Sign in to follow this  
ArmyofOne

Tour ‘Merica-The Ultimate Vacation *220+ Pix*

Recommended Posts

On the 10th of August, my wife Meghan and I ventured out on another road trip. Seems we do these about once per year. A week prior, I traded in my late model Ram 1500 SLT on a brand-spankin’ new (leftover 2011) Big Horn Crew Cab 4x4, about 3 trim levels upgrade from what I had. The truck performed flawlessly, from 100 ft below sea level in Deland Florida, to 14,110 ft above sea level on the Pikes Peak Hill Climb, from coast-to-coast and corner-to-corner, I could not have asked for a better performing or more comfortable ride. I averaged 510-520 miles per tank, so roughly 20-21mpg, at around 80mph average speed. Drop it to 60-70 and she gets about 23-24. Cant complain I guess, it costs to make good time LOL. We planned on spending roughly $5,000 this trip, we came in under budget at around $3,600 from our front door and back. This year, the National Park Service gave out free Annual Park Passes for US Armed Forces, good at most National Parks across the nation, so we incorporated 7 national park visits into our trip. It saved us roughly $300. We camped at the end of each leg at a KOA Campground in the city we chose to stop in. Total mileage from driveway-to-driveway was 8,402 miles. We spent $1,600 in fuel, including driving our truck for 10 days in Fort Worth TX, 5 days in Deland FL, and 5 days in Gatlinburg TN. Our itinerary:

Leg 1- Seattle WA to Salt Lake City UT: An overnight stop at a KOA Campground.

Leg 2- Salt Lake City UT to Flagstaff AZ: During leg 2 we stopped at Bryce Canyon, Zion Canyon, Grand Staircase and Grand Canyon (North Rim) National Parks. 3 national park entrance fees at $25 per park, and $50 for the Grand Canyon, but that complimentary annual passes saved us the entrance fees. Handed them my Military ID and my Pass and we were waved on through the gates around the literally hundreds of cars that were waiting in line.

Leg 3- Flagstaff AZ to Fort Worth TX: Spent 10 days with my folks, Went to the Ram Truck Club meet I organzed called RamFest. Other than that, lots of FBI (Fishing, Beer and Isolation). Nothing to see there. We did make it to Houston, to see my grandmother, and managed to squeeze in a short dinner with Bob (Lil4x). We try to do that every time we are in TX. Bob, ya’ll are such great people, my family was glad to meet you and it was good to see you again!

Leg 4- Fort Worth TX to Gatlinburg TN: This was just an overnight stop to scoop up Meghan’s parents before going to Florida.

Leg 5- Gatlinburg TN to Deland FL: We followed my in-laws down to Deland FL to see Meghan’s sister and her family. We got there just in time for Hurricane Issac :rolleyes: Figures. I drive to Florida, wash my truck and a freakin’ hurricane. Whatever. LOL. I made it as far south as Orlando, we wanted to meet up with Paul (bitkahuna) but it just didn’t happen, between the weather, my lack of cell service and the amusement parks in Orlando offering free admission for Returning veterans and their families that week, it was all I could do to get sleep.

Leg 6- Deland FL back to Gatlinburg TN: Spent 5 days with Meghan’s parents and Grandparents here. Gatlinburg is always a fun time! I love that town. We did the Hatfield and McCoy’s dinner show, Ober Gatlinburg, Dollywood and some other amusement park type stuff. I could live there and never run out of things to do! LOL.

Leg 7- Gatlinburg TN to Clarksville TN. Had to stop overnight and see friends of ours stationed at Fort Campbell KY. Clarksville is just on the other side of the TN/KY border about 10 mins from the base.

Leg 8- Clarksville TN to Goodland KS: Just an overnight stop in a KOA Campground before heading on through Leg 9.

Leg 9- Goodland KS to Colorado Springs CO: Time for the Pikes Peak Hill Climb. We had a blast, but it was a little nerve wracking. Every time you look over the side of the road it’s a straight drop thousands of feet. For a guy who hates heights, this was the ultimate adrenaline rush. They tell you at the park entrance, 2nd gear going up, and 1st gear going down and if you have less than ¾ tank of fuel, they won’t let you in. On the way up, I had to use 2nd like he said, I also had to take a tube off of my intake before the filter to allow the engine to get more air. It did not care what kind of air it got, hot or cold, so I ran a short-ram intake for a little bit by removing the tube that goes from the fender to the airbox. Get to the top, and don’t plan on doing too much moving around. The oxygen is so thin at the summit, even I, in as good a shape as I am, was having trouble. I was dizzy, nauseous, extremely short of breath, had a splitting headache and a severe walking disability. I was stumbling around trying to take pictures. It was worth it though, as you will see we got some good ones. On the descent, 1st gear was needed along with 4wd-low range in a couple spots that were extremely steep. We got halfway down and they stopped us and check the temperature on our brake rotors. They were 200 degrees, and I was being easy. 12 and 14% grades were not uncommon, if your brakes are 300 degrees they make you park for an hour. Losing your brakes on one of the steep switchbacks was not what I would call a good time. We got to the bottom and started leg 10.

Leg 10-Colorado Springs CO to Rock Springs WY: An overnight stop after driving through Denver. There is some very nice scenery in CO.

Leg 11-Rock Springs WY to Grand Teton, Yellowstone and finally Butte MT: Doing 2 national parks this size in one day was not the best idea I have ever had, but I had no idea how big Yellowstone was until I actually got there. Grand Teton was just mountains and forest, and lots of Bison. Beautiful as it was, I am glad I didn’t have to go out of our way to get to it, it was on our route. Yellowstone was the best national park I have been to in a very long time by far. The bubbling cauldrons of hot mud and water, Old Faithful, the Sulphur Springs, we did all of it that we had time to do. We pulled into Yellowstone at 130pm, we didn’t leave until 8pm, and our campground in Butte, MT was roughly 3 hrs away still. Whose idea was this anyway? :P

Leg 12-Butte MT to Seattle WA: This leg simply consisted of coming home. Nothing to see here. :) So without further ado, the pictures! If anyone wants hi-res versions of these photos, let me know and I will get them to you.

Leg 1- Seattle WA to Salt Lake City UT:

100_3341.jpg

^Signing out on leave, my friend from work and I had a mini truck-meet.

100_3342.jpg

^All packed up and ready to go

100_3345.jpg

100_3346.jpg

^Sunrise in southern Idaho

100_3350.jpg

100_3351.jpg

^Marv likes to ride.

100_3353.jpg

^This one time at Ram Camp

100_3356.jpg

^Marv calls it a day in Salt Lake City, UT.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Leg 2- Salt Lake City UT to Flagstaff AZ:

100_3359.jpg

^Starting out the day good! (That says 23.4mpg average)

100_3364.jpg

100_3365.jpg

100_3366.jpg

100_3367.jpg

100_3368.jpg

100_3369.jpg

100_3371.jpg

100_3372.jpg

100_3373.jpg

To be continued…

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

100_3374.jpg

^That was all Bryce Canyon National Park in Southern UT.

100_3376.jpg

^Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument in southern UT. I only had one pic, my wife’s computer took a crap so we lost the others, thankfully it was just the grand staircase pix.

100_3377.jpg

100_3378.jpg

100_3379.jpg

100_3380.jpg

100_3381.jpg

100_3382.jpg

100_3383.jpg

100_3384.jpg

100_3385.jpg

^Grand Canyon North Rim. Spectacular Views!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

100_3387.jpg

100_3388.jpg

100_3389.jpg

100_3391.jpg

100_3393.jpg

100_3394.jpg

100_3395.jpg

^Scenery on US-89 south of Bryce canyon and east of the Grand Canyon.

Leg 3-Flagstaff AZ to Fort Worth TX:

100_3398.jpg

100_3403.jpg

100_3404.jpg

^Bug soup. LOL.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I couldn’t resist ordering some mods while in TX:

100_3579.jpg

6,000k HID Low’s from XenonDepot.

100_3582.jpg

5,000k HID highs from Xenon Depot. Going from HID in the old truck, to halogen was KILLING me.

To wrap up our time in DFW, We treated my folks to a Rangers Game the night before we left. Man this was expensive, but well worth it:

100_3458.jpg

100_3578.jpg

100_3466.jpg

100_3467.jpg

100_3468.jpg

100_3469.jpg

100_3475.jpg

100_3484.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

100_3494.jpg

100_3526.jpg

100_3532.jpg

100_3540.jpg

And that’s Fort Worth. The next day, Leg 4 began.

Leg 4- Fort Worth TX to Gatlinburg TN:

We took 2 pictures of Memphis TN, just because.

100_3583.jpg

100_3585.jpg

Leg 5-Gatlinburg TN to Deland FL:

100_3597.jpg

^Marv is tired…of riding

100_3601.jpg

100_3603.jpg

^Jacksonville FL

100_3607.jpg

While washing the truck in Deland, I had nowhere to set my beer to keep it cold so I used my cupholder and the A/C LOL.

Leg 6 was back to Gatlinburg TN. No pix from that trip (same going up as it was coming down).

100_3618.jpg

On my father-in-law’s land in Gatty TN^

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DSCF6268.jpg

DSCF6273.jpg

^Took a Tram Ride up the mountainside in Gatty.

DSCF6295.jpg

^The wife and I at the bear exhibit.

DSCF6311.jpg

DSCF6313.jpg

DSCF6328.jpg

DSCF6343.jpg

^They have kind of a mini-zoo there, Bald eagle exhibits, bears, owls, etc.

DSCF6365.jpg

DSCF6366.jpg

DSCF6367.jpg

DSCF6380.jpg

^View of the Smokies from a tourist attraction called Ober Gatlinburg. It’s like a mini amusement park.

DSCF6384.jpg

DSCF6385.jpg

^Meghan’s Cousin and I had a luge race down the mountain…He won. Physics favored him, if you know what I mean LOL.

DSCF6391.jpg

Meghan’s Grandfather on the left.^ Cancer Survivor 3x, WWII Vet, 82 years old, and he still rides amusement park rides, up to and including Roller Coasters.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DSCF6405.jpg

DSCF6408.jpg

Random Pix from Gatlinburg^

Leg 7-Gatlinburg TN to Clarksville TN:

DSCF6489.jpg

^Nashville TN

Leg 8-Clarksville TN to Goodland KS:

DSCF6506.jpg

^St. Louis, MO

DSCF6537.jpg

^Kansas City, MO

DSCF6580.jpg

DSCF6603.jpg

^Badass sunset in Kansas.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Leg 9- Goodland KS to Colorado Springs (Pikes Peak Hill Climb):

DSCF6639.jpg

DSCF6643.jpg

DSCF6651.jpg

^Elevation…at the park entrance… O_O

DSCF6646.jpg

^The main reservoir that feeds Colorado Springs (I forgot the name), and my nose. Pay no mind, sometimes my enormous schnoz gets in the way of things.

DSCF6656.jpg

DSCF6663.jpg

DSCF6665.jpg

DSCF6668.jpg

DSCF6669.jpg

DSCF6670.jpg

DSCF6671.jpg

DSCF6674.jpg

DSCF6675.jpg

DSCF6678.jpg

^Same reservoir…

DSCF6679.jpg

DSCF6682.jpg

DSCF6684.jpg

DSCF6692.jpg

DSCF6697.jpg

DSCF6709.jpg

^Yours truly…trying not to look down.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DSCF6712.jpg

^Random Lake, hard to tell which one from 10k feet above it. Elevation at this point was roughly 12,000 feet. The air was getting really thin…

DSCF6714.jpg

^Finally we summit.

DSCF6733.jpg

DSCF6731.jpg

100_3654.jpg

^The Ram doesn’t look any worse for the wear, but my nerves were shot.

DSCF6722.jpg

DSCF6723.jpg

DSCF6725.jpg

DSCF6726.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Once we made it to the bottom, it was time for the next leg…

Leg 10-Colorado Springs CO to Rock Springs WY

DSCF6784.jpg

DSCF6786.jpg

DSCF6787.jpg

DSCF6795.jpg

DSCF6796.jpg

DSCF6797.jpg

DSCF6798.jpg

DSCF6809.jpg

^Denver

DSCF6813.jpg

DSCF6815.jpg

DSCF6819.jpg

^Scenery North of Denver.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Leg 11-Rock Springs WY, Through Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks, to Butte MT:

DSCF6847.jpg

100_3682.jpg

^At the entrance to Grand Teton National Park

100_3689.jpg

100_3690.jpg

100_3700.jpg

^My first try at a panoramic. How did I do? :P

100_3701.jpg

^startin’ to show her dirty side.

DSCF6854.jpg

DSCF6856.jpg

DSCF6857.jpg

DSCF6858.jpg

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, great trip....You deserve it soldier....God Bless you and thank you for your service.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

DSCF7161.jpg

DSCF7163.jpg

DSCF7070.jpg

^On the way out, Mr. Ranger was using a chevy to herd Bison. He would give them a gentle nudge in the correct direction, off of the road.

DSCF7071.jpg

DSCF7072.jpg

^And they were none too thrilled about it.

At the end of the day, we ended up in Butte MT:

100_3771.jpg

The next morning, the final leg took us home.

100_3783.jpg

^Getting ready to cross the Columbia river a couple hours from Seattle. We made it.

Long trip, but it was worth every second and every penny it took to make it happen!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

my favorite Grand tetons and yellowstone...but my most favorite is Glacier in Montana. I loved your pikes peak pictures....

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
Sign in to follow this