Guest Interview – Wyatt Lee Pickwell, Age 8

Wouldn’t it be a great idea to hear from someone else besides myself on how our West Coast Trip went?  Wouldn’t it be awesome to hear the perspective of a kid?  I thought you’d think so.  So here is Wyatt Pickwell, my oldest son, and his thoughts on our little adventure.

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Tell me about your trip.

Well it was really fun; it was really hot.  We went to 20 states, National Parks, and 9000 miles.

What did you think about all of the driving we had to do?

All of the driving was pretty much miserable.

Didn’t you get to watch movies?

Well, it was miserable for you guys.

What was your least favorite part about riding in the truck?

My least favorite part was when it rained really bad.

Was there was there anything fun about driving that far?

The fun part was watching movies and playing the iPods.

Do you have any thoughts about the scenery you saw?

It was really pretty; really exciting.  I think that’s about it.

What did you think about Yellowstone?



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We had to drive a long ways to get to each individual place.  Yellowstone, was actually the first National Park to ever be established.  In Yellowstone it’s actually a humungous active volcano.  I saw a lot of geysers, hot springs, a few mud pots, and a few fumaroles.  I saw a lot of wildlife.

What was your experience in Arches?

So in Arches, there is a bunch of arches… of course.  We actually went through a few canyons on a hike.  It actually took three hours.  And….um……what were we talking about?  Arches.  When we were in Arches and coming back from balanced rock, we saw so much rain pouring down in the distance it looked black.  And at that same time we saw a bunch of lightening hitting the ground.  It was really weird.

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What was your top 5 National Parks?

1. Yosemite
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2. Rocky Mountain
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3. Arches
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4. Bryce Canyon
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5. Shenandoah
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Why do you say Shenandoah?

Because we got to drive through clouds.

What were your top 5 experiences of the trip?

1. Fishing
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2. The Jeep ride
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3. Playing in the pool
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4. Hanging out with my family the whole way
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5. When me and you were unhooking and I unhooked the water and it splattered all over me.

What was it like to live in a camper for six weeks?

Once you get used to it, it’s pretty much like your house.  It’s like driving around with a house on your back.

End of the Road

Saturday – July 18

Day 44

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Today we rolled into KOA in Fredericksburg.  What in the world is up with this humidity!!!!  Thought for a second to turn around a drive to dryer air, but held back.  It has been an absolutely amazing trip.  I want to thank you all for following along, enjoying the adventure with us, praying for us, and living vicariously!  But it isn’t over.  Stay tuned.  Hopefully in the next day or so I’m going to share a ton of what we experienced, learned, and even give Jennifer and the boys some room to comment on what their favorites were.

Route: Milton, WV to Luray, VA

Campground: Fredericksburg KOA

Time: Left 8:00AM ET, Arrived 9:45AM ET – 1Hrs45Mins

One Last Hurrah

Thursday – July 16

Day 42

Sometimes things don’t turn out like you imagined.  We thought we’d leave Colorado early and roll into Fredericksburg today.  However, every campground is booked over the weekend.  So we find ourselves in Luray for the next few nights.  Our lease on our apartment doesn’t start until Monday.  At least we have a home on 4 wheels.

Route: Milton, WV to Luray, VA

Campground: Outlanders River Camp

Time: Left 8:15AM ET, Arrived 1:45AM ET – 5Hrs45Mins

Friday – July 17

Day 43

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IMG_6525IMG_6547IMG_6548IMG_6559IMG_6568If you are stuck next to national park, go visit.  Why not make it 13 national parks in 42 days?  We ventured up into Big Meadows and got the boys books stamped and devoured some blackberry ice cream.  The campground we are staying at is amazing.  It is only 5 years old and sits on the Shenandoah River.  After 42 days of camping and fishing, we finally caught 3 small mouth bass.  Nothing like a little patience.

Itinerary: Shenendoah National Park, Big Meadows, Shenandoah River

Rocky Mountain National Park

Sunday – July 12

Day 38

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I might have found another favorite national park.  First its cold.  At least it was cold when we were there.  We had our heaters running overnight.  Second, its absolutely beautiful.  Third, its crowded – very crowded.   But there are still spots you can find solitude and solace.  It reminded me a bit of the Smoky Mountains and Yosemite wrapped into one.  Unfortunately, we ended our stay a day early to get home and possibly cut down some of our drive time.  It certainly is a place I’d like to return to.  Not to mention, the top of Rocky Mountain NP was BLUSTERY and FREEZING!  There are spots you can find snow still on the ground.  There are animals everywhere.  We saw lots of elk, and two huge bull moose right in our campground.

Itinerary: Adams Falls, Trail Ridge Road, Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Holtzwart Historic Site

Monday – July 13

Day 39

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We found hell on earth, and its in Oakley, KS.  Some parts are ‘amber waves of grain.’  But where we stayed was awful.  HOT HOT HOT.  The grass is crunchy.  And you track in these burrs that you constantly end up stepping on the rest of the day.  Poor Dorothy.

Route: Grand Lake, CO to Oakley, KS

Campground: High Plains Camping

Time: Left 8:00 MT.  Arrived 4:10 CT 7hrs 10 Mins

Tuesday – July 14

Day 40

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You can’t pass through Kansas City without hitting some BBQ – especially when the BBQ is in a gas station.  Can we say burnt ends and ribs?

Route: Oakley, KS to Danville, MO (VIA Joe’s Kansas City BBQ)

Campground: Lazy Day Campground – One of the nicest we’ve stayed at.

Time: Left 6:45 CT.  Arrived 3:45 CT 9hrs.

Wednesday – July 15

Day 41

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You can’t pass Culver’s without getting custard.  It is absolutely the BEST!

Route: Danville, MO to Milton, WV

Campground: Huntington/Fox Fire KOA

Time: Left 7:45 CT.  Arrived 6:20 ET 9hrs 35mins.

Fiery Furnace

Friday – July 10

Day 36

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The Fiery Furnace isn’t so fiery.  Jennifer says its because God loves me.  That being it was in the low 70’s while we did the Fiery Furnace in Arches.  The ranger said it usually is in the 100’s by the time he starts the hike at 9AM.  If it’s because God loves me, then I’ll take it!  I was so proud of the boys.  The Fiery Furnace is a 2 mile, 3 hour guided tour, with rock scrambles, cliffs, narrows, and fun hiking challenges.  They did amazing.  And the hike was well worth it.  One of our favorites so far.

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The boys did so well on the hike, we thought they deserved another swim break.  If we lived here we’d be at the Moab Aquatics center every day.  Great place!

Itinerary: Fiery Furnace – Arches National Park

Saturday – July 11

Day 37

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Heading East starts to bring about the feelings of finality – that this trip is almost over.  But until then, we’ll milk it for all its worth.  We had a great time driving through Vail, Hot Sulpher Springs, and along the Colorado River.

IMG_6427 IMG_6425Lastly, nothing can beat hot chocolate…. except hot chocolate with a roasted marshmallow in it.

Route: Moab, UT to Grand Lake, CO

Campground: Winding River Resort

Time: Left 8:15 MT.  Arrived 5:00 MT 8hrs 45mins.  Stopped for groceries and Sally (our GPS) mis-behaved.

Arches

Thursday – July 9

Day 35

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Sometimes its a good thing to wake up at 4AM.  I’m still surprised we were abled to pull it off.  We woke the boys up at 4:15, gave them toaster waffles, threw them in the truck, and hauled off to Canyonlands National Park.  Why in the world would we do such a silly thing?  Mesa Arch at sunrise of course!  I will have to say, it did not disappoint.  The colors look great in the photos, but hey still are no match to what the human eye experiences.  The brilliance of the sun coming over the horizon and lighting up the arch is spectacular.  Just be careful though.  You don’t realize you are on the edge of a huge cliff until the sky lights up a bit!

Some people have no manners.  I don’t have pictures for this one, but it is probably best for the bobos I’m talking about.  Mesa Arch is a photographers dream.  The smart ones get there on time.  We were the third party there.  The first two were photographers that staked out their plot for the best shot – and I admire them for that.  The ones I don’t admire are the morons who don’t set their alarm, and think they can just squeeze in on your space, sticking their butt in your face, and never once asking “am I in your shot.”  They also forget that they are precariously perched next to a cliff with people they just made enemies with.  I cannot imagine how many fights break out in that place. The world loves our parks.  I am not exaggerating when I say this.  I think 70% of the people I hear in our national parks are not from America.  Japan, Korea, China, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Canada, Switzerland, and who knows where else.  It amazes me that they love our jewels enough to come see them.  It amazes me even more that they outnumber Americans.  Do we even know what splendors we have at our disposal?  Have they become too commonplace for us? IMG_6279 IMG_6274 IMG_6270 IMG_6268 IMG_6230 IMG_6249 IMG_6242 When they say ‘arches,’ they mean ‘BIG arches.’  I wasn’t prepared for the size of these things.  They are huge!  Giant sculptures of sandstone standing in the desert, these structures tower over you, juxtaposed with the deep blue sky.  Arches has over 2000 of such pieces it gets its name from.  Some are a mere three feet wide.  But many are as tall as a ten story building!  Look closely at each picture to see if you can see the boys.

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Elephants can live in the desert.  Jennifer said, ‘I hate to say this, but that looks like a bunch of elephant butts.’  The boys guffawed.  Sure enough, on the map, the butte is called ‘Parade of Elephants.’ IMG_6316 IMG_6315 It does rain in Moab.  We’ve had some crazy weather.  It is best to get out early to beat the heat.  But more importantly, it is best to get out early to beat the afternoon thunderstorms.  Every afternoon we’ve had some doozy storms.  So much so, we’ve seen some street flooding – as is illustrated by the girls rafting down the street.

Itinerary: Mesa Arch at Sunrise (Canyonlands NP), The Windows (Arches NP) – Turret Arch, North & South Windo, Double Arch, Moab Aquatics Center

Moab Bound

Tuesday – July 7

Day 33

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The landscape changes every hour in Utah.  Today we saw the most diversity I’ve ever seen in a 5 hour drive.  We came down from Bryce Canyon, leveled out into desert and painted rock, then ascended it what seemed to be Ireland.  The trees changed, grass began to emerge, and the temperature plummeted.  We saw nothing but pine and an abundance of aspen.  As soon as it appeared, it disappeared, giving way to red stone.  In fact, in one of the mountain pictures, you can see the desert below.  It was a gorgeous drive.

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IMG_6002 IMG_6006There’s always time to squeeze in another national park.  While in Utah, why not just complete all of the big 5?  Between Bryce and Moab you have the opportunity to pass through Capital Reef National Park.  We didn’t stop to see any of the sights.  But we did get an apple pie.  Apparently, growing apples was a big thing at the Gifford Homestead.  And since the ham we packed for lunch was frozen, apple pie was on the menu for lunch.

Route: Bryce Canyon City to Moab via Hwy 12 and Hwy 24

Campground: Portal RV Resort

Time: Left 8:30 MT.  Arrived 2:30 MT 6Hrs

Wednesday – July 8

Day 34

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Dan Mick is the bomb!  If you are ever in Moab, make sure you book time with Dan Mick.  He, his son, and is brother-n-law, are the nicest people, very knowledgeable, and very capable.  They showed us dinosaur tracks; took us down declines that made you feel you were going to flip forward; took us up inclines that made us feel like we were going to flip backward; and amazingly put Jennifer at ease with the whole thing.  Dan Mick is a legend in Moab.  Companies send him parts to test out on his jeeps.  His 100K modified jeep is basically sponsored by other companies.  And the kids absolutely had a blast.  I don’t think there was a moment they weren’t grinning ear to ear.

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Part of Utah is frozen in time.  These are petrified sand dunes.  We were off roading on these (called slick rock formations) all day.  You can actually see the wind marks in the dunes.

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Dinosaurs are frozen in time too.  Dan’s son, Richard, showed us at least three types of dinosaur tracks, all in the same area.  You could almost imagine what was taking place between them all.  There was a raptor, a stegosaurus, and something that would eventually turn into T-rex.

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When they say ‘red rock’ they aren’t kidding.  After our adventure with Dan, we journeyed through Arches to get a glimpse of our next day.  Storms chased us out.  But before we left, we saw dark, blackish red cliffs, Balanced Rock, and a whole host of treasures waiting for us over the next few days.

Itinerary: Hell’s Revenge Trail with Dan Mick; Arches National Park