Halfway across the country and back in 35 days- Part 1
By: Michael Grice
First three things you think of when you hear the words road and trip? Freedom, best friends, or maybe a mini vacation? Well you’re wrong! I’m not talking about a long holiday weekend or a weekend warrior trip; I’m talking about a month long, breathtaking, home is where you park it kind of road trip. First three things that personally come to mind are two songs and a book. The greatest book about freedom, “On the road” by Jack Kerouac, “Running on empty” by Jackson Browne and “Take it easy” by The Eagles.
June 2017, I quit my full-time job/career of thirteen years to go back to school and begin a new career path. Venturing on my new path in life, I decided to buy a cap for my truck and built it out for sleeping. I started researching places to visit with my portable home, which lead to a short conversation with a friend about the adventure that could await us. A couple weeks of last minute planning took the idea of a road trip to a fully loaded truck, two stand up paddleboard, a cooler full of beer, snacks and grilled cheese necessities.
I left New Jersey on Sunday July 23rd, picked up Natalie at her family’s house in New Hampshire and set out route for Niagara Falls. After a quick picture of the falls we drove for what felt like hours to Michigan for night number one of camping in the truck. Michigan was okay; it did include a few hours on the paddleboard. Our time in Michigan was short, to skip through the BS we drove from NH through VT, NY, Canada, MI, WI, MN, to SD. The true adventure began in South Dakota with a Couple of hours in the Badlands National Park with some breathtaking views and incredible photo opportunities. This was followed by a quick stop at Mount Rushmore for yet some more amazing photo ops before hunting down a place to park and set up camp in the Thunder Basin National Grasslands for night number two. We parked, set up camp and made a fire just in time for an incredible sunset that included an even better sunrise the following day.
We packed up the next morning and drove through some of the most incredible National Forests Wyoming has to offer! Bighorn, Ten Sleep, and Shoshone National Forests had some of the most picturesque views I had ever seen. The next three days expressed everything this road trip was about and why it was worth every minute on the road. Yellowstone, one of the most over-rated and overly crowded National Park I had ever been to. The springs were gorgeous on the other hand and made the crowds well worth it. We ended our day outside the National Park in Shoshone National Forest for camp. This location was surreal with no cell service for three days making it one of the best parts of the trip. Completely free of distractions and zero reasons to worry about anything, except if a grizzly was nearby.
Yellowstone was an amazing experience but came nowhere close to the views, camping and the overall experience of Grand Teton National Park! The jagged outline of the Tetons across the horizon was and is probably the greatest single view I have ever witnessed in person. We spent day one paddle boarding Jackson Lake with the Tetons looming high above us reflecting off the early morning glassy water. We finished up our day wandering around the town of Jackson for dinner and driving up to the summit to catch a glimpse of the sunset before trekking back into the unknown in search of a campsite. We came across an area by map in Bridger-Teton National Forest and set up camp for both nights in an area off a winding dirt road along a semi dried up riverbed, nowhere near civilization with nothing but endless stars, great company and a campfire that would make any weekend camper envious.
Day two in Grand Teton National Park and the final day of this road trip resulted in wandering around Teton Village and Jackson Hole. This was followed by a long drive to Boulder Colorado to part ways as I continued my road trip adventure and my friend went back to reality. This unforgettable trip of seven days may have been coming to an end, but the journey and the drive to travel had only just begun for me. Stay tuned for part two to find out where the next twenty-eight days takes me on the best road trip of my life!
“All he needed was a wheel in his hand and four on the road.”
‘On the Road’ by Jack Kerouac
You can follow Mike’s adventures on Instagram
You can also follow Mike’s friend Natalie on Instagram too!