Guest Interview – Weston Liam Pickwell, Age 6

I’m interested to see how this interview goes.  If my hunch is correct, you’ll see a clear dichotomy between Wyatt, and my very verbose 6 year old.  Hope my fingers can keep up.

Weston, would you like to tell me a little bit about your trip?

Hmmmm….. well, I liked seeing the bears.  Um…. I liked seeing the sequoias, the tall trees, and the Grizzly Giant.  I liked Yellowstone because I liked the campground, and it was clean, and I liked the geysers, fumaroles, and mudpots.  Um…. I liked staying in a camper. Um… and…umm… well… I liked…. seeeeing the faces of Mt. Rushmore.

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

Um…..  It was fun when we got to watch movies and play on our iPods.  And um… we liked um…. well I liked seeing a whole bunch of flags on Mount Rushmore.  About riding in the truck…  Oh yeah…. well I did like going to McDonalds one time, I think… and um… we got a toy Minion.

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

I think it was waiting 15-20 minutes for iPods.  Why did you have to wait?  We were acting crazy.

Was there was there anything fun about driving that far?

I already told you!  The iPods!

Do you have any thoughts about the scenery you saw?

Um… it was pretty, but we have no idea if way out there there are more sequoias.  The scenery was high and pretty.  And um… I think I saw a canyon with a road in the middle with rocks in it that looked like they were from Lion King.  I think it was in Arches.

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What did you think about Yosemite?

It was interesting with all of the squirrels.  They wanted to get fed so they got just like one inch away.  Well, they walked up to a lady and she shot them with a water bottle.  Then another squirrel came.  We weren’t supposed to feed the squirrels or they could get relocated somewhere else or killed.  I think in the Badlands, what we saw was a chipmunk.

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Tell me about your experience in Zion NP.  How was that?

I think it was quite burning up in there but it was a little fun.  We stayed at Zion River Resort and it was clean and I think it had a pool.  We even had a ‘smores’agbord.  And we swam in the virgin river.  And we even hiked the narrows.  What was that like?  Well, it was a little tricky.  We went like 5 miles through water, like, kinda a current, like tiny water falls that made the current.  Well, there was patches of land that we could go on.  We ate cold pizza for lunch and cookies.

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What was your top 5 National Parks?

1. YosemiteIMG_5485

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2. YellowstoneFullSizeRender 124 FullSizeRender 104

3. ZionFullSizeRender 172 FullSizeRender 177

4. Rocky MountainIMG_6506 IMG_6508

5. SequoiaIMG_5541 IMG_5526

What were your 5 top experiences?

1. See the giant sequoias and the Grizzly Giant

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2. Seeing the geysers and hot springs

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3. Swimming in the Virgin River

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4. The Jeep Ride in Moab

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5. The ATV in the hail storm

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Why don’t you tell everyone what it is like to live in a camper for 6 weeks.

Well, when you live it in theres not much room.  For the kids, they can play in their beds with stuffed animals and they can come to life.  When you live in a camper on a trip, you have to drive like 100 miles or something to get to your campground.  And it is like 50 miles to get to a state.  And if you are going to skip a state, you have to drive 1000 miles, maybe.  I liked playing the Ranger game with Wyatt.

What was your favorite state?

Wyoming because we got to go to a cowboy thing.

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Anything you would like to add?

Yeah, there was this Steamboat Geyser in Yellowstone and the highest it exploded was like 300 feet.  We didn’t get to see it, but it was the highest.  That’s all!

Over the Mountains

One day’s exposure to mountains is better than a cartload of books. – John Muir

We pulled in late Wednesday night. Also our campground’s wifi is super slow. So tonight I’ll be a day behind.

Day 6 – Over the Mountains

What I learned:

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My wife is not part of the Audubon society. Before we left the Black Hills, Jennifer was wondering what alarm was going off. It was loud and it happened at regular intervals. She didn’t believe it was a bird until I showed her. Noisy sucker.  If you want to hear it click HERE.

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11 hours with windy roads is harder that 14 hours with straight roads. The last bit of our treck was through Yellowstone. It is 2 lanes. Slower. Lots of cars. It winds. And it has some fun decents. I was exhausted by the time we got to our campsite.

Pull-through sites do not mean easy sites. I pulled into the site and realized one of my hoses didn’t reach. I corrected and realized my kitchen slide-out was too close to the picnic table. I moved, hooked everything up, and realized I couldn’t extend my awning because of a tree. Not a fun 20 minutes.

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Pictures aren’t immersive. I realized that the reason a picture doesn’t communicate, is that it doesn’t show you what is on the left and on the right. It seems futile to try to explain to everyone how incredible the scenery is. Every time you turn a corner it is something new. Every bend in the road reveals some amazing formation. Every horizon holds a new treasure. And that was just on the road. It was amazing! Our favorite part of the drive was easily crossing the Bighorn Mountains. Majestic is a good adjective. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, you got to descend into an amazing canyon.

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People get worked up over silly things. I was reading whether to use Hwy 14 over the Bighorns or Hwy 16. My initial research was avoid Hwy 14 because the descent can be treacherous. I had Jennifer look it up one more time just to make sure and she found a post of someone who claimed to be an experienced RVer griping about how Hwy 16 was so bad and that they would never do it again. I just didn’t see what the big deal was. And honestly I’m so glad I did it. It was breathtaking. You climbed this incredible ascent, into peaks, pine forest, and snow pack. Then on the way down it was a pretty smooth 6-7% grade. I barely had to use my brakes. I assume it all depends on your rig. If you have good exhaust or transmission braking you are fine. My Allison uses transmission braking and I rarely had to use my brakes. Very smooth ride. I checked and had 6.6 MPG at the top, 10.6 by the time I hit the bottom. Is it colder at the top. YES! I was a little too giddy the entire time. Honestly, the descent into Yellowstone was way more stressful. For some reason the National Parks don’t seem to think they need to put up a sign that says “Hey! Curves ahead!”

Taco Johns is not Taco Cabana. We saw a place called Taco Johns that claimed ‘West-Mex’ food. So we figured what the heck. Think Taco Bell and down grade it a bit. I wasn’t a fan. We miss Taco Cabana of Texas. It’s what Taco Bell could be.

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Pictures don’t capture smell. I know I’ve said this before, but it becomes even more evident when driving into Yellowstone. Wyatt and Weston were bickering about who passed gas. Of course, it was the sulfur rising from the vents in the park.

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The land is VAST!!!  In Wyoming we saw beautiful mountains, a whole lot of nothing for a very long time, and then beautiful mountains again.  If you want to disappear off the face of the planet, move to Wyoming.

Lastly, GPS’s aren’t always so smart.  Mine refused to take us through Yellowstone.  Even halfway through the park it was trying to turn me around and route me up through Montana.  Finally it figured out what I was doing.

Route: Custer, SD to West Yellowstone, MT, via Hwy 16 and through Yellowstone

Campground: Grizzly RV Park

Time: Left 8:00AM CT.  Arrived 7:20PM MT 11Hrs 40Mins