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Re: Something Fishy's Trip Reports Thread
great video on B&H 👍👍👍👍 @Something Fishy

LOL thanks.

Link?


February 13, 2019, 05:42:29 PM
1
Iceland, London, and Paris July 2019 Day 1- Monday

Landed about 7am at KEF (Icelandair) and picked up a rental car from Blue Car rental. We went straight out to begin the Golden Circle.
Now one thing I have to say, I know Something Fishy says always add 30% to Googles drive time but I found the times accurate unless of course you are hunting for that perfect photo and intend on pulling over constantly (which I imagine SF did after seeing his stunning pictures).

Golden Circle included the following:
Thingvellir- walked up to oxararfoss ( being the first waterfall on our trip it was nice. Had it been the last it would’ve been boring), walking in the Almannagja canyon and down what they call the “walk of death”. This is where people who were sentenced to death used to walk to be executed. I think I heard someone say that there was a Game of Thrones scene filmed there. Not that it matters.
Oxararfoss:
 

Geysir- was funny to see hundreds of people lined up with cameras to catch the moment. We stayed about 15 minutes and saw it erupt about 5 times. I thought it was cool. As you drive there, do not park in the large lot on the right where everyone else is turning in. That’s a tourist center, gift shop, restaurant. Keep driving another 300 feet or so on the left side is a small lot with no real signage. This is the closest parking spot to the geyser.



Gulfoss- This is very nice and large but it isn’t Niagara. Here also, I avoided the larger lot where there was a lot more traffic and took a right at the fork to the lower lot about 3 minutes before the regular parking lot at the top of the falls.



Faxi waterfall- Its nice and to think it’s off the side of the highway is cool but not worth the stop/ parking fee of 700 kronas. I wouldn’t make this stop seeing as there are so many cooler waterfalls in Iceland.
Kerid- Parking/entrance fee is 400 kronas. Not worth the stop unless you are bored and need a stop. I don’t remember there being a bathroom there. Should’ve listened to SomethingFishy AKA Iceland’s Minister of Tourism.

Overall, Golden Circle is something to do if you have extra time to do it or if you don’t have much time to get further from Reykjavik. Not the highlight of the trip. It worked out well for us because we were tired from our flight and wanted to be back in Reykjavik by 5ish. Would have loved to do the rafting but it was a no go because the Mrs. is very pregnant.
We then headed to Reykjavik and hung out there a few hours. We walked to the Harpa Concert Hall which is really cool architecturally and walked the city down and around Laugavegur street. We went to Bonus and found some kosher food with hechsherim- granola, crackers, cereal, chips, Alpro and packaged lox. I didn’t consider dairy foods though. We brought our own food but this was helpful. Stayed at Centerhotel Midgardur- good location but that’s about it. Meh.

Inside harpa:


Here's one way to get up close with puffins:


Day 2- Tuesday

Headed out to Seljalandfoss. (The scenery along the drive in southern Iceland really is beautiful.) You need to pay for parking here as they constantly check if you have paid and will ticket. I didn’t see the pay station and asked an attendant (some guy with a yellow vest) how much parking is. He tells me its 700 kronas but if I have coins-500. I pull out a heap of coins and tell him I only have 300. He says fine, pockets the cash and inserts his card into the machine and hands me a ticket to display in the car. Classic. Seljalandfoss is awesome and you get pretty wet from the mist. I had the waterproof shell pants and coat but if it’s a sunny day (which is was not) you don’t need it as you’ll dry off quickly.



We then walked the 10 or so minutes to Gljufrabui. This is amazing, a must do. Here you get very wet. We had bought cheap waterproof shoes with a rubber sole so we can freely walk into the cave and not worry about slipping. It could be done with flip flops/crocs but be careful as the rocks can be slippery.



After being at Seljalandfoss/Gljufrabui for almost 90 minutes we drove out to Skogafoss about 25 minutes east. No parking fee as far as I know. The waterfall is large and the hike up the steps takes about 8 minutes at a slow pace. But if you have time, go hiking along the Skoga river up top. We walked about 45 minutes out and saw the path just continues forever. I imagine I would still be hiking if I hadn’t just turned around for the 45 minute walk back. Really idyllic.





We then drove about 30 minutes to Dyrholaey viewpoint. Everyone talks about the wind in this area of the Black Beaches and it’s all true. They say winter is much worse. The car rental agency warns you about the wind taking your car door off and if you’ve read @yehuda’s TR you know what can happen. I was paranoid and careful to park with room between my car and the next. We go to the viewpoint and when I get back to the car….there’s a large dent in the car door. The car next to me came after I had parked, and the passenger got out and the wind knocked the door into my car. I was livid. I waived insurance and relied on CSR but was not interested in the hassle. The car next to me was also Blue Car rental so I call them and ask what to do. Dadi is the rep who was super helpful. He tells me to fill out the accident report with the other driver who is fully covered. Only problem is its in Icelandic. By now the other driver comes back and says he didn’t realize what happened but isn’t arguing seeing as we are both Blue Car and he is fully insured.  We exchange info and pics and fill out the report as instructed. I see him unlock his phone and in Hebrew ask him where he’s from…the look on his face!!!! His phone had Hebrew text on the home screen so I knew he was Israeli. BH! I ended up bumping into him and his group 2 more times on the trip. Small world. My point is- when by the black beaches area it’s not just important to open your doors carefully. It’s best to park on the further end of the lot where there are few/no cars to park near you and bash your car.





We then went to Kirkjujara beach to see the black beach, basalt columns, cool caves, and puffins way overhead on the cliffs. After dropping our stuff at the Black Beach suites (great place!) we went to Vik to do some grocery shopping at Kronan and drive around a bit(same sort of kosher goods, but  a bit less). They have some sort of lava center in Vik but it was closed by the time we got there. We then went to the beach looking out to Reynisdrangar ( google reynisdrangar view). This is the other side of Kirkjujara beach and there was nobody there except a few intrepid photographers. It was serene with the blasting wind and crashing waves and almost no people. By now it was late and time to settle in.

Day 3- Wednesday

Headed up to Svartifoss. I went to pay for parking in the visitor center and asked the guy behind the desk if I parked in the right area. I didn’t, but he said not to worry because nobody checks…. So why did I pay for parking??? Dunno. It was raining but the hike up is beautiful and once you get closer to the waterfall you have to walk over and through very (slippery and..) rocky terrain. Saw a couple people trip. Most people took photos from a short distance but I decided to be the American who ruins everyone’s photo by crossing the stream and getting right next to the waterfall.



After the hike back, we drove to Jokulsarlon Lagoon for the zodiac boat ride we had reserved. Guess what? They strongly don’t recommend it while very pregnant. They would allow it but did a fairly good job scaring us about the bouncing of the boat. So we did the amphibian boat. It was good but I imagine the zodiac is much better.
This is what I got but take a look at SF's pics as this doesnt do it justice:


We headed over to diamond beach which was very cool. Now, it was windy and cold but there was a (soon to be??) newlywed couple taking wedding pics. Anything for the gram.



Bathroom at Jokulsarlon. All this time....whoops.



Next stop was Fjadrarguljulfur Canyon. There are 2 parking lots- upper lot is only a few minutes to a platform overlooking the falls. Google will take you to a lower lot which is where we went. You then walk up along the canyon for around 20 minutes to the falls. I enjoyed the walk and canyon. View is stunning. HT to @yehuda.





Then headed to The Garage guesthouses in Varmahlid for the night. This place is rustic but a fun experience. They have their own water source from the private waterfall and they have a dog (and cat but who cares) that is wicked smart. This dog, Felix, brought me his frisbee to play and then literally led us on the path to hike to the waterfall. It was late and a steep climb so we went less than halfway and turned back. Felix was disappointed so I played some soccer with him and then we were cool.



One more thing, 5 minutes down the road is a fence with…. ‘undergarments’ hanging. If you’re driving down Road 1 and do a double take and wonder “were those…??” the answer is yes. Apparently, they have one in New Zealand as well so if you want to add these to your bucket list, enjoy.

Day 4- Thursday

20 minute drive to Solheimjokull Glacier for the Glacier hike which lasts a total of 3 hrs (with getting the gear on and explanations etc). There were only 2 others in our group which was awesome. This was a great experience. They couldn’t believe my wife did this at 7 months. We were done at 1pm.



My big splurge on this trip was to stay at the Silica hotel by the blue lagoon. This is the cheaper option when compared to The Retreat at Blue Lagoon but still pricey. It’s supposed to be very relaxed and have a private lagoon but I wouldn’t know….because I got an email the day before that we were getting upgraded to The Retreat. Amazing!
I had considered doing the lava tunnel after the glacier, but I really wanted to mximize our access at The Retreat Spa. This place is legendary. Just an fyi- the Retreat lagoon (as opposed to Blue lagoon) empties out at around 5-7ish pm.  Had it all to ourselves. The Spa also was virtually empty as most guests are either out of the hotel or at the hotel restaurants. The vibe is incredible. We met a Jewish couple (how’d they know we … oh yeah, shvimkleid) and schmoozed a while. Great people, very entertaining. Found out later this guy is a billionaire. You wouldn’t have guessed being that he’s in a bathrobe and flip flops.








Day 5- Friday

Early wakeup for 730am flight and returned car to Blue Car. Had to tell them the whole story about my new friend, Menachem, hitting my car but Chris was great and the process went smoothly. The airport in KEF was crazy but if you use the kiosk to check-in and print bag tags you can get on a much shorter line to drop bags. Next stop, London.

London
Arrived about noon and headed to Hendon where we stayed at the Pillar. Had some lunch (after 5 days salad never tasted so good), did some grocery shopping, and settled in. Ate amazing Shabbos meals out and walked through Golders Green/Hendon over Shabbos.

Day 7- Sunday

Checked out from the Pillar and dropped bags at London Marriot Park Lane. beautiful place with a great location under 5 minutes from Marble arch shul. Walked down Oxford Street to British Museum (30+ min). After being in Iceland where you don’t see any real crowds, London was quite a shock. The streets, museums, stores are all packed this time of year. I had prepared what I wanted to see at the British museum (found the itinerary of the jewish tour online). Spent about 90 mins there but it was really hot and stuffy in the museum so we were ready to move on.

Walked down toward Churchill Rooms via Trafalgar Square. The cricket world cup of England Vs New Zealand was taking place and they were showing the game on a big screen while many hundreds watched. Tight security to get in and after watching a couple minutes and hearing the cheers and boos I decided to move on because I had no idea what was going on. I think we had been there toward the end but before the hundred or so overtime/tie breakers that occurred. They say it was a good game and England won.

Churchill Rooms were great. Lines could be very long if you don’t have timed entry. We were on London Pass so we had to wait in a long line which would have been about 40 minutes…but after my wife asked if she can go in to use the restrooms they said we can go with timed entry because my wife is pregnant. You can spend over 2 hours there if you go through everything slowly. If you don’t enjoy history much you can do it in 30 mins. We were there a while and then decided to head to Harrods.
Harrods was having a sale, it was a Sunday with only one hour before closing, in tourist season. Needless to say it was packed. DW went her way and I went to see the watches and jewelry. They have CRAZY merch there. They closed at 6 and we walked the area a few minutes before heading to Tish in Belsize Park. This place was great and we were comped a bottle of wine because apparently the Jewish couple we met at the Retreat in Iceland frequents Tish often and called ahead (they had asked where in London we were eating). Great people. After dinner, we went to the Shard for the view. It’s a beautiful view in all directions from the 72nd floor. Watched sunset and they closed up at 10.


Back to marble arch to walk a bit and finally see our room. Had to get a mini fridge for some perishables as the mini bar won’t keep food cold enough.

Day 8- Monday

Went to Piccadily Circus to meet Matt for the Changing of the Guard tour. He takes you to a prime location to see the old guard get ready and be escorted with the marching band to Buckingham.



You march along (we also saw the horse guards riding past) and at Buckingham he positions you to see the new guard marching to meet the old guard. The whole tour is 2 hours as he gives history and description as you walk to get into position etc. Crazy crowds at Buckingham:



We hung out in St James park for lunch and people watching then walked  over the bridge 25 mins to Waterloo station for a train to Windsor Castle. We passed Big Ben (or Big Scaffold) and Parliament. It is bumper to bumper people in this area.





Windsor was really nice and there’s an audio guide included. You get a nice history lesson and see the royal state rooms which are stunning. The furniture, art, and clocks are non-stop gorgeous. The town around that area is nice but there were so many tourists it detracted from the authenticity. From there we went out to One Ashbourne for dinner. Let’s just say I really enjoyed Tish and should’ve gone back there. We headed back and walked up and down New Bond Street. Definitely not as crowded on a weeknight as it had been Sunday night but still very happening.

Day 9- Tuesday

Got to Tower of London at about 10am (open at 9). No line to enter the premises. Bought the audio guide and went straight to see crown jewels as the lines could be crazy. The line begins outdoors and once you enter through the doors the line continues with historical information and items displayed along the way. Audio guide keeps you distracted a bit. At this point we were on line for about 20 minutes until you finally see the cool things such as serving pieces, dishes, clothing etc that are all hundreds of years old. Then comes the Crown jewels and regalia. There’s a moving walkway to keep the crowds moving but also a platform where you can stand and view the items. We went past 3 times as the crowd wasn’t too great. After that portion we did the rest of the grounds pretty thoroughly. I would suggest that if you want to see the crown jewels you try to be on that line by 10ish. By 1130/noon the line was much much longer (over an hour for sure). After the Tower of London we went to Tower Bridge a few minutes away.



Saw the engine room (boring) and made our way up the elevator for the view and glass bottom. It’s a nice view and they give more information about the bridge and its history than I thought was even possible. I wouldn’t make a trip just to see it but if you are right there anyway it may be worth going up (was part of London Pass so I don’t know the cost).

Took the Thames boat all the way to Westminster stop while a very funny guide gave the tour. We walked around a little and took a Hop On Hop Off bus to Kensington. Walked through Kensington park to Kensington Palace. I hadn’t intended on going inside as it was getting late and I heard its not too interesting but I realized entrance was included in London Pass so how can’t we go inside. An employee in front said to go through everything will take 2 hours. We gave ourselves 20 minutes. The state rooms are not very impressive, a handful of Princess Diana’s outfits as well as other royals from centuries back were meh. But they had some royal jewelry here which was, once again, wow. Took 23 minutes. For dinner we went to Kaifeng as it had been recommended by many locals. We loved this place as well, amazing food. Back to our hotel to pack up for an early departure.

Day 10- Wednesday

7am Eurostar to Paris. Very fast and easy process. Arrived in Paris and went to our hotel- Marriot Hotel de Berri a block off ChampsElysees. The room was ready just after we arrived (1130am), so we settled in, had the much needed coffee and walked Champs Elysees to Arc de Triomphe.



Very cool and lines to go to the top were long (around noon). Snapped some photos and walked down to Eiffel Tower (30 min).





This place was crazy busy but they did a god job with crowd control. We were thinking of going up but after a 15 minute bathroom line for DW I figured we’ll try later. Siene hop on hop off boat to Louvre where we had a 2:30 tour scheduled. I only did the tour because the lines to get in are notorious and the tour can enter through a different entrance. I had planned on starting with the tour and breaking off to do my own thing. The first hour was pretty boring but the guide was an art historian so I learned a bunch of things which made me appreciate what I was seeing. If you opt for a tour make sure you are on time as once 2:30 hit, the coordinator leaves and you’re out of luck. All in all, the museum was crazy crowded. I won’t bore you with the Mona Lisa saga but here are the general points:

They moved the Mona Lisa to a new room that morning for the first time in 15 years so the staff was not ready for what happened.
The line to get to see the Mona Lisa (from when we got inline at 5pm) was disorganized with no clear line- just a mosh pit of people pushing and cutting in etc.
Line would have taken 2+ hours for sure. I saw what was happening and after 15 minutes told DW I wanted to leave. After another 20 minutes and not much progress we were ready.
Went down 2 flights of stairs to exit and saw the elevator for people with disabilities. I told them we waited 40 mins and t was so hot my wife nearly fainted and we can’t wait cuz she’s 7 months pregnant and we need to get in cuz Tom Hanks gave us a mission and our last name is Da Vinci. Basically, they looked at my wife and said we can go in so we got to cut the line and get right in front of the Mona Lisa….meh.



I assume by now they might have their act together but at that time, you could’ve cut into the line at a couple points by coming up the exit staircases or even getting into the disabilities elevator as some random people got on with us despite being told they can’t. You just need chutzpah. Should you? That’s not up to me.
Knowing what I know now, I would have done Musee d’ Orsay- more paintings as opposed to sculptures.

After this we took the boat back to Eiffel Tower. Got to cut the ticket line (PREGNANT LADY COMING THROUGH!!) and the line for the elevator to go to the 2nd floor. They wouldn’t let us go to the top because they said if we are “handicapped” enough to need to cut the line then They cannot allow us all the way up. Beautiful view and although I originally had no intention of spending $ to go up, I am happy we did and recommend it. Spent about 20 minutes and walked down the stairs. Took the boat and got off at Musee d’ Orsay stop. Walked along the lock bridge. Surprised only one guy there was selling locks.



Walked about 20 minutes to Linte Café for dinner. Food was pretty good. Then walked back along Champs Elysees to Arc de Triomphe. Was hoping to go up top but for some reason it was closed. Headed back to hotel eventually.

Day 11- Thursday

Had a 2pm flight back via KEF so we walked to Le XXV to pick up some food. We tried lots of their pastries which were okay and some salad/sushi/poke for the trip. These were very good. Got to CDG 2 hours before flight and the lines for Icelandair were crazy long. Just had to ask where the bathroom is and poof!.... we get put in the line with premium and first class. Quick check in and very smooth flight and connection.
An amazing trip that was truly 2 separate vacations as Iceland and London/Paris are very different experiences. And just like last summer after our Spain trip which was also non-stop moving and very little laying back and relaxing, I say the next trip will be more laid back…. but I doubt it.

July 30, 2019, 03:01:45 PM
1
The Great American Road Trip, by PBaruch & Family (August 2020) This year has brought a multitude of challenges to everyone, us included.  While we are extremely grateful that our immediate family remained healthy and safe in the pandemic, the difficulty of being confined to home for months on end was driving DW and the kids stir crazy.  After five long months, DW and the kids were ready for an escape.  I, on the other hand, was forced to return to work at the office after only three months and I simply could not work from home for a variety of reasons.  Since I was getting out of the house on a regular basis, I didn't feel a compelling need to get away.  However, the pressure from the rest of the family eventually got to me and I agreed to a trip.

Part 1 - Planning and Preparation

We usually plan our trips six months to a year in advance, often with meticulous details.  This year, we were having trouble coming up with ideas, so B"H, we did not have any plans that we needed to cancel.  A last-minute trip with little advance planning was something new for us.  We initially considered another trip to Hawaii, but the lockdown with a fourteen-day quarantine requirement kept being extended.  We then thought about Alaska, but coordinating virus testing for all of us proved impossible, especially since I kept receiving conflicting information from various medical providers about being unable to get test results within three days of our departure, as required by Alaska.  Also, you try convincing a 6-year-old that sticking a swab up his brain was a good idea.

Finally, late July rolled around and we still had no clue as to what to do or where to go.  DW began checking various sites for last-minute one-way motorhome deals, and we hit the jackpot with a pickup in only one week, and on the exact day we wanted to leave.  El Monte advertised a nine-day, one-way relocation special, from Denver to San Francisco for $59 per day plus $16 per day for insurance, for a grand total of $75 per day.  Also included in this relocation special was 1500 free miles and $200 worth of free gas.  The El Monte website showed two such deals as available but the site kept hanging and I was unable to book it online.  I immediately called El Monte and after being on hold for over 40 minutes, finally reached a customer service representative.  I had been considering possibly booking the second deal for a friend, but was told that only one was now available.  Without hesitation, I plunked down a $250 nonrefundable deposit and booked the special.  The relocation special was for a 28-foot Class C motorhome with no extendable slides or bunkbeds.  The layout for this motorhome can be found here:

https://www.elmonterv.com/rv-rental/rv-details/cabover-style-c28-rv/

There was a bed over the front cab, a queen size bed in the rear, and a couch and dinette that both converted to beds.  The toilet was on one side of the "hallway" in front of the rear bedroom, and the shower stall was across from the bathroom.  Privacy was at a premium as there was no door blocking off the shower.  The shower was enclosed by a translucent sliding door.  The only way to get privacy while showering was to use a curtain to block the front half of the motorhome from the shower and toilet area.  This particular motorhome was far from ideal for our family of five, but for $75 a day and lots of free perks I was not about to complain.

Now came the task of planning a last-minute itinerary with stays at a campground for each night.  While we could have done some dry camping and stayed in Walmart parking lots for various nights, we would not have had any hookups, including electricity, water, and sewer service.  Not wanting to be without those conveniences (especially electricity, as temperatures were forecast to be in the 100s and I didn't want to run the generator continuously to power the AC), we splurged for campgrounds.  Also, I wasn't about to get away only to have to sleep each night in a Walmart parking lot.  Some of the campgrounds we wanted were fully booked so we didn't always get the choice locations we wanted.  However, it isn't as bad as what people write online about having trouble getting into campgrounds.  We generally did not have any problems finding availability in various campgrounds, even with last minute bookings.

Not wanting to only get away for only nine nights, we decided to extend our trip after returning the motorhome in San Francisco by seven additional nights.  Since we could not find any other motorhome relocation specials that interested us, we reserved a rental car from San Francisco with a return at the Seattle Airport (Washington state was on the quarantine list at the time, we davened for it to be removed while we were away, and it was).  We booked stays at various Marriott branded hotels along the way to Seattle.  All hotel stays were paid for using a combination of Marriott gift cards (purchased at a discount and reimbursed by the Marriott Bonvoy annual credit), Marriott credit card free night certificates, or Marriott points.

Now that the motorhome and car rental was booked, I immediately set out to arrange for our flights.  I booked JetBlue from JFK to DEN and for our return booked on Alaska from SEA to JFK.  All of the flights were booked with miles to minimize any cash outlay for this trip.  JetBlue was 13,800 points pp and Alaska was 12.5k miles pp. (During our trip there was an Alaska cash special and I tried to play around with it on my phone but didn't have much luck.  Not having patience to play around with it further, I just left the miles booking for our return flight.)

We also needed transportation from the Denver airport to the pick up the motorhome in Littleton, Colorado.  I reserved a one-way car rental from Enterprise which proved convenient as we were able to make several stops along the way to get pizza and stock up on food.  The motorhome pickup location did not offer airport transportation and an Uber would have been much more expensive than a rental car. 

Part 2 - Flight to Denver and Picking up the Motorhome

JFK - DEN by P Bryan, on Flickr

For the first time in my life, I did not want to sit in or be anywhere near F.  I had heard from others who had taken recent trips that F seats were booked solid while Y was fairly empty.  We headed to the back of the bus into a largely empty airplane. 

Fairly empty flight to Denver by P Bryan, on Flickr

After arriving in Denver, we stopped off at Brooklyn Pizza for lunch.  We now began our pizza tour of the west.  The pizza was ok, fries were salted like the Dead Sea, and the service was lousy.  Information about Brooklyn Pizza can be found here:

http://brooklynpizzadenver.com/

We then stocked up on kosher food at King Soopers, a supermarket next door to Brooklyn Pizza.  Afterwards, we went to East Side Kosher Deli for some takeout.  The kosher takeout food was ok but nothing great.  Information about East Side Kosher Deli can be found here:

https://www.eastsidekosherdeli.com/

Finally, we headed over to Littleton to pick up our motorhome.  Our motorhome was a very tired 2019 model with close to 50k miles.  It had scratches and scrapes all around.  The interior looked a bit dumpy and cheap and the bathroom was filthy.  Clearly, it had not been adequately cleaned.  The refrigerator was dirty and rusty and the plastic shelves on the door kept falling off.  Also, the waste tanks were not completely dumped.  At my request (yes, I had to ask), the attendant dumped the tanks and cleaned the toilet.  I made sure to test the generator, refrigerator, and AC before we took off.  My suspicion that the motorhome was at the end of its short but hectic rental life was confirmed when the attendant said the purpose of the one-way rental was so that El Monte could sell it.

Picking up the Motorhome:

Picking up our cheap 1 way rental. by P Bryan, on Flickr

Although the motorhome was old and tired, the main systems were all in order so we took off to our first campground where we would spend the night.  Our first campground was the KOA in Pueblo South/Colorado City.

At the KOA Campground in Pueblo South/Colorado City by P Bryan, on Flickr

After we arrived at the campground, I set out to connect all of the hookups, only to realize that the water hose was missing.  Luckily the campground store had one water hose left.  (El Monte later reimbursed me for the water hose.)  We had received warnings of two-inch hail in the area, and were hopeful to be far enough away before the storm hit, (I was told by El Monte that I was responsible for hail damage, which is ridiculous) but around 2 a.m. we were awakened by hail pelting the motorhome.  I'm not sure if the hail caused any damage to the roof but no one climbed on the roof when we returned the motorhome to inspect it.  They only inspected the front cap to ensure it wasn't struck by any low overpasses. 

Part 3 - Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

In the morning, we packed out of the campground and headed to our first national park of the trip, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve.  While we had wanted to visit Rocky Mountain National Park, we were unable to get a timed entry slot on short notice.  We also wanted to visit Pikes Peak but the motorhome was too long for the road.  They will have to wait for another trip.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

With the family being all out of shape from staying home for months on end, no one wanted to do any long hikes.  Middle kid was willing to go a bit farther out with me than the rest of the family.  Little one only wanted to play in the sand with his sand toys.

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

I much preferred the sand dunes in Death Valley National Park (https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=101345.0), although that is most definitely not a summer trip.  If it was up to me, I would skip Great Sand Dunes in the future.  After roaming around the dunes and playing in the sand, we cleaned off with our motorhome's outdoor shower (which had a broken hot water knob), and headed over to the next campground in Gunnison, Colorado.

MVIMG_20200806_083649_1 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Despite an annoyance with using the laundry, this KOA campground in Gunnison was one of my favorites.  (Yes, I did laundry about every two days on this trip instead of my typical five days, due to being ultra-neurotic about some virus going around.)  They had a small herd of campground animals including goats, sheep, donkeys and geese.  Little one had lots of fun interacting with the animals.

Little one learning to talk donkey:

KOA Campground in Gunnison, Colorado by P Bryan, on Flickr

KOA Campground in Gunnison, Colorado by P Bryan, on Flickr

While little one was teaching me how to talk donkey, a very specific process of cupping your hands to your mouth and making some donkeyish noises, a little boy came over and exclaimed that the donkeys don't speak English.  I mentioned, perhaps they speak Spanish?  Somehow, I don't think the kid got the joke as he didn't respond.

Hey there gorgeous:

KOA Campground in Gunnison, Colorado by P Bryan, on Flickr

Some of the donkeys had free reign of the campground:

KOA Campground in Gunnison, Colorado by P Bryan, on Flickr

Interacting with the sheep and goats:

KOA Campground in Gunnison, Colorado by P Bryan, on Flickr

This one is learning to use the lawnmower:

KOA Campground in Gunnison, Colorado by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 4 - Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

From the Gunnison KOA, we drove to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, our second national park of the trip.  This particular park is known for spectacular views, including some of the steepest cliffs in North America.  There really aren't any easy or moderate hiking to do here so we just visited various overlooks and enjoyed the views.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Enjoying the view:

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then headed over to the Green River KOA campground in Utah for the night.  Along the way we stopped by the Welcome to Utah Sign, at the Utah/Colorado border:

Utah - Colorado Border by P Bryan, on Flickr

We finally arrived at the Green River KOA in Utah:

Green River KOA, Utah, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 5 - Capitol Reef National Park

We contemplated going to Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, but it would've been too tight to get to our next campground and prepare for Shabbos.  We were spending Shabbos slightly out of the way, since our one criterion for Shabbos was a location with forecast temperatures not over 90.  The AC in the motorhome cools to 20 degrees below the outside ambient temperature, and spending the day in 80-85 degree temperatures did not sound like a pleasant way to enjoy Shabbos.  Since it was Friday, we got a somewhat early start and headed out to Capitol Reef National Park.

Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

After stopping at the visitor center, we headed over to the Mott Orchard for apple picking.  Capitol Reef National Park has a number of historic orchards, which were originally planted by pioneers from the 1880's onward.

Mott Orchard, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Deer also like to eat the apples:

Mott Orchard, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Pears at the Mott Orchard:

Mott Orchard, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Picking Ginger Gold Apples:

Mott Orchard, Capitol Reef NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8262) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mott Orchard, Capitol Reef NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8268) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mott Orchard, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mott Orchard, Capitol Reef National Park, Utah, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Weighing our bounty:

Mott Orchard, Capitol Reef NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8283) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After picking our fill of apples, we hiked the Cohab Canyon Trail.  We hiked as much as we could before having to run off to prepare for Shabbos:

Capitol Reef NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8305) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Huffing and puffing and trying to get back into shape:

Capitol Reef NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8307) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capitol Reef NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8343) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capitol Reef NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8352) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capitol Reef NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8377) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Capitol Reef NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8381) by P Bryan, on Flickr

And then we were off to the Richfield KOA Campground in Richfield, Utah, where we would stay for Shabbos.  We enjoyed being in a campground rather than a hotel over Shabbos, and the kids enjoyed roaming around.  One of the motorhomes at the campground had a couple of hummingbird feeders, and we were able to spot hummingbirds flying about.  At one point the kids started fighting and DW banished them from the motorhome.  One of the campground employees, with whom we became friendly, later told us that he had heard about the banishment as word travels fast in a small campground.

Richfield KOA, Richfield, Utah, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Richfield KOA, Richfield, Utah, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 6 - Bryce Canyon National Park, etc.

On Sunday morning, we packed out of the Richfield KOA and headed over to Bryce Canyon National Park.  Although we had previously visited Bryce (https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=64756.0), we did not do any hiking on the past trip as little one was too young at the time.  DW wanted to return to Bryce to hike among the hoodoos.  On the way to Bryce, we stopped off at Butch Cassidy's childhood home.  For those who are unfamiliar, Butch Cassidy was a famous outlaw and information about him can be found here:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Butch_Cassidy

DSC_8397 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Butch Cassidy Childhood Home (DSC_8401) by P Bryan, on Flickr

And then we were off to Bryce....

MVIMG_20200809_161442 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bryce Canyon NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8409) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bryce Canyon NP, Utah USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We decided to hike the Queen's Garden Trail to walk among the hoodoos.  Little one hiked to within five minutes of the end and refused to go any further.  No matter what I did or said, I couldn't entice him to finish the hike.  Even the ice cream bribe didn't work.  I ended up waiting with him while DW and our older kids completed the hike and came back to meet us for the return back up.

Bryce Canyon NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8479) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Bryce Canyon NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8500) by P Bryan, on Flickr

MVIMG_20200809_144801 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Since we were short on time given our hectic schedule, choices had to be made as to which parks to visit and which to skip.  We didn't have time to explore Zion National Park, but drove through on our way to the next campground.  I'd love to spend some time in Zion and especially want to hike the Narrows - if anyone is up for that, let me know.

MVIMG_20200809_174140 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Zion NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8530) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Zion NP, Utah, USA (DSC_8541) by P Bryan, on Flickr

After a brief stop in Zion, we made our way to Las Vegas, along the way crossing into Arizona for 27 miles.  We restocked our dwindling food supply at Smith's, which has a great kosher take out counter and overnighted at the Las Vegas Sam's Town Campground.  This is perhaps our least favorite campground but was convenient as a stop off point in Vegas.

Sam's Town Campground, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Smith's Supermarket, Las Vegas, Nevada, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

While in Vegas, we continued our pizza tour in the west with pizza from Ariela's.  Seems like the farther west we went, the pizza got better.  This pizza had the best crust we've ever had. 

Pizza from Ariela's in Las Vegas, Nevada, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

The following day was a driving day to the Visalia/Sequoia National Park KOA Campground.  Photograph of the motorhome at the Visalia/Sequoia Campground:

Visalia / Sequoia National Park KOA Campground by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 7 - Sequoia National Park & Kings Canyon National Park

Although we visited Sequoia many years ago, this was before little one was born and we very much wanted to show him the big trees.  However, we forgot that the windy roads limited vehicle lengths and that our 28-foot motorhome wouldn't make it.  We were reminded of this by the campground manager upon check in.  Luckily, an Enterprise car rental location was nearby, and they picked me up and dropped me off at the campground.   We spent an entire day wandering around the big trees and driving through Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks.

MVIMG_20200811_113122 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sequoia NP, California, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sequoia NP, California, USA (DSC_8557) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sequoia NP, California, USA (DSC_8585) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Sequoias have an uncanny ability to survive fires.  You can see burn marks on this tree:

Sequoia NP, California, USA (DSC_8639) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Hiking the Big Trees Trail:

Sequoia NP, California, USA (DSC_8709) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Somewhere along this trail, a beetle jumped on DW.  She was pretty sure it was the invasive Asian longhorned beetle, but since there was a chance it was some rare endemic beetle, she simply photographed it.  At home, we confirmed that it was indeed the invasive species.  Moral of the story:  if you're hiking the Big Trees Trail and a beetle jumps on you, kill it.

General Sherman Tree:

Sequoia National Park, California, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Driving north near Kings Canyon National Park:

Kings Canyon NP, California, USA (DSC_8790) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 8 - Pinnacles National Park

The following morning, we celebrated middle kid's birthday with an improvised birthday cake - it was the best we could do at the time.  It was a far cry from her last birthday celebration in California (https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=107346.0).  Hopefully, she will not endure any lasting emotional harm:

Improvised Birthday Cake by P Bryan, on Flickr

After two nights at the Visalia/Sequoia National Park KOA Campground, DW had the bright idea to drive to Pinnacles National Park in the middle of a heatwave.  In her defense, this was our last unvisited national park in California, and it was not yet a national park the last time we were in the area.  I did get out of the motorhome for a few minutes to watch a nearby deer, but that was about it.  The heat was oppressively brutal.  Little one and middle kid refused to get out of the motorhome while DW and our oldest kid hiked part of the Bench Trail.  It also didn't help that there was no road for motorized traffic through the park and the only way in was to hike or ride a bike.  We did see some folks on bikes but I'm not really sure how they handled the heat, unless they were preparing for an eternity in hell.  The other side of the park has some talus caves to explore, but that is not open to motorhome traffic.

MVIMG_20200812_130035 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Pinnacles NP, California, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

After our brief stay at Pinnacles, we drove to the Santa Cruz North/Costanoa KOA in Pescadero, California.  Part of the drive was along the pacific coast highway and the scenery was spectacular.  Also, once we hit the coast the weather cooled down dramatically to a very pleasant 60-70 degrees.  Although our campground spot felt crowded, the campground was in a spectacular location with a view of the Pacific Ocean.  We would love to return to this area at some point in the future.

Santa Cruz North / Costanoa KOA by P Bryan, on Flickr

In honor of our last evening in the motorhome, we made a BBQ and cooked burgers and fries:

IMG_20200812_214823 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 9 - Returning the Motorhome

It was finally time to return the motorhome - hopefully they will clean and fix up all the aches and pains before passing it on to its next owner. 

While I was filling out the paperwork to return the motorhome, I bumped into the unlucky fellow who managed to grab the other one way special from Denver to San Francisco.  He hadn't realized that the rooftop AC unit was broken and ended up wasting a day bringing it into a service center to have the entire AC replaced.  If this had happened to us it would have ruined our entire frantic schedule.

After returning the motorhome, I called a nearby Hertz location, and was picked up for the beginning of our seven-day rental with a return at the Seattle airport.  I returned to El Monte with the rental van to pick up the family and we headed to Oakland Kosher Foods to restock our provisions and get some takeout for Shabbos.  The cole slaw, purple cabbage salad, and eggplant salad were ok.  The matbucha was really good.  Information about Oakland Kosher Foods can be found here:

https://www.oaklandkosherfoods.com/

Afterwards, we stopped off for lunch at Frena Bakery and Cafe in San Francisco.  Information about Frena Bakery can be found here:

https://frenabakery.com/

We bought mini pizza pies which were ok and not great.  The location, however, was in what I would describe as skid row - surrounded by lots of homeless and bums.  We felt very uncomfortable and got out of there as soon as possible.

Mini pie from Frena Bakery in San Francisco, CA, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Our final destination for the evening was TownePlace Suites in Redding, California.  We asked for and were graciously upgraded to a two-bedroom suite.

Part 10 - Lassen Volcanic National Park

We had been to Lassen many years ago before little one was born.  Back then, we wanted to hike the Bumpass Hell trail but were forced to retreat to our car by grape-sized hail.  This time, the weather was beautiful, cool and sunny.  The scenery was absolutely spectacular.  Lassen was one of my favorites from all of the parks we visited.  Highly underrated.

MVIMG_20200814_081737 by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lassen Volcanic NP, California USA (DSC_8837) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lassen Volcanic NP, California, USA (DSC_8856) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Making a new friend:

Lassen Volcanic NP, California, USA (DSC_8861) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Spectacular views along the Bumpass Hell trail:

Lassen Volcanic NP, California, USA (DSC_8863) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lassen Volcanic NP, California, USA (DSC_8883) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lassen Volcanic NP, California, USA (DSC_8895) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lassen Volcanic NP, California, USA (DSC_8909) by P Bryan, on Flickr

And we finally made it to the end of the trail, where we observed the hydrothermal area:

Lassen Volcanic NP, California, USA (DSC_8941) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lassen Volcanic NP, California, USA (DSC_8944) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Lassen Volcanic NP, California, USA DSC_8954) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Now that we are back on the way up, little one found his second wind:

Lassen Volcanic NP, California, USA (DSC_8971) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We then made our way to the TownePlace Suites in Medford, Oregon, where we stayed for two nights over Shabbos.  Once again, we were graciously upgraded to a two-bedroom suite.  On the way, we stopped off at Chabad in Ashland, Oregon, to pick up freshly baked challahs for Shabbos. 

Part 11 - Crater Lake National Park

On Sunday morning, we left Medford, Oregon, and made our way to Crater Lake National Park.  This was another park we had visited years ago before little one was born. 

MVIMG_20200816_091440 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We first hiked along the Castle Crest Wildflower Trail:

Crater Lake NP, Oregon, USA (DSC_8987) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon, USA (DSC_8988) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crater Lake NP, Oregon, USA (DSC_9000) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crater Lake NP. Oregon, USA (DSC_9012) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards we hiked the Pinnacles Trail to see...pinnacles:

Crater Lake NP, Oregon, USA (DSC_9080) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Not sure what this looks like....

Crater Lake NP, Oregon, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

The wildflowers were in full bloom:

Crater Lake NP, Oregon, USA (DSC_9108) by P Bryan, on Flickr

We stopped off along the many overlooks to view the beautiful lake:

Crater Lake NP, Oregon, USA (DSC_9032) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Crater Lake NP, Oregon, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Apparently, there are many vicious squirrels at some of the overlooks:

Crater Lake NP, Oregon, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Oldest was posing for a picture when a bunch of those little rascals ran right up to her looking for a meal. Who knew that squirrels can be so scary:

Crater Lake NP, Oregon, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Once we had our fill of Crater Lake National Park, we made our way to the Marriott Residence Inn in Bend, Oregon. 

Part 12 - A Really Annoying Day

The following day we visited Newberry National Volcanic Monument.  If it hadn't been so close to our hotel, we probably would not have bothered with a visit as some of the attractions were closed and we were pressed for time.

Newberry National Volcanic Monument (DSC_9201) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Oh no, the floor is lava!

Newberry National Volcanic Monument, Oregon, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we made our way to Portland, Oregon, crossing the 45th parallel along the way, halfway between the north pole and the equator.  In Portland, we stopped for lunch at the Garbonzos food truck, located in the parking lot of the Mittleman Jewish Community Center.  We called Chabad of Portland while en route and were told where to find Garbonzos, as there was no information about this kosher food truck online.  Apparently, food trucks are a big thing in Portland.  Alas, there was no kosher pizza store in Portland, so our pizza tour of the west was temporarily put on hold.

Garbonzos Food Truck, Portland, Oregon, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Garbonzos Food Truck, Portland, Oregon, USA by P Bryan, on Flick

We ordered veggie burgers in pita, falafel plate, eggplant sandwich and fries.  The burgers and the pita bread were really good.  The falafel plate and the fries were ok.

After lunch, we drove to Olympia, Washington State, where we were scheduled to spend the night at the TownePlace Suites.  We chose Olympia as it was the most convenient place to stay near Mt. Rainier National Park.  As soon as we arrived in Olympia, we realized that something wasn't right.  The place looked deserted, stores were boarded up, and there were many homeless people walking around.  Right in the vicinity of the hotel we saw a lot of homeless people and people that looked like they were drugged up as high as the sky.  When DW went inside to check in, she asked the manager about crime there.  The response:  "we haven't had a [car] break-in in a while...about a month."  We cancelled the reservation and hightailed it out of there, then called the TownePlace Suites in Renton, Washington, to ask if they could add a third night to our reservation and upgrade us to the two-bedroom suite. 

However, when we arrived at the TownePlace Suites in Renton, we were told that they didn't have any two-bedroom suites available but we were offered a second room for no additional charge.  I went to inspect the rooms before checking in (as we always do), and found that both were filthy and disgusting.  In one room there was a piece of a candy bar on the floor in full view and there was food residue and other gunk strewn about both rooms. 

By this point, it was already around 9:30 p.m. and I was tired and in a really foul mood.  Two strikes down and only one more to go.  I went to the Marriott website and found a nearby Residence Inn and booked two rooms for three nights at 25k Marriott points per room per night.  It was 75k more Marriott points than the TownePlace Suites but at this point, I had enough.  I suppose this was bound to happen as we were booking hotels on the fly at the last minute.

Either way, we hit the jackpot with the Marriott Residence Inn in Renton.  It was a modern and clean hotel and no homeless and druggies walking nearby.  Unfortunately, we couldn't get a room with more than one bed and there were no connecting rooms.  We stayed at this hotel for the remaining three nights of our trip.

Part 13 - Mt. Rainier National Park

We last visited Mt. Rainier National Park in early summer 2017 and enjoyed it so much that we wanted to go back.  (https://forums.dansdeals.com/index.php?topic=81754.0)  Back then, we went in early July and it was covered in snow so I couldn't photograph the mountain with wildflowers in the foreground, as I had always wanted.

Here is a picture of Mt. Rainier last time we were there:

PANO_20170703_175746 by P Bryan, on Flickr

We didn't remember the name of the trail we had done and wanted to do over.  DDF TR to the rescue.  It was the Nisqually Vista Trail.  This time the meadows were covered with wildflowers:

Mt. Rainier NP, Washington, USA (DSC_9263) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mt. Rainier NP, Washington, USA  (DSC_9238) by P Bryan, on Flickr

The mountain in all of its glory:

Mt. Rainier NP, Washington, USA (DSC_9229) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mt. Rainier NP, Washington, USA (DSC_9291) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Mt. Rainier NP, Washington, USA (DSC_9305) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Another beautiful vista:

Mt. Rainier NP, Washington, USA (DSC_9282) by P Bryan, on Flickr

For supper, we ordered a pizza and fries at Island Crust Cafe, information about which can be found here:

http://islandcrustcafe.com/

In my opinion, this pizza was the best of the west and the winner of the west pizza tour.  However, middle one liked the pizza from Vegas best.

Pizza from Island Crust Cafe, Mercer Island, Washington, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

Some of us were really looking forward to Indian food from Pabla Indian Cuisine, which we had eaten at a few times on past trips.  Unfortunately, when we arrived, we found out that the kitchen was closed on Tuesdays, so we just picked up some prepackaged food (nan, pakoras, samosas) to supplement our pizza meal.  You can find out more about them on their website:

https://www.pablaindian.com/

Part 14 - North Cascades National Park

The last day of our crazy trip was spent exploring North Cascades National Park. 

MVIMG_20200819_132247 by P Bryan, on Flickr

North Cascades NP, Washington, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

North Cascades NP, Washington, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

We first hiked the Happy Creek Forest Walk:

North Cascades NP, Washington, USA by P Bryan, on Flickr

North Cascades NP. Washington, USA (DSC_9330) by P Bryan, on Flickr

North Cascades NP, Washington, USA (DSC_9335) by P Bryan, on Flickr

Afterwards, we hiked the Cascade Pass Trail.  However, since it was pretty late in the day (it took a while to drive there, partially over a dirt road), we weren't able to hike the entire trail.  I would like to return to hike the entire trail at some point in the future.

DSC_9343 by P Bryan, on Flickr

North Cascades NP, Washington, USA (DSC_9375) by P Bryan, on Flickr

As seen from the road :

MVIMG_20200819_190857 by P Bryan, on Flickr

When we were on our way back to the hotel, we called Pabla Indian Cuisine to place an order.  This is what we ordered:  channa batura, aloo gobhi, mixed vegetable pakoras with mint and tamarind chutneys, paneer nan, Pabla special chilli cheese, mango lassi.  Included was two containers of basmati rice.  We also bought two kinds of ice cream:  mango and coconut with cardamom.  It was all delicious and filling.  DW to kid, "Have some channa batura."  Kid: "I don't like chickpeas, and that rice is weird."  DW proceeds to make a plate of food, kid proceeds to eat it all. 

The following day we checked out of the hotel, returned the rental car to an empty and unstaffed Hertz location at the Seattle airport, and made our way home on a relatively empty flight.

map by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 15 - By the Numbers

1 motorhome
3 rental cars
3 mountain ranges
4 pizza pies
7 states
12 national parks
16 days

Miles driven:
Denver to Littleton in car rental to pick up the motorhome- 57 miles
Denver to San Fransico in the motorhome - 1832 miles
San Francisco to Seattle in the rental car - 1739 miles
Rental car for day trip to Sequoia National Park - 193 miles
Total miles driven: 3,821

Our Google Maps Timeline:

Timeline by P Bryan, on Flickr

Part 16 - Conclusion

It was a crazy trip but we saw a large swath of the country.  We drove through mountains, deserts, forests, and countless farms and fields.  One time we were driving past strawberry fields in California and the fragrant smell of strawberries permeated everywhere.  Would we do something like this again?  I guess it depends if we get another awesome deal on a motorhome. 

Pros and cons of a motorhome versus a car and hotels:

Motorhome Pros

1. You have your home wherever you go - easy to cook, shower, and use the restroom;
2. Most of the time you will not need to rent a car - the motorhome is your home and car;
3. If your kid needs to use the bathroom, just find a place to pull over - no hunting for restrooms and no accidents waiting to happen;
4. When you get to a location that has kosher food, you can stock up and keep it in the fridge and freezer;
5. If anyone gets hungry, easy enough to pull over and make some food;
6. No need to hunt for decent hotels each night and no need to unpack for each night and repack the following morning;
7. You have the ability to stay very close to your intended destination for each day instead of sometimes driving for an hour or two from the nearest
    gateway city where your hotel is located;
8. Some campgrounds are lots of fun to stay at - and most have a BBQ pit and picnic table at your campsite.

Motorhome Cons

1. You have your home with you wherever you go - depending on the vehicle length, you cannot take it everywhere and you might have to rent a car, as
    we did, when we visited Sequoia National Park;
2. Can be difficult to drive in urban locations;
3. Have to find campgrounds to stay at each night for an added cost or find a free location (usually without hookups);
4. Have to deal with emptying your waste tanks;
5. They are gas guzzlers - even with relatively cheap gas, it is an added expense;
6. Travel times are longer in a motorhome - you will not be able to drive as fast to your intended destination as you would with a car.

Well, that's about it for our crazy road trip.  Thanks for reading and we hope you enjoyed this trip report.

September 07, 2020, 07:15:32 PM
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Re: Call of the Wild: Something Fishy's Four Alaskan 2020 Trips

That photo should win an award

January 31, 2021, 12:51:13 PM
1