Was that really two weeks?

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“Was that really two weeks?” was the first question I asked myself upon returning from our summer road trip.  Seems a tad simplistic, but at the end of 6000+ miles on the road, I felt like the journey was just getting started.  Each day was a story and an adventure unto itself.  There were always things to see, places to experience, people to meet and food to eat.  Personal validation for the road trip.

The ultimate goal was for the three of us to visit the Mighty Five of Utah which, as you know, has been written about in countless books, blogs, magazines, brochures, scrolls, etc.   We accomplished our goal and our son was over the moon with the experience.  Each park seemed to be better than the last in his eyes and “I never want to leave!” was a common statement throughout.  But…there’s always a but…we made sure to incorporate as much of the good stuff in between.

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I’ve written several times about the importance of being deliberate in getting our son into the outdoors.  This was no different.   Both getting to Utah and returning home, we made time to visit what we found interesting.  Let’s face it, Clark Griswold’s House of Mud might not be for everyone, but there’s something out there to see for even the most novice traveler.

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Our first major stop was Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Kansas.  This is probably not on the radar for most trips and unfamiliar to many.  A little advanced route planning and I was able to discover this gem.   We experienced what once covered millions of acres in North America, which was both awe-inspiring and sad.  We strolled through a section of the tallgrass, closing our eyes and listening.  Your imagination fills in the blanks – this is what pioneers discovered in the not so distant past.  Incredible!

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Our second major stop during out trek was the Colorado National Monument located just west of Grand Junction, Colorado.  Again, this may not make your top ten destinations, but when you arrive and take a drive through the monument, you’ll be hooked.  The canyon views from the top of the plateau are tremendous.   Honestly, I had no idea this was such a beautiful place and wish we had built even more time to explore.  A return camping trip will be in our future.

Our third major stop was Dinosaur National Monument which straddles the border of Utah and Colorado.  This one we kept a surprise from our son and was totally worth the repeated temptation of telling him ahead of time.  Anyone that has any interest in dinosaurs should make this part of your trip out west.   I’ll let you read about the details, but suffice to say, seeing a building built over top of a “wall” of fossilized dinosaur bones is impressive.  There is even a section where young and old can touch some of the prehistoric bones.  I guess you could call this the “Holy Grail” for a budding paleontologist.   Such a grand place.

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One common theme between these three stops was the Junior Ranger program provided by the National Park Service.   During each visit, our son completed his necessary requirements, was “sworn it” by an official park ranger and received his official badge.   I had the foresight to send away for the materials before our departure - a little homework while in the car for all of us.  These activities generated the interest and excitement before we even hit the road and adding to the collection became of paramount importance for our son.   We are huge advocates of this program, so be sure to take advantage before, during and after your travels.

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My main takeaways from this part of our journey?   

  • Plan a route using a map and find stops that generate excitement

  • Be excited as it tends to be contagious

  • All three of these stops are totally worth your time

  • “Explore, Learn and Protect!”

  • Half the fun really is the journey.

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What destinations have you discovered during your travels?  Feel free to list them in the comment selection below!

Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Jason M and the Hashtag 59 Team

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