By: Marissa Steele
I grew up loving the outdoors, camping with my family, spending weekends at the lake, or even just playing outside with my friends. My family took a lot of weekend camping trips around Minnesota with just my mom, dad, older sister, younger brother and I. This camping trip was going to be extreme, we were going to pull our pop up camper down to the Grand Canyon and back in three weeks. We got our truck and camper all packed up for the trip, and the journey began.
This expedition was going to be a lot of down time in the car so to try to keep us kids occupied, my mom made all three of us travel journals. These journals had entries for each day that would let us write about what we did that day, we would keep track of how much money we spent on gas, food or souvenirs and there was a section for license plates. We had to try to find all 50 states on different cars in campgrounds or on the road. We all still have our journals and they are nice to look back on because they are very detailed. We documented every little thing that we saw or did during the days, some things I don’t even remember until I read my journal again.
We were going to drive 8 or 9 hours a day and would only stop for food or gas when we needed to. We found campgrounds along the way to stay in for two to three nights so we weren’t constantly packing and unpacking. Once we got to Colorado, we started to see some mountains and canyons. This was a nice change of scenery as the past couple states we had driven through were flat with nothing but fields. The campground we stayed in for the weekend was amazing! We could see the mountains from our campsite and during the daytime we would see big moose walking through the campground. We spent most of our time there in the campground as they had a pool and mini golf course, but one day we got out to explore the town. We took a train ride in Durango, the train went right up on the mountain side to Silverton. In Silverton, we walked around the unique small town for a bit and then got back on the train to go back down the mountain.
One of the next stops that was very memorable was Mesa Verde National Park in Colorado. This park is known for its well preserved Ancestral Puebloan cliff dwellings and the huge Cliff Palace. Going to this park was an experience I will never forget. The tour we took had us walking across about one foot wide rock with the edge of the cliff on one side and a 50 foot drop into a hole on the other side with just a little linked chain to hold onto to help yourself across. I was only 8 years old at the time and my younger brother who was 4 had to walk the same path. My moms hand print was indented into his arm by the time we left there but it is still an adventure that we talk about up to this day!
Once we got to our campsite at the Grand Canyon we stayed for 3 days. The views were amazing! We would spend the days walking around the canyon and it definitely is one of the seven wonders of the world. I remember my mom being so nervous having us young kids walking so close to the edge. The campground that we stayed in was full of RV’s, we were the only pop up camper in the park and we thought that was pretty funny. We would spend our evenings walking around the campground looking at all the fancy campers and also for license plates to cross off in our journal. I was shocked at all the different plates we saw from all over the US, we even found Hawaii and Alaska!
We were now headed back home and our first stop was Bryce Canyon National Park, there were hoodoo rocks for as far as the eye could see. This park is known for those bright colored hoodoo rocks, which are spire-shaped rock formations. The sunsets that we saw there were extraordinary.
The trip home from a vacation usually is never as fun as on the way but in this case the whole trip was a vacation. We stopped at many different national parks on the way back. We saw the Grand Tetons at Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming, hot springs and geysers at Yellowstone National Park, and Mount Rushmore in South Dakota. The list of parks and sights goes on and on.
Photos above courtesy of Stacy Steele
This camping trip is one that I will never forget, it will always be a special memory to my family and I. We made some amazing memories together and got to experience a lot of sights that most people don’t get to see in their lifetime. I learned many new things and saw exquisite sights, it really opened my eyes to how much there is to see in the world and makes me eager to go out and see more.