No review is worth much unless you understand the perspective of the one giving the review - otherwise, how do you know if you would agree or disagree? Should you see the sight - or will you be bored silly? So... more about us - and this trip.
We're a family of 5 (hubby, myself, 3 boys) and are Eastern US dwellers - having been born and lived in this section of the planet - from NY to FL (and some states in between) our whole lives - thus, our perspective. Our boys on this trip were 14, 12, and 10. It's our 2nd trip out west (didn't know about these reviews after our first one two years ago). Some places we visited were repeat visits and many were new. Our preference is seeing new places. We get more of a "high" from that I suppose. I guess it's our need to fill in our "mental maps" of the world. We often find that what we THOUGHT would be the picture, isn't... Our ultimate goal would be having the whole planet "filled in" but that's doubtful considering our finances...
On this trip, we added my nephew (age 16) and mom (you guess her age) for the first half. Neither have really traveled with us before (my mom had never camped either), so we wondered how we'd all adjust... (it worked out fine). They had to return at the end of August for my nephew to attend school, so flew out from Seattle. (This is our first year homeschooling our youngun's - they love it -but as a warning - homeschooling is not for everyone. Our kids are self-motivated and learn well on their own...)
Our trip itself had a two-fold purpose... first, we wanted to take our nephew to see some areas of the west (Badlands, Yellowstone, the Pacific) we enjoyed the first time as he's never had the opportunity to travel far. We added a few new spots in between other destinations. Then, when he and my mom went home, our family was to meander our way back with nothing really specific in mind - other than we wanted to see more National Parks. We ended up heading to the far south - the deserts, across to Carlsbad, NM, and eventually back through the Smoky Mountains. So, overall we did a huge loop - PA to SD, WY, MT, WA (with nephew and my mom) and OR, CA, AZ, NM, etc back to PA with just our family. We lost track of the miles and days - and, quite honestly, had a blast. We wish we were still out traveling... however, tis time now to earn money for our next trip.
Since we're not independently wealthy, for jobs, hubby works for himself in Civil Engineering and I substitute teach math and science courses in our local high school. This allows us time (and money) to travel. Well, that and the fact that we don't really plan on retiring in the "traditional" way nor is our house up to some folks standards. Hey, we all choose where we use our money - and we only have one trip on this planet - so we each choose for ourselves.
Then, you should know (for perspective purposes), we're not "normal" by typical American standards...we're weird - and we like it that way. We don't watch TV much, and aren't into fashion of any sort (function is of more importance to us). When we do watch TV, it's travel shows, history shows, animal shows (documentary style) or such things. Our boys get along fairly well with each other and aren't into video games as most kids are. They very, very seldom ask if we're there yet and never complain about a trip. They're as "hooked" on travel as we adults are. From a young age I overheard one of my sons telling a friend that he didn't consider a trip "long" unless we got to spend at least one night away from home and not with relatives! This other friend had considered traveling an hour to Grandma's house to be a long trip... Our kids have as much fun planning - and have their dream destinations (Africa, Antarctica, South America) just as we adults do. We're also not shopping or golf lovers - though we do have a huge magnet collection on our fridge - and could use another fridge!
With the travel, we love nature and are not as fond of cities or "man-built" creations - though sometimes we do visit/enjoy those as well. We very seldom dislike a place - but do have preferences about what we like. We love finding "hidden gems" - wonderful places we didn't expect to find.
Getting out and seeing/experiencing nature is often a big part of our traveling. We love camping, hiking, snorkeling, diving, traveling back roads and eating at local places. With hikes, we're game for anything from 1/2 mile to 12 miles - pending our time allowances. Our boys are pretty sure-footed - we "old folks" often call them our "mountain goats." If we're caving, our youngest is nicknamed "mouse" as it's his job to crawl through spaces to see if it's worth it for the rest of us. In the water, we can snorkel for hours. For this trip, the "water" part really doesn't apply though. Our youngest is into all sorts of critters and is our resident critter and insect expert.
We often tent camp - though can be as varied in our lodgings from primitive camping to 5 star resorts. Flexibility is the name of the game. We have, however, discovered the budget goes much further with camping than with the 5 stars, so to travel more, we tend to opt for cheap.
While we appreciate good food and service, it's not really a priority with us. Often times we'll merely "forage" with items we buy along the way to keep in the van. If we do eat out, it's usually lunch - it's cheaper and allows us to stay out away from our campsite. We also have a rule when traveling - we can't eat anywhere we could have eaten at home. This eliminates a TON of chain restaurants and introduces us to many wonderful local eateries. Once in a while this rule gets broken, but it didn't on this trip.
Due to finances and where we were born on this planet, so far most of our traveling has been in the US and Canada. We hope to explore more world-wide in the future, but expenses for the 5 of us increases rapidly once we add airfare, etc, to do it, so who knows? We've been to 49 of the 50 states (need to see Alaska) and have done all of the Eastern Provinces of Canada except Newfoundland and Labrador (maybe next year?).
Anyway, we're always up to a challenge - love exploring - and hate crowds - so work hard at avoiding them. Driving on roads other than interstate highways is a big priority - at least - once we're at the place we consider our trip to have started at. We can use highways to get there quicker.
Hmm, can I think of anything else? Guess not right now... At this point, you should have an idea if you're "weird" like us and want to know more - or if you want to read more just out of curiosity and had no idea folks like us existed. If so, welcome to our world! :)