The Burnett’s are back from our trip across country and what a journey it was…
Recently, Bob, Logan and I met up with my mom and my son Alex in Vegas to begin an 11 day trip in an RV across country. 5 people, one breadbox of an RV living space, traveling across country for 11 days. This is the perfect pitch for a reality tv show. Much like the old MTV Real World episodes of “See what happens when people stop being polite and start getting real.” Thank God we were family and not strangers.
Where to begin? Should I start with getting felt up by the nice TSA lady at the airport in Baltimore before our journey even began, or should I start with the cab drive to the airport where we were able to get all the juicy details from our cab driver about what his former life as a 30 year prison guard was like as well as all the horrid details that happen to men at night when the lights go off. Yeah, lets skip that part and go right to TSA.
I’ll keep it short. I got felt up by a TSA lady who was in training. Allegedly the computer picked up that I had metal near my groin. Not sure how that could be, given that I was wearing all cotton and my skirt was tight enough (classy but very from fitting) that if I were carrying a weapon or any metal you would easily be able to see it. FYI, I have no piercings below my ears. Anyhow, it turns out they flagged me because this TSA lady needed to learn how to pat people down and look for explosives, or weapons of some sort. I just wish they would have been honest about it and not lied to me, making me look like a criminal with my hands up over my head as she frisked me. Anyway, I was in and out and got to my flight with plenty of time to spare, but still annoyed that I purposely wore clothing and slip on shoes to avoid BS like that. Of course there are a lot of people who they would never flag, or pull aside to be used as a guinea pig, because of racial profiling, so you know…they can’t go wrong targeting the white woman.
We landed in Vegas around noon. Las Vegas has never been a destination spot for me. Mostly because
I don’t like people. I’m not a gambler. It looked exactly how I expected it to look. Like an oversized miniature golf course for drunk people who think they might be in New York and Paris at the same time. We had lunch at the Bellagio and then gambled for a bit. Being the high roller that I am, I put five dollars in the slot machine and walked out with sixty bucks. Bob won about 100 dollars off the black jack table and then we quit while we were ahead. Besides, we had a long ride ahead of us and we wanted to see the Hoover Dam before we headed out to Arizona.
Imagine our surprise when we saw a sign that said “Welcome to Arizona” we completely missed the exit or road that took us to the Hoover Dam. We were told we would drive right over it. Didn’t happen. Road trip fail.
A couple hours later we were all hungry and decided to get a quick bite to eat at IN and Out Burger. The boys were stoked to eat there. Being that we don’t have them on the east coast the kids get so excited to eat there when we visit the west. I have always heard the hype around In and Out Burger so I gave it a try. I was not impressed. I thought it was gross but then again I can be a bit of a food snob. The highlight of our dinner experience was watching a homeless man role a joint on the outdoor tables at In and Out Burger, maybe that’s the secret to making it taste good? We are winning this day for sure.(<—sarcasm)
The first campground was still about a three hour drive so we piled back in the RV and got to the campground around 9pm. The campground was located off of Route 66 somewhere in Arizona. We turned in to an old dark gas station that had a bunch of abandoned antique cars all over the drive way. We didn’t see any tents, cabins or RVs. My mom got out to look around and see if anyone was in the gas station office. A sign read “Campers come to room 22 after 8pm.” Turns out there was an old motel behind the gas station. We headed to the motel room. Any horror story you can think of was what this place looked like in the dark. Bob spoke with a woman about our reservation and she told us to drive down to the end of the road turn right and keep driving until we saw the RV park. I’ll skip past the part of the old lady who chased us down as we headed to camp and grabbed onto Bob’s arm as though she was trying to tell him something without saying it out loud. I think she was hopped up on something.
It was a very quiet ride down the dirt driveway in the pitch black. No one said a word, but the thought bubbles that were hanging over our heads all had a scene from Psycho or The Hills Have Eyes or whatever horror movie you can imagine. Most people probably would have left and found another campsite. However, we were exhausted and in the middle of the desert; who knows when we would see another campsite.
We were only one of three RV’s in a very big RV park in the desert. We barely slept that night as we listened to the weird sounds of scraping and tapping against the RV. At one point Bob went to check it out. It felt like being trapped animals in a cage. Whatever was out there could see us but we can’t see them. (By them, I mean the wind, bugs and probably some small rodents like lizards and armadillos or whatever animals live in Arizona, but in our mind it was Leather Face coming for us.)
We woke up to a very beautiful morning with cows, bulls and steers eating grass from their pasture right next to our RV. A friendly employee came by as we were cooking breakfast to let us know about their free continental breakfast at there restaurant lounge. I took a hot shower in a bathroom that turned out to be the cleanest of all the campgrounds we stayed at. It turns out the campground was very old and also had a motel and lodging, as well as an old store and restaurant, probably once a big tourist destination in the 1950’s.
We learned a lesson that we are city slicker snobs and watch way too much tv. The place was charming yet still creepy, there were creepy manikins around the campground, one was a boy manikin tied to a rope and being lowered into a 250 foot hole in the ground by an adult manikin. It’s called Dope on a Rope. Apparently tourists used to pay to go down into the hole. It’s a thing… you can look it up. It’s very creepy and bizarre but still interesting.
Next stop was the Grand Canyon. Absolutely beautiful. We stayed one night for only 6 bucks. Apparently, in order to do all the active fun stuff like hiking, donkey rides and paddle boarding you have to plan a year in advance. However, we made the most of it. The boys got too close to the edge and would goof off at times. This sent me into lunatic mom mode. We hear all the time about people falling off over the edge and I can see how that can happen. People are idiots and do stupid shit. I don’t think I’m fearful of heights but I am fearful of seeing one of my kids fall to his death because he wants to do some stupid headstand or crow pose by the edge. Ok, yes I did a yoga pose in the picture below, but I was far from the edge. Trust me, I’m an expert. (not) Bob recommended waking up super early and watching the sunrise over the canyon, so that’s exactly what us adults did. Teenagers had no interest so they slept. I highly recommend watching the sun rise and set over the Grand Canyon. It’s something magical for sure.
The rest of that day was spent mostly driving. We drove through Utah and stopped at Arches National Park. We hiked up to one of the arches, it was a great way to get some movement after being cooped up for the day. We made our way to Grand Junction Colorado and stayed for the night. Then we started our way to Denver. We stopped at a place to swim and hopefully see a waterfall but it was a bust. The water was more suitable for boaters and there were fish hooks and sharp objects all over the place, so we called it a day and headed to Denver.
Denver was all about the eats for me. We had dinner at this great restaurant called Pinche Tacos. This place is so good! It’s a young trendy restaurant with really great food. The food is served family style so we all ordered different tacos. I had cow tongue, fish and porkbelly tacos. They are severed on small but but very filling tacos. I couldn’t finish mine. I also enjoyed a spicy margarita made with really good and cleanish ingredients.
After dinner we enjoyed a treat from Beet Box Bakery and Cafe. Everything there is vegan and you can also get gluten free. I had a donut and a bite of Logan’s brownie. It was probably one of the best desserts I have ever eaten. I also enjoyed a berry black Kombucha from Upstart, a company that makes and bottles their Kombucha in Boulder Co.
Probably one of my most favorite stops from the trip was our visit to Mount Rushmore. It was a beautiful drive on the way to see the four presidents. Lot’s of pine trees and mountain views. We had a lot of fun sight seeing. Most tourists walked the wooded path and steps but we insisted on running the path. Partly because we are not normal and partly because we needed to get our energy out. On the drive back down the mountain we spotted a lake and went for a nice swim. The weather and water was perfect and everyone was happy.
We camped overnight somewhere in South Dakota. The next morning we drove through part of the Bad lands and stopped to feed the prairie dogs. My mom had the great idea of dressing up in frontier clothing that the gift shop offered to take photos. We certainly had a lot of laughs and got a kick out of it.
We made our way east. Next stop in Wisconsin. This was a short but special trip to see our dearest friends the Campbell’s. We have been friends with the Campbell’s since our kids were little toddlers. It was so great to see all of them and see how big our kids have gotten. Only wish we would of had more time to spend with them.
Bob and my mom got up the next morning at 4 am and packed up camp so we could get to Niagara Falls by dinner. It was a very long drive. The boys and I slept most of the morning and avoided the stressful episode of almost running out of gas just past Chicago. Something to do with only certain gas stations sold diesel, which is what the RV needed. Also, the GPS tried to take us to Canada so we got to see a bit of Michigan by accident.
My entire life people have spoken about Niagara Falls as being a must see and make it sound so magical. What no one tells you is that it’s pretty much a big carnival and other than the falls it’s not very pretty or even clean and kept. The falls themselves were beautiful and I definitely recommend taking the ferry ride to get a closer look and walking the Cave of the Winds to feel the power of the waterfall. But… here’s what no one tells you. There are so many people on the boat and you get shuffled on and off like cattle. There are long lines for both the ferry and the Cave of the Winds. They sell cheap overly priced carnival food, like your typical ice cream, pretzels, soda, burgers and such. They charge an arm and a leg for water. The trolley is over crowded with people standing and the drivers won’t allow you to bring your overly priced iced cream onto the trolley and they treat you like a child as they shame you for trying to bring it on. My mom was smart, she snuck it into her purse. Bob was a little pissed to say the least. Partly because it was hot, he already spent a few hundred bucks for tickets, food and water and he didn’t appreciate the condescending bus drivers tone of voice as she shamed him for trying to bring his just bought ice-cream on the trolley. Unless I just happened to be in the area, I wouldn’t waste my time going to Niagara Falls. Although, I hear the Canada side is nice, but after our experience, I have no desire to see the falls from that side either. All that being said, I’m grateful for the opportunity to see the falls with my family.
We made a last minute decision to leave Buffalo that evening and headed out to Connecticut. It was a very long drive. I stayed up to keep Bob company as he drove. We decided to stay at a hotel that night and didn’t get in until 2 am. At this point we had all been living in the RV for 9 days and the hotel stay was short lived but a welcome treat.
We were on the road again by 9 am the next morning. Our final stop was Cape Cod. We stayed in Falmouth Cape Cod. Our stay was short, only a day but we made the most of it. We enjoyed some ice cream at Ben and Bill’s Chocolate Emporium and then took a nice bike ride along the coast. The boys went for a swim and skipped rocks into the water. We ended our day with a nice dinner at the Glass Onion. A pretty fancy and pricey restaurant which after living in an RV we were a little out of place because we weren’t dressed for it, but it was worth it. I only wish we had more time to spend in Cape Cod. Perhaps a three day stay at a bed and breakfast is in the future.
We headed home the next morning. We hit lots of traffic through New York and Philly. We were happy to get home that night. I’m so thankful to have done this trip with my family before Logan heads off to college next year. I would absolutely have done it all over again but I will never do it again. If that makes any sense. I’m not a fan of long endless car rides and waking up in a new spot everyday. Plus we didn’t have enough time to really stay and enjoy all the places. For example, the next time I go to Colorado, I would like to fly there and enjoy a couple of days doing fun active stuff.
I must say my boys did great. Never once did they fight or lose their mind. The adults did well too. We had a few freak out moments that were to be expected, but when one would freak out the others would stay cool, and understanding. So it all worked out. There were a lot of Griswold moments as well. Things broke, an alarm went off in the RV, we almost ran out of gas, my mom and I walked into the men’s shower room, we almost got lost a few times and ended up in some shady areas, but we laughed it off. I lost my shit over Bob asking me to make him a sandwich while he was driving because I was getting bumped around the cabin, but settled down after I had something to eat. When traveling in small quarters all the way across our great nation It’s all to be expected, it’s what makes us human and great Americans after all. Right? Just nod in agreement.
As far as workouts and healthy eating goes. Hahaha! Not this time. Sure, I did a few push-ups and lunges here and there just to get some movement from sitting for so long, but it wasn’t really exercise. We would arrive at a campsite with just enough time to set up camp, eat dinner and then pack up and be on the road early the next day. Our sleep habits were off too. Twizzlers and Cow Tails were my go to stress and boredom snack. We kept most of our meals healthy with exception to In and Out Burger and the lunch we had in Niagara Falls. For me exercise and nutrition are part of my lifestyle so if I’m not perfect or on point while I’m living in an RV for 11 days traveling across country I don’t stress about it. My body starts to crave healthy foods and movement because it is part of my daily life. I have been living a healthy lifestyle so long that experience and maturity has taught me so much about what my body is capable of doing and what it needs that I don’t struggle with getting on track. It has taken practice to get there, but consistency is key and before you know it, its a habit that becomes a lifestyle. I don’t have any advice for eating healthy and exercise on a family trip across country. All I can say is make the best of it and enjoy the experience.