Archive for the ‘Planning’ Category

Disclaimer: Right, we’ve been in the wilderness for a while now, so no internet (or even phone). So will do a few blog post in quick succession, but you’ll have to wait for photos a few days longer as I’ve been too busy having fun to even sort through them!

We didn’t managed to make a campfire on our first night at the Signal Mountain campground, we tried but then it started raining, and it didn’t stop for most of the following 36 hours. So when we woke up the next morning, we decided to take it easy that day and not go on a big hike. A little walk through the campground was already very lovely, seeing squirrels and chipmunks and deer just a few feet from us. Grand Teton National Park has a rather excellent visitor centre. Among many other things, we now know where the park got its name from, and it is indeed a little naughty just as we always thought when we said the name. Some -apparently depraved- French explorers came up with the name which basically translates as the Big Boobs. Grand Teton looks quite a bit like the Alps, but with bears, not that we came across any. Despite the weather, which cleared up for a little time in the afternoon, we did have an excellent day yet again. We retired for the night with a forecast just below freezing and the ominous news that the first snow storm of the season was on its way to the area.
Luckily, that snow storm hadn’t quite arrived when we got back on the road the next day on our way to Yellowstone National Park. “Quite” being the operative word in that sentence. It didn’t take long for the snowflakes to fall from the skies and by the time we arrived at the South Entrance of Yellowstone Park around 10am, you could barely see anything but the white stuff. We drove on, not seeing anything but the road in front of us and every once in a while I could catch a glimpse of the cliff drop right next to the road. It was a somewhat stressful drive up to the visitor centre at Old Faithful. When we arrived there, the snow had turned into miserable rain. But we had just arrived in time to see Old Faithful erupt, even the rain couldn’t stop my excitement at seeing the water jet 130ft into the air. It was awesome! Then, it was onwards to our campsite for the night, Madison campground. On the way there, we saw some bison. It was awesome! At the campground we found out that the South Entrance had closed due to the weather only an hour or so after we went through it. Well, that was lucky, a detour to another entrance could have taken us at least a half day’s drive. In the evening, just before dusk, we decided to venture into the town of West Yellowstone in Montana (that way, we got to tick another state of the list). On the way there, we saw some elk. It was awesome! Now for the town of West Yellowstone, there isn’t really much to it to be honest, we did have dinner in a local restaurant which felt like we stepped into a time warp. We had to keep a close eye on the weather though, as we had left the campground, the snow started coming down again and we didn’t want to be stuck out in the town in case the West Entrance would close too. Back at our site, we prepared for what would be our coldest night yet, just below freezing. A duvet, some super warm sleeping bags, a thermal nightie and bedsocks would have to the trick (along with leaving the thermostat on so the water lines wouldn’t freeze in the RV)…

9 hours until we set off to Southampton.

And we’re still madly packing and planning and searching for missing items (like a 28mm lens).  Although I’ve been planning this trip for about 18 months now, it turns out, I am so not ready. Well, that is to say, we are kind of ready with the planning but decided to “wing it” for certain parts of the trip. This means that for certain nights we won’t know where we’ll be parking the RV. This is making me a bit nervous though, I’m a mad planner and not knowing what we’ll be doing every minute of every day is giving me the heebie jeebies (and I just remember I still need to book our car for the final part of our trip, jikes!).

Any bets on how much sleep we’re gonna get tonight?

OK, that’s one word three times. (bonus cookie for anyone who gets this little reference).

I love planning vacations, planning this one is just out of this world! So much to do, so much to organise. I’ve got myself a pretty new binder to organise everything properly. I’ve been making list for everything, a list of things we shouldn’t forget to pack, a list of things we still need to buy over here, a list of things to order in the US, a list of things to buy once we have our RV, a list of campsites in stunning location but that we can’t book in advance, … I still need to start on the list of all the activities we can do in all these places we’re visiting. But one thing is for sure, I can’t wait to start this adventure. Everytime I look at something I get even more excited.

For example, do a Google image search for Madison Campground Yellowstone… Now tell me honestly if that didn’t make you smile!

We’ve also arranged to speak at the Utah PVA in Salt Lake City (Professional Videographers Association… for those who are wondering or might confuse it with something else). So we’ll be able to meet up with some of the other weirdos in our profession! There’s also a Belgian Waffle shop in Salt Lake City, which I definitely want to go to!

We’ve also bought ourselves a new though little camera that’s waterproof and schock proof, so we can don’t have to worry all too much. Speaking of cameras. We will be taking our proper cameras too and we’re planning on making little video clips along the way. So if the internet connections in the RV parks along the way is half decent (and I’ve heard it actually often isn’t at all!), we’ll be uploading those along with the photos.

Can you tell I’m excited?!

I’ve booked a bunch of campsites, but won’t be sharing those just yet. Niels likes a few surprises along the way, so we’ll keep these a secret for now. He just gets a bit worried now and again about how cold things might get, and from what I’ve seen, heard and read, things might get really cold and snowy at times. All in the spirit of adventure ;-)

And we’ve got ourselves a little bobblehead mascot for the trip!

“I don’t care if it rains or it’s fine,
Long as I got my plastic Einstein,
Sittin’ on the dashboard of my car,
To travel with him is my proclivity,
He has a theory ’bout relativity,
Cosmic’ly he knows exactly where we are.”

But in the meantime, there’s still loads of planning to do, and more importantly, more work to do too! I shouldn’t get my backlog of work get too high considering we’re away for so long. So back to the grindstone it is!

  • Flights to Las Vegas: booked
  • 2 Nights at the Old Faithful Inn: booked
  • Hiring an RV for 29 days: booked

Yes, you’ve read that correctly, we’re renting an RV! We’ll be doing the Vegas to Vegas part of our trip in an RV, then we rent a car to drive on to LA. At first we had ruled an RV out as too costly, but with a change to the route and schedule, and a few discount codes, the RV option was feasible again. Did my research, got advice from some seasoned RV road trippers and went for it! A bit more adventure, never driven such a big thing (despite us choosing the smallest model available, it’s still about 23ft!) and it will be the closest thing to camping I’ve ever been. And it’s likely to be the closest to camping I’ll ever get considering Niels does not want to spend a night in a tent with me (understandably).

Oh, and then it turns out that no vacation for us would complete without at least a bit of Disney fix, so we’ll be going to Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disneyland California!

Right on with the planning, less than 3 months to go now!

We’re putting together a road trip playlist; we’d love to hear your suggestions on the ultimate road trip music. Email me!


OK, time for an update. A bunch of stuff has changed with regards to this road trip but one thing that hasn’t: it will still be AWESOME!!!

After a lot of research, we decided to change the route quite significantly. We will no longer be doing the eastern part of the road trip. So no Chicago, Wisconsin, Michigan, Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, or even Oklahoma. I’m sorry, there were loads of friends we were hoping to visit in these places, but that will have to wait for another trip.

So what are we doing? We’ll start our big vacation on 20 September by boarding one of the most famous and fabulous ocean liners in the world, the Queen Mary 2 in Southampton. We sailed on this ship last year and it was just the BEST way ever to cross the Atlantic, so incredibly relaxing. As we’ve got quite a busy summer ahead of us filming weddings, we thought it might be a good idea to start the vacation with some pure relaxation. The QM2 will take a week to get us as far as New York. And no, we will not start the road trip in New York. Once we arrive in New York, we will get on a plane and head for Las Vegas! And that’s where the real road trip starts!

From Vegas, we’ll be heading north east to a collection of national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef before we head up to Salt Lake City. Then we’re off to Grand Teton National Park and Yellowstone National Park. Yellowstone is one of the places I’m looking forward to the most on our trip, we’re even planning on staying at the Old Faithful Inn (because it looks so amazing and reminds me of the Wilderness Lodge in Disney World). After a few days in Yellowstone, we’ll visit Mount Rushmore and the Badlands before heading south again to Colorado. A quick stop in Denver and a possible visit to the Rocky Mountain National Park (this one isn’t certain yet) and then we’re off to Utah again. Hello to the Arches National Park, Canyonlands and Monument Valley! Then it’s time to head back towards Vegas, via the Grand Canyon of course. A few days in Vegas and then we’re off to the City of Angels. All of this will take us 5 weeks. Then on 1 November we board a flight back to good ol’ Blighty.

So far we’re booked the transatlantic crossing (please note, this is not a “cruise”, it’s a “voyage” or a “crossing”, but not a cruise) and our flights back home. The next things to book are the flight to Vegas and the Old Faithful Inn. If anyone wants to meet up along the way, please do let us know. If you have a room to spare, that would be great too. If you have some great tips on places we should visit, or places to avoid, then please do email us.

The updates should become a bit more regular now that the planning is properly taking shape. I’m SOOOOO EXCITED!!!

So for the past 2 months, in between editing, going to Ireland for a wedding, having a fab birthday (photos are on Facebook), and planning a trip to Italy (also for a wedding, with the A-MA-ZING Joe Simon), I have been reading up on this road trip. That book by Jamie Jenson is really great, loads of ideas and places we want to visit. I do realise that we won’t be able to do it all in 6 weeks, so we’re currently deciding on what will be our major stops (definite favourites are: Yellow Stone National Park, The Arches National Park and Monument Valley, New Orleans and the Vicksburg area in Mississippi). Also read about this drive in (I think it was in Wisconsin) where the waitresses still come around on roller-skates! How cool is that?!

Anyway, as I mentioned in the previous blog post, we’re also planning a bit of party. We first thought of doing it close to our anniversary (1 September), but have now decided to do it after the road trip. That will make things easier on us with work and such and give us some extra stuff to talk about. So make a note of this in your diary: 26 November 2011. We’ve booked ourselves a sweet little venue here in Sheffield and we hope to see you all then!

Next thing on the “to do”-list: set the start date for the road trip!

Next year, Niels and I will be celebrating our 10th wedding anniversary. For a while we were wondering how we’d like to celebrate this, a big party, an exotic cruise, going to Walt Disney World??? Well, it turned out to be none of them. For years, our dream vacation has been to drive through all 50 states of the USA. Ideally, you’d take a year out or something to do this, but that isn’t exactly an option at the moment or in the near future. So rather than sit around an wait for this dream trip to materialise, we thought, we might as well just do it in big chunks and that’s exactly what we’ll be doing for our 10th anniversary!

First thing to decide was where to go and for how long. We decided to start and end in Chicago, doing a round trip would save a fair amount of money on flights and car rental fees. We’d never been to that area of the US before and with good links to the UK, it seemed like a good choice. How long, about six weeks would probably be as much as we can squeeze in (I guess there’s nothing quite like testing your relationship after 10 years of marriage by spending 6 weeks together in a small space…). Then get  some online friends to give you some ideas and the suggestions started rolling in of where our adventure should take us. One of the first suggestions I received was for Grand Staircase Escalante in Utah, starting in Panguitch, Bryce Canyon, Canyon Lands, Arches and Moab. Looking at the map that was quite a way from Chicago, but I doable I guess and it looked suitably impressive too. We’ve also always wanted to go to Traverse City in Michigan, so added that to the trip. More suggested rolled in. Yellow Stone National Park, New Orleans, Boston, Yosemite, Atlanta, … Not all of those would fit in for a 6 week trip. Also, some people, even though they lived in the US, didn’t exactly seem to be very clued up on the geography of their own country.

So eventually we came up with a rough schedule and map and this is it:

Start in Chicago late September 2011, then off to Traverse City Michigan. Cross Lake Michigan in Ludington to Manitowoc , Wisconsin. Travel down to Stoughton, WI and then to Minnesota followed by a quick dip into Iowa and then onwards to Nebraska and South Dakota where we want to see Mount Rushmore. Then it’s time for Wyoming and Yellow Stone National Park, before going down to Salt Lake City Utah (via Montana and Idaho) and Bryce Canyon and that general area. Cut through Colorado and Kansas on our way to Tulsa Oklahoma, then head down through Arkansas and onto Memphis Tennessee and then via the great Mississippee river, visit Vicksburg and eventually all the way on to the Big Easy, New Orleans! Then back up through Alabama to Nashville, hit a place or two in Kentucky, find our way to St Louis, Missouri and then get some kicks on Route 66 back to Chicago. Strangely enough, I do feel sorry for North Dakota, it’s pretty much the only state in that whole area we’d missing out on.

Well, that’s the plan anyway. There’s loads of people we want to visit along the way. And if you know anyone who’s interesting or might like to have the two of us over, let us know! Also, we’ll gladly receive any suggestions for places to stay, visit, websites, things to do, where to get the best food (anyone who knows me, knows that this is one of main priorities for any vacation!), …

I’ve started the planning by buying a few books already. Road Trip USA by Jamie Jenson, the big Lonely Planet guide for the USA and Bill Bryson’s The Lost Continent.

For the next 17 months or so I’ll be keeping busy with one of my favourite things to do, plan a vacation. This blog will be our planning journal. And then, when the time finally comes, we’ll be updating it from somewhere along the road!

Oh, and we’ll still have a big party too, just don’t expect a big country mansion one ;-)

Latest News
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  • Tonight we fly back to England. This has been one LEG-EN-DARY vacation!!! Could easily do another 6 weeks. 2011-11-01
  • Going to Mickey's Not So Scary Halloween Party at Disneyland California tonight! 2011-10-31
  • More updates...

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