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!
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!
[READ THE RETROSPECTIVES FOR BIG TRIP #1 HERE AND BIG TRIP #3 HERE!]
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.
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.
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.
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.
A non-comprehensive list:
- Tarantulas in Flagstaff, Salt Lake City, Big Bend
- Badger in northern Utah
- Elk in Grand Canyon
- Mule deer everywhere
- Big Horn sheep in Moab and Joshua Tree
- Jackrabbits in Joshua Tree and Saguaro NP
- Coyote in Big Bend
- Great Horned Owl in Big Bend
- Little brown dog everywhere we went
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.
10 Replies to “Big Trip #2: Retrospective”
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.
<3 <3 <3 thanks Uncle Jim!!! You are the best!
Also… I have a special tarantula post coming up that I can’t wait for you to see!