Career Break Month 2 Recap

September is always my favorite month to travel, and this year was obviously no exception! September was my first full month on the road, too! Last month I said I was looking forward to slowing down and that definitely did not happen! The most time I spent in any one place was 3 nights, but more often it was two nights and I had more one-nighters than I would have liked! I tried to cover a lot of ground, which I won’t be doing going forward!

Great Sand Dunes National Park

I started the month in Colorado with 3 nights of camping near Salida. Bailey and I took a day trip down to Great Sand Dunes National Park, and my friend Deborah joined me for a dayhike to Waterdog Lake near Salida.

Great Sand Dunes National Park

Starting out for new (to me) territory, I moved on to Ouray, taking the long way through Pagosa Springs and Durango. Ouray may be my new favorite mountain town. I loved it!! We spent two nights at the KOA, and because of the heat, did a lot of scenic driving. I also took a Jeep tour, which was really fun. There were teeny tiny splashes of fall color and I can only imagine how spectacular it was a few weeks later. I loved the contrast of the Red Mountains and the other Rocky Mountains. (After 1 day, smoke blew in from the PNW fires and everything got a bit hazy)

Red Mountains

Downtown Ouray

Colorado West Jeep TourImogene Pass

After two nights in Ouray, I moved to a hotel in Grand Junction for one night so that I could visit the Black Canyon National Park and Colorado Monument. These are both really cool spots worth exploring, and Grand Junction (or Montrose) would make a good base for a few days.

Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

Colorado National Monument

After Grand Junction, I moved on to Salt Lake City and spent 3 nights at a TownePlace Suites in Layton. SLC was a bit of a bust for me, in part due to poor planning. (I’m struggling with trying to be flexible but that backfires on me a bit as I get lazy if I don’t have a specific plan.) Aside from a short side trip to Park City and a quick drive through Antelope Island State Park, I spent most of my time taking advantage of the wifi and catching up on blogging and photo editing. Basically the same thing I did in Denver. So I need to avoid cities. Or hotels.

Antelope Island State Park

After hibernating in SLC for 3 days, I moved on to Bend, Oregon, where I camped at Tumalo State Park (no wifi) which forced me to get out and about to enjoy nature and stuff. I loved the campground and was super relaxed here, even if I did sneak a little wifi from parking lots! On my birthday, B and I hiked at Smith Rock State Park, and I had a marvelous birthday dinner at Currents restaurant at the Riverhouse hotel, which I will be writing about soon!

Smith Rock State Park

Birthday Dinner at Currents at the Riverhouse

The next day, I made a side trip (2 hours each way) to the Painted Hills National Monument. It’s a long drive for a day trip, but I’m glad I went as I don’t know when I’ll ever be in that area again!

Painted Hills - John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

From Bend, it was time to head south towards Crater Lake. Unfortunately, the fires were not 100% contained, so the views were hazy and the main roads through the park were closed. I visited the Rim Visitor’s area twice, but really want to return and stay at the lodge, which isn’t pet-friendly.

Crater Lake National Park

We spent 2 nights at the Klamath Falls KOA (terrible!) basically killing time until I was due in Medford for a hosted stay with the tourism board. The campground was swarming with midges, and in a sketchy neighborhood, but I had wifi in my tent so I basically hunkered down and tried to get more work done.

I spent two nights in Medford, exploring the dog-friendly options in town, which I’ll also be writing about soon! The highlight of my stay, though, was visiting Harry & David for a factory tour!

Harry & David Store in Medford

After 2 nights in Medford, it was time to take B to a kennel and get ready for my whitewater rafting trip on the Rogue River. I spent the night before the trip at the Grant’s Pass KOA, and met up with the group on Monday morning. We had 3 nights and 4 days that were cold and rainy. At one point, I had 7 tops and 4 bottoms on – basically, everything I owned! But we still had fun, and enjoyed lots of great scenery!

After the raft trip, I spent one night drying out at the Courtyard Inn in Medford, before springing B from doggy jail and heading to Northern California. I polled all the California folks on the raft trip and everyone recommended Lassen Volcanic National Park as a good midway stop on the way to Lake Tahoe. It was described to me as a mini-Yellowstone, which I think was pretty accurate (scenery-wise, minus the wildlife) There was even fresh snow to play in!

Lassen Volcanic National Park

Up next is Lake Tahoe, where we spent two nights at the Basecamp Hotel. I had no idea how large Lake Tahoe was, and it’s certainly a beautiful area! The overnight lows were already dipping below 30, though, so I’m glad I had a hotel room! On a hike along the lakeshore, we apparently just missed a bear feeding on salmon!

Basecamp Tahoe South

Now it was time to head south for the desert. I decided to take the long way and drive down the Sierra’s and through Death Valley National Park. Such a cool park that definitely deserves a special trip. I’ll definitely be back sometime, preferably for spring wildflower season.

Death Valley National Park

I reserved 1 night at the Holiday Inn Express in Pahrump, Nevada just on the East side of the park. After 1 night, I didn’t feel like leaving, so I decided to just stay another night and have a rest day. I actually even used the hotel pool! A first for this trip!

Next, I rolled into St George, Utah with no reservations and couldn’t find a campsite for two nights. Silly me. I didn’t feel like setting up my tent for just one night so we found an $89 room at the Crystal Inn. (Actually way better than I expected for that price!) This still left me with a Friday night before my cabin reservation at the Grand Canyon and St George is pretty pricey on the weekends, apparently. Like over $200 for a Holiday Inn Express! Our room at the Crystal Inn was jumping by $50 for Friday night so after much online searching, I decided to say screw it and booked at room at the Red Mountain Resort. I have been eyeing this place for years and always wanted to plan a visit, but 1 quick night would have to do for now. As long as I was there, I managed to squeeze in a pedicure and a yoga class, which all just left me wanting a longer stay. I’ll be back for sure!

I closed out the month near the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, but I’ll include that in my October recap!

Here’s my month in numbers:

  • Miles Driven: 4,614
  • States Visited: 7 (Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, California, Nevada, Arizona)
  • National Parks Visited: 5 (Great Sand Dunes, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Crater Lake, Lassen Volcanic, Death Valley)
  • Hotel Nights: 14
    • Candlewood Suites, Grand Junction, CO (1)
    • TownPlace Suites, Layton, Utah (3)
    • Rogue Regency, Medford (2)
    • Courtyard Inn, Medford (1)
    • Basecamp Tahoe South (2)
    • Holiday Inn Express, Pahrump, NV (2)
    • Crystal Inn, St George, UT (1)
    • Red Mountain Resort, St George, UT (1)
    • Jacob Lake Inn, Grand Canyon, Arizona (1)
  • Tent Nights: 16
    • Heart of the Rockies Campground, Salida, CO (3)
    • Ouray KOA (2)
    • Tumalo State Park (3)
    • Klamath Falls KOA (2)
    • Grants Pass KOA (1)
    • Rogue River Trip (3)
    • Lassen KOA (2)
  • Expenses: $4757
    • Lodging: $1620 (way too many hotels!)
    • Gas: $487
    • Food: $451
    • Bailey: $339
    • Other: $1860 (this includes fun stuff like Jeep Tours and bills like cell phone, health insurance, etc)

In October, I swear I am implementing a 3-night minimum at each stop, and hopefully 5 nights at most stops. I had this vision of waking up each morning, going for a hike, working or reading through the heat of the day, another evening hike, etc and it’s not really working out that way because we’re moving too much! So, I guess you can say I haven’t found my groove yet. Maybe I need a job, lol!

My biggest plan for October is meeting my hometown girls in Albuquerque for the balloon festival, and then spending a couple of nights in Santa Fe before they all fly home. Aside from that, I think I’ll spend 2 weeks in the Flagstaff/Sedona area, 1 week in Southern New Mexico and 1 week in West Texas. (I’m hoping to spend the entire month of November in Tucson, maybe even in an apartment, but I need to get through October first)

How was your September?

For all of my pictures from September, click here!

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One thought on “Career Break Month 2 Recap

  1. Wow, what a beautiful country we live in and THANK YOU for bringing it to those of us who would not have otherwise seen it!! Your pictures are beautiful and I love seeing your partner in crime with you….Bailey.

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