Dear Family, Friends, and Diary,
After two years of essentially no travel, Marianne and I hit the road on a trip we called the Big Western Road Trip (BWRT). This page is an index to that trip and a short concluding summary
June 16-19, The Drive Home
June 13-16, Family at Priest Lake
June 11-13, Coeur d'Alene
June 7-10, Hamilton and The Bitterroot
June 4-7, Bozeman Montana
June 1-4, Buffalo, Wyoming
May 27-31, Longmont Graduation
May 25-27, Estes Park and RMNP
May 19-25, Steamboat Springs
May 15-19, Green River and Neighbors
May 11-15, Boulder Mountain Lodge
May 9-11, Kanab Drive and Fly
May 5-9, Zion National Park (Helicopter)
May 1-5, Start Our BWRT With Death Valley
- 59 days
- About 7,000 miles
- 7 states
- 14 segments
- 13 motels and hotels, 1 B&B, 2 homes
- lowest: Death Valley, -200 feet
- highest: outside Steamboat Springs, over 10,000 feet
- accidents: 0
- serious injuries: 0
Bests and worsts
- Best place we stayed: Priest Lake (Kathleen and Tom's lake house) or Barb's house in Buffalo, Wyoming
- Hotel, best: Boulder Mountain Lodge in Boulder, Utah; worst: Maverick Motel
- Meals: best The Oasis at Death Valley , worst: either the over-priced box dinner in The Inn at Death Valley or the Estes Park "German" sausage
- Drives: longest: about 450 miles, shortest: 43 miles
- Favorite National Park: Zion, despite the crowds
- Favorite art museum: The Forrest E. Mars, Jr. Building art museum at the Brinton Museum in Sheridan, Wyoming
- or gallery: Art & Spirit in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho
- Favorite history museum: John Wesley Powell River History Museum in Green River, Utah
- Best tour: The Orphan Girl Mine at the World Museum of Mining in Butte, Montana
- Best drive: Leaving Zion for Kanab or the day-trip through Yampa, out of Steamboat Springs
- Most disappointing stay: Steamboat Springs, Colorado in "mud" season.
Marianne kept a detailed record of our daily costs, something we've found useful for planning future travel. Daily costs in any given segment ranged from under $200 to about $350-400 average. One or two segments were twice the average, generally for splurges such as a helicopter ride. Our monthly Visa bill was about $4,000 more per month than it "usually" is at home, giving a sense of how much more travel is than just living. (Of course, it varies at home too, depending on card-paid bills such as insurance.)
Our impression was that average hotel prices increased significantly in June, compared with earlier. Companies were making up for income lost during COVID.
Driving the All-electric Tesla
It's different. Range anxiety was a serious problem during our stay at Zion, but, in hindsight, it needn't have been. I had not learned all the possible charging places and how much better it is to have a hotel where we can plug in frequently or overnight. Once we were on freeways, Tesla Superchargers were everywhere.
Taking driving breaks for charging added a little to trip times, but generally served as useful pauses for coffee, meals, or stretching.
The cost of charging varied from "free" at some hotels, the B&B, and at the homes of generous friends. (Thanks.) Cost per kilowatt-hour varied at the Tesla Superchargers, but a fill-up was never over $20.
I had shifted to "all weather" (almost-winter) tires and smaller wheels from the setup the Model Y came with. They handled all the potholes we ran into, whereas I'm not sure the original racy-looking, short-walled tires would have. This current arrangement is a bit noisier than the original summer tires, but electric cars are so quiet that road noise is simply more noticeable.
Travel in times of COVID
During the two months of our travel, daily U.S. cases of COVID went from 60,000 to about 8,000. States varied widely on level of masking, allowed activity, and rate of inoculation. We got comfortable eating inside and going to inside shops, tours, museums, and galleries. Nevertheless, we did turn around and walk out of a few crowded spaces and we often chose outside dining rather than inside. One stop with a friend was canceled because of her concern with our level of public activity. Understandable.
We watched NO television in our entire trip, although every hotel room had a screen. I'm not sure how this started, other than the simple fact that the beginning of the trip was very busy. Then we recognized that turning off the tube gave us more time to read, write, reflect, and discuss. There was much less stress about politics in the US and the world. As I write this, we have mostly maintained our no-tv life. Try it!
Was it worth it?
Of course it was. We are fortunate that our finances allow us not to worry about the costs. (Keep in mind that it took 75 to 80 years of employment to get there.) Time away from family and friends was not always easy, but mobile phones worked everywhere and "trotter.ws" served as detailed, if one-way, communicator. For us, there seems to be no more stress from travel than there is stress from just living, at least after the first week or so.