Trip to Yellowstone

After a lovely breakfast at the hotel, we hitched back up the trailer and headed for Yellowstone. Going through the Absaroka mountains, we hit heavy rain followed by hail best described as somewhat bigger than a pea but smaller than a marble. Those on the road who didn’t pull over slowed down to 25 mph. We followed in the wake of a large trailer truck that helpfully displaced all the water from the road ahead of us.

After turning towards Yellowstone, the sun came out again and all seemed right with the world. This turned out to be a theme for a stay. Rain, thunder, hail followed by warm sunshine. When we managed to get any sort of data connection, the forecasts we pulled down were always either wrong or quickly out of date and totally useless.

We had a reservation at the Canyon campground in the middle of the park. When reading reviews of the campground, I found a lot complaining about how big and busy it was, but that it was in a great location since it’s really in the middle of all the main attractions. So I had braced myself for a somewhat unpleasant campground, but the opposite turned out to be true.

No one camps at Yellowstone “to go camping.” Everyone is here to see all the sites, which are definitely not in the campground. Maybe we lucked out, but everyone at sites around ours arrived late, left early, and were very quiet and inconspicuous in the meantime. Maybe after those days of RV camping, my tolerance for what is considered noisy and crowded is somewhat high. In any case, I highly recommend it for anyone considering a stay at Yellowstone. You still have to drive a lot to get anywhere, but the amount you’ll have to drive is fairly constant and not horrible for day trips.

Anyway, it took about an hour once we entered Yellowstone to arrive at Canyon campground. The journey is full of pot holes, curvy roads, and at least one hairpin turn. But it is also beautiful with rivers and mountains and green fields. And bison. And bears. And lots and lots of fellow tourists who will stop on the road at any hint of said animals.

In our first example of this, we saw a bison on one side of the road and two black bears off in the distance on the other side. Since there wasn’t any room on the side of the road to pull over, people were just stopping to take pictures from their vehicles. Since we were stopped anyway, I got a somewhat hazy picture of the bison through our side van window, but I was able to lower my window to get a less-hazy distance photo of the bears. I’m not going to win any awards, but it was pretty cool to see these animals so close and so soon after entering the park.

After we arrived at the campground, we unhitched the trailer and set up the tents. We made sure to put up both EZ-ups: one over our kitchen area and one over the kids’ tents. This turned out to be a very good thing since it pretty much started raining immediately after we arrived at camp. All that rain that we managed to avoid in Glacier hit us full force at Yellowstone. But all our wet weather camping in Oregon prepared us well, so it was more of an inconvenience than anything else.

Back to Civilization

We said goodbye to Glacier on Wednesday morning and drove to Helena, MT, which is roughly halfway between Glacier and Yellowstone, our next major destination. We said goodbye to the towering Rocky mountains and drove mostly south. In the middle of nowhere, we stopped at a really nice grocery store that would have fit in nicely in SE Portland and ordered some deli sandwiches that we ate on the road. That was pretty much our only stop on the four hour drive.

Upon reaching Helena, we had a couple of goals. (1) We wanted to fix the kids bikes or get them replacement bikes, (2) We needed to do some laundry, (3) I needed to get a charger for the battery of my camera, which I had foolishly left in Portland, and it was on its last bar of power on the indicator, (4) Aaron wanted to get a crimper in case anything happened to the wiring on the trailer.

When I had first figured out our itinerary, almost nine months ago, I had looked for a campground midway between Glacier and Yellowstone, but I couldn’t find a decent one in the right area that accepted reservations. I eventually found a rustic cabin, but then I totally failed to book it in time. I was a few hours late when I tried to make the reservation, and someone had already snagged it for the day I needed it.

So I figured that this might be a good time to regroup away from the camp scene, so I booked a room at a Holiday Inn Express, which turned out to be a great idea, considering everything we needed to get done.

My first task was to find a battery charger. I first tried at Target, which was in walking distance of our hotel. Unfortunately, while they carry Nikon cameras, they didn’t stock the battery chargers separately. Next stop was Walmart, which was a couple of miles away. Luckily, they had a single universal DSLR charger in stock, which I snagged. I also took the time to go over to the bike section and found they had kids bikes for the remarkable price of $54 each. Totally crazy. Basically kids bikes are considered disposable.

I went back to the hotel and explained our situation to the manager. He recommended a used sports equipment store, which was really close to the Target. He figured they would either have bicycle wheels for the kids bikes or be able to take our bikes as trade ins, so we wouldn’t have to dumpster them. Which was the last thing I wanted to do, but I also didn’t have the space to lug two useless bikes around the country.

Unfortunately, while this place sympathized with our situation, they didn’t have the parts we needed in stock, and the only kids’ bikes they stocked were way more fancy than what our kids needed, who are only learning how to ride bikes. So we went back to Walmart and put down $108 for two kids bikes. And then Aaron took the kids back to the hotel while I found a local laundromat.

The floor at the laundromat partially flooded while I was there because apparently too many machines were using the “rinse” cycle at the same time. (As far as I can tell, that meant just my two loads since there weren’t that many people there), but otherwise everything went smoothly.

The manager at the hotel confirmed that we could use their dumpster to trash our old bikes, which killed us to even think about, but we just didn’t have a whole lot of choice in the matter, given the circumstances. However, the next morning, Aaron talked to the maintenance guy who was the one with the keys to the dumpster. It turns out that he volunteers for a place that just happens to fix up bikes for local kids who can’t afford their own. Which, if we couldn’t fix our bikes, is EXACTLY what we hoped would happen to them. So he was happy to take them off our hands, and the kids were happy to have new, cheap Walmart bikes, and we left Helena having gotten everything on our list accomplished.

I didn’t take any pictures that day, so here’s one of the Two Medicines trail at Glacier. Goodbye, Glacier! We hope to come back someday for a much longer trip!

East Glacier

Tuesday morning, we took a bit of a break since we’d been going nonstop since we left Portland, and this trip is a marathon, not a sprint. The boys slept in, and I wrote my blog posts for the past couple of days. Aaron got the wireless up, and I was able to post a few things, although the connection was pretty horrific. We had a leisurely breakfast and then got ready to leave for a day trip to East Glacier. After finally washing all the dishes, putting everything away, and then getting all three kids in the car, we were finally ready to go. And then there was just an awful clicking sound when Aaron turned the keys in the ignition.

Between the battery being old and probably in need of replacement, me charging my laptop the night before, and the kids playing nonstop around the van, closing and opening the electric doors constantly, it just didn’t have the charge to start the engine. Luckily, a neighbor was around and able to give us a jump, but it wasn’t a great start to our adventure.

The ranger at the visitor’s center had recommended a stop called Goat Lick Overlook on the way to Two Medicine. We almost missed the turn; it looked like there may have been a sign there at one point, but it had fallen down or something, and the parking lot isn’t visible from the road. We just knew that the turn was somewhere near where we were, and there’s not a whole lot out there anyway, so we decided to take a look and discovered that it really was the place.

Apparently there are often a lot of goats around, licking the rocks for salt. Unfortunately there we didn’t see any goats, but the view was amazing, and it was a good place to stretch our legs in any case. Plus… it was almost totally empty of people due to the lack of signage.

Back in the car and off to East Glacier. When we first got to Glacier on Sunday, it had been drizzling, and it had lightly sprinkled on and off on Monday, but we had mostly missed the thunderstorm that the weather service was predicting. On our East Glacier trip, we discovered that the storm had got stuck over there. The whole area was flooded. It didn’t affect the roads or anything, but there was water everywhere and the streams were overflowing.

The east side of Glacier is absolutely, mindblowingly gorgeous. The west side, where we were staying, is really beautiful as well, but all the classic pictures of the towering, stark mountains behind beautiful blue lakes that you see in guide books seem to be mostly from the east side. Here’s a quick stop me made at the monument to the continental divide. The picture below does little  justice to the actual scene. Imagine these types of mountains completely filling your entire vision from left to right, and you will have a better idea of what this looked like. Really amazing.

We went as far as Two Medicines, but I wish we had had enough time to go further north to Many Glaciers, which is supposed to be even more staggeringly gorgeous.

The ranger had recommended a nature walk at Two Medicines, and we were puzzled when the parking lot at the trail head was empty. Maybe just not as many people make it over to the east side since it’s a longer drive? But it turned out that the trail was closed due to the flooding conditions. So we went further into the park up to Two Medicines lake.

Wow. I couldn’t put my camera down in a fruitless attempt to try to picture the beauty that my eyes could see but came out imperfectly on the limited dynamic range and flatness of the camera image. We heard that parts of the trail around the lake was also flooded out, and we didn’t want to do the entire 7 mile hike in any case, but we decided to go as far as we could. It was an amazing hike.

It was, however, just as wet as other hikers had warned. Parts of the trail were covered with water. Other parts were just really muddy. And the mosquitos were awful. Every time I stopped to take a picture, I felt like I was sacrificing myself to my camera; the mosquitos started swarming instantly, and I had to take a picture before they covered my hands. We were certainly rewarded, though. The landscape was beautiful, and the trail was relatively empty of people.

Gigi managed to step wrong somewhere and got a wet foot, which she then complained about loudly and incessantly. We made her keep going for a few more minutes, but then the trail got a bit too wet, and it was getting a bit too late to keep going. Just after we turned around, we ran into another hiker who told us about a moose visible just off the trail. We took a small goat trail where we joined a bunch of people looking at the moose, which was off in the distance, visible, but only just. (I made Gigi stop whining while we watched the moose.) This shot was taken with my camera zoomed all the way in on him (her?). He was nowhere near this visible to the naked eye. Or at least my somewhat nearsighted naked eye.

And then it was back to the main trail, avoiding getting our feet wet while swatting mosquitos, surrounded by majestic mountains and gorgeous greenery. We made it back to the car and decided to head back to West Glacier, especially in light of Gigi’s wet feet. On the way back, we stopped at a waterfall that Aaron had spotted on the way in.

We went back to campsite, ate some yummy potatoes and cauliflower for dinner, and then I took Gigi and Des to the amphitheater where we learned all about the wolves in Glacier NP. It was a fine ending to our short Glacier adventure.

Trail of the Cedars

Between the timezone change, the slight drizzle outside, and my comfortable warm bed, I had the hardest time getting up. I mean… Glacier! But Warm Bed! I’d been running on about 5 hours of sleep for the past few nights, so this argument was more difficult than you’d think. But I eventually got up and then, one by one, convinced the other members of my family to do the same. We didn’t get out of the campground until after 10.

We hit the Apgar Visitor’s Center and asked for recommendations on what to do while we were here, given the slight drizzly weather and the three small children with me. Unfortunately, the iconic Road-to-the-Sun was closed after 16 miles. We decided to go ahead and take it as long as we could, and stopped by McDonald Falls when a parking spot opened up while we were driving by.

Auggie had a good time going up and down the stairs (his favorite thing). Gigi had a good time using her new binoculars, a gift from her birthday party a couple of weeks ago. And Des started figuring out how to use his camera, one of Aaron’s old ones.

Afterwards, we loaded back into the van towards Avalanche Creek, the last stop before the road was closed. Ominously, a posted sign warned us that parking at Avalanche Creek was full. We ignored it and hoped for the best, continuing on our journey along with a line of cars both in front of us and behind us, apparently all doing the same.

Avalanche Creek has a campground that was currently closed, so they were letting everyone park their cars in the campsites. We circled unsuccessfully around Loop A, pausing hopefully in front of some sites where it looked like people might be leaving, but getting waved off each time as they shook their heads and pointed towards the ground. At the end of Loop B, we miraculously found an empty spot. I kept looking around for the catch since it really was fantastic luck, but it was, indeed, a legal parking spot.

Aaron loaded up Auggie in the baby backpack. I distributed hats and gloves. It was drizzling but nothing we weren’t used to in a normal Spring/early Summer day in Portland. And so we started our first hike in Glacier. Trail of the Cedars is beautiful, lined, not unsurprisingly, with a number of large old cedar trees and huge stumps from giants long gone.

A good portion of the path consists of a wooden walkway, and there are periodic signs with short, beautiful poems describing the area. The loops is only about a mile long, and it’s very flat, so it was really more of a stroll than a hike, but it was lovely and relaxing and totally worth the stress of finding a parking spot.

There is, of course, a creek near the Avalanche Creek campground with an amazing waterfall.

Afterwards, we loaded back into the van and went back to Fish Creek for a late lunch. Aaron made some kind of warm, mushy dal while the kids and I played Mille Bournes. (Gigi won, although her path to victory was delayed by a Speed Limit card that she was never able to get rid of.)

After lunch, we explored the Rocky Point Nature Trail located just outside our campground. It was really beautiful; it went over to the nearby lake and up a hill, giving us a great view of the water.

The name of the trail obviously gets its name from a section overlooking the lake with these great rock formations. The older kids and I spent some time scrambling over them while Aaron and Auggie talked to an older couple who were there with their grandkids (although scrambling over rocks).

The trail went uphill fast for a short duration (pant, pant, pant) and over the hill to show us the results of a fire from 2003. The landscape is still full of dead trees that were burnt to their tops as well as living trees that were only charred on the bottom of their trunks. In between them were young, short trees, growing and remaking the landscape.

The only bad part about the hike were the mosquitos. Although we got some at our campsite, they were a million times worse near the lake. The only remedy we found was to keep walking; they tend to swarm whenever you stand still, but are mostly manageable if you keep moving. Des, in particular, was not pleased. There was, in fact, quite a bit of whining to break the lake’s tranquility. Afterwards, he complained that it was the hardest hike he’d ever been on (totally not true), but then later amended his statement to mostly complain about the mosquitos, which were pretty bad and did really loved him.

No amplitheater show that night. Instead, the kids made friends with a girl from a few campsites over, who complained to them that she hadn’t yet managed to make friends with anyone here, and could she please play with them? They had a lot of fun drawing on the pavement with chalk and pretending to manage the mostly non-existent traffic.

No major hiccups this day; we were worried about being rained out with reports of periodic thunderstorms, but the storms were apparently mostly contained to East Glacier, which we found overflowing with water the next day. But we just had some light drizzle off and on. It was a lovely day, and we got lots of great pictures.

Glacier Day 1

Check out time at Camp Coeur d’Alene was 11am. So we packed up and, just before we were ready to go, we walked up the hill at the campground to the bathrooms for a final bathroom break before we left. As we were walking up, a lady complemented us on our teardrop (everyone loves teardrops… we get complements on ours all the time). She said that her family had used one until just recently with an attached galley tent. Since then they had upgraded to a cute small RV with California plates. They had just traveled from Glacier and Yellowstone before that, so it seemed they were doing our route in reverse.

After rounding everyone up, we rolled out at 11:15 and headed for Glacier National Park. We had originally planned to stop somewhere for lunch, but Gigi started complaining about being hungry, so I grabbed extremely nutricious travel food when we stopped for lunch consisting of: a chicken sandwich, 2 tubs of yogurt, a cheese stick, a package of cheese curds, and a bag of pretzels. The dairy industry loves us.

Amazingly, we rolled into Glacier at the perfectly respectable time of 4:30ish. In contrast to the last two nights of RV parks, Fish Creek campground is quiet and tranquil, full of Lodgepole Pines and Western Hemlock trees. Our campsite was at the end of B-loop, far enough from the creek so that the mosquitos weren’t terrible (although there were still plenty), but close enough that you could hear it softly babbling. There are certainly plenty of RVs around, but it’s a totally different feel and culture than the RV parks. I did miss the communal kitchen from Camp CDA; running hot water for doing dishes is a luxury that almost makes the whole RV camp thing worth it.

And that’s pretty much it. We went to a talk at the campground amphitheater where the ranger told us all about the Whitebark Pine tree and all the animals that depend on it. Afterwards, we went back to our camp site, roasted some marshmallows, picked up the camp, and went to bed, thus concluding our first day without a particularly interesting story such as swarming bugs or destroyed bicycles.

Bike Apocalypse

Saturday morning started out with hot tea, coffee, and hot chocolate followed by washing the dishes from the previous morning that I hadn’t wanted to attempt in the dark. Gigi, Auggie, and I took a walk around the campground afterwards, looking for a designated place to toss out our dirty dishwater. Turns out there wasn’t such a spot, since it’s assumed everyone has an RV with a sewer system. We did, however, discover a pretty great playground for the kids.

Unfortunately, our trip to the playground was cut short by sprinkles followed by showers. So we raced back to our campsite. Or, rather, I staggered with a struggling toddler in my arms who just wanted to continue playing at the playground, and Gigi caught up with me a few minutes later after she played with the playground’s zipline. We packed up camp quickly, drying things off as best as we could, and headed into Kennewick for lunch. (Indian food. It was delicious!)

After Kennewick, we continued onto Coeur d’Alene, which was our next overnight stopover. About an hour and a half out of CDA, someone in a car waved at us as they passed and pointed to the back of our trailer. We pulled over and discovered the trailer’s hitch, to which we had attached a bike rack, had bent, collapsing the rack and dragging the front wheels of all four bikes on the ground at approximately 65 mph.

The wheels were trashed, but the bike frames still seemed to be intact. Ironically, the bike rack itself was perfectly fine. When I was shopping for one, I knew that putting a rack on the back of a trailer was somewhat risky; there were reviews for some bike racks in which people complained that their rack bent and destroyed their bikes when attached to a trailer. To which someone replied: the description says explicitly NOT to attach to trailers, dumb ass! So I got a rack that explicitly was rated for trailer use. It never occurred to me that the trailer itself would not be up for the stress. (Aaron thinks, nonetheless, that the trailer itself is probably okay. The part that had the hitch welded to it is bent, but the rest of the crossbeam seems to be fine. We will keep an eye on it.)

We managed to pile all the broken bikes into the trailer (they all fit, amazingly), and I called ahead to bike shops in Coeur d’Alene, finding one that was going to be open when we arrived, that had replacement wheels, and that had a roof rack since I didn’t want to keep stashing the bikes in our trailer on top of all our sleeping bags and clothes and all that kind of fun stuff. The early morning rain had ensured that we got out of our campsite just early enough to make this all possible; if it hadn’t rained, I’m sure I would have let the kids play on the playground for at least another hour, and then the bike shop that we found would have been closed…. and would not be open again until Monday, when we were scheduled to be in Glacier.

At the end of the day, we had two new roof racks and new wheels for the adult bikes plus an installed kid seat for Auggie on one of them (which I had been thinking about getting done anyway before this whole fiasco happened). Unfortunately, they didn’t carry replacement wheels for the kids’ bikes (did I mention that we had JUST purchased Gigi a new bike right before we left, and she hadn’t even used it yet?) and neither did any other shop in town. They all said they could order one for me, to which I had to reply: That would be great… “except I’m going to be leaving for Glacier in the morning.” I felt somewhat like an asshole, but a cool asshole.

Afterwards, we headed to Camp Coeur d’Alene, which was another RV park. As an RV park, it was great… free firewood. Great bathrooms and showers. A fantastic outdoor pavilion with cook tops and sinks with running water for communal use. Laundry facilities. Free wireless Internet access (which is how I was able to publish my last post online). And tons of other stuff that we weren’t going to make use of such as paddle boats and canoes, a pool, and some fun play equipment for the kids. But it was still an RV park, with the sites right next to each other without any pretense of privacy. People played music during the day and hung out next to their fire pits right next to the road. It was really great for what it was, and just what we needed as an overnight stop, but it’s not my favorite kind of camping.

We skipped setting up our camp kitchen and used the communal facilities to save time. Gigi wrote a description of all that happened in her journal while we waited for Aaron to cook dinner. (She drew a page with black broken bicycle wheels.) I did some laundry, which somehow needed doing even though we’d only been out of Portland for two days. And our stay was otherwise entirely uneventful. The kids’ bikes are still broken.

Goodbye, Portland!

Friday was full of last-minute packing, cleaning the house, and loading up for our trip. I woke up at around 6am and worked pretty much continually until we left the house at 6:15pm. It was that kind of day. Driving away was really a bit of a shock. I’ve been planning, making reservations, organizing, and buying stuff for this trip for a solid 9 months. And now this new baby is born, and there are suddenly a whole new bunch of stuff to do that’s totally different but equally demanding.

Our first stop was Crow Butte campground, which is in the Eastern Columbia Gorge, on the Washington side. It was chosen just out of convenience. Glacier is a big push from Portland, so we’d have to do it in three legs, and making this the short leg made sense, especially since we always have a hard time getting out of town.

Crow Butte is a pretty standard RV park. In fact, I think it’s in rules that you have to have an RV. They don’t want tent-only campers, although plenty of the RV people have tents for overflow people, and that’s perfectly fine. I’ve come to understand that there is a different culture in tent-camping and RV camping, and it goes beyond the equipment. In RV parks, people are squished together a lot tighter, and there’s a lot less “outdoors” in their outdoors, and there’s way more comfort items. Tent camping is much more rustic.

In a teardrop trailer, we’re in a weird in-between place between these two cultures. We don’t have most of the amenities of the RV world, but we’ve got a trailer with us that sometimes doesn’t work in tent-only spots. But we look a bit funny wedged in between huge RVs in an RV park.

We didn’t roll into Crow Butte until around 9:30. It was dark, and the campsite was full except for our little pull-through spot next to the Columbia River (or one of its channels, actually). A small sliver of moon hung above the hills on the other side of the water. We watched it slowly set as we made camp. Since we were only doing an overnight at this spot, we set up as little stuff as possible. Just the propane stove on the site’s picnic table in order to boil water for pouch beans and rice and a wash station for the dishes.

We discovered the place was full of (non-biting) bugs that swarmed when we turned on a light of any intensity. Gross. So we ate dinner and set up the kids’ tent mostly in the dark with a dim headlamp, although the bugs mostly disappeared after the first hour or so of darkness. The night was warm with a strong breeze, the stars above our heads were vast and bright, and we spent the first night of our trip comfortable and snug in our trailer.

The Trailer

When planning this trip, I decided I wasn’t really looking forward to sleeping on the ground for 9.5 weeks. On the other hand, we also had no interest in dealing with a huge RV that we’d have to park at the campsite, leaving us without transportation to local sites unless we also pulled a vehicle behind the RV. So we decided that we wanted a trailer, and it needed to be small and light enough to pull behind our minivan. I eventually discovered Purdy Trailers, a local manufacturer who makes teardrop trailers out of Silverton, Oregon. And so we bought the Blue Bug last fall, when they were clearing out their yearly stock. Unfortunately, we bought it just after camping season last year, so it stayed in our driveway all Winter, taunting us, until Spring Break came around and we got to try it out for the first time.

The Blue Bug is a 5 x 10 ft teardrop trailer with a galley area in the back.

The inside is basically just big enough to fit a queen-sized bed, which is a million times more comfortable than an air mattress. The mattress folds up when not in use (as shown below), giving us space to haul around the rest of our camping gear.

This trailer doesn’t have a lot of bells and whistles, but that was part of the appeal for us since it was also a LOT cheaper than some of the fancy hipster teardrops that you will find out there. The galley allows us easy access to our kitchen gear. The trailer both gives us place to store and haul stuff as well as allowing us sleep fairly comfortably. And we can haul the whole thing behind our minivan.

Aaron had a good time adding a couple of solar panels onto the top of the trailer, giving us a good source of power. We don’t have a lot of gear that needs electricity, but this will help us keep our phones powered up and allow us to make posts (such as this one) from my laptop.

The Plan

I have been lucky enough in my life to have traveled to many great destinations around the world including Canada, Europe, Argentina, Brazil, China, Singapore, Australia, and the Canary Islands. And I’ve even visited most of the great American cities such as New York, Los Angeles, Chicago, Austin, San Diego, Salt Lake, New Orleans, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston, Nashville, and Savannah (to name some of the biggest ones). However, I’ve only been to a single national park, Crater Lake, and that was back in the dark ages when I was a teenager.

I’ve always wanted to visit places like Yellowstone, Grand Canyon, and Canyonlands, but my parents didn’t take me as a child (although we went on many other great adventures), and then, as an adult, it’s hard to find time to travel to places both remote and not work-related in the slightest. So when my husband and I figured out that he was due for a lengthy, much deserved, sabbatical from work, we decided to plan a trip around the country (or at least the western part of it) in which we would visit as many national parks as we could with these conditions in mind:

  • Staying 3 nights as most places
  • Traveling no more than 4 hours a day
  • Visiting family San Diego in mid-July (plus Comic Con!)
  • Leave after school gets out. Get back before school starts again.

And so I created the following journey: starting from our Portland home, we’d go up and over to Glacier National Park, down to Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, down further to Utah and the Grand Canyon, over to San Diego, up through California with a slight detour to visit family in Lake Tahoe, and then to Crater Lake before heading home.

There are a few places where we’re only staying 2 nights, and I lengthened our stay  in Yosemite to 5 nights. I also had to extend my daily travel limit from 4 to 5 hours and eliminate hoped-for stops at North Cascades and Mesa. That said, it’s a pretty impressive trip:

And so, the plan is for my husband and I to visit 15 national campgrounds plus San Diego Comic Con, Disneyland, and Lake Tahoe in 68 days with our three kids:

Des (age 7)
Gigi (age 5)
Auggie (age 2)