JenRanAdventures Year in Review… Just Wow!

Map of National Parks, MonumentsWhat a year we have had — traveling thousands of miles while visiting 12 of the 48 contiguous United States in the western region of the country! In 2018, we spent about a month exploring, biking, and hiking in Arizona, Nevada, California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah. We even ventured into Canada!

We hope we have inspired some of you along the way. We want all the visitors to this blog to see the natural beauty of the land — and after reading our posts, make plans to visit some of the places we have been so fortunate to see. You do not need to do what we are doing… start with a weekend and work your way to longer stints. These amazing places all belong to us.

Of course, we also want to inspire you to find local sources for your food — such as farm-fresh eggs and grass-fed (and finished) meat. We want to inspire you to eat cleanly, buying organic (or better) whenever possible. We are what we eat — and there is so much junk in the U.S. diet these days. We have some favorite brands we support, though they are often difficult to find in our travels.

Speaking of our travels, everyone we meet asks us about our favorite places, and the answer is it is simply too hard to choose. We have been blessed with a year of natural wonders — including mountains, buttes, rivers, lakes, coastlines, forests, meadows, wildflowers, volcanoes.

National Wildlife Refuges mapOur goal is to visit every national park in the U.S. — and we have enjoyed all those we have visited thus far. But we have found we quite love many of the lesser visited places — national monuments and national wildlife refuges as well — perhaps even more so at times.

In case you wanted some of the key stats from this leg of the road trip, here they are. In 2018, we:

  • traveled more than 32,000 miles;
  • drove through 12 states (stopping very briefly in 2 others);
  • made 64 official stops with truck and trailer (all of which you can read in previous blog posts);
  • explored 28 national parks;
  • ventured through 34 national forests;
  • took in 19 national monuments;
  • spent time in 15 national wildlife refuges;
  • hiked, biked, or camped in 34 state parks;
  • tasted wines in 22 regions — and about 85 wineries;
  • shopped in 27 different Costcos in 8 states, from Spokane, WA (Store #66) to Central Point, OR (Store #1287);
  • purchased organic, local, and grass-fed and finished foods and meats from ranchers, farmer’s markets, and independent stores as much as possible;
  • encountered all sorts of wild animals and waterfowl, from bear and elk and bison and badgers; to ducks, geese, herons, pelicans, and more!
  • filled our gas tank too many times to remember.
Animals seen in 2018

We have also discovered our love for burros and donkeys — especially wild burrows — as well as prairie dogs.

We loved all the places we have visited, but have a special fondness for the less traveled, quieter places. Most of the wildlife refuges and national monuments were wonderful, and some of the less known (and visited) national parks (like Great Basin, Theodore Roosevelt, Pinnacles) also quite wonderful. And we love trees and wildflowers and so enjoyed our travels and hikes through the national forests.

We spent much time following the routes of various others, including the route of explorers Lewis & Clark (1804-1806) and the great westward emigrant migration trails of the mid-1800s  — including the Oregon, California, and Mormon Trails — and we amazed that in certain locations one can still see the wagon ruts in the land.

And we have had an education on RV parks. We have discovered there are a very small number of great campgrounds and many okay campgrounds and a few bad campgrounds… and do not even get us started on the issues of wifi at these campgrounds… but they all provided a safe haven for us to camp while exploring the surrounding areas.

We’re looking forward to the second leg of the journey, starting with New Mexico in January.

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