The 5100-Mile Road Trip

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Last year my family embarked on a 17-day road trip spanning 5100 miles, 11 states and 5 National Parks. (Yes, we are a bit crazy.)

The whole trip came about when my husband wanted to go canoeing in Missouri with his family during the summer. He grew up in Missouri and spent summers camping and having fun in the rivers of the Ozarks. He wanted our family to share his experience and scheduled to meet his family and a good friend to go camping and canoeing for a few days.

Since we wanted to make this a memorable vacation, a big road trip was in order. Our National Parks pass was expiring within a month so we wanted to make the best use of it. We mapped out a route that went along Route 66 and planned on passing through several National Parks.

Preparing for the Trip

Having done a 2-week road trip the previous year we became old pros at packing everything we needed (and packing light) in our SUV. We decided that we didn’t need as much food as we’ve packed in the past, since there’s always an opportunity to shop for fresh fruits and vegetables. We did, however have our staples – canned beans, canned tuna, dry pancake mix, coffee, peanut butter and jelly, rice, deli meat, cheese, tortillas and bread.

I created activity binders to keep the kids busy but it proved useless on the first day. I think the kids only used it to draw on and store papers. They were more interested in using their iPads (more on that later).

A month prior to the trip, I went to the visitor’s bureau of every state we planned on passing through and ordered a free travel guide. I mostly wanted it for the state map and for photos to put on our Smash Book journal. I also checked out the Route 66 Adventure Handbook from the library as well as Frommer’s National Parks of the American West to help with interesting factoids when mobile coverage wasn’t available.

We planned a little better with booking stays in hotels/motels and campsites since we weren’t sure how the weather was going to be like and didn’t want to completely rely on camping—especially in the scorching desert heat.

The adventure began with our first destination: Arizona and the Grand Canyon…

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