My husband and I are both geologists. He just went back to school that January for his Master’s degree after working for a year and a half in the mineral exploration industry, and I’ve been working for nearly three years in the gold mining industry. As geologists, we share a great interest in hiking and camping and therefore agreed to do a hiking and camping road trip across the United States. We planned to drive through 12 states and visit 7 national parks in 19 days, then go back to work immediately after.

We’ve done many road trips like this before (e.g., Hawaii and the Canadian Rocky Mountains), but they were not as long or ambitious as this one. At first I was hesitant because don’t couples usually go to Jamaica or Mexico or take a cruise somewhere? To this my husband simply replied, “Sure, and you want to be generic like everyone else? A road trip itself just evokes romance.” I think he got that road trip equals romantic idea from Jack Kerouac’s book, “On The Road,” but I got the point and was sold.

We left at 6pm on April 19th, after having lunch with our family, depositing our wedding money gifts at the bank, stashing our wedding gifts in my parent’s basement, and packing my clothes, camping equipment, etc. for the trip (yup, I hadn’t started packing!).

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That’s my orange sleeping bag in the background!
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Gassing up

Our route:

itinerary

START: Mississauga, Ontario (Canada)

  1. Joliet, Illinois (USA)
  2. Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
  3. Arches National Park, Utah
  4. Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah
  5. Las Vegas, Nevada
  6. Death Valley National Park, California
  7. Rowland Heights, California (to visit my relatives)
  8. San Francisco, California
  9. Yosemite National Park, California
  10. Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, California
  11. Elko, Nevada (for a mine tour)
  12. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming
  13. Fargo, North Dakota

END: Thunder Bay, Ontario and Québec City, Québec (Canada)

Who would have ever known that the entire trip would end the way that it did?

Everything was going well and we were right on schedule. My mother-in-law gave us a $500 GoPro video camera and I was very much inspired to create a travel video of our trip. I totally had a vision for it with the music I would use and everything. We got a car mount so we could take videos on the road while driving. We also got selfie stick, for well, selfies… and videos while hiking (I annoyed my husband so much shooting these)!

We drove from Toronto to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado over two days. I remember driving to our cabin in Estes Park, Colorado late at night through the mountains telling my husband, “Babe, I wish nothing bad happens to us during this trip,” “Me too,” he replied.

The open road (Nebraska)
The open road
Driving to the American Rockies
Driving to the American Rockies
At our cabin in Estes Park, Colorado
At our cabin in Estes Park, Colorado

We had a day to spend in the still snow-covered American Rockies. We completed our first hike of the trip/season, which was to snowshoe to the summit of Deer Mountain. The three-mile one-way hike was quite tiring (plus there was no clear trail near the top, so we explored for a bit) but the view was well worth it. Being our first hike of the season, on snowshoes no less, I got tired (mentally) easily and needed frequent breaks.

To be fair, the ascent was quite hard! I really had to control my breathing!
Unreal
Unreal
Snowy at the top
Coming down the slopes
Coming down the slopes
Conquered Deer Mountain Summit!
Conquered Deer Mountain Summit!
How many elks can you spot?
How many elks can you spot?

We then packed our bags and headed to Utah to see Arches and Bryce Canyon National Parks. In a short span of time, we went from snowy peaks to desert canyons! At Arches, we ventured to see Landscape and Delicate Arch, and all the unique rock formations in between.

Welcome to Utah
Welcome to Utah
We thought they looked like fingers in mittens
We thought they looked like fingers in mittens
One of the many, many, MANY arches we saw
One of the many, many, MANY arches we saw

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Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Delicate Arch Viewpoint
Camping
Camping

At Bryce Canyon, we did a 10 km loop through the heart of Bryce Amphitheatre. We earned these nerdy badges for hiking through the hoodoos!

“Thor’s Hammer”
Hoodos
Hoodoos
We had to take pictures with at least three of these signs along the trail to get the badge
We had to take pictures with at least three of these signs along the trail to get the badge
The Queen
Queen Victoria – http://www.panamintcity.com/utah/image/bryce68.jpg
JUST WOAH
JUST WOAH

At the campground at Bryce Canyon, I got to use my hammock for the first time! My husband has had one for the last while and has been extremely happy with it, and we got one for myself for the trip. While we did get to use our hammocks early (we didn’t expect that there would be suitable trees here at Bryce as we aimed to use them at Sequoia), we had some issues. We got to the campground very early to reserve a spot. We did manage to find the PERFECT site with the PERFECT trees to hang our hammocks. We then reserved the site and went gallivanting in the park for the rest of the day. We came back to the campground after sunset, all excited about setting up our hammocks, when SOMEONE TOOK OUR SPOT! I was so upset. We couldn’t find another spot like that at that time of the day too, as anyone camping in the park would have already secured a spot. We reported this to one of the park rangers who was checking the sites, payments, etc. He felt bad for us and basically told us to just go off in the forest close to the campsites… “just don’t let anyone see you.”

I wrote postcards from each national park to our wedding guests to tell them about our trip and thank them for coming to our wedding. Here are the postcards from Bryce!

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After two amazing days in Utah, we crossed over to California via Nevada (including the quintessential drive through Las Vegas Boulevard) to reach Death Valley National Park.

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