1. Discover America. More specifically, discover hidden treasures no one ever thought of telling you about. Here are some of our faves from this trip.
Caprock Canyon State Park, south of Amarillo, TX. (In a previous post I mis-labeled it as Capstone.) can’t wait to come back with more time!
Secret Canyon near Page, AZ. Nothing like as crowded as its famous cousin, Antelope Canyon, but just as breathtaking.
June Lake, CA. It’s the cute, low-rent version of Mammoth Lakes, which caters to skiers and hikers. We loved its understated beauty and lack of Starbucks.
Mono Lake. This one’s a bit more famous, having been saved by activists in the 1990s after thirsty LA had drained it down to a dustbowl. But The Mate and I had never taken the time to get off the highway and explore its incredible “forest” of tufa formations.
Bizz Johnson Bike Trail, Susanville, CA. Susanville?! What the heck is there to do in Susanville? Ride this amazing rail-trail, that’s what: 16 miles through a wild canyon, complete with multiple river crossings, huge Ponderosa pines, flowers, and even some tunnels!
LaPine State Park, just south of Bend, OR. Here the Deschutes River is serene, and you can wind along its banks without having someone blow past you on a $2,000 mountain bike like they do in Bend.
2. Renew ties with family members and old friends you might not otherwise see. Last year we visited with a newly-met cousin in Indiana. This year we checked in with some other cousins whose twins are 18 months old–such a precious, fleeting age! We potlucked with friends we made back in 1981 when I took time out from college to be an intern at a little mountain school. And, of course, we got together with our Tarheel Tribe to act like idiots, watching basketball and eating BBQ.
3. Get closer with your traveling partner. My Mate and I joke that any couple contemplating marriage ought to be sent on a 6-week road trip to find out if they’re truly compatible. I call our annual road trip “marriage glue.”
4. Fall back in love with where you live. I have enjoyed every single day of Road Trip V. But on our penultimate day, as I visited a waterfall in the Columbia Gorge, within sight of my home state, just the smell of wet fir trees was enough to choke me up.
Those are my reasons. If you have others, I’d love to hear them. But for now, travel-blogger Gretchen turns back into regular ol’ blog-about-whatever Gretchen…until next year!