As you may recall in this previous blog post, my boyfriend (spoiler alert: now fiancé) and I set out for a seven-day road trip this June. We were originally going to venture into eastern Utah, but once the forecast started at 102 and continued to climb to 111 degrees, we opted out and headed up into the mountains instead.
I learned a lot about myself in seven (well, actually we only made it six) days in the car with a heavy dose of camping. Mostly, that I cannot hang and am incapable of camping two nights in a row, even with an air mattress and bathrooms with running water. Here’s what else I learned:
- Desert does not equal bug-free. Learned this the hard way at Colorado National Monument, basically bathed in DEET to stay sane.
- Billy is VERY good at surprises. He proposed (!!) in Telluride.
- Even if the plastic bottle of champagne you find to celebrate getting engaged has a cork, it will not make a satisfying pop or get bubbly. The top just twists off and it’s very anti-climactic.
- Camping is hard. Almost every night we camped, I woke up cold but also very damp. And by “wake up,” I mean “I woke up every few hours all night every night we camped.” We bailed (twice) on a second night of camping.
- But on the bright side, the Dolores Mountain Inn is AMAZING.
- Mesa Verde National Park was kiiiiinda overrated. I think I over-estimated how interested in cliff dwellings I am. Also, I got so antsy on the hour drive into the park that I almost got a speeding ticket. For shame!
- This bomb-ass cooler is a lifesaver. I rarely say this, but buy it now and don’t ever look back. Here’s why.
- There isn’t much in the way of lunch in Palisade, so take your bomb-ass cooler to this park and grill up some dogs. Party for two in the giant “large group” pavilion!
- Basically don’t go anywhere in Utah or Grand Junction in the summer unless you’re really into getting heatstroke. Seriously, save that for fall and spring when the temperature stays decent.
- But if you do catch yourself in Grand Junction in the heat of summer, stay with these people on AirBnb. Basically a real life Coach and Tammy Taylor with a pool and amazing air-conditioned room to stay in. #cleareyesfullhearts
- Wearing no make-up for a week is amaaaaaziiiiinngggg.
- When you see a small waterfall on the side of the Million Dollar Highway, stop because there’s another ENORMOUS AMAZING waterfall that you can’t see from the road.
- Don’t believe the hype/ridiculous Google results about the Million Dollar Highway. You can totally handle it.
- It is possible to get sick of smores. As YOLO-ey as you may get with your vacation diet, you will start to miss fruit and vegetables, and at one point you will not even want to look at junk food.
- Telluride is so beautiful it looks fake.
- Body wipes and dry shampoo are surprisingly effective at making you feel human again.
- If you buy a poster at Black Canyon touting the stargazing, you have most certainly jinxed yourself into camping on a completely cloud-covered night and will see maybe two stars.
- Don’t accidentally show up in Telluride during the Bluegrass Festival, unless you’re into a lot of unsolicited white guys playing guitar while you try to eat lunch and tune out their drunken, off-key singing.
- Camping is a lot less fun when you get caught in the rain without the cover on your tent…multiple times. On a related note, packing and unpacking the car gets very old.
- You can spend a week in the wilds of Colorado, and the only wildlife you will see will be off the highway when you’re driving at night and hoping not to see them so you don’t get in an accident.
- You will basically become a pro at taking panoramas on your phone.
- And finally…you will see an incredible amount of scenery, stop in dozens of towns, and still end the trip with only MORE ideas for more vacation (Ouray, we’re coming for you).
Wondering what to pack on your next road trip? Print out my beginner-friendly list here.