Full Time RV Route Planning

RVMapRoute2017/2018

After we decided on a date of 2018 for full time RVing, I have been planning a route. I think I have a good plan for our first year! I have been using Road Trippers again since it is pretty easy to map out a route online. Then the info shows up in the app on my phone. It is a rough draft right now since campsites are still too far out to book in a lot of the areas. I have to fill in stops in between major stops as well. I would like to keep our driving time to 3-4 hours or less on travel days. We also have to firm up where we would like to work. Interviews for the summer season (April-October) in the National Parks usually happen in November and December of the previous year. We hope to work in Yellowstone or Grand Teton for our first summer season since they have a lot of options for Workampers.

Our plan is to head down to Florida in the fall of 2017. Hopefully the beginning of October. We will just have the truck at that point. We want to stop at Shenandoah, The Blue Ridge Parkway, The Smoky Mountains and Congaree National Parks on the way down. We would also like to see Charleston and Savannah since we have never been. Our cats Lotus and Bamboo have been on a road trip before from Florida to Massachusetts, and luckily several of the hotels are pet friendly.

We will stay the winter in Central Florida. My parents are there and Craig and I lived there for nearly six years. We hope to do some seasonal work at the parks and shop for an RV. 5-6 months should be plenty of time to find one we like (fingers crossed.) Towards the end of March/beginning of April we will head to Wyoming by way of Louisiana, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. We hope to see several of the National  Parks in those areas on the way. I would like to get to Wyoming towards the end of April, so we will tell them that in our interviews or add that info to our resumes. 

After working the summer in Yellowstone or Grand Teton (hopefully), we would like to head down to Utah or Arizona again.  Zion and the South Rim of the Grand Canyon are open year round. If we can, we would like to work a few months at one of these parks. Then we could head to San Diego for a month and up the coast to Yosemite! I am hoping we can work the summer season of 2019 (April-September) in Yosemite National Park. If they would let us leave mid September after Labor Day, we could see Lake Tahoe, Lassen, Redwoods and Crater Lake.  After that we will have to decide! 

Again, we are pretty flexible since we will have to see what job offers we get and what is posted next year. Craig and I have both worked in retail, merchandising, front desk and concierge at Disney’s Contemporary Resort, waited on tables, bartended, etc. in the past. We have worked in travel, banking, library/archiving, IT, web design, marketing, PR and owned several companies. Both of us are good with computers. We used to own a pet sitting company so we can help out on farms. In the next year and 1/2 we plan on taking several AMC classes on trail work and building, wilderness first aid and  map and compass info. We already volunteer for several local outdoor organizations helping with walks, trails, hiking, etc. I think we have well rounded backgrounds for Workamping!

Wheelingits blog posts on Planning RV Travels are a big help. I have bookmarked and Pinned so much info it will take me a year to get through it all! A trip to AAA is in order so we can pick up some paper maps. I will also buy Benchmark Maps so we have paper maps on hand. 

Stay tuned for more planning!

   

Smash Books For Memory Keeping

 

I was trying to think of a way to keep our ticket stubs, park and hotel maps and trail guides that would not take up a lot of space. Then I read about Smash Books. Since Craig and I want to travel around full time in an RV soon, we are trying to get rid of a lot of our “stuff.” We have been going through books, clothing, prints and picture frames and selling, giving away or donating them. We would like to keep some memories though. 

  

Smash Books are like an expanding scrap book with plenty of pre decorated pages and pockets. You just glue in what you like on the pages or slip guides or maps in the pockets. There are different designs like “International” or “Wedding” with themes. We found several on sale at Marshalls and TJMaxx for $3.99 and $4.99. Great! Easy to store and plenty of room to add to.


  


Now we can refer back to our National Park maps, hiking routes and guides, hotel maps and planning scrap pages. I can check what cabin number we had on a past trip, see what prices were and remember places we ate. What do you like to save from your trips? How do you store everything?   

 

Yellowstone National Park Geysers and Thermal Features

At Yellowstone National Park there are around 500 geysers and over 10,000 thermal features! There are more geysers at Yellowstone than anywhere else on Earth. One of the best walks to see many of the pools, springs and geysers is the Upper Geyser Basin right near the Old Faithful Inn. I love this map of the area:

upper-geyser-basin-map

When we visited in 2014, Craig and I walked the whole Upper Geyser Basin, past Morning Glory Pool, through the woods to Biscuit Basin. It took about three hours round trip. We stopped to take pictures, videos and to sit near the Firehole River for a snack. Be sure and take your bear spray. We did not see many people past Morning Glory Pool.

There will be geyser eruption times posted at the Old Faithful Inn and the Visitor Center. There is also an NPS App you can download that will give you several possible eruption times. Sometimes, you will luck out while walking and see a group of “Geyser Gazers” that may be waiting by a certain thermal feature. They keep the rangers up to date on what might be ready to erupt. We got to see Beehive Geyser shoot 200 feet in the air! The rangers also give free walks and talks around the geyser basins during the day and evenings. 

Do not forget Norris Geyser Basin, Black Sand Basin, Midway Geyser Basin, the Lower Geyser Basin and Firehole Lake Drive. West Thumb Geyser Basin is also unique because it is next to Yellowstone Lake. I love the Fishing Cone hot spring where in the past people would catch a fish in the cold lake and then cook it in the spring!  Be careful! When you get past Morning Glory Pool, you are able to walk right next to some of the thermal features. The boardwalks can also get very crowded at peak times. Near Grand Prismatic Spring was usually packed. Stay on marked trails. What geysers have you seen erupt at Yellowstone?  Sometimes you will catch a surprise eruption!

 


Road Trip Planning

When we started talking about our California National Park road trip and our Grand Circle road trip (UT, CO and AZ), I turned to two web pages and apps I use a lot for travel planning. One is Roadtrippers. I love their site and app. The website can be a little buggy with older browsers and computers, but it has helped me map out a few trips now.  We used the app in Florida to get from Central Florida to Saint Augustine and back without a hitch. You can view where you are driving on the app and see restaurants and interesting sites nearby that you may want to stop at. It also shows hotels and gas stations if you want. I find the estimated times that it will take you to get to the next stop pretty long, but you can get a rough idea by the distance. If you are looking for ideas, there are also fun stories and trip suggestions on their website and Facebook page. 

My favorite trip planning tool (other than TripAdvisor and guide books) is TripIt. I can make an itinerary and plan out our whole trip. TripIt lets you forward air, hotel, cruise, Open Table, and car rental confirmations to them by email and they automatically load them into your trip itinerary. I have 4 trips on there right now and 90% of the time it knows what itinerary to send the confirmation to. When it is not sure, it keeps them in a file for you to load. It shows you weather and maps for your locations. You can plan your trip on your home computer and all of your info will be there in the app. You can also link it to your cell phone calendar. I love having all of my confirmation numbers and times in one place. Best of all they are both free! 

Trip Planning

One good place to help with your trip planning is AAA. If you have a membership, you can go in and get maps, guide books and Trip Ticks.  Even though we use a lot of online resources and Apps like Roadtrippers to plan our trips, we like having paper maps in the car/truck. Sometimes a GPS will be wrong in more remote areas or you will have no signal. Today, we went into our local AAA and got some maps and guide books for our California road trip in June. They even had some Yosemite and Sequoia/Kings Canyon Ranger booklets. These have some good info on visitors centers, hours, etc. I also grabbed some Alaska cruise brochures for future planning!

I will do a post soon on trip planning for a National Park trip like Yellowstone or Yosemite. Planning can be overwhelming because a park like Yellowstone is so large. There are several lodges to choose from and you need to book a year in advance to get your summer dates!