On September 18, 2022, we left Florida for a 5 1/2 -month road trip, visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Parks, New Mexico, Saskatchewan, North Dakota, and Minnesota. It was an ambitious itinerary and we were excited about checking many “must-sees” off our bucket list.
Sometime in December, we decided that spending two more months in the cold, northern winter would be too much. So, we cut our month in the Sax-Zim Bog down to just a week and pointed ourselves towards home at the end of January.
By the time we pulled into our driveway in Okeechobee, we had traveled 22,614.6 miles for 130 days, visited 19 states and two Canadian provinces.
In all those miles, we sat in traffic due to an accident just once: ironically, it was outside of Orlando on our way home, less than 100 miles from Okeechobee.
We stayed at seven different Airbnbs and spent 15 nights in hotels while moving from one place to the next. TG fully packed and unpacked the car sixteen times, and partially unpacked/repacked it 30 times.
After we returned home, someone asked, “what was your favorite sighting?” In 4 1/2 months of favorites, that’s an impossible question.
Instead, we’ve compiled a list of the “Best/Worst” along with a few photos. We’ve also put together a highlights video you will find at the end of this blog.
Best Drive: The roads from Canora, Saskatchewan to Fargo, North Dakota for the beautiful landscapes and all the wildlife we saw along the way.
Worst Drive: Teton Pass had TG white-knuckling it while I breathed into a paper bag. (Seriously!)
Best AirBnB: Our cozy home in Canora, Saskatchewan. It had everything we needed and was laid out perfectly, with a fenced-in yard for Oscar and Maddie.
Worst AirBnB: None! They were all great!
Best Hotel: Hyatt House, Minot, North Dakota. Full size kitchens and complimentary washers & dryers!
Worst Hotel: Days Inn, Topeka, KS. Don’t even ask.
Best Meal: Huevos rancheros at the El Corral Café in Corona, New Mexico
Worst Meal: Thanksgiving, 2022. We wanted fancy cheeses but all we could find in Socorro were Kaukauna cheese balls.
Funniest Moment: See Worst Meal. I asked the salesperson if they had any brie and she replied, “is that a type of alcohol?”
Scariest Moment: Driving the Norris-Canyon Road in Yellowstone National Park on a sheet of solid ice.
Favorite Sighting: Huck, the huge grizzly bear we spotted crossing the Snake River while driving the Rockefeller Parkway between Yellowstone and Grand Teton National Park. “It’s a bear!!!! In the water!!!”
Favorite Landscape: Mormon Row, Grand Teton National Park
Favorite Night Sky: The Northern Lights in the wee hours of January 4, 2023
Most Memorable: Our week at the McReynolds Blacktail Cabins in Grand Teton
Our Bucket List:
Grizzly and black bears √
Yellowstone’s hydrothermal features √
Bear and bison jams in Yellowstone √
You can read all about our visit to Yellowstone in Episode 1: Walk on the Wild Side
Mormon Row √
Milky Way over the T.A. Moulton Barn at Mormon Row √
Grand Teton landscapes √
You can read all about our visit to Grand Teton in Episode 2: The Grand Splurge
Bighorn sheep √
You can read all about our visit to the Badlands in Episode 3.5: The Big Surprise
Northern lights √
You can read all about our trip to Saskatchewan in Episode 4: Christmas Lights, Northern Style
Saw-whet owls √
You can read all about our trip to Fargo in Episode 5: Saw-Whet, Say What?!?
Great gray owls √
You can read all about our trip to the Sax-Zim Bog in Episode 6: Sax-Zim Bog-Golly, We’re Back!
We also had some delightfully unexpected surprises. The first was when I had taken a turn driving and said, “I’ll just go to the next rest area.” Little did we know that rest area was home to the beautiful sculpture, “Dignity.”
Both TG and I had the opportunity to meet up with several schoolmates along the way.
And many surprises in New Mexico where we spent a lot of time driving around the state during our month-long stay:
Gallup and the El Rancho Hotel
Valley of Fires
Gila National Forest
Rio Grande Gorge
The Rattlesnake Museum in Albuquerque
You can read all about our trip to New Mexico in Episode 3: Back to the Bosque
We were also smitten with the rolling hills in both South and North Dakota and the beauty of Saskatchewan including the hoarfrost, all of the wildlife we saw while driving around, the “prairie sentinels” that dot the landscape, and the delicious Ukrainian food!
And a few final stats:
Windshields replaced: 1
Times stuck in snow: 0
Times car would not start: 0
Oil Changes and tire rotations: 2 (Bozeman, MT & Albuquerque, NM)
Stickers on car from places visited: several dozen
Refrigerator magnets: several dozen
New T-shirts: a dozen or so
Westward Ho(lights)! video from our trip (click to open a new tab in Vimeo):
When we left Okeechobee back in September, we said to each other “at the end of this trip, we’re either going to arrive back home saying NEVER again or let’s GO again!”
Stayed tuned … we’re already planning our next trip!