We promised that we'd share our route and some of the highlights from our year-long road trip, so at long last, here is the map with every stop we made in the US and Canada after we drove out of Shane's parents' drive way last October.
If you've been following us on social media, you'll know that we're still on the road (currently in Florida), which is one reason for the delay in putting this post together. But it's also taken us a while to figure out what the stand-out moments of this trip have been so far. Whenever friends and family have asked us to name our favorite place that we've visited in the last year, for example, we've been pretty lost for words.
Where to begin? In 12 months, we made 100 stops, staying in private campgrounds, national parks, national forests, national seashores, Army Corp of Engineers campgrounds, Bureau of Land Management sites, state parks, city parks, one truck stop, several casino parking lots and one friend's back yard.
We set out on this trip to see the great American outdoors. Although we certainly didn't visit every US state or every national park – our route was mostly determined by our desire to be hot places in the winter and cool places in the summer – we still visited 31 national parks, around 20 national monuments, 32 states, three Canadian provinces, two Canadian national parks and drove 30,000 miles in The Beast. Some of those miles traveling between destinations have taken us through the most spectacular scenery imaginable. We've also traveled by kayak, canoe, tractor, sea ship, lake ship, ferry, air boat, light rail, trolley car, subway, bicycle and hiked hundreds of miles.
We've explored many cities that we've always wanted to visit, plus many towns and villages that we never would have discovered, had they not fallen on our route from A to B. We've met so many fascinating people on the road and heard their stories. There have also been a few personal milestones: Shane first's horse ride and first time in a cave; Kathryn learning to drive a 7,000 lb pick up truck, her first ever vehicle since passing her test.
Of course, there have been a few headaches too. Alongside the euphoric moments, hilarious incidents and wonderful surprises have been disappointments, stresses, a lot of work and a decent helping of drama, such as our high-speed drive to an emergency room in rural Utah, where Shane discovered he had kidney stones. Sifting through all of this has also prompted us to think about what we've learned and how we've changed since we left our lives in New York behind, put all our belongings in storage, bought a truck and trailer and headed into the unknown with a cat.
That will have to be the subject of another post. In the meantime, we figured that the only way we could cram all of our stand-out experiences into one post was to both write a list and then combine them. So here they are, the good and some bad, a sort of road trip flow of consciousness from A to Z:
Alligators, armadillos, ant infestations, Art Basel, Apache Trail, Apalachicola, alpine forests, Angel Oak, Angel’s Landing, Antelope Canyon, Algonquin Provincial Park, Austin.
Badgers, beavers, bears, bison herds, beignets, Badlands National Park, Big Bend National Park, Blue Ridge Parkway, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Big Sky Country, Boulder, boondocking.
Chiricahua National Monument, the Chihuahuan Desert, Carlsbad Caverns, Cape Meares, Cape Canaveral, Crazy Horse, Crater Lake, Cliff Palace, the Cascade Mountains, Clingman’s Dome, Coeur D’Alene, Coulee Dam, Colorado Desert, Columbia River Gorge, Canyonlands National Park, condors, coral reefs, campfire chats, charbroiled oysters.
Devil’s Playground, Death Valley National Park, Denver, dinosaur fossils, Dinosaur National Monument, Dante’s View, Driftwood Beach, Deadwood.
Eagles, elephant seals, elk, Everglades National Park, El Capitan.
Flat tires, fire ant bites, freight trains, flower-filled meadows, Frenchmen Street, Fox Theatre.
Giant salamanders, Glass Beach, Gettysburg, Galveston, General Sherman Tree, Golden Gate Bridge, Griffith Observatory, Grand Canyon, Glacier National Park, Grand Teton National Park, Grand Prismatic Spring, glass-bottomed boats.
Humpback whales, horseback riding, huckleberries, Hollywood, Houston, Hoh Rain Forest, Hurricane Ridge, Houston Mission Control, Half Dome, Horseshoe Bend, hoodoos.
Ibis, ice cream, Island in the Sky.
Javelinas, Joshua trees, Jekyll Island, Jackson Hole, Jackson Lake, jazz in New Orleans.
Key limes, Key West, Knoxville’s World’s Fair Park, kidney stones.
La La Land, LACMA, lobster rolls, loblolly pines, live oaks, lupines, Leopard frogs, Lady Bird Johnson Grove, Lake Superior, Lamar Valley.
Moose, manatees, marmots, Mount Hood, Mount Hood National Forest, Mojave, Mississippi River, Muir Woods, Multnomah Falls, Marfa, Mendocino coast, Martin Luther King Historic Site, mangrove swamps, The Milky Way.
Natchez, Nevada Falls, The Needles, The Narrows, Nevajo Loop Trail, New Orleans.
Otters, owls, observatories, Oak Ridge, Old Faithful, Owens Lake, OK Corral, Olympic National Park.
Prairie dogs, petroglyphs, poppies, Pinnacles National Park, Point Reyes National Seashore, Palm Springs, Portland, Panther Junction, pow wows, Pacific Coast Highway, Pebble Beach, popovers.
Redwoods, roadrunners, Rockies, Rio Grande, Rogue River, Mount Rainer, Mount Rushmore, Roanoke Star, Rialto Beach.
Sea turtles, sea lions, sawgrass, Spanish moss, Saguaro cacti, sequoias, Sequoia National Park, Sequoia National Forest, Sierra Nevada Mountains, Space Needle, Sturgess, Steinbeck Center, Skyline Drive, Savannah, Spokane, Smoky Mountains, Scotts Bluff, Surf City, Santa Cruz Pier, Smith Rock State Park, St Joseph’s Peninsula, Salton Sea, solar eclipse, sunsets, stargazing, supermoon.
Tumbleweeds, Two Lights State Park, Tombstone, Tybee Island, Thunder Hole, Tunnel View.
Vernal Falls, Vermillion Cliffs.
White Sands National Monument, Whitefish, Wind Cave National Park, Women’s March, woodpeckers, whiting, waterfalls.
Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park.
Zabriskie Point, Zion National Park.
We didn't say it was going to be a short list! For photos of some of the places mentioned above (but not all of them, we promise) check out the slideshow below.
Last but not least, a travel year is a significant portion of one’s life. It was a long time to be away from home, friends and family, so we'd like to say a big thank you to everyone who visited us on the road; to the old friends, scattered around the country, who we had the rare opportunity to see; and to everyone else for following our travels on social media, keeping in touch and keeping us sane while we were living in various fields for a year. Finally, to the friends that we've met in person or online as a result of our travels, it's also been wonderful to share our adventures with you. Stay tuned for more!
Kathryn and Shane
Kathryn Tully and Shane Sesta are a married couple, one American and one Brit, who are spending a year traveling across America and writing about their discoveries. Sonny is their rescue cat and fried chicken aficionado.