The first time I went to Las Vegas, Nevada, it was for a work conference. I wasn't sure if I'd ever make it back to visit again, so I wanted to make the most of it while I had the chance. I'm not a gambler, and I didn't want to pay hundreds of dollars to see a live show, so I entertained myself with a challenge: see and do as much as possible ... for under $20. Over the years, I returned to Vegas for a few more work obligations, but Mike and the boys had never seen it. It seemed like a fun change of pace after days and days of hiking and national parks, so we headed that direction on our way from the Grand Canyon to San Diego, California. We began our adventure at the place where my first Vegas adventure started — the MGM Grand Hotel & Casino. What was the same? The giant bronze lion statue at the entrance. What was different? The trip to the emergency room. Click the link to read more on We Married Adventure!
To be honest, I had never heard of Glen Canyon until we were setting up camp on the shores of Wahweap Bay, an offshoot of the iconic Lake Powell. Ironic, because the lake we had come to see was man-made, actually sitting on top of Glen Canyon and created by the damming of the Colorado River in 1963. Having just crossed the state line from Utah into Arizona, we were stopping here to wash off the high desert dust in one of America's most famous and scenic water-borne playgrounds.
Travel typically involves movement. A physical, material shift from one location to another that reveals the glory of this world. The vistas of the Alps versus the Andes versus the Himalayas. The striking contrast between the eastern and western banks of the Bosphorus Strait. The Pacific Coast Highway repeatedly taking your breath away with each successive bend in the road. But, sometimes, you can find a place that allows you to stand perfectly still and let the world reveal itself to you, with each passing moment your view morphing into something new and unique and never to be seen again. Bryce Canyon is one of those places.
The copper-colored sandstone monuments of Capitol Reef National Park were stunning against the sapphire blue sky, and we were in awe as we wound our way around the park's driving tour. That's the beauty of America's national parks — there are so many different ways to explore and enjoy them.
Perfectly positioned between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks lies the quaint and quiet town of Moab, Utah. While it's name doesn't conjure the same metaphysical tones of a Sedona, Arizona, or a Ringing Rocks, Pennsylvania, it is a magical place nonetheless. Hiking, climbing, and photography pilgrims flock to its campsites for a taste of small-town civilization before, between, and after deep excursions into the wild backcountry that literally surrounds the town on all sides.
There are essentially three different ways to see Arches National Park and still get an idea of what the place is all about. You can drive it. You can short-hike it. Or you can really take your time and venture to some of the more remote locations.
One of the great things about an epic cross-country American road trip is that you get to visit friends you might not otherwise see very often. Mike planned our route with a stop in Golden, Colorado, to visit his friend Steve, who'd recently moved there for a new job. Steve and his kids love to hike, and they'd explored dozens of great trails in and around Denver. His favorite of these was Hanging Lake in Glenwood Canyon, so we took a day trip to see it for ourselves.
I have to make a confession about this road trip. Apparently, I have trouble judging both linear distances and the height of mountains. Yes, we were on our way to Angela’s childhood home in San Diego. Yes, we were all excited about visiting ten national parks during the journey. Yes, we eagerly anticipated the hiking, swimming, and camping in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. But, as I've said before, I'm all about the journey itself. Especially when that journey involves some kind of epic crossing or transition from one thing to another, very different thing. And, on this trip, I just wanted to watch the Rockies rise out of the horizon as we rolled west across the Great Plains. I had this romantic notion that something so tall and imposing as the Rocky Mountains would loom over the surrounding land and be visible from a hundred miles away.
At the risk of being cliché, Kansas is flat. The kind of flat that can cause agoraphobia, with your line of sight rushing out to a blue and green split-screen, no matter which way you turn. Standing outside the ring of trees surrounding our KOA campsite in Salina, Kansas, I experienced a delicious vertigo. Like the lush infinity of the rich midwest soil could slip out from beneath my feet at any moment. A green silk scarf sliding off the edge of a glass table.
Our epic cross-country adventure began in Chattanooga, Tennessee, where we headed northwest through Nashville toward St. Louis, Missouri. When planning the route, we were aiming for as many national parks as we could hit on our way to San Diego and back, plus a few national monuments, state parks, and other sights along the way. The first of these encounters was the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Missouri. Completed in 1965, this national monument is the world's tallest arch as well as the tallest manmade monument in the Western Hemisphere. Plus, it's space-age cool.