Well, here we are.  After months of planning we are finally on the road to explore the wild west.  It hasn’t taken us long to figure out what things we cannot live without, and what resources are making this trip go much smoother.

Self Portrait in Colorado, Roosevelt National Forest

If you are planning an American road trip, I highly recommend the book “Next Exit.”  I bought my copy used on Amazon.  You can look up any interstate highway and find what businesses will be at your next exit, such as gas stations, grocery stores, and, if your like us and want to stay connected, Starbucks with free WiFi.

We also recommend investing in a GPS navigational system like the TomTom or Garmin.  We have the TomTom, and I don’t know how we could have taken a trip of the magnitude without it.  Of course, if you are looking to go the spontaneous, surprise-filled route, this may not be for you.  We, however, have come to depend on it.  Not only can you punch in an address or even global coordinates to have it guide you to your destination, but it will also tell you what gas stations or other points of interest are near your current location.  Priceless.

If you are planning a camping trip and don’t want to pay excessive park fees, check out the web site freecampsites.net.  We have camped at 3 locations provided by this web site so far, and 2 out of three have been real winners.  If you are adventurous and don’t mind taking risks, it’s worth looking into.  And even if the place is infested with mosquitoes and doesn’t have many amenities, you can’t really complain if it’s free!

Mountain Climbers Festival at Lander City Park, Wyoming

Of course, I have been testing out the GoGirl (I call it the “female urination device”) that Beth sent to some of us and I must say, it’s ingenious.  If you haven’t tried it and you are an avid camper or traveler, you must get yourself one!

We set up our first camp in Tennessee, and have traveled through Missouri, Nebraska, Colorado, and are now in Wyoming.

Among these places, my favorites have been Colorado and Wyoming.  We set up our Colorado camp along the Cache la Poudre River in Roosevelt National Forest.  It was amazing!  Close by is the charming little college town of Fort Collins.  We could have spent more time there, but Washington State is calling.  The weather was wet for the two days we were there, but we managed to get in a sunny hike the day we packed up camp.

Driving through Wyoming

Our Wyoming camp is at the city park in a town called Lander, home of the NOLS.  Without us knowing, a mountain climbing festival was going on at the park with activities scheduled in town for the entire weekend.  Our first morning there they had activities going on right at the park, including booths set up by vendors like Mountain Hardware, Honest Tea, Lander Brewing Company, Black Diamond, and the local pizza shop.   The city of Lander is also charming, with a Main street full of shops, cafes, and art galleries.

Next stop:  Yellowstone.