Hi everyone -- long time lurker first time poster.
Anyway, I am currently an academic and have recently discovered that, effective July 1 of next year, that I will become an ex-academic. Next July 1, my wife and I will have a good amount of savings and a daughter who will have just turned 1. I am planning to take some time off before finding employment again and my wife (who does some adjunct teaching) will most likely be free until mid-August. I was thinking of taking three to four weeks of that time to do some exploring.
I know I would like to start by following the Mississippi from St. Louis up to its source. From there I am at a bit of a loss as to which general route to take. My highest priorities would be Banff, Jasper, Glacier, the Badlands, and the Black Hills. I have been to Yellowstone and the Tetons several times and very much enjoy them. My first thought, after glancing at some maps, would be to follow US-2 for a while and then cut up to Calgary (and thence Banff and Jasper) using I-15. Alternatively, I could cut up into Canada earlier. After that, coming back down to Glacier/Waterton and through Montana to Yellowstone and the Tetons and then out US-14 to I-90 to the Black Hills and Badlands and then back to the homestead.
My wife and I are not averse to speed runs if necessary (although I wouldn't count on our ability to do them with a 1 year old in tow) but we prefer to plod and explore. My gut is telling me that three weeks would be pushing it but that four would be reasonable. Am I in the right ballpark there?