Wild West Roadtrip – Intro (pt.2)

THE GRAND PLAN

We thought things through. Or at least gave it a good try. Overall it worked pretty well!  

COVID NOTEDuring the trip we saw some of the parks only half open, others were fully closed (White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns in NM). Many services were not functional, for example the shuttle buses in Zion & Yellowstone were fully cancelled. Generally, no backcountry passes were issued, although the old ones were being honored. All camping within most NP’s was forbidden and parks open for day use only. 

Sleeping. Partially because of COVID and partially for the sake of adventure, we went for dispersed camping as our main and only sleeping arrangement throughout the trip. Despite temptation on certain occasions to live it up in a motel (thanks David Eagan for the offer), we stoically would set up a tent every night in a forest, field, desert or simply on the side of the road and pass out in minutes. The attributes of normal life were far away: running water, heat, electricity, other people… Under the stars we slept. 

Our sleeping arrangement included: Alps Mountaineering tent, 2 yoga mats that go right on the tent floor as the first level, double sleeping pad (aka the green thing), 2 sleeping bags that zip together (viva la love tube!) and 2 blankets for especially cold nights.

Fort Pierre National Grassland

Bighorn National Forest

Shoshone National Forest

Grand Teton National Park

Showers. This might sound discouraging to some people, but we didn’t shower on the roadtrip. Only once there was an exception. The darling memory of a hot *more like warm* and free *100%* shower in a WC building at a free campsite in Texas will stay with us forever. 

Otherwise our best friends were creeks, rivers, ice-cold mountain lakes (hello Jenny Lake @ Grand Teton), waterfalls and even empty parking lots (read Grand Canyon adventure). Among the adversaries I would like to name phantom rivers (yes, you Arizona) and cold (Yellowstone). In those and other extreme cases; baby wipes, bless your heart.

Boiling river, Yellowstone

Mill creek Waterfall, Moab

Mill creek, Moab

Mill creek, Moab

San Juan river, Mexican Hat

Gas & tolls. Ёжмобиль had a pretty good gas mileage: ~40 mi/gal. With comparatively low gas prices now around the US (~$2 /gal) we would be able to get a full tank for about $15–$20. The majority of the roads we took were toll-free (except for a part of Interstate 80 between Ohio and Chicago). 

Navigation. We used Google Maps for navigation whenever we had service (~ 80% of the time). Maps with Me with pre-downloaded offline maps came in handy when we got off the grid. They sometimes even had natural trails Google wasn’t showing. 

National Parks Access. For Parks access we purchased a $80 Annual pass, good for unlimited entry to every National Park in the US for a year. The pass allows for 2 signatures. The signature has to match the one on your DL. Need to show both when entering. It’s not attached to one particular vehicle. Totally worth it! 

Food & Water. For cooking hot meals we used a pretty neat and efficient gas stove (thanks for lending, Nancy Jarvis). Normally we would stock up for a week or two in a huge supermarket somewhere (the quantity of things we bought would absolutely freak Jackson out), and then slowly go thru it as days roll by. 

Typical shopping list included: granola, powdered milk, honey, peanut butter, avocados, carrots, oranges, bread, cheese, tortillas, fast cooking rice, couscous, quinoa, unthinkable amounts of ramen, eggs, chips, hummus, trail mix, granola bars, tea and coffee, along with other great things. 

In the beginning of our trip with got 2 large jugs of water, 1gal each, and then used and re-used those vessels eternally for storing / using water throughout the trip. All our water came either from safe-to-drink taps in National Parks, or we pumped and purified it from local creeks. 

Wardrobe. We brought along a full spectrum of clothes to cover everything from freezing temperatures (Yellowstone) to the unbearable heat of the desert (Utah, Arizona). Hiking boots were essential at all times. A sunhat, swimsuits, towels, bug spray & sunscreen were also a must. 

Laundry. Forget about it. Next!

Useful Apps. US Public Lands (useful for finding free camping spots), Maps with me (offline maps for places with no service), Free Campsites (finding locations when in state of desperation)

Badlands

Wyoming

Yellowstone

Yellowstone

Wyoming

Arches

Utah

Monument Valley

Saguaro

Arizona

Great Smoky Mountains

If I were to jump ahead and summarize this roadtrip, I’d say – the overall outcome was a wild mix of experiencing an abundance of different environments and wildlife in the US; overcoming temporal obstacles through creativity and adaptation; a collection of the most amazing nature photos; meeting and observing some bright characters and turning it all into a good story! 

NEXTCHICAGO, MILWAUKEE & MADISON, WI

JUMP TO TRIP OVERVIEW + MAP



Wild West Roadtrip – Intro (pt.1)

This story begins in Spring of 2020, the apex of uncertainty. An unknown and brutal virus hits the world: countries close their borders, businesses shut down operations, people are isolated at home – their jobs on pause, their plans on pause, their lives on pause. 

The feeling of impending doom gets constantly fueled by distressing news of growing number of infection cases every single day. And here we were, sitting in a Brooklyn apartment, right in the very center of the Apocalypse, thinking… “Screw that, we’re going West!”

Monument Valley

Characters of the story

  • Dashulya (That’s me)
  • A photographer / creative director with a job on pause (thanks, COVID19). 

    Horseshoe Bend

    • Jackulya (partner in crime, utka, sosisochka, boyfriend, etc.) 

    Cinematographer trapped at home with me during quarantine & shelter in place. Has lately been seriously considering a career switch to stop-motion animation. 

    Grand Teton National Park

    • Ёжmobile 

    A 2008 Honda FIT. 

    Ёжmobile  in Fort Pierre Grassland

    Ёж (Russian: “Yozh” – hedgehog) – our mascot & the car’s namesake

    Dates & Route 

    “Maybe if we just left for a month or two… We could come back, and things would just be normal again?”

    May 30 – July 8, 2020

    New York – Chicago – Milwaukee WI – Madison WI – Badlands NP – Bighorn NF – Yellowstone – Grand Teton NP – Salt Lake City UT – Arches NP – Canyonlands NP – Bryce – Zion – Grand Canyon – Tucson AZ – Saguaro NP – White Sands NP / Caverns NP (failed) – Albuquerque – Lake Meredith TX – Oklahoma City OK – Arkansas – Memphis TN – Nashville TN – Great Smoky Mountains NP – Virginia Beach – New York. 

    Weather range included: rain + thunderstorms (Minnesota), freezing cold + snow (Yellowstone), hurricanes (Wyoming), dry desert with wildfires (Arizona), extreme wind (Wisconsin + Utah), extreme humidity (Arkansas). 

    JUMP TO WILD WEST ROADTRIPINTRO (PT.2)




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