Research, Reservations and Reccomendations… oh my!

Once you find the route you want to take (northern or southern), start by choosing the parks and sites you wish to experience. Next, create a route that is sensible for your needs. For example, we made sure our longest drives were around 9 hours because between the two of us, we could accomplish that trip; but also because the kids could tolerate no more than that in the car.Look for national forests and state parks that fall within the window of time you wish to travel on a given day. 

We purchased an “America the Beautiful Pass” which allows access to National parks and forests. Make sure to show your ID and pass ready to expedite entry.

Be sure to read the reviews for each campsite you hope to utilize. Make the reservations well in advance (any where from 4-6 months, if possible). As, many parks are popular especially during the summertime, campgrounds tend to fill up quickly. Most reservations can be made on or easily accessed through We also used There are many first come, first serve campgrounds in state and national parks that cannot be reserved online; however when traveling with children we wanted a little more security knowing there was a site waiting for us.

At this point, let’s talk campsites and tent size. Some campsites have a small area for pitching a tent. While others are designated for large tent campsites. A large tent site is anything over 10 feet x 10 feet. If you’re staying in a campground with tent pads, it is important to know the dimensions of your tent floor. With your tent be sure to purchase an appropriate footprint/moisture barrier. A lot of tents will be advertised with a moisture block floor, caution, if there is a hard rain you will want the added protection. We had rain in Glacier National Park overnight, when we packed up the tent the ground where the footprint was, completely dry!

It’s a good idea to get a little “welcome mat” to place right outside the tent door. It’s a great place to wipe shoes and take them off before entering the tent. I got one at Walmart for $3.97.


Arch Advice

The GPS took us right into the heart of the city with the arch on our right. We struggled with parking and a gentleman finally shared that the baseball stadium has general parking and was perfect for anyone traveling with a car top carrier.
Reserve your tickets on-line and try to do this a few days in advance if possible. Be sure to screen shot the tickets, in case you don’t have service when you get down to the entrance. My signal was strong until we got to the tram. Also, before the tour guide scans your phone turn the screen brightness all the way up.

Lastly, hit the bathrooms before you get to the tram. It’s about a 45 minute visit. You will not see another bathroom after you get in line for the tram.

It takes a village

We made it to Ohio and I as I sit on the porch of my parents house, drinking my morning coffee, I am thankful for all the people who have made this trip possible. 

It’s important to get to know the people around you. More importantly the ones that live in your neighborhood. On Brisa we look after one another. So many of them are pulling together to care for the house, the lawn, the garden, the cats, the dogs. Thank you, Brian and family, Chad and family, Charlene and Rob, and Mr. Bob.

Fallon and Matt are taking on the daunting task of caring for our two dogs along with their two dogs and a brand new sweet baby girl. Fallon also helped me set up this blog and has been a huge cheerleader for me! Thank you, love! 

Lastly, the support financially, emotionally and mentally has come from our families. The past couple weeks were a blur: end of the school year for the kids to buying a car to end of the school year for us. Thank you, Mom and Dad for taking the kids for the past week. I know they have had a blast and have made some great memories! Thank you, Jill and Jim for running back and forth from Va Beach to help us and for being as excited as we are about this trip! I appreciate all those family members who have given us gear or have gifted the kids spending money/Visa cards. They are so excited to have their own money and of course can’t wait to spend it!

It certainly takes a village and I am super blessed with an amazing one!

Prep Work

This is definitely not a trip you can plan in one night. This is a year long process and it’s necessary to commit. 

First things first, create a general itinerary; which states, which sites of interest, and where to stay. After you have a general idea of where you’re heading you can better prepare your gear. Judson and I were each on an iPad using Google Maps and generating our plan. We made sure to check hours on the road and the availability of places to camp.

Next, start gathering. We shared the news with the kids and we also told them, Christmas and birthdays were going to be used for getting the items we needed for the trip. Eli was so pumped when he got his blue hiking boots and a blue and white hammock for his birthday! Christmas was laden with headlamps, eating and cooking utensils, water bottles, lanterns, camp chairs and the list goes on.