2016 is a year with another quest. A quest to see America.
As you might have heard, I have a quest to finish visiting all 50 states in 2016. It’s a bucket list item to get to all the states. According to the quest rules laid out by Chris Guillebeau in The Happiness of Pursuit a bucket list item becomes a quest when you have a specific goal, timeframe, steps to achieve the goal and sacrifice. It’s also helpful to write it down and have some accountability. (more on quests)
What do I consider “visiting” for the states? I have to drive into/through it or fly and leave the airport. In many cases I have been to states multiple times. I have stayed the night in a lot of them too. I can’t say that I’ve done an activity in each unless you count driving or walking.
Why did I pick 2016 for this quest?
At the end of 2015 I knocked out a few of the northern states and got my number down to 14. (Even though I posted 15 when we started the trip, oops!) I thought 14 seems like a doable number in a year. Especially when I heard from a friend that he was doing a cross country road trip in the spring. I had never done a road trip across the U.S. and it was another bucket list item. So, I asked my friend Stu if I could go with him. He said yes. Yay!
This is yet another time in my life where I asked for a new travel friend and I got it! It’s also a testament to the kinds of cool people you meet at the World Domination Summit. That’s where I met Stu, just a short time ago.
When we started planning our southern route we looked at stops we wanted to make and people we wanted to see along the way. With a little help from Google we had a route. After seeing this, I asked if there was any way we could veer slightly off course for some national parks time in Utah. He said yes. Then I asked if we could veer a little more off course and hit two states that aren’t frequently on the “must-do” list, Nebraska and Iowa. He wasn’t thrilled with this request but it only put us a couple hours off the Kansas route so he said yes again. I felt so incredibly lucky to have a friend that would help me work on my quest in 2016. Thank you doesn’t even begin to express my gratitude for this amazing trip!
Where did we start?
Well, we had to see the Pacific before we drove East from Portland Oregon or it wouldn’t have been a total coast to coast trip, right?! We made a pit stop in Cannon Beach before heading east to Boise. From Boise we continued east on 84. I started looking at this site called roadtrippers when we were close to Twin Falls. We decided to take a couple detours to see Malad Gorge and Shoshone Falls. I’m glad we did…
You can take the girl out of Oregon but you can’t take away her love of waterfalls. I’ll hunt them everywhere I go despite what the song says. Sometimes I just don’t find them but the journey usually makes for a really good story.
After our short detours for some amazing sites, we were back on highway 84 till we were north of Salt Lake city. Then we took another planned detour to see a bit of Americana. It didn’t look like it was too far off our path but when a dirt road comes into play it turns out to be a longer detour than you plan. Also, just because Google says there’s a “town” it doesn’t mean there’s more than a sign saying “Locomotive Springs” after 20 miles on a dirt road. However, we did find what we were looking for…An arrow!
The first postal planes were open cockpit. To get from place to place there were arrows across America telling them where to go. Some of those arrows still exist today.
When we got back on the highway we were driving away from the brightest pink sky I’ve ever seen and into the darkest storm clouds with pouring down rain and wind. It made for a fun looking rainbow in the dark. I had to capture it, of course! But it took awhile to get the photo just right.
In the morning we tried to find another arrow south of Salt Lake City but it didn’t work out because we didn’t look at a topography map and this one required some rock climbing. Not something we were prepared to do at that time. It was such a bummer because it was right there off the highway.
From Salt Lake City we drove south and into the wonderful parks of Utah. We started the afternoon with a hike in Kolob Canyons and finished the evening sandwiched between Red Cliffs National Conservation Area and Snow Canyon at the amazing Red Mountain Resort.
If you want an adventure filled luxury resort in southern Utah you must check out Red Mountain. It’s a great place to revitalize your mind, body and spirit. Really, they’ve thought of everything from the location of the resort to the activities they plan throughout the entire day. You’ll also notice it in the amenities they offer and the food. How can I forget the food! So good and so healthy. You can’t go wrong with this place.
The next day we headed up to Canyonlands through Zion and on to route 12 and 24. This is one of the most beautiful drives I have ever taken. If you want to feel how small you are and how amazing the planet is, take this drive. You will see so many changing scenes that you’ll say “wow” more times than you can count. Or maybe that’s just me. Maybe you have another word you’ll use but you won’t regret taking this drive.
America the beautiful
I’ve been to a lot of places in my life but Utah is high up there for the most scenic and most beautiful. Next time I go back I want to rent a jeep and drive down into the Canyonlands valley. I also want to explore more of Zion. We only got to scratch the surface with the one hike we did there. I think you need weeks or months to properly explore all the amazingness that Utah has to offer.
Utah was beginning the summer tourist season but on the hike below we didn’t see anyone for miles. It was quite lovely to have the canyon all to ourselves.
What a life you say…
I know what you might be thinking because I get asked this question all the time, “do you ever work?” Why, yes I do. I get all my projects done on time even when I’m working from the road. I plan time to explore and work into my days. It’s not always fun on the road but this is the life I love. Freedom and flexibility to work from anywhere is something that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed these past few years.
The next question I get asked is if I’m independently wealthy. The answer to that is no, not in money but in experiences. All of my trips are done on a budget and I owe a lot to travel hacking. I couldn’t do it without my Chase Sapphire and other awesome cards that help me rack up points. You can read more tips and tricks in my book Women with Wanderlust: A Guide to Roaming. Don’t let the title fool you, anyone can learn something from it. It’s just written from a woman’s perspective.
Stay tuned for more on this epic road trip adventure…