NATIONAL PARKS ROAD TRIP: UPDATE 3

Photo dump through day 33 of our National Park road trip highlighting 2 US capitol cities and 4 National Parks!

Spokane, Washington

North Cascades National Park – Washington

Seattle, Washington

Olympic National Park – Washington

Olympia, Washington

Mt. Rainier National Park – Washington

Salem, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park – Oregon

Be on the look out for our next update to include Yosemite, Sequoia, Kings Canyon, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley National Parks

Until next time, Meryn


NATIONAL PARKS ROAD TRIP: UPDATE 2

Quick photo update through day 16 of our National Park road trip which includes 1 National Monument and 3 National Parks

Scotts Bluff National Monument – Nebraska

Grand Teton National Park – Wyoming

Yellowstone National Park – Wyoming

Glacier National Park – Montana

Next update will be a round up of our time in Washington, including Spokane, Seattle, and the 3 national parks, North Cascades, Olympic, and Mount Rainier

Until next time, Meryn


10 WAYS I AM DOCUMENTING OUR NATIONAL PARKS ROAD TRIP

This is the trip of a lifetime, it deserves to be cataloged, documented, and remembered.

I love to document – professionally and creatively

During the planning stages of this 3 month road trip, Kyle often times asked me what I was most excited for. Of course there were family, friends, cities, and National Parks on my list, something else that really, really excited me was the creative freedom and endless possibilities to share and preserve these memories


NOW – these are the ways I’ve been capturing and recording memories so far during the first 2 weeks of our trip!

1 | Daily Journal

This is the place where I jot down our daily itinerary and whatever highlights, thoughts, feelings, and memories I might want to refer to later. While I would love this to be a beautiful, Instagrammable bullet journal, for now, it really is just chicken scratch, imperfect, and sloppy, but it gets the job done

I have started to include different lists here and there to expand on and revisit throughout our trip e.g. list of favorites and list of essentials

Blue Possibility Journal by Artist’s Loft linked here

2 | Instagram
Sharing life day to day while on the road, from our most recent brewery stop to our current National Park. I’ve been sharing both in my stories and on my feed in my personal Instagram and have made occasional posts about my current ebook read on my Bookstagram account

3 | Tik Tok
I’m still very much trying to figure this platform out. I don’t know that short form video is for me, but I’m giving it a go. Haven’t gone viral yet, but it could happen

4 | Passport To Your National Parks®

A classic for any lover of the National Parks. A handy travel companion that is functional and educational with color-coded regional maps and space for cancellations and commemorative stamps. The website description says it all, “The Passport Classic Edition is an ideal, economical, and portable way to preserve your fondest memories of America’s national parks.”
Passport can be found here

5 | Meryn Made Blogs
I did a fair amount of sharing while preparing for this trip including updates to our itinerary (most recent linked here) as well as my Road Trip TBR (linked here) and my personal To Buy List (here)

My plan is to share updates on the blog every 1 to 2 weeks that are a quick, basic overview of our itinerary with a handful of pictures – primarily to share on Facebook. GART update 1 can be found here


LATER – ideas or products I want to explore to commemorate this epic road trip!

6 | Postcards
While we plan to send out postcards to friends and family throughout the trip, I am also collecting a ton of postcards for future projects. One of my ideas is to bind them with binder rings (see below). Given the ring system, we could add in our own photos and journaling cards to further personalize the keepsake!

I’ve made a point to collect both cheap gas station postcards as well as really nice, and honestly expensive, postcards that are like mini pieces of art that could one day make a epic gallery wall installation – see pinterest inspo below

7 | Photo Books
To commemorate a 10 day, European vacation, I made a customizable photo book from Mixbook – exact style linked here, see below. Tip: you can almost always find a 50% coupon somewhere on the internet

I’m highly considering starting on a very simple, photo only book near the end of our trip so that we have it to share with friends and family right when we get home

After our trip, I’ll start in on a more in depth and comprehensive photo book which I hope will be both beautiful and a keepsake for our memories, but also semi-educational with facts about each National Park we visited

8 | Still Novel Art Prints

I stumbled upon Still Novel on, where else, but Instagram and love the idea of combining both an image with text highlighting facts about one specific city or state

According to their website, Still Novel prints “celebrate the destination and the journey. Our 16×20 Signature Travel Print tells the story of a trip and details that made it memorable”

9 | National Park Explorer’s Map
I have Tik Tok to thank for exposing me to this product and the husband and wife duo that run this business! The National Park Explorer’s Map is a magnetic map to display tokens of the parks you’ve visited. I like this as an alterative to the mass marketed scratch off maps as this system allows flexibility as new parks as added or upgraded to National Park status

10 | Mixed Media Scrapbook

I am the proud owner of this vintage, 1980s America’s Wonderlands full color book that I bought second hand for less than $30. My edition definitely has some wear and tear, but I think that gives it charm. Initially when I bought it, I thought I would be taking it into each park and stamping the corresponding pages, similar to that of our National Park Passports. What I didn’t realize when I bought the book was that the pages were glossy, which had me worried about smudging, so I scrapped the stamping idea for fear of ruining the book

What I think I’ll do instead is add in our photos and memorabilia directly into the book with adhesive photo corners and journaling cards. I’ll display the book on our coffee table and hope curious minds will open to find a surprise!

Until next time, Meryn


NATIONAL PARKS ROAD TRIP: UPDATE 1

And in the blink of an eye, we’re already 5 days into our 3 month road trip. We, *cough* Kyle, has driven just over 900 miles through 6 states. Only one minor inconvenience so far requiring 2nd windshield replacement in 3 months. Lots of good food, great beer, and even better friends and family to share it with.

Day 1 | Toledo, OH → St. Louis, MO

Bald eagle sighting in Ohio, windshield crack within the first 100 miles, evening walk around Busch Stadium then to Gateway Arch National Park

Day 2 | St. Louis, MO → Kansas City, MO

Gateway Arch National Park visitor center and museum, beers at Boulevard Beer Hall, dinner at local dive bar The Peanut

Day 3 | Kansas City, MO

Lunch at Joe’s BBQ, Kansas City Public Library, beers at Casual Animal Brewing Company, Afterword Tavern and Shelves, Up-Down KC

Day 4 | Kansas City, MO → Lincoln, NE

Touring James and Rikki’s new house, windshield replacement at Safelite, dinner at Toast, beers at Boiler Brewing Company

Day 5 | Lincoln, NE

Coffee at The Mill at Innovations, lunch at Hub Cafe, beer and music bingo at White Elm Brewing Company, dinner at McKinney’s to watch USA win the Gold Cup

What’s to come

While the first few days of this trip were focused in and around major cities, the next leg is much more nature and camping focused. After making our way through Chimney Rock and Scotts Bluff National Monument, we jump into primitive and backcountry camping once we get to western Wyoming where we will explore Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park.

Until next time, Meryn


WHY I’M QUITTING MY JOB TO TRAVEL FOR 3 MONTHS + HOW WE ARE MAKING IT WORK

It’s no secret 2020 was an incredibly hard year, full of heart ache and heart break. I had 9 patients die in 11 days. For context, that was a quarter of the building. It sounds dramatic, but I don’t think I’ll ever recover emotionally. Then you add a management team that not only laughed at the request for hazard pay for time spent working in COVID units, but then approved company wide pay cuts at the turn of the year. Talk about demoralizing and dehumanizing.

While I strategically turned my $0.78 pay cut into a $3 raise (that’s a story for another day), I knew I was putting a huge target on my back. In lieu of the pay cuts, diminishing morale, and the release of the COVID vaccine, Kyle and I started to plan a summer vacation to get away from it all.

What started out as a dream, 2 to 3 week road trip to see my brother and visit a couple National Parks out west, quickly expanded as our imaginations ran wild and our road trip wish list kept growing. It became clear to us that we weren’t planning a 2 week road trip, but instead a 10 to 12 week cross country road trip.

And thus, the Great American road trip (or GART) was born.

We knew we would need to quit our jobs and decided on the end of July. It just so happened we had no weddings and no other commitments in the months of August, September, and the first half of October.

We jokingly started calling this our first retirement, but the sentiment has really stuck.

Why?

Why should we wait to travel when we’re in our mid to late 60s? Shouldn’t we be exploring the USA and National Parks in our 20s? When we physically can climb mountains? Hike 20 or more miles? Sleep on the hard ground? Live off of pop tarts and goldfish?

No pets. No house. No kids. It’s now or never. So we picked now.

In February, July seemed so far away, but here we are, just a week left until we leave.

How

This definitely didn’t happen over night. The planning nor the saving.

Kyle and I spent about 3 weeks finalizing the list of cities, states, and National Parks we wanted to visit along the way, knowing our 3 main stops would be Lincoln, Seattle, and San Diego because these are the major cities where we could stay for 3 to 4 days with friends and family. From there, Kyle spent another 4 to 5 weeks researching each NP to read up on relevant COVID restrictions, securing back country permits, and getting campsite reservations for primitive sites inside a majority of parks. I’ve been focusing on setting up hotel reservations in the major cities we are stopping through and compiling a list of local coffee shops, bakeries, donut shops, breweries, barbeque joints, pizzerias, etc., and of course, used book stores.

Financially, this has been quite the undertaking. We started saving back in March of 2020, when we were hoping to just go to Yellowstone and Grand Teton in October of 2020. That didn’t happen due to COVID restrictions, but never the less, we continued to save. By February of this year, we had saved about 3k with the goal to have 10k set aside for the trip in total.

We haven’t even left Ohio yet and I think combined we’ve already spent 6 to 7k, cue heart palpitations.

What I didn’t anticipate was how much new camping gear we’d be buying e.g. a new light weight tent, NEMO sleeping pads (2), camping pillows (2), backcountry backpacks (2), light weight day pack (1), trail runners (2) , 2 burner camp stove (1), backcountry stove (1), bear spray (2), bear canisters (2), assorted tools, kitchen supplies, first aid kits and medical gear.

One of the largest expenses has been our new Canon point and shoot digital camera, which we hope to have for years and years to come. Then of course we needed to buy a camera case, strap, and tripod. Our new motto became, another day, another hundred dollars.

We made a majority of large purchases from REI at the end of May when they ran their anniversary sale where we scored a lot of big ticket items for 20-30% off. Given the amount of weight I lost in 2020, I needed to update my camping and hiking wardrobe. I bought shorts and base layer items from REI during the sale, then sourced short sleeve and long sleeve polyester tshirts from Goodwill and found some really great stuff for a couple bucks each.

While the upfront cost of all our new gear has stung, it’s a relief to know we bought high quality gear that we likely won’t have to upgrade or replace for 5 to 10 years, maybe even longer. Other than buying groceries and replenishing first aid kits and medical supplies, our future camping trips shouldn’t cost anywhere close to the cost of this 11 week trip.

This time next week, our adventures begins. We are so excited to explore the stunning and diverse landscapes of our vast country – from the rainforests of Washington, to the Glaciers of Montana, to the deserts of California, to the red-rock formations in Utah, and everything in between.

Until next time, Meryn


2021-07-28T08:00:00

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GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP


SUMMER + ROAD TRIP TBR linked here
2021 GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP: TO BUY LIST linked here
2021 GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP: ITINERARY UPDATE linked here
LIFE UPDATE: WE’RE QUITTING OUR JOBS + TAKING THE GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP linked here

SUMMER + ROAD TRIP TBR

We leave for our 3 month road trip in less than a month! I’ve spent the past few weeks curating a list of books I hope to get to throughout the summer, keeping in mind we will be on the road for the entirety of August and September.

I maybe be totally over estimating how much time I’ll have to read during our trip but I’d rather be over prepared than underprepared when it comes to reading material. I’m also in the middle of making a road trip essentials card game kit, which will have 2 sets of playing cards, dice, dominos, and 1 or 2 books/manuals for card and dice games we can play in the evenings while at campgrounds and hotels.

I’ve been working on downloading ebook copies of these titles to load onto my Nook. I wish I could bring the physical copies of these books, but we’ll be tight on space in my car considering all of our camping gear.

I bought the audiobook of Project Hail Mary on Audible, hoping to turn my boyfriend on to audiobooks with this new sci-fi release. I listened to Andy Weir’s The Martian earlier this year and loved it.

I’ve got a good mix of genres, new releases, older titles, and even a high school re-read I hope to get to during our trip!

July Hopefuls

Road Trip Ebooks

Road Trip Audiobooks

Until tomorrow, Meryn


2021 NATIONAL PARKS ROAD TRIP: TO BUY LIST

I knew buying equipment for this trip would be expensive, but damn. Kyle keeps reminding me, “buy once, cry once” shortly followed by, “buy cheap, buy twice.” Thankfully, REI has their annual Anniversary sale starting at the end of this week, so some of the big ticket items we need to buy yet, we’ll be able to pick up at a discounted price.

REI Anniversary Sale details linked here

NEED / HIGH PRIORITY / ESSENTIALS
WANT / WISH LIST / NON-ESSENTIAL

Say Yes to Adventure Unisex Tee
Keep Nature Wild
$28

National Park Welcome Tee
Parks Project
$36

after the trip / documentation / memories

National Park Explorer’s Map
Explorer’s Map
$84

Half Dome Film Print
Abby Leighton
$20

Teton #2 Film Print
Abby Leighton
$20

Parks Book
Parks Project
$55

Until next time, Meryn


2021-07-28T10:00:00

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Great American Road Trip

2021 NATIONAL PARKS ROAD TRIP: ITINERARY UPDATE

Kyle and I have been hard a work reserving campgrounds, securing backcountry permits, and hotel hunting for our road trip, just over 90 days to go! There have been some changes to the itinerary, and probably more to come. For now, this is our tentative itinerary. Most notably we opted to remove Cheyenne, Wyoming and instead add stops in Casper, Wyoming and Jackson, Wyoming. While we did lose a capitol city with skipping Cheyenne, we gained Olympia, Washington which I’m very excited to add to the list.

St. Louis, Missouri
Kansas City, Missouri
Lincoln, Nebraska
Scotts Bluff National Monument
Casper, Wyoming
Jackson, Wyoming
Grand Teton National Park
Yellowstone National Park
Helena, Montana
Glacier National Park
Spokane, Washington
Seattle, Washington
North Cascades National Park
Seattle, Washington
Olympic National Park
Olympia, Washington
Mount Rainier National Park
Portland, Oregon
Salem, Oregon
Eugene, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park
Crescent City, California
Redwood National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Carson City, Nevada
Yosemite National Park
Sequoia National Park
Kings Canyon National Park
San Diego, California
Joshua Tree National Park
Death Valley National Park
Great Basin National Park
Zion National Park
Cedar Breaks National Monument
Bryce Canyon National Park
Capitol Reef National Park
Moab, Utah
Canyonlands National Park
Arches National Park
Montrose, Colorado
Black Canyon of the
Gunnison National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Colorado Springs, Colorado
Garden of the Gods

Until next time, Meryn


2021-07-28T10:00:00

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Great American Road Trip

LIFE UPDATE: WE’RE QUITTING OUR JOBS + TAKING THE GREAT AMERICAN ROAD TRIP

If I’ve learned anything in the past year, it’s that life’s too short.

I can’t believe I’m saying this, but it’s true.

I’m quitting my job in 3 months and Kyle and I are hitting the road for a 10 week road trip covering 17 states and 23 national parks.

What started out as a dream is quickly becoming reality.

It’s now or never.

We are so excited for what adventures lay ahead on our great American road trip!

Tentative Itinerary

St. Louis, Missouri

St. Louis - Wikipedia

Kansas City, Missouri

Kansas City 2021: Best of Kansas City, MO Tourism - Tripadvisor

Lincoln, Nebraska

5 Reasons You Should Move to Lincoln, Nebraska | Nebraska Realty

Scotts Bluff National Monument

Cheyenne, Wyoming

ALTA Survey Cheyenne WY | ALTA Survey Cheyenne | ALTA Land Survey

Grand Teton National Park

Best Photography in Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park

Yellowstone National Park

Yellowstone National Park: Peace, nature and wildlife | Visit The USA

Helena, Montana

Helena 2021: Best of Helena, MT Tourism - Tripadvisor

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park, Montana Project Center - IQP | Project Centers |  Global Project Program | Project Based Education | Project Based Learning |  WPI

Spokane, Washington

Spokane - STRATA

North Cascades National Park

Is North Cascades National Park Worth Visiting? - Van Life Wanderer

Seattle, Washington

Seattle is Beautiful : Washington

Olympic National Park

Epic Olympic National Park Itinerary of the Best Things to Do

Mount Rainier National Park

Mount Rainier National Park

Portland, Oregon

Portland, Oregon Vacation Ideas | Visit The USA

Salem, Oregon

Weird and wonderful Salem, Oregon | Get Your Travel On | syvnews.com

Eugene, Oregon

BW Travel Zone Leisure Travel | 48 Hours in Eugene, Oregon

Crater Lake National Park

Explore Crater Lake National Park, Oregon's Mountain Jewel | Hertz

Redwood National Park

A Guide to Redwood National Park | RVshare.com

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Things to Do in Lassen Volcanic National Park | Visit California

Reno, Nevada

Reno/Lake Tahoe, Nevada Disinfection Service

Carson City, Nevada

Carson City, Nevada | LinkedIn

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park Guide - Sunset - Sunset Magazine

Sequoia National Park

See the Best of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks

Kings Canyon National Park

Here Are the Best Trails for Hikers in Kings Canyon National Park - Golden  State

San Diego, California

Flights to San Diego | Air Transat

Joshua Tree National Park

Things to Do in Joshua Tree National Park | Visit California

Death Valley National Park

Death Valley National Park | park, California-Nevada, United States |  Britannica

Great Basin National Park

Great Basin National Park

Zion National Park

The Ultimate Zion National Park Travel Guide | Outside Online

Cedar Breaks National Monument

Cedar Breaks National Monument (U.S. National Park Service)

Bryce Canyon National Park

Bryce Canyon National Park | Utah National Park Trips

Capitol Reef National Park

Roads - Capitol Reef National Park (U.S. National Park Service)

Moab, Utah

Best Places to Eat in Moab - A Foodie's Guide | Discover Moab

Canyonlands National Park

Canyonlands National Park Train Vacation | Amtrak Vacations

Arches National Park

Plan your trip to Arches National Park | Roadtrippers

Grand Junction, Colorado

Grand Junction, Colorado - Wikipedia

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

7 Reasons Why Visiting Black Canyon Of The Gunnison National Park Is Worth  It Red Around the World

Mesa Verde National Park

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado - Outdoors Geek

Great Sand Dunes National Park

10 Things to Know Before Planning a Trip to Great Sand Dunes National Park

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Colorado Springs, CO - 4word

Garden of the Gods

Around Town: Flavor of Pueblo and Garden of the Gods Hiking

We are so excited for this adventure and the start to the next chapter of our lives together after we get back to Ohio! Be on the look out for more road trip planning and preparation content in the next few months.

Until tomorrow, Meryn