Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Great American Road Trip Days 5 and 6: Yosemite - Tripping in the valley

We started out the day in Fresno with ambitious plans to leave by 9:30AM. We only had a bit of shopping and some goodbyes to take care of, but in the end we barely got out before 11AM. Still we were well equipped and had a chance to see my grandparents again before heading out, so no regrets.

The 2 hour drive to Yosemite passed quickly, though the foothills of the Sierras greeted us long before we actually made it to the valley. It's a pleasant drive and I hope those Fresno residents realize how lucky they are to be so close! Our Annual Access Pass for US National Parks ($80) began to recoup its value here, good for the $20 Yosemite entrance fee.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

A brief stop in civilization

A quick update from Midvale, Utah, just south of Salt Lake City. The trip is going fantastically so far. From Yosemite we stopped briefly in Benton Hot Springs (lovely!), then crossed Nevada in a day to arrive in Zion, and on to Bryce from there. Both of these southern Utah parks are outstanding, but Bryce is definitely my favorite so far (I have yet to visit Capitol Reef or Arches, not to mention the many smaller parks in this whole amazing region).

So we've been camping and without much in the way of Internet access (or power) since Monday of last week. I had hoped to be able to put up some photos and do a bit of posting here more frequently, but so far that has proved difficult. I've been keeping mental notes though and I still intend to go back and write a post about each day. So far there has been more than enough of interest in almost every day that passes.

Look for those blog posts to begin in a week or less, depending on whether we find Internet access in any of our upcoming stops - The Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, The Badlands, Devil's Tower. If nothing else, I'll get it all up here once we reach Chicago around the 8th or 9th of September. I'll begin on "Day 5", our trip in to Yosemite, since that's when things really kicked-off.

Friday, August 20, 2010

Great American Road Trip Days 1-5: Fresno - All packed and ready to shop

After leaving San Francisco on Tuesday, we have spent the last several days in Fresno visiting family and making sure we have all the essentials for our long-distance trek. We packed very well, but there are always things that get missed, or that you don't have time to buy before you leave. Everything from new hiking shoes to water containers to jumper cables and more.

In-between trips to sprawling mega-stores, we had a moment to visit the Tower District of Fresno, which was apparently recommended to Katy by my first cousin (once removed) as the "cool part of Fresno". I mainly remembered it for the classic old theater and its tower that unmistakably identify the area.

We found a rather nice little tea shop and had some enormous iced teas while we relaxed and did some people-watching. One or two other little gems presented themselves...

But my favorite was the pie shop.

We unfortunately didn't have time to sample, but I'm curious for next time.

Tomorrow we leave for Yosemite which is the real start of our trip, though we'll be in a cabin so the first test of the tent will have to wait for Benton Hot Springs on Monday. From there we drive straight across Nevada to Zion National Park, the first major destination that neither Katy nor I have seen before. I expect to put up the first pictures from the trip on my photoblog as soon as we get Internet access again after Yosemite.

It's been great to see everyone down here, lots of relatives we don't get to spend much time with, and some of whom were in from out of town as well. There's no hospitality like that of close family and we're fortunate to have this be our first stop. It's a nice way to ease into the coming weeks of travel. Soon enough we'll be on our own, fending for ourselves with nothing but our new (and largely untested) camping equipment to rely on!

Next check-in will probably be from Benton or beyond...

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Time Flies and the Epic Road Trip

Just a quick update this time. I started writing a longer, more involved post, and then I realized it was kind of a waste of time. A lot has happened since my last update and I can't possibly do justice to it all in any single blog post. So rather than try to do that, I'll just mention a few things and leave the rest for future updates.

Most importantly, although this blog has seen very infrequent use, it's about to get a lot more action. I've quit my "day job" at Bauman College, where I have worked for the past 4 1/2 years, and I'm going on an 8 week road trip with my girlfriend who just graduated from college. We'll be doing a big loop around the US, first North then South, and we've got a ton of things in the itinerary already.

We're also hoping for input from our friends and family on recommended places to visit and things to do on our route, so take a look a the PDF of our planned itinerary and let us know if you have something we just have to do or see on the way (in comments or by email). This is by no means a complete list of what we'll be doing, it's just an overview of the route and major "way points" (and we're leaving it somewhat open to allow for a good amount of flexibility in the details).

Along the way we'll both be blogging, taking photos, and even trying to get some decent video. I've got a new compact digital camera with high definition video recording capability (Panasonic ZS7), an intervalometer for my dSLR for shooting time-lapse (Pclix), and a new wide aperture prime lens as well (Sigma 24mm f/1.8). Photos will be at my photoblog, and video likely on my as-yet unused Youtube (or Vimeo) account. Reviews of all the new equipment will probably show up somewhere on our journey as I get the chance to use it all.

So if you'd like to follow us on our trek, we'd love to have you along for the ride. We'll try to make it interesting. ;-) When I get back I expect to have some more time to keep the blog updated on a regular basis and I've got some potentially interesting posts waiting in the wings that I'll be finishing up and publishing. Not least of which is the 2nd part of my 5 day week concept.

You can expect to see a new blog post at least once a week from here until the end of the trip!