Hello everyone! We began with an itinerary to start but as important it is to have a plan, flexibility and the ability to effectively execute change on the fly is just as crucial. Well especially living out of our car. Here is our updated itinerary as we go. We have the original posted and you can visually see the change. We are going to update our map route soon too!
This was a 27 state run-through while hitting as many national parks with our annual pass we picked up at an REI for $80. Lots of thanks to Bia “family” for the giftcard that afforded that. We also had the chance to stop in to say “hey” to plenty of friends along the way.
Overall with gas and everything else included we spend a little over $1k a person. One of the more expensive parts of the trip altogether but more due to constantly being on the road driving 8-12 hours a day up until reaching Michigan. We drove our trusty $500 2000 Honda Accord with over 250k miles through it all getting just under 30 mpg highway.
Between the both of us we are somewhat minimal yet after selling furniture and stuffs we still managed to pack the Honda to the brim barely having sight through the rear window and the trunk barely being able to shut. Our second kickoff, a camping trip with friends in Joshua Tree National Park after leaving San Diego was the beginning of handing off “gifts” to friends from our stuff. Vegas was another huge drop-off of more stuff to a donation center.
A few more expenses that hit us were some unseen tolls around San Francisco, buying tire chains as required to travel through some areas of Sequoia National Park which we hadn’t known until reaching the area and one speeding ticket changing from I believe Utah to Arizona along with the speed limit.
What was spent on extras though was saved as we traveled with a little one-burner butane camper grill and camping kitchen supplies. Whenever we could we would pull over and cook a nice simple meal and make good espresso with our Italian percolator.
The Rocky Mountains were something else and I do recall nervous, palms sweating night driving across Wyoming en route to Denver. It had been an all day drive beginning outside of of Butte, MO with hopes of visiting Yellowstone which was closed for grooming at that time. After a lunch we decided to just long-shot straight to Denver. After passing through Jackson which was icy and steep we cut straight south until hopping onto Interstate 80. Speed limit 80mph the whole way across but as night crept on us the winds picked up with snowdrifts littering the roads and as we drove a little more with caution, other vehicles seemed to fly, surpassing the limit driving closer to 100 catching us with their tail winds.
I don’t remember the road or detour weather-emergency signs flashed on and off across I-80 but I do remember it calling for all high-profile lightweight vehicles to detour. I didn’t think much of our low-profile car being necessarily a threat. It felt like 2-3 hours of downhill driving at 40 mph through what seemed to be a pass. More snowdrifts, 60+ mph winds (as read on the emergency signs as they shuttered) along with car shuttering the whole way along. It was as pitch black as could be, no radio signal which didn’t bother me as I was as nervous as I’d ever been driving. Semis cruised passed us at full speed over and pulling us with their draft. Honestly there wasn’t another non-semi vehicle for those hours which led me to think we should’ve just taken the detour. When what seemed us finally reaching the bottom of the pass we were crossing into Colorado and close to our destination.
Long story but a definite lesson in to taking a little more caution to any extreme weather conditions. Even growing up in the snow covered Upper-Peninsula and learning to drive in the worst conditions hadn’t ever put me up like that.
The longest stretch probably of the trip due to unchanging scenery for what seemed to be forever (no offense to all of the beauty, farmlands that feed me and lovely people as well) was Denver to Chicago. It was an early take-off with hopes of reaching Chicago by the next day. Flat and straight for 16-hours. We did take a dinner break to meet up with friends in Omaha which helped but seriously the longest drive ever.
We did make it to right around O’hare airport before finding a Walmart parking-lot around 6am before calling it a day.
By the time we reached Michigan we were down to just the trunk with a few backpacks and suitcases. Thinking back I can’t remember what was left between the few bags that we were able to store in Michigan.
After spending the holidays the Upper Peninsula of Michigan with friends and family we trudged through a slush storm through the rest of Michigan and b-lined it towards North Carolina spending a night in a Walmart parking lot along the way.
Lots of Walmart parking breaks along the way buying snacks and using their facilities. On and off bathing with wet-naps.
Anyways, traveling through the Appalachians was absolutely beautiful. From the main highways, not as awe-struck as the Rockys with their steeping roads and altitudes yet none-the-less beautiful. A swing into friends for the night and then off to visit more family and friends in Florida for a week or so. Having the luxury of family assisting with selling the Honda, we were able to take off on our scheduled date, no problems at all.
Dec 1st – Left San Diego and drove towards Joshua Tree National Park , CA
We camped in Joshua Tree NP ($20 per night for 6 people)
Dec 2nd – Joshua Tree NP and drove towards Zion National Park, UT
We camped in Virgin, Dam Utah (free)
Dec, 3rd – Drove to Zion National Park and towards Horseshoe bend, AZ
We slept in the car (Walmart parking lot in Page, AZ) free
Dec, 4th – Drove to Grand Canyon National Park (South Rim), AZ / Flagstaff, AZ and Las Vegas, NV.
Dec, 4th -6th Las Vegas
We slept at Aria hotel in Las Vegas, NV (our Friend Evan invited us to stay with him)
Dec, 6th – Drove to Seven Magic Mountains, NV/ Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park / Fresno, CA.
We stayed at the University Square Hotel in Fresno, CA ($41 per night)
Dec, 7th – Drove to Yosemite, CA and towards San Francisco, CA.
We slept at H Dana Bower Rest Area/ Golden Gate Bridge Vista Point, free.
Dec, 8th – Drove to Portland, OR
We stayed with our friends Evan and Kait.
Dec, 9th – Drove to Seattle, WA
We stayed in an Airbnb in downtown Seattle, WA ($40 per night)
Dec, 10th – Drove to Montana
We camped in Butte, MT Homestake Pass BLM (Bureu of Land Management) free.
Dec, 11th – Drove to Yellowstone National Park (west gate), MT but it was closed. Drove to Jackson Hole / Grand Teton in Wyoming and towards Denver, CO.
Dec 11th – 13th Denver, CO
We stayed with our friend Taylor and visited Brent in Boulder (Alex’s cousin)
Dec, 13th – Drove to Omaha, NB had dinner with Brendon and Jenny and drove towards Chicago, IL.
We slept in the car (Walmart parking lot in Naperville) free
Dec, 14th – 16th Chicago, IL
We stayed with our friends Joe and Ally in Chicago, IL
Dec, 16th – Drove to Waukesha, WI to vist Uncle Perry and Aunt Marta/ drove towards Munising, MI.
We slept in the car (Walmart parking lot in Green Bay) free
Dec, 17th – Jan 2nd Munising, MI
We stayed in Alex’s childhood house.
Jan, 2nd – Drove to Waterford, MI and Columbus, OH
We slept in the car (Walmart parking lot in Columbus) free
Jan, 3rd – West Virginia, Virginia and Railegh, NC
We stayed with Lisa and Charley (Bia’s first host family)
Jan, 4th – Drove to Naples, FL
We stayed with Luis (Alex’s Dad)
Jan, 5th – Drove to Naples, FL
We stayed with Luis (Alex’s Dad)
Jan, 8th – Drove to Florida Keys, Miami
We stayed with Devin (Alex’s friend)
Jan, 9th – Mexico