Thursday, June 07, 2012

Lessons From Our First Road Trip to The Fantastic Roadtrip-a-Matic

This is a Sponsored post written by me on behalf of PA Tourism for SocialSpark. All opinions are 100% mine.
We love road trips, despite our very first one was unplanned and I must say had lots of travel mistakes we could have avoided had we planned it well. Back then, I did not have much experience on travel planning. Despite the trip could have been better, nevertheless, it gave us realization to pursue this kind of road cruising, trail hiking, all to be one with the beauty of nature.  Our very first long road trip and maybe the longest was from Chicago to San Diego. We flew from Los Angeles to Chicago, spent 2 days and 3 nights there. The first day of our road trip was when we left Chicago driving southwest to San Diego.
Chicago, IL, Summer 2007

We took the shortest distance West, passing through Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah and Nevada. The first part of the trip was all flat lands and cornfields. We spent our first night on the road at Lincoln, Nebraska. The next day we proceeded with our journey to Colorado. Once we started hitting the west zone at Colorado, the scenery became majestic and colorful, layers of mountains and hills, sunflower laced valleys, with passing clouds over them.
Colorado, Summer 2007
We spent our second night on the road at Grand Junction, Colorado. The next day, before leaving Colorado, fate brought us to a place we did not expect. The highway that would lead us to L.A. was closed and we took a detour that made us passed a beautiful scenery. We decided to stop and explore that place that the detour brought us. We learned the place was Colorado National Monument.
Colorado National Monument, CO, summer 2007
After Colorado National Monument, we continued our road trip to Arches National Park. First lesson, check the weather when you go on a trip! It was summer of 2007, in the middle of August, and the temperature in Arches was97F! Though it was considered not hot compared to the average temperature for that time of the year in the area, but then, we were not used to exploring in exposed heat for a long time we ended up shooting mostly from the inside of the car.
Arches National Park, UT, Summer 2007
We did not do any hiking in Arches (what a shame) since my greatest enemy in hiking is the heat, I easily get exhausted. Thus, we just hiked to get closer to the smaller arches, one mile or less each time, which if combined would also be several miles. I was amazed at the many tourists in the park who really were hiking in the heat!
Arches National Park, UT, Summer 2007
After Arches National Park, we saw a sign to Canyonlands National Park, which back then, I did not even know existed! Duh! Again, our first road trip gave us a lot of lessons, such as google mapping the various natural wonders or places of interest. Because of our reservations at Bryce Canyon, we skipped the Canyonlands despite we were almost there to proceed to Bryce Canyon National Park.
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT, Summer 2007
We spent our third and 4th night on the road at Bryce Canyon National Park. To be in Bryce Canyon National Park was a dream come true for me. I had been dreaming about this wonderland since our Grand Canyon hike when I saw a book on Bryce Canyon Hoodoos at the Grand Canyon Visitor Center.

If it was too hot at Arches National Park, we were met with chilly air and cold rain at Bryce Canyon National Park. The rain did not stop us from exploring however, even though at that time, we were not outdoors smart yet. We were hiking in the rain with cotton hoodie! A no no in hiking, since cotton hoodie absorbs all water, gets very heavy, and takes time to dry. We also lost our hiking GPS to the rain because we did not have any waterproof bag to contain it. It got totally wet, and the next day, we could no longer power it on. But we did learn from experience. Again, our trip brought us lessons, on how to be better prepared when exploring outdoors with different weather conditions.
Bryce Canyon National Park, UT, Summer 2007
The beauty from the top of Bryce Canyon is marvelous, yet, the feeling of enchantment enveloped me more down the canyon, being closer to the hoodoos. The joy of hiking, when you can be really up close to the magic rather than watching them simply from afar.
Zion National Park, UT, Summer 2007
After Bryce Canyon we continued driving southwest, stopping at Zion National Park. At Zion, we hiked to the Emerald Pools and then to Zion Narrows.
Trail To Emerald Pools, Zion National Park, Summer 2007
Hiking the "Narrows" was really fun, we had about less than a mile of hike first on a paved hike trail called the Riverwalk, then, the fun started when we got into the river and hiked the "Narrows" from bottom up. It was a joy to see little kids enjoying as well, enjoying the beauty and forces of nature early on.
Zion Narrows, Zion National Park, Summer 2007
The next day, we left Zion National Park to continue driving West. We stopped at the Valley of Fire State Park, in Nevada. Again, it was very hot, in fact, hotter than Arches National Park that it felt like we were in the oven. We did not explore the place except for a few pictures at the Three Sisters.

From the Valley of Fire State Park, we continued our exploring at Hoover Dam, then, stopped for a night at Las Vegas to watch Circue Du Solei's KA.

When we left Las Vegas early morning the next day for L.A., we were laughing since the city which was so crowded with millions of people in the night was so quiet and almost dead in the morning! So different from the National Parks we went to.

So, what were some of our realizations in our very first long road trip?
1. Never leave for the trip with little planning! Use google map to plan out strategic driving route that will cover places of interest. You do not want to miss the natural wonders in the places you are exploring. You also do not want to waste gas driving back and forth when you can just cover the places in the shortest distance possible.
2. Use the internet to search for other places that is interesting, and also for more information about hiking trails. Each trail is different and requires a little bit planning to make the hike more enjoyable and comfortable.
3. Always search for weather conditions and prepare for the weather conditions so the trip would be comfortable, enjoyable and fun! Had we researched on the weather before our trip, and planned well for our hike, we would have not lost our hiking GPS, nor we would be walking in heavy hoodies fully drenched by cold rain.

Planning for a road trip is not that easy, a lot of people would always ask me why we were able to photograph so many places, was able to hike a lot more, yet we spent fewer days than they. Everything must be strategically placed, such as the places of interest, the trails to explore, the activities to do, food and lodging. All these should mesh perfectly allowing for a more fun exploration.

There are times however I get lazy planning our own itinerary, especially when there are ready itinerary for roadtrips that perfectly suit our interest. One example I can give is theFantastic Roadtrip-a-Matic on This summer, we would almost be done with exploring the National Parks in the West, that we are so ready to explore the East. Because of gorgeous fall colors, we are hoping to hit the East for a virginia-maryland- pensylvannia road trip. I am glad to find out I can skip the planning in PA part because PA roadtrip- a- matic has dozens of ready to ride road trips for visitors to Pensylvannia looking for outdoor experiences, small town charm, historic landmarks, and so much more. For me and my hubby, we would most likely go for trail-mix, because we both love nature and hiking! Their trail-mix itinerary has lots of trails steeped in history, not to mention lush scenery and can't miss outdoors detours. Am sure we would go back home filled with outdoor memories. Visit the pa-roadtrips site to see their various road trip-a-matic choices, then, please let me know which among their itineraries best suits your interest.
Facebook Twitter StumbleUpon Digg Delicious Reddit Technorati Mixx Linkedin


  1. We will never get bored with mother nature.

    On the other way, you get another gain as your writing productivity have been impoved, a lot.

  2. wow .. all the pictures were so beautiful..
    I been to Chicago b4 ..

  3. I have always wanted to drive across the country but have never had the opportunity. It takes a lot of time and I have never had that kind of time. it sounds like an amazing trip.

  4. Wow..this is the kind of road trip that I like. When my dad was alive, he used to take us on road trip to New Orleans, Ohio, and wherever we have a sibling lives in.

    Gorgeous photos, Betchai! Take me with you next time:-)

  5. yes, take us with you next time Beth. i am a lazy trip planner, might as well tag along as you always seem to be well-organized in your roadtrips and hiking adventures. :)

  6. I'd love to one day take such a beautiful trip.

  7. If we are going on a trip, I plan to a T. I am a planner after all. My husband hates planning, and is a fly by the seat of his pants kind of guy. It drives me nuts, but I have learned to go with the flow. Well most of the time, lol! You had a great learning experience on this trip and of course as always your images are superb.