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Old 07-02-2015, 11:28 AM   #31
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Re: Westward ho! Pennsylvania to California and back June-Ju

@rockbender, yes, we're happy our son loves to travel and see new things! That's one of the main reasons we did this trip this year, as he's the perfect age for it. When we are done the trip, he will have been in 41-42 of the U.S. states!

@DaveB, yes, the Maroon Bells shot is a classic Colorado view. Despite being popular, it's well worth seeing. Especially if you can do some hiking in the wilderness area.
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Old 07-02-2015, 11:31 AM   #32
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Re: Westward ho! Pennsylvania to California and back June-Ju

Love the idea of your son's Junior Ranger hat. We have a fabric wall hanging which I think we picked up at Bryce Canyon, for my son's Junior Ranger badges.


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Old 07-02-2015, 02:02 PM   #33
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Re: Westward ho! Pennsylvania to California and back June-Ju

Enjoying your trip report!

Thank you for sharing all of the photos.

Our daughter loves to travel, too! And, collect Junior Ranger badges from the National Parks.
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Old 07-02-2015, 05:50 PM   #34
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Re: Westward ho! Pennsylvania to California and back June-Ju

The Junior Ranger program is one of the best ideas the Park Service has had. Really gets kids engaged and outside. Love it.
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Old 07-02-2015, 06:12 PM   #35
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Re: Westward ho! Pennsylvania to California and back June-Ju

Saturday, June 27

Got up nice and early at the KOA, mainly due to our site being 50' from the main road. We were going to partake of the all you can eat pancake breakfast there ($6/person), but it didn't start until 7:30 and we were ready to roll at 6:45 am. So we decided to grab a quick breakfast at the McD's down the road. This turned out to be a mistake as it was possibly the slowest McD's we've ever been in. Oh well.

The reason we wanted to get going early was to grab a parking spot up at the Bear Lake parking area, one of the most popular in the park. Even though we got there around 8:15 all the spots were full. Drat.

We could have taken a shuttle from down-mountain, but instead decided to do a hike to cub lake, which leaves from a side road. We nabbed one of the last spaces and headed out on the trail.

The Cub Lake trail was really enjoyable. It's about five miles r/t, and starts out at about 8,000 feet and climbs to 8,620 feet, so elevation gain isn't too bad. The first part is through a pretty valley and is fairly exposed to the sun, but after a while it starts ascending through pine forest, eventually coming out at the lake. We ate a quick snack and then headed back down, seeing a moose by a pond on the way. For details see http://www.rockymountainhikingtrails.com/cub-lake.htm

This was our last foray in the park, and so we headed down the mountain along the Big Thompson River toward Loveland. We marveled at the destruction that was still evident from the floods in 2013, and I recalled some of the videos that Colorado Campervan posted. Wow.


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Old 07-02-2015, 06:20 PM   #36
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Westward ho! Pennsylvania to California and back June-July

Saturday, June 27, cont.

After leaving RMNP the idea was to drive north a while with the ultimate destination being Yellowstone, where we had reservations on Monday and Tuesday nights. But first we wanted to stop at the main Sierra Trading Post store in Cheyenne, Wyoming (just off I-80). We spent an hour or so and some money there.

Sitting in the parking lot looking at our atlas, we had a change of minds regarding our plans and decided to drive to California instead. We had originally been planning to drive all the way to the coast, as we have friends and family in California, but decided not to just before we left home. But in a spur of the moment change of plans, we cancelled our Yelllowstone reservations and headed west on I-80, stopping around midnight in Evanston, Wyoming, near the Utah border. A long day!
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Old 07-02-2015, 06:39 PM   #37
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Westward ho! Pennsylvania to California and back June-July

Sunday, June 28

This was mainly a long-haul driving day. We ended up driving 970 miles and about 18 hours from the Wyo/Utah border to Clovis, California (next to Fresno). I was dreading driving I-80 across Utah and Nevada, but actually found it interesting and scenic. I wouldn't want to drive across it at night, though, as I saw fresh roadkill critters every 10 miles or so.

A scary rest area on I-80



I-80 looking west in Nevada



We made two stops en route. First, we stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats to check them out. Very cool. We followed directions to the "Bonneville International Speedway," and were a bit let down that it's basically a sign stuck in the flats. We felt bad for some Europeans in a rental car that had decided to drive out on the flats and got stuck bad, but we didn't have any recovery gear to help them out.



Just west of Elko, Nevada, we stopped at the new California Trail Museum run by the BLM. If you are driving by this is a must-see museum. It's free and is really well done and impressive. It looks brand new. Definitely plan on stopping!


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We got over Donner Pass during the daylight, which was nice as the drive was beautiful through the Sierras. We grabbed a quick dinner in Sacramento and then enjoyed several hours of driving California Hwy 99 in the dark through multiple construction zones before rolling into Clovis around midnight.


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Old 07-02-2015, 06:46 PM   #38
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Re: Westward ho! Pennsylvania to California and back June-Ju

Monday, June 29

Monday was a chill day with our friends in Clovis. We slept in, went out to lunch, and visited SMB West in Fresno to ogle new vans in their showroom. We also gave our van a mini spa day, getting its oil changed and tires rotated. I also scrubbed off 3,500 miles worth of bugs and dirt at a self-serve car wash. Since we were headed to Carmel the next day I wanted the van to look a little presentable!

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Clean van!!

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Old 07-02-2015, 06:51 PM   #39
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Westward ho! Pennsylvania to California and back June-July

Tuesday, June 30

Another transit day, about three hours from Clovis to Carmel. Uneventful, but we did do our first In-N-Out meal of the trip for lunch.


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Dinner was at Clint Eastwood's Mission Ranch in Carmel, just down the street from where my sister lives (she's just off Hwy 1). A good first night on the coast.

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Old 07-02-2015, 07:31 PM   #40
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Re: Westward ho! Pennsylvania to California and back June-Ju

Thanks for the ongoing trip report - I'm really enjoying it. Fun to see another "striper" SMB on the road
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