Like most ideas, it all started with a $5 margarita at one of my favorite San Francisco dive bars, Uptown. I was sitting with two of the best folks and hashing out plans for the ultimate Southwest road trip. But also like most ideas, life got in the way (breakups, workaholism, etc.) and my dream died... UNTIL NOW, fast forward two years: a good pal of mine coincidentally had enough of his job and decided to quit at the same time I burned out from mine! So naturally, I tricked him into spending two weeks straight with me. After a month of sort of hashing plans out, we hit the road in the Barney-mobile (Jucy Van).
Tyler and I are parks and rec people. We majored in it, he worked for the National Parks System, we like trees. My funemployment plans included seeing as many national parks as possible before running off to Southeast Asia (because who knows when we wake up one day and we're watering plants with Gatorade, or the world is on fire). We decided to even out the trip by soaking up some forest and ending in the desert, so it transitioned from the ultimate Southwest road trip, to an aggressive Pacific Northwest/Rocky Mountain escapade. We had more of an overview of where we wanted to go, instead of secured plans. It would be hard and stressful to commit to destinations.
PROTIP: NPS offers an "America the Beautiful" annual pass for $80, that allows one car/two person entrance to any national parks. Some places were $20pp, so it's worth it if you're visiting more than one spot!
*underlined are places we actually made it to*
Crater Lake, Terwilliger (Cougar) Hot Springs, Portland, John Day Fossil Beds/Painted Hills, Agate Beach
Olympic National Park, Seattle, Puget Sound
Hells Canyon and (the inescapable) Snake River, Shoshone Falls, Boise, Craters of the Moon
Yellowstone, Grand Teton,
Salt Lake City, Bryce Canyon, Zion, Arches, Havasu Falls
Antelope Canyon (you need to book a tour for this), Grand Canyon, Horseshoe Bend
BACK 2 CALI
Joshua Tree, Salvation Mountain, home
NEVADA (substituted for CA destinations)
Las Vegas, Hoover Dam