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!

   

National Park Shirts

National Park Shirts
Craig and I love to collect National Park t-shirts and long sleeve shirts when we visit the parks. Not only are they great souvenirs, they are also great conversation starters. When people see our shirts, they always ask us about our trips.

I SurvivedThe Grand Canyon

I love so many of the designs and fabrics now. If you get a shirt in one of the gift shops or visitor’s centers, a portion of the price may go to the National Park Service. Here are some of my favorites.

Angels Landing  Yosemite Valley Bear
Hike JRR Tolkein

Grand Canyon Bighorn Sheep

Joshua Tree

 

Angels Landing-Zion National Park

Grotto Bus Stop

One of my favorite hikes on our Grand Circle Road Trip was Angels Landing in Zion National Park. Angels Landing got it’s name in 1916 when Frederick Fisher, exploring Zion with friends, exclaimed, “Only an angel could land on it!” Ten years later two Park Service employees, Thomas Chalmers Vint and Walter Ruesch, planned the construction of the Angels Landing Trail as an extension of the West Rim Trail. The trail was listed on the National Register of Historic places in 1987.

You start out at the Grotto Trailhead. It is about 2.4 miles each way. The trail starts out following the Virgin River and then starts to climb several steep, paved switchbacks. I thought these switchbacks were one of the hardest parts of the trail even though they were paved. Remember, you are gaining 1,488 feet of elevation on this short hike! I was glad we started early in the morning so this part was in the shade. Even in October it was hot in the sun.

bri Trailhead

After the switchbacks, you go over a drainage bridge and through Refrigerator Canyon. It is nice and cool in here and you may hear Ravens calling to each other. Their voices echo against the walls.

Switchbacks

View

Refrigerator Canyon

Next, you reach Walter’s Wiggles a set of 21 switchbacks. Walter’s Wiggles are named for Walter Ruesh, Zion National Park’s first superintendent.  I did not find these as hard as the first long switchbacks.

Walter's Wiggles

At the top of Walter’s Wiggles you will reach Scout Lookout. Some people call this spot “Quitter’s Corner.” I think it is a great hike even if you make it to Scout Lookout. The views along the West Rim Trail are amazing and you should stop here if you are scared of heights or tired! I planned on going to Scout Lookout and checking out the chain portion to Angels Landing to see if I thought I could do it. You can not really see a lot of it from this area though. You can see hikers in the distance. This last 1/2 mile is the actual Angels Landing Trail. We decided to try it!

Scout Lookout

First Set of Chains

The first set of chains is over slickrock and steep. I had a hard time reaching some of the chains because I am short, so you may have to let go here. One nice lady made a bridge for me with her leg so I could reach the next set! There are drop offs here, but nothing like the ridge. I was shaking from adrenaline so we climbed above the trail and took a break. Several other people did too. The chains then go around a corner with a drop off. If it is busy this can be a real pain. On the way back down about 20 of us were waiting for a while and finally one guy told the crowd to hold on for a while so we could all get around them.

After these chains you reach another wide area somewhat smaller than Scout Lookout. There are some good resting and photo areas here.

view

tr

Then, the chains drop to the left and continue to the narrow (2 feet wide in some spots) ridge. The drop is pretty big and I had to hang on and drop myself down. On the way back, I needed a boost up from Craig. It is really crowded here and some people start to freak out because it is very exposed on both sides. We decided to go a bit further and take a look and some pictures. There were too many nervous people, people with backpacks bumping into others, and even people carrying small scared children! We decided to turn around here and do the rest of Angels Landing when we come back to Zion. Hopefully, much earlier in the morning and not on a holiday weekend! We only had about 10 minutes left to get to the summit, but I am proud of what I did hike.   

Ridge

ALAngels Landing Views

drop

I loved the hike and it is one of my favorites so far. I think about it often and we hope to go back and volunteer in Zion National Park soon. People were very patient, excited and kind along the trail, but I still wish it were less busy. I think with the internet and Instagram and Pinterest, knowledge of these National Park trails has really increased. Many people want to try them! A friend said she went years ago in August and she was one of only a few on the trail. I would visit soon before it becomes a permit hike like Half Dome in Yosemite. 

Grand Circle Road Trip Thoughts

We are back from our 12 night Grand Circle Road trip and it was amazing. The passport has lots of new stamps. We visited 7 National Parks, state parks, NRA’s and National Monuments! 

Some random thoughts…

My top 5 parts of the trip: 

  1. Zion National Park-It looks like what you would imagine the Garden of Eden to look like. I was amazed at how much green and water was in this desert environment.
  2. Bryce Canyon National Park and Scenic Byway 12-Amazing! Like walking and driving in a fairy tale. A photographers dream.
  3. Mesa Verde National Park-Quiet! Intimate. The best service and the best food/restaurant (Metate Room.)  The cliff dwellings are beautiful and so well taken care of.
  4. Monument Valley and Antelope Canyon-Thank you Navajo Nation for sharing these with us. As Craig said “This is a magical place Patricia.”
  5. Grand Canyon National Park-because it is the Grand Canyon! We saw lots of Elk, Mule Deer, Ravens, Mules and a Big Horn Sheep ran through a crowd of tourists! It is so well run and like a small town. There was even a Ringtail Cat at dinner in the El Tovar Dining Room.

I am so grateful Craig and I got to spend our 19th anniversary experiencing the Grand Circle. Our country is so amazing! Get out and see it please. You will not be sorry. There were tons of tourists from China, France, Germany and Spain, but very few Americans. Go Find Your Park!