This road trip was titled, The Grand Staircase Tour, because we were completing the national monuments and parks that make up the geological region called the Grand Staircase. Since we live in Southern California, this phenomena isn't all that far from us, so this being a "short vacation summer", we decided to make this the one to finish up the Utah parks.
In the week before departure, first thing we did to prepare for this trip, besides getting the truck serviced, packing and the like, was to take ourselves down to Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma. There, we did two things: we bought our America the Beautiful Annual Pass, and went for a hike. We aren't *quite* old enough for the senior passes, but this will be the one and only regular pass we buy. (In past years, we haven't gone to enough parks to warrant the $80 expense.) We didn't want to get to the first monument and find out they were out of the annual passes, so we bought ours at the local monument. We called out there ahead of time, since we were about a half hour drive away, to ensure that they had them in stock. Yes, so off we went.
We've been hiking locally, same places posted in other Road Trip Field Reports, and this was a new one we hadn't hiked yet: Cabrillo NM's Bayside Trail. It's not particularly strenuous, and not really right at the bay's edge, either. But there were some marvelous views, and we had a lovely day weather-wise for the hike.
While we were hiking, our mechanic was giving our truck a good going-over. We knew we'd be on some remote roads, probably without cell service, so he ensured that the General was in good mechanical shape for a 20 year old truck! By the time we got back, it was only a couple more hours before the General could be back in our driveway.
We also made sure that we packed an arsenal of paper maps. One map I highly recommend is the AAA Indian Country map, if you are going to be traveling anywhere in northern Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah. This is a very detailed map! If you're camping, there are a lot of campgrounds marked on this map. The individual AAA state maps are good, too, but this one also has forest service roads marked on it. They continually update it, according to an article that I read in Westways magazine (the AAA of Southern California publication).
For this trip, we were completely going with reservations. In the areas of national parks, reservations are usually necessary.
So set back, and here we go....