[Note: Article updated to estimate costs without the RV accident.]
2012 was a magical year. That’s when we explored the beautiful natural lands of the western United States, Canada, and Alaska.
We left our Kentucky home in January 2012. We spent 292 days or 9-1/2 months on the road, and ended our trip in Florida in November 2012. We hiked 836 miles and visited 94 parks along the way, including 29 national parks, 24 state parks, and 11 national monuments. You can view a detailed analysis of our trip here.
So now that we have finally sold our RV, I am able to calculate all our expenses related to our trip. Without the accident, the final cost of our trip was approximately:
This computes to approximately:
$5,900 per month
$185 per day
$11 per waking hour
In this video, Theresa is climbing up to the top Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park. Angel’s Landing is a knife-blade of rock that towers 1200 feet above the Virgin River. The last half-mile of the Angel’s Landing Trail is treacherous, with narrow paths and sheer thousand-foot drop-offs. Chains are mounted into the rock to help keep climbers from plunging off the mountain.
This moose was enjoying a meal in a pond in Chena River Recreation Area, Alaska. Notice the swarm of mosquitoes that fly off the moose when he dives under water.
Theresa and I try to visit a national park each year. But we usually travel in autumn when the weather is still nice, crowds are thin, and prices are low. As a result, we’ve rarely seen the spectacular wildflower displays for which our national parks are famous.
But on our RV trip in 2012, we “followed Spring” from the desert southwest to the Rockies and Great Plains, then up into Canada and Alaska, and down to the Pacific Northwest. We were treated to one wildflower show after another from February through September, and we saw over 120 species of wildflowers.
Choosing the most beautiful wildflower is like choosing the sexiest supermodel… it’s rather subjective, and there is no wrong answer. Following are the top 10 most beautiful wildflowers we saw on our trip:
We are proud to announce the first eBook from our cross-country adventure in 2012:
“Wildflowers of Western USA, Canada and Alaska” by Timm and Theresa Martin. The beauty of nature captured in over 100 full-color photos of wildflowers from a 2012 hiking trip across the western United States, Canada and Alaska. Flowers are presented in the order we encountered them, with their common name, date and location. Parks include Chugach, Denali, Joshua Tree, Kenai Fjords, Kluane, Mt. St. Helens, Olympic, Theodore Roosevelt, Waterton Lakes, and Yoho. Published June 2013, 134 pages, iPad iBooks format for the Apple iPad and iPhone.
Please pass this on to anyone you know who enjoys beautiful wildflowers.
“Lucky is the visitor who drives into Homer on a clear day,” says the Lonely Planet book on Alaska. And we were certainly lucky, as the stunning Grewingk Glacier was in full view across Kachemak Bay on the day we visited Homer, Alaska. Homer is at the very end of the road in the Kenai Peninsula south of Anchorage, Alaska. With a population of just over 5,000, Homer is the counter-culture capital of Alaska, full of artists and fishermen and people who are “disillusioned with mainstream society.”
We drove to the top of the mountain that overlooks Homer, hoping to visit a nature preserve there. But while Homer was basking in warmth and sunshine, the top of the mountain was socked in with a persistent heavy downpour, so we turned back, stopping at the top of the bluff to take a video of Homer from above. This video starts with one of the many float planes taking off daily over Kachemak Bay. The video pans out and ends with the impressive Grewingk Glacier. We had considered a day hike to the glacier, but the cheapest way to reach the glacier is a $150 water taxi, which also includes the risk of getting stranded overnight on the glacier if bad weather sets in. We decided to pass because we didn’t want to risk the dogs having to stay overnight in our RV without food and water.
You’re only as old as you feel, and in these videos we feel like a couple of little kids. In this video, Theresa is running down a sand dune at Kelso Dunes in the million-acre Mojave National Preserve, Calfornia.
Darby, Shadow and I are playing on the 60-story tall Kelso Dunes. When I’m pushing my feet into the sand, I’m trying to make the dunes “sing.” These are one of the few dunes in the world that sing in low tones when sand falls down the dunes. Sorry for the artifacts in the video, there was dust in the lens from the desert wind.
When I went through the hiking log from our trip to come up with our Top 10 Favorite Hikes, I ended up with a list of nearly 40 trails. Which just goes to show what an amazing adventure we had in 2012!
What makes for a favorite hike? The combination of many or all of the following: spectacular views, solitude, quiet, wildlife, wildflowers, heights, and good weather. After much debate, I managed to whittle the list down to the top 10 truly iconic hikes on our trip. Listed below each photo are the location of the trail, total round-trip length, total elevation gain, and the time it took us to complete the hike.
1. Crow Pass
Chugach National Forest, Alaska
8.4 miles, 2080’ elevation gain, 5.8 hours
This trail is so good that it’s the only trail on our trip that we hiked twice. We found out just how important weather is to enjoying a trail. On our first Crow Pass hike, it was cold, cloudy and rainy. We couldn’t see the hanging Raven Glacier, but we did get to watch a juvenile black bear rummaging around across a divide. Just two days later it was sunny and 70s, so we hiked the trail again. That time we could see the magnificent glacier and the massive valley below. The Chugach Mountains are some of the prettiest in the world, especially in early summer when the foothills are green and the mountains are accented with large patches of snow.