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  1. #1

    Default Very Belated - STL to CA and back May/June 2012 w/ 5 year old

    A quick summary of the outcome of a roadtrip planned on this site - I don't mean to bore people, but I just wanted to assure you all that your input helped.

    May 13: Driving day. Left St. Louis early in the morning and made no significant stops (other than to stretch legs, eat picnic lunch in rest stops, etc.) and pulled into Clinton, OK in early evening. this was about 575 miles and, we decided, just a bit farther than we really liked to go in one day with a 5 year-old. Highlights of the day: A very nice picnic/rest stop in SE MO and the swimming pool at the hotel.

    May 14: Driving day. Clinton OK to Santa Fe. Arrived in the early evening and took a quick stroll from the hotel down to the Plaza and back around for some enchiladas with green. Had the only rain of our entire trip across the Texas panhandle and were caught in a drenching downpour in Amarillo.

    May 15: Took a side trip up to Bandelier NM and picked up our National Park Pass. Did the hike around the ruins in the small valley near the Visitor's Center and our daughter very much enjoyed climbing the ladders to get up to and into the ruins. Had a picnic lunch then returned to stroll through Santa Fe in the afternoon and evening.

    May 16: Side trip to Taos and the Rio Grande Gorge bridge. Daughter found a playground behind one of the toy shops in Taos and spent a bit over an hour playing and splashing their with the local kids. Honestly, i probably could have skipped Taos, although the road back down to Santa Fe was gorgeous. If we were to do this again, i would have spent an extra day on the road on the way to Santa Fe and come down through Taos rather than doing it as a side trip. Back to Santa Fe for the late afternoon and evening and more strolling around.

    May 17: Santa Fe to Tusuyan with a stop at the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest. We did a brief (~2-3 hour tour - in retrospect, just about the right amount of time for this trip) of the park on the way and it was well worth the stop. Pulled into Tusuyan just about a half-hour before sunset, so continued on up to the Grand Canyon for a quick view before heading back to the hotel.

    May 18: Grand Canyon. Spent the morning walking and shuttling West of Grand Canyon Village along the rim and the afternoon and evening heading East along the rim. Visibility was good, but the air was a bit hazy the whole trip. Still, you can't really grasp the enormity or the majesty of the Grand Canyon form a picture - it has to be experienced.

    May 19: Travel Day. After one last visit to the canyon shortly after sunrise, we headed out West again. We were thinking of trying to make it all the way to Santa Barbara, but our daughter got a bit sick to the stomach around Kingman and we ended up hanging around there for over an hour until she felt better. We ended up pulling up for the night in Santa Clarita following a suggestion from glc (thanks!) to use the Pearblossom Highway. Again, a nice relaxing dip in the pool and hot tub and enjoying making it to California.

  2. #2


    May 20: to the coast! We hopped over to Santa Barbara and strolled along the pier and walked through the sand. After spending the morning in Santa Barbara, we headed up to Solvang for lunch and then up to Big Sur to stay with my wife's sister whose husband's family owns a home there.

    May 21-24: Exploring Big Sur and visiting family. My short take-away: the views are gorgeous, but the people felt a bit prickly to me. I like the northern California and Oregon coasts better.

    May 25-27: Visiting my folks up around Sacramento. Combined with the Big Sur time, this was essentially a vacation from the vacation.

    May 28: Left daughter with my parents and my wife and I headed to Sequoia NP. Stayed in Three Rivers to see the big trees in the Sequoia side. Road into the park from Three Rivers was under construction, so we had to time our entrance/exit from the park carefully.

    May 29: Spent the day in Sequoia/Kings Canyon, heading north. Left in the afternoon heading to Oakhurst and preparing for Yosemite the next day. We both really enjoyed our time in Sequoia. We didn't get into the backcountry at all, but we were able to get away from the crowds very easily - all we had to do was get more than a couple hundred yards down any trailhead and were almost alone...

    May 30: Into Yosemite from the South. We spent the morning along the Glacier Point Road and walked out to Sentinel Dome. Spent the afternoon in the Valley. Words really can't describe Yosemite.

    May 31: Spent the morning in the Valley, walking up to the area above Vernal Fall and most of the way to the top of Nevada Fall, before heading back and out of the valley. We exited via Tioga Pass and headed up 395 to Carson City, then cut over along the shore of Lake Tahoe to Truckee, where my parents would meet us the next day.

  3. #3


    June 1: Met my parents with our daughter mid-morning in Truckee and turned the car around to head East. We were heading for Moab, so decided to take US-50 across Nevada. Didn't want to push it, so we only went to Ely for the night. As an aside, this is one of my favorite roads I have ever driven - my wife's only complaint (and i had warned er about it ahead of time) was the complete lack of any reasonable (to her standard) bathroom facilities between Fallon and Ely.

    June 2: Straight on to Moab and a tour of Aches in the evening - very pleasant in the evening as the heat of the day is leaving. We decided not to to do the walk up to Delicate Arch as we did not want to wear out our daughter and wanted to keep the trip fun. We did the viewpoint instead.

    June 3: Tried to visit Arches in the morning, but our daughter was having a bad day. Several well-meaning visitors thought she was dehydrated (she was just tired) so we cut the walk short, hung out in Moab in the air-conditioning for a little while and let her visit the stores (a very good idea in retrospect). Headed off to Blanding to sleep. However, we got into Blanding well before nightfall, so I took the family to one of my favorite places - Muley Point. We drove south through Bluff, over to and up the Moki Dugway. At the top of the Dugway, you make a quick left and follow the dirt road out to Muley Point. This is one of the best views anywhere in the West and we had it all to ourselves. As the sun started to set, we headed back to Blanding, this time up 261 to 95 (passing very close to Natural Bridge - another trip) and back to Blanding for some well-deserved sleep.

    June 4: To Durango via Hovenweep. I had been to Hovenweep once before, many years previouly, and wanted to show it off. We did the walk around the main valley (I didn't want to take our cars up the roads to the other units of the park). It still is one of my favorite parks - not because it is spectacular, but it is cute and the scale is very approachable, especially for a kid. After a picnic lunch at Hovenweep, we headed for Durango.

    June 5: Durango. We *loved* Durango. We decided that of all the places we saw this whole trip, if we could live in any of them we would pick Durango. It is a friendly, pretty, vibrant small city with a youthful vibe. We spent the day just wandering through town, doing some book-shopping, and spent the afternoon lazing in the park south of town, reading and letting our daughter play with the local kids on the playground.

    June 6: Up the Million Dollar Highway. We drove to Silverton and explored the town, getting there about half an hour before the train passengers from Durango flooded in. I know some people really love it (and it is pretty) but it left me a bit cold. The ravenous appetite for tourist dollars was just a little too apparent to me for comfort. On the other hand I really liked Ouray - a gorgeous town that felt like an actual town and not merely a tourist prop. Would have been heppy to stay there a while, but, alas, our time was running out and we had to get back soon for Summer classes...

    June 7: To Colorado Springs via Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Not much to say here - I think I would like to spend some time in the region, but we were too rushed. Another trip, perhaps.

    June 8 and 9: Back to St. Louis via an overnight in Topeka. We arrived back home on Saturday afternoon with a day and a half to prepare for our Summer Session classes, starting on Monday...

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Always a pleasure to read of your adventures!

    Great, great report.

    Somehow, I've missed Muley Point, thanks for reminding me about this place.


  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Melbourne, Australia

    Default Pictures?

    What a great trip. Would love to have seen some photos of the places you visited.

    Thanks for the report.


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    South of England.

    Default Cool.

    I also enjoyed reading your trip report, it sounds as though you all had a good time. We always enjoy the reports here, and there is no chance of boring anyone with tales from the road!



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