wheels from a road trip long ago.
Eureka, NV: Had stopped here in 2011 on another cross-country trek and was pleased to find even more restoration of the town’s old architecture. We almost ran out of gas on the way here, but fortunately Eureka lived up to its name with just half a gallon left in the tank.
Great Basin National Park, NV: Early and unexpectedly incredible stop as the wagon headed east. Expansive, high alpine views and site of the first campfire on the trip. The stars up here were amazing as we faced the Great Basin separating Nevada and Utah. Our trusty camper’s name is Mable.
Great Basin National Park, NV: Within Great Basin National Park—a view from the living quarters. Dr. Mills on the right.
Moab, UT: Summer means sandals.
Canyonlands National Park, UT: We decided to approach the National Parks a certain way: really early in the morning. This worked well throughout the parks system. Instead of traffic jams, we found a lot of photographers.
Telluride, CO: In a necessary pivot to avoid the extreme heat of Moab, we headed east and upwards in elevation to Telluride for an off-grid weekend. This little alpine lake near the San Juans was pretty much empty given some wildfires to the south of us.
Telluride, CO: This would be the last night we needed the heater on the trip. Crisp, Rocky Mountain air at its finest. 9500’ elevation.
Telluride, CO: Aspen forests provide a special kind of magic.
Telluride, CO: Something about the blues at high altitude.
Austin, TX: We were really starting to feel the southern heat in Austin. This park and campground within Austin’s city limits offers a great escape from the busy-ness engulfing one of Texas’ hottest tourist destinations.
Rutherford Beach, Creole, LA: The first glimpse of the warm gulf waters was incredible. Camping for free directly on the beach was an even greater treat. Louisiana… we will be back.
Creole, LA: The Gulf Coast offers some of the most spectacular cloud formations we saw traveling around the country.
Creole, LA: This is Ivi—our little mascot. Loves road trips, treats, and places where no other dogs are around. Ivi is a rescue dog who had a rough go at life as a young pup. Though deeply traumatized, she puts what trust she has in us and overcomes fear on a daily basis. She’s a little ball of inspiration.
St. Joseph Peninsula, FL: Hard to see any people because there weren’t any people. If you can withstand the humidity of Florida in the summertime, the reward is having beaches like this to yourself for a few hours.
St. Joseph Peninsula, FL: Fully accessorized for an afternoon at the beach.
St. Joseph Peninsula, FL: On our way to visit family in South Florida, we happened upon the sleepy region known as the “Forgotten Coast”. We definitely will not forget this coast, despite not having an air conditioned camper. White sand on empty beaches, warm water, and waving palm trees were in abundance.
St. Joseph Peninsula, FL: Tucked in these gorgeous tropical trees is one of the nicest, most mellow state parks we came across.
Fort De Soto State Park, St. Petersburg, FL: Can’t say enough about the clouds on the Gulf Coast.
Fort De Soto State Park, St. Petersburg, FL: And even more clouds.
Fort De Soto State Park, St. Petersburg, FL: We did not make it out to this sand bar in time, but enjoyed watching a man walking with his dog in what took on the illusion of a deserted island as they patiently awaited the tide and currents between the shore to recede. This felt like the perfect kind of walk with your pup.
Naples, FL: Our first extended pitstop was in Naples, FL — which borders Everglades National Park. My five year old niece took a liking to Mable. She was a perfect fit for a five year old.
Highway 82 in GA: Summer was in full effect in the deep south. This patch of flowers seemed to extend beyond the horizon.
Highway 82 in GA: My favorite summertime fruit is a ripe peach. Georgia delivers.
Highway 82 in GA: I was unaware of the variety of nuts for sale (boiled or fried) in the deep south’s roadside stands. I bought a bag of fried, salted peanuts and immediately understood the draw.
Sylvester, GA: Just a few days meandering through the south’s farmland was good for the soul.
Great Smoky Mountains National Park, NC: Seeing is believing in these mountains. A brief stop over just east of this mystical mountain range in Asheville, NC was a welcomed, higher-altitude break from the deep south.
Barboursville, VA: Much of our trip was dotted with spontaneous visits with old friends. Such was the case when we landed in Barboursville, VA — about an hour’s drive north of Charlottesville. A gorgeous, sprawling mountain property with the Appalachian wilderness in full swing.
Barboursville, VA: Our friends intentionally planted native milkweed on a mountain side to attract Monarch butterflies. It appears to be working. This little garden was full of them on our evening walk.
Barboursville, VA: The horse barn on the property where we stayed.
Barboursville, VA: From inside her mobile office, Ivi assesses the situation before a big barbecue.
Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, PA: Just north of the Mason-Dixon line, the hallowed grounds of an epic battle and turning point in the Civil War. We decided to park the stage coach and walk a large section of the park only to be turned back by the advance of a highly organized and covert deer tick regiment.
Gettysburg National Military Park, Gettysburg, PA: Over 150 years later, properties surrounding the battlefield are still inhabited and maintained to preserve the period lore.
Manlius, NY: This is Sammy, my family’s big and big-hearted cat. Of all the animals Ivi encountered on our trip, Sammy was the only one who could crack her chronic anxiety when it comes to trusting other animals. He truly is a gentle giant.
Manlius, NY: My mom has become quite the maker in the fiber arts world. Here’s some pieces from her latest exploration. We also have some of her work on display in California.
Pratt's Falls Park, Pompey, NY: One of my favorite all-time parks! I used to come here often with my old pup, Goldi. It’s a magical space with four seasons of fun. The falls were raging on our visit.
Manlius, NY: Fourth of July would not be complete without a youth league all-star game featuring my all-star nephew at bat.
Manlius, NY: My dad’s good friend let us park Mable on his property while we stayed at my parent’s house in NY. This included a bonus ride on back country roads in his 1957 Chevy.
Manlius, NY: From inside the purring Chevy.
Lake Ontario, NY: Family photo just about mid-way through the road trip.
Lake Ontario, NY
Lake Ontario, NY: Sunrise over a Great Lake.
Queen Victoria Park, Ontario, Canada: The brink of the falls over Horseshoe Falls on the Canadian side of this natural wonder of the world. With the pup in tow, we could not take the famed “Maid of the Mist" boat tour this time around, though seeing the panoramic views from the Canadian side was a first. It is a completely different experience across the border.
Skylon Tower, Ontario, Canada: A beacon of mid-century modern architecture. Love!
Detroit, MI: This is the house my Grandma was born in. Spending an evening driving around Detroit was eye opening. We’d read about and seen photos of the urban decay, but seeing it first hand was pretty jarring. Though many streets and neighborhoods have fared worse than others, I was happy to see my Grandma’s street was in good shape, had friendly neighbors who greeted us, and sun shining on her old house. We left feeling like Detroit is rising again.
Kalamazoo, MI: This is the building at 225 Parsons Street in Kalamazoo, Michigan. It’s the site of the original Gibson Guitar factory and current home to the Heritage Guitar Company. Paying homage was essential as we passed through the midwest.
Hazleton, IA: We encountered the worst rain storm on the trip, here in Iowa—and some of the hottest daytime temperatures. This little town is famous for its Amish farming communities. We stocked up on fresh vegetables and really enjoyed taking the slow lane behind horse and buggies.
Hazelton, IA: The symmetry of farm country can be hypnotizing.
The National Music Museum, Vermillion, SD: All it took was a billboard to draw us off course a bit to the somewhat secret National Music Museum in Vermillion, South Dakota. The collection of rare instruments and curation at this museum is spellbinding. This is the Martin guitar that Johnny Cash wrote many of his songs on. Situated appropriately behind it is the Gibson Hummingbird guitar that June Carter-Cash wrote many of her songs on. Just a beautiful display.
Yankton, SD: After the intense heat and storms in Iowa, we were gifted more mild temperatures along the banks of the Missouri River in South Dakota. Right along the Nebraska border in the Lewis & Clark Recreation Area. We camped under a grove of tall Cottonwood trees.
Badlands National Park, SD: I first visited the badlands about 20 years ago. The 40 year old park is still my favorite of all the parks I’ve been to. For me it represents the turning point from east to west. Mable felt right at home here on the prairie.
Badlands National Park, SD: The largest land mammal in North America enjoying breakfast and a slow roll across the prairie land.
Badlands National Park, SD: The Lakota people refer to the harsh environment and rugged terrain as mako sica or “bad lands.” For a brief understanding of its history, read this one pager provided by the NPS.
Badlands National Park, SD
Badlands National Park, SD: Note the large ram taking a rest in the lower left corner. Best seat in the house.
Badlands National Park, SD: Note the family of Big Horned Sheep in the lower right making their way into the valley floor. This herd strolled right through our campsite, led by the large, elder ram. He made himself very present before coming through and we made ourselves very accommodating to allow for a smooth passage.
Badlands National Park, SD
Deadwood, SD: Had to make a pit stop in ‘ol Deadwood. Complete with whiskey and dinner in the hotel where Wild Bill Hickok was gunned down in cold blood.
Bighorn National Forest, WY: Sunrise on Prune Creek where I spent the morning fly fishing.
Yellowstone National Park, WY
Yellowstone National Park, WY: Hayden Valley was where the buffalo roamed on our visit. Staying true to our early morning routine, we were fortunate enough to witness a herd of bison stampede from one end of the valley to another with only a handful of onlookers. You can watch a video clip of the awesomeness here.
Yellowstone National Park, WY: Just another early morning, boring Old Faithful spouting. Nothing to see here.
Yellowstone National Park, WY: Sylvan Lake at the crack of dawn.
Yellowstone National Park, WY: The Geysers at Black Sand Basin.
Yellowstone National Park, WY: Geothermal morning mist creates pretty decent filtering.
Eagle Creek Campground, WY: Camping within the National Parks can be challenging in peak season. We chose to avoid the madness by settling into National Forest campgrounds surrounding the parks. This site was just four miles outside of Yellowstone’s east entrance and offered this as our backyard. Hard sided campers only in these parts, given the Grizzly presence.
Granite, MT: About five miles from Philipsburg, MT—up a steep, single track incline—you’ll find the abandoned mining town of Granite. Once a 3,000 person strong settlement with saloons, a bank, a hospital, and schools. The dropping price of silver ultimately sealed Granite’s fate among the west’s great mining towns, but the spirit of the rush and the ruins make for a great hike at about 8,000 ft.
Granite, MT: In what used to be the Granite Hospital, we came across a doe caring for her young. Of all the dilapidated structures in this remote ghost town, isn’t interesting that this little family of deer chose the hospital to live in?
Granite, MT: The view looking west from the ghost town.
Philipsburg, MT: Saw lots of old barns this summer, but this one struck a chord for some reason.
Alberton, MT: Ponderosa Pines consume much of Montana’s landscape and I find a lot of their beauty lies in the caverns and shapes their bark creates.
Manzanita, OR: The site of dune grass before reaching the Pacific Ocean on our return home was extremely exciting—as was the authentic Mexican dinner we ate after hitting the beach.
Manzanita, OR: Much needed cooler temps as we finally reached the Pacific Ocean. Home feels close.
Manzanita, OR: Snuck up behind this young stag checking out the evening surf breaks.
Del Norte, CA: Back among our familiar friends.
Del Norte, CA
Del Norte, CA: Jedediah Smith State Park may be one of the finest ways to experience California’s temperate rain forests as they’ve existed for thousands of years.