The Pacific Northwest Tour: On the Road Again

So now that I’ve finally finished chronicling the Overland Expo to TBEX trip… it’s time to set out on another journey.

On Tuesday, May 13th, I’ll be heading out to Overland Expo once again. It will be the kick-off destination of another 10,000-mile(ish) road trip. As we well know, a trip of this scope lends itself to major changes along the way but here’s the skeleton of what I’m hoping to do.

It would be far too simple to actually explore just the Pacific Northwest, right? So again I find myself with a 2-stage journey…

Stage 1…

This will be my solo stage of about two weeks when I get to do the things that are harder to do (or damn-near impossible) with Fred and George in tow. Think lots of uninterrupted photography and hiking.

Taking bets… will this trip top Overland Expo to TBEX?
  • Overland Expo at Mormon Lake, Arizona: a few days expanding my travel knowledge with people far more experienced than I am… and maybe some fun with fellow travel enthusiasts.
  • Sunset Crater, Arizona: When I last visited over 4 years ago, I was only just beginning to discover the joys of photography. I’ll be returning with infrared camera in-hand to get my photo-nerd on for a couple of days.
  • Great Sand Dunes, Colorado: I’ll be revisiting one of my favorite places in the world. This place fills my soul and I’ll be there solo for the first time ever. I’m giving myself a week to soak up the magnitude and beauty.

Stage 2…

This portion will run the last 4(ish)-weeks of the expedition with the following, very tentative, route:

The rough-out of the PNW Tour route.
The rough-out of the PNW Tour route.
  • Denver: Fred and George will be flying into Denver on May 29th and from there we’ll cover some major ground.
  • Utah: We’re hoping to take a spin through Arches and by the Great Salt Lake.
  • Idaho: A visit to southern Utah, hopefully including Craters of the Moon National Monument.
  • Oregon: We’ll head west through southern Oregon before turning northward along the coast(ish).
  • Washington: Continuing north, we’ll move towards Seattle and fulfill George’s dream of visiting HQ among other things.
  • British Columbia: Vancouver, Glacier National Park, and whatever else we manage to work in.
  • Alberta: We’re hoping to cross the Rockies towards Calgary and discover what we can along the way.
  • Manitoba and Saskatchewan: In the final days of the trip, we’ll explore the southern reaches of these Canadian provinces as we geocache towards home.

Other considerations…

In the Overland Expo to TBEX Post-Mortem, I talked about the things that went wrong and the changes that need to be made. I can’t control the weather and unexpected hiccups that gave us so much trouble last go-round but I hope I have enough presence of mind to handle them with more travel savvy. Here are a few things that are different this time around:

Taking my poor Blubaru out for another abusive road trip…
    • We aren’t tied in to a schedule: Last year I had specific dates to be at Overland Expo and TBEX (over 2,000 miles from each other…). I have a big push to get to Overland Expo this year but after that, everything is flexible and I’m not locked into a time-table.
    • Limiting Fred’s travel: Part of the design of this trip was to keep Fred’s travel to four weeks. He’s a good sport but being on the road for that long is not his idea of a good time.
    • Return to base-camping: One of the successes of the Geowoodstock to TBEX trip was our ability to camp out in one spot for many nights and take day trips from there. Overland Expo to TBEX was supposed to be the same but the weather and other difficulties decided otherwise.
    • Backroads: Aside from the push to get to OX at the beginning of the trip, I’ll return to the slow travel of backroads. Getting off the interstate not only sets the mellow tone for the journey, it also makes geocaching stops easier as well as finding cool, off-the-beaten path travel gems.
    • Pinterest: For the first time, I’m using Pinterest as a planning tool to keep track of potential stops. It allows each of the Camp Granola crew to contribute ideas and keep track of them easily.
    • Better starting conditions: You may not recall but I went into the OX to TBEX trip thoroughly exhausted. In the two weeks leading up to the start of that trip, I closed on and moved into the Camp Granola HQ, left the next day for Tremont to complete my naturalist certification, came back, celebrated Fred’s 13th birthday, packed like a maniac, then drove over 1800 miles in two days to make it to Overland Expo on time. To be completely honest, I think it was a huge factor in never truly finding a good groove on that trip.
theodore roosevelt national park - val in real life
Magical places and moments await Camp Granola on our next big adventure.

Keep in touch…

There will be lots of Instagramming, blog posts, tweets (#PNWtour), and all that so follow along as I set out May 13th…

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Flickr | G+

And now for your moment of green…

Yes I’ve been to Great Sand Dunes many times but I can’t get enough. For the first time ever, I get to lose myself in its enchantments on my own terms.


  1. It looks like you have a great adventure planned. 4 weeks is a long time but I hope the diversity of the trip will keep Fred stimulated and help him appreciate the journey.

    Safe travels.

    1. It is a long time for Fred but I’m hoping to set a very different tone for this trip than we have in the past. I think that will help a lot.

      As for me and George… we could keep going for ages. 🙂

  2. Awesome looking trip and similar to one I’m planning for 2016 after returning from my RTW trip! Can’t wait to follow and along and live vicariously through you until I can start my adventure 🙂

    1. Sounds like you have plenty of adventures planned to hold you over until you can. There is something compelling about cross-country road trips though, isn’t there?

  3. What an awesome adventure you have planned!! I’m pretty jealous actually, wish I could take an extended adventure like this… Hope you have a great time and I look forward to following your posts.

    1. Trust me, it takes a good deal of arranging but it’s so worth it. Being on the road for many weeks is such a different mindset than a week or two. Hope you get to try it someday.

  4. Your route looks like it might come right past my house (Ridgway, CO). If so let me know! Sounds awesome! Jen

    1. Great! Would love to see you. I’ll keep that on my radar.

  5. Sounds like a great trip! If you end up in Montana for some reason we are just north of Yellowstone and would love to host you or make you dinner or show you around!

    1. Thanks! The Yellowstone hole bugs me so I may very well be unable to resist swinging through. I’ll drop you a line if we get out that way.

  6. Looks to be an awesome trip and I can’t wait to follow along! Safe travels!

    1. Thanks, Traci. I have high hopes for this one. As in, I hope I’ve learned my travel lessons well. 😛

Comments are closed.