bugsy running on lone rock beach with the airstream and f-150 in the background

Big Trip #2: Retrospective

Big Trip #2 was in Fall of 2018; you should also read about Big Trip #1 in 2016, Big Trip #3 in 2020, and Big Trip #4 in 2022!

Welcome to Virginia

Our final stop on Big Trip #2 was Asheville for one night, but I already listed our activities there on the Big Trip #2 Catch-up post, so I’ll skip it here and get to the trip analysis!


Lessons learned

The lessons we learned during Big Trip #1 held true. All of them. We still brought too many clothes.

Total days on the road

65–34 days fewer than Big Trip #1.

Total states visited

15–NC, GA, TN, MO, NE, IA, KS, CO, WY, UT, NV, AZ, UT, TX, AR. See the map here; we circled roughly counter-clockwise after visiting family in GA. The Airstream has now been to 40 states, and Bugsy has been to 41!

Number of campgrounds / campsites

Not counting sleeping in the Airstream in front of friends’ houses in NC, GA, and CO, we camped in 25 campgrounds and 28 campsites (because we stayed in the Alpine campground twice, and had to move spots because we stayed an extra day in Tucson). That’s 14 fewer than Big Trip #1. Our favorite campsites were Grand Canyon North Rim, Dead Horse Point State Park, Joshua Tree, Organ Pipe, and of course Austin.

Number of National Parks visited

8–Great Basin, Grand Canyon, Zion, Capitol Reef, Joshua Tree, Saguaro, Big Bend, and Hot Springs.

Miles hiked

310.95 miles–more than Big Trip #1, which was 34 days longer!

The longest hike was 13.1 miles, in Great Basin National Park; Utah, with 145.35 miles total, was far ahead of second-place state Arizona, where we hiked 77.29 miles. Great Basin was the park where we hiked the most miles (27.4); close behind were Big Bend (25.8), Grand Canyon (25.1), and Joshua Tree (22.1).

Our favorite hikes included Butler Fork Loop and the alpine lakes near Park City, White Pocket and the slot canyons near Kanab, Cosmic Ashtray near Escalante (J disagrees), Fisher Towers near Moab, and our epic and harrowing long hike in Great Basin NP. Interesting… they’re mostly in Utah.

Breweries visited

Only 30! That is waaay fewer than Big Trip #1. This is partially because in beer cities like Nashville and Austin we now only hit our favorites, and if we visit a new-to-us brewery we really enjoy, we are now more likely to return to that one another day rather than try to hit as many distinct breweries as possible in a city. Tucson, where we made it to 8 breweries, was our biggest brewery town on this trip.

Fish tacos consumed by yours truly

Two per serving, for a total of 16, in Tucson (two places), Alpine, and Austin (three places), and twice we made homemade fish tacos and ate around the campfire in Joshua Tree and Big Bend. YUM!

Favorite place for being outdoors

UTAH. We knew we love southern Utah, with the Route 12 corridor and GSENM, and it turns out we also love the very different northern part of the state. Arizona is a close second, where we especially enjoy the hiking near Flagstaff and in Organ Pipe.

Favorite city

Tucson, AZ, where we’d visited many times years ago when we had family there, blew us away with how it has grown up since we’d last been. The food and beer scenes are top-notch, and while it’s bigger and flashier than it used to be, it still feels manageable and friendly.

And of course we still love Austin and Asheville.

Biggest pleasant surprise

Northern Utah! Great Basin! Joshua Tree! Organ Pipe! Grand Canyon North Rim! The hiking and scenery in all those places was absolutely phenomenal.

Favorite breweries, in no particular order

Burial in Asheville, Bearded Iris in Nashville, Lazarus and ABGB in Austin, Mother Road and Rickety Cricket in Flagstaff, Pueblo Vida in Tucson.

Animals spotted

A non-comprehensive list:

License plate game results

During all that time on the road, we were able to find every state license plate but ONE: Rhode Island, and we didn’t see a West Virginia until our last day of driving in Virginia. Draw your own conclusions.


25 responses to “Big Trip #2: Retrospective”

  1. Uncle Jim Avatar
    Uncle Jim

    Naturally I’m appreciative of the fact that you guys realize Tucson is the best little city in the USA.. I’ve known that for about 40 years now although unfortunately many other folks have discovered that also.. And I always thought I could keep that secret to myself..
    Great travel retrospective here.. Well done.

    1. bugsy Avatar

      <3 <3 <3 thanks Uncle Jim!!! You are the best!

      1. bugsy Avatar

        Also… I have a special tarantula post coming up that I can’t wait for you to see!

  2. […] the farther-afield Needles section of the park, which we planned to do when visiting Monticello on Big Trip #2, but didn’t realize it’s still a long drive from there. Someday we’ll figure it […]

  3. […] still really want to go to Austin. Our next big trip will be back out West, but north of where we left off before: Northern Utah, Idaho, Montana… […]

  4. […] And… it was amazing! Click here to read the recap! […]

  5. […] did a quickie visit to Zion on our first Big Trip in 2016. On our second Big Trip, we had more time to explore and really get to know Zion. It’s a magical place, and because […]

  6. […] took me 7 months to finish writing about Big Trip #2; hopefully I’ll be quicker to write about our next, much shorter trip. In May, we took the […]

  7. […] Five days in Asheville, as prep for our late-2018 Big Trip #2 […]

  8. […] near the campground, you can easily restock supplies and run errands. We visited two years ago on Big Trip #2 and were happy to […]

  9. […] visited Flagstaff in late November 2018, as part of Big Trip #2. Read about our first visit in 2016 here and our third in 2023 […]

  10. […] We were in Nashville in October 2018, as part of Big Trip #2. […]

  11. […] were in Dead Horse Point SP in November 2018 as part of Big Trip #2. Read about our previous visit in 2018 here during Big Trip […]

  12. […] visited Moab in November 2018 as part of Big Trip #2. Read about our previous visits during Big Trip #1 in 2016 here and […]

  13. […] visited Hot Springs in December 2018 as part of Big Trip #2. Read about our first trip in 2016 […]

  14. […] We visited Dead Horse Point SP in April 2016 during Big Trip #1. Read about our second visit in November 2018 here, as part of Big Trip #2. […]

  15. […] were in Denver in October 2018 as part of Big Trip #2. Read about our first visit 2016 here during Big Trip #1. Read about our third visit in 2020 here […]

  16. […] were on Big Trip #2 in fall of […]

  17. […] We visited Joshua Tree in November 2018, during Big Trip #2. […]

  18. […] We visited Organ Pipe in November 2018, during Big Trip #2. […]

  19. […] We visited Saguaro National Park in November 2018 while staying in Tucson during Big Trip #2. […]

  20. […] were in Tucson at the very end of November 2018, as part of Big Trip #2. Read about our second visit in 2021 here, our third in 2022 here, and our fourth (and fifth?) in […]

  21. […] were in Austin in December 2018 during Big Trip #2. Read about our previous visit in 2017, and our subsequent visits here: #3 in 2019, #4 in 2021, […]

  22. […] were in Atlanta in October 2018 as part of Big Trip #2. Read about our other Atlanta Airstream visits here: visit #1 | visit #2 | visits #4 & #5 | […]

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *