We departed from Bakersfield, California in the morning and headed north to spend the day exploring Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park. The main attraction in these two parks are the massive Sequoia trees dotting the rugged mountainous terrain. The star, the General Sherman Tree, lived up to its claim of being the largest tree in the world.
After leaving Sequoia/Kings Canyon, we headed back down the mountain to Fresno, California where we enjoyed a couple of days of mostly peaceful rest and relaxation (drive by shooting notwithstanding).
Then we headed back up the mountain to visit Yosemite National Park. The interior of the park proved hectic and overcrowded. But once we escaped to the lesser visited parts of the park, we got to appreciate the natural beauty that Yosemite is known for. We enjoyed a tranquil lakeside picnic dinner along the Tioga Mountain Pass Road before heading back down the east side of the mountain into the desert flatlands of Nevada.
From Las Vegas, we headed west and visited Los Angeles and the surrounding area. It was a whirlwind visit lasting just two days, but we saw a lot.
The first day we visited Little Cambodia in Long Beach where we enjoyed Cambodian donuts. Then we headed on to our hotel where we watched the Fourth of July Fireworks over the city of Los Angeles.
The next day we visited Chinatown and got some banh mi sandwiches. We headed up the Hollywood Hills to see the Hollywood sign and enjoy a picnic lunch. Then we headed west out of town toward the ocean, stopping by Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills on the way.
The drive along the Pacific Coast Highway was clogged with traffic so we enjoyed the view of the ocean for a while then got out of town and went to our next destination in Bakersfield, California.
Los Angeles looks like a fun city with a lot to do, so maybe we’ll go back at some point!
Another year all wrapped up neatly with a bow on it! Where does the time go?
We had a great 2021, both financially and personally. We managed to squeeze in a bunch of travel in spite of global difficulties. And we were able to relax at home a ton as well. Another glorious year of early retirement!
For those wondering, we were able to embark on our Christmas cruise successfully. After two years of being landlocked and skipping international travel, we finally got back to the crystal clear Caribbean waters and enjoyed a warm week floating around the islands.
Financially, December was an incredibly bountiful month for us. Net worth jumped $115,000 to end the month at $2,830,000. Income during the month totaled $21,970 while expenses were a mere $3,312 during December.
After a busy three weeks on the road, we enjoyed a leisurely one week stopover in Las Vegas, Nevada. While we were there, we visited a dozen casinos and watched many free shows and performances presented by the casinos.
None of us gambled at the casinos, but we did spend a little cash at some of the shops in Las Vegas. We also visited several restaurants since we had plenty of downtime during our one week stay.
And after over three thousand miles of driving, I needed to take the minivan van in for an oil change and tire rotation.
Overall, our stay in Las Vegas was great. We relaxed, took in the glitzy experience of the Las Vegas Strip, and got some good food!
We spent two nights in Page, Arizona. While in Page, we visited the Glen Canyon Dam, a nearby lakeside rocky area known as The Chains, and the Horseshoe Bend overlook of the Colorado river.
After leaving Page, we traveled south and then west to the Grand Canyon National Park. We visited at least a dozen overlooks on the Canyon Rim drive and took in the stunning size of the canyon below. At the end of the day, we headed to our overnight stop at the Gateway Hotel in Williams, Arizona.
The next day, we drove along historic Route 66 on the way to the Hoover Dam. At the dam, we visited the bridge overlook of the Hoover Dam. Then we visited the dam itself. After a scorching hot day at the Hoover Dam, we headed west to Las Vegas, Nevada where we would stay for a week of rest and relaxation.
Our family of five visited Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park in Utah in the summer of 2021. The most impressive part of Bryce Canyon was the strange looking hoodoos, or stone pillars that protrude from the hillsides and valley floors throughout the park. The vibrant orange coloring added to the amazingly unique scenery.
Once we got to Zion National Park, we continued to be amazed at the sheer stone cliff faces and smooth rock inclines. The most popular section of the park in the center proved to be very crowded, so our experience wasn’t as enjoyable as it could have been. Overall, it’s a very pretty scenic National Park, but one best visited off season once the crowds and high heat dissipate.
We left Cortez, Colorado and headed to Arches National Park in Utah for the day. After a hot day hiking around the arches and cliffs in the park, we continued to our hotel in Green River, Utah.
From Green River, we drove through the scenic Utah Route 24 on the way to the Capitol Reef National Park. Once inside Capitol Reef, we drove south through the park along the most scenic cliffs towering over the valley.
We turned down a narrow dirt road and continued to the Capitol Gorge trailhead. From there, we hiked about a mile along a dry creekbed into the Capitol Gorge. It was ridiculously hot, but we made it back to the car safely.
From Capitol Reef, we continued to our hotel for the night near our next destination, the Bryce Canyon National Park.
After leaving Frisco, Colorado in Part 2 of our Great USA Road Trip, we drove several hours to Montrose, Colorado where we spent two nights. While there, we visited Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park. I thought this canyon was more impressive than the Grand Canyon in Arizona, however this park is the least popular National Park in all of Colorado!
On our travel day between Montrose, Colorado and Cortez, Colorado, we went on two hikes in Ouray, Colorado. The first was to Cascade Falls where I got to climb behind the waterfall! After that, we crossed to the other side of Ouray and visited the Box Canyon Park where we hiked first to the base of the waterfall inside the canyon and then to the top of the falls about 200 feet up!
Continuing our drive south, we traveled along the Million Dollar Highway, an incredibly scenic and beautiful mountain road that ends in Durango, Colorado. From Durango, we traveled west to Cortez where we spent the night.
The next morning, we backtracked a few minutes and spent the day touring the cliff dwellings in Mesa Verde National Park. After a tiring day in Mesa Verde, we spent our second night in Cortez before heading north and west toward Utah the next day.
Denver marked the start of our “real” summer vacation. We visited the Red Rocks Amphitheatre just outside Denver.
After leaving Denver, we headed up the mountains into the Rocky Mountain National Park. Inside the park, we hiked to Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, and Dream Lake. We couldn’t quite make it all the way up the mountainside to Emerald Lake due to altitude sickness and fatigue. In the late afternoon, we drove through the Rocky Mountain National Park along the Trail Ridge Road.
We spent the night after Rocky Mountain National Park in Grand Lake, Colorado. Then we drove two hours to our next lodging in Frisco, Colorado where we spent three days mostly relaxing. The highlight of our stay in Frisco was a stroll through the scenic downtown and a visit to the Frisco Historic Park and Museum.
When planning our big summer road trip in the Western United States, we considered flying straight to Denver and starting our adventures there in the rocky Mountains. Or should we drive across the Midwest and stop to see whatever we can along the way?
We chose the latter route. Our family took a few extra days to explore parts of the country that we might not necessarily visit as destinations in and of themselves.
We spent three days driving across the country to Topeka, Kansas. Along the way, we stopped for sightseeing in Charleston, West Virginia and St. Louis. We also got some great barbeque in Kansas City!
While in St. Louis, we discovered a crack in the windshield. I managed to repair our cracked windshield without messing up our remaining travel schedule.