Traveling During A Pandemic: 8 Things to Consider.

We drive from Oregon to Ontario and back each summer. Typically, we spent several weeks on the road and explore everywhere from British Columbia to Colorado. This year is different. We are in Colorado, halfway to Michigan. Here are some reflections from the first half of our trip: 8 things to consider when traveling during a pandemic.

1. Camping is more complicated than usual when traveling during a pandemic.

The first night on the road: Campground #1 was closed. The local Walmart did not allow overnight parking. Campground #2 was full but we drove in anyway and the camp host pointed us towards a spot that was open due to a cancellation. We felt so lucky! In the morning was drove to the day use area and it was pretty much full. We were able to snag a spot to the side and hike in an area away from the river.

Tumalo State Park, Bend, Oregon

The second night we were in Utah. I cannot speak to the situation at Utah State Parks because we arrived in Ogden around 10:30 and Utah State Park campgrounds close and lock gates at 10 pm.

We broke one of our own unwritten rules and ended up at a KOA. Again, we were lucky! It was barely occupied, clean, spacious, and had affordable tent sites for our van. It was pouring rain and we were lucky to be self sufficient.

The third night we opted to stop driving at around dinner time. We were at Dinosaur National Monument and stayed at the campground. It was easy and great. The hosts came over to welcome us, which would have been great if they had been wearing masks. Overall, it was still a hit!

Dinosaur National Monument

2. Be prepared to be amazed and scared.

We left a highly mask and social distancing compliant town in Oregon in order to travel and see our families. It turns out that the rest of the world is going on with their lives and not necessarily very compliant.

I was almost immediately shocked by the lack of masks compliance. We haven’t been in any stores or even gas stations but I have been watching people go in and out of places as we drive through. We spotted 1 mask the entire time we were in Utah. Eastern Oregon was the same. Steamboat Springs and Summit County Colorado were a bit better but, overall, I was horrified and a bit scared.

3. Bring more food and drinks than usual.

I packed food and drinks for weeks. This includes snack size bags of chips, M & Ms, Diet Coke, Gatorade, and all the provisions that you would usually run into a gas station to pick up. We have not been in a gas station or store and do not intend to change that.

4. Consider a camping conversion that includes a toilet.

Again, we have not been into gas stations, campground bathrooms, stores or restaurants. This is probably self explanatory.

5. You may feel guilty at times.

I find myself feeling like I need to justify why we are traveling.

During a remote work meeting while on the road, I felt the need to explain why we chose to travel and every precaution we are taking. I did not do that but I still want to call the people in that meeting and tell them all about it.

It is easy to find myself reviewing these points in my own mind in order to justify this trip.

6. You may find yourself judging others while traveling during a pandemic.

I find myself judging other people behaviors which is kind of funny because they could be judging me as I drive by with my out of state plates.

A playground full of mask-less adults and kids without social distancing while driving through Salt Lake City had me judging them for sure. I am aware that this is neither appropriate nor helpful.

7. Empty parking lots are more appealing than ever before.

CD and the kids spent two hours in a National Forest Service Parking lot in Utah. I was on a phone call and they set up hammocks and cooked lunch. They were happy.

Traveling during a pandemic

I cooked lunch on a our camping table in the parking lot of an abandoned department store in Idaho. We ran laps to the lamp post and back. It wasn’t our usual picturesque lunch at a park or splash pad but it was okay.

8. You will wonder if traveling during a pandemic was the right choice.

This is impossible to know. We will just do our best to keep clear minds and hearts.

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https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/06/20/dinosaur-national-monument-5-things-to-know/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/06/14/packing-for-a-pandemic-road-trip/
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Grant Kohrs Ranch: Don’t Miss This Stop!

It can be hard to find quick and fun places to stop when traveling on an interstate. One day when the kids were restless, hungry, and road-weary, we happened to find Grant Kohrs Ranch National Historic Site. It was the best part of our day and a great memory from our trip.

Here are some reasons to stop at Grant-Kohrs Ranch.

1. It is close to I-90.

The ranch is easily accessible from the interstate and is 3.5 hours from Glacier National Park to the west and Yellowstone National Park to the east.

There is a large parking lot, restrooms, and water. We enjoyed a picnic lunch next to our van after our ranch tour. We felt rested and ready to hit the road again by the time we were done. It was great!

2. The kids can try using a lasso while the parents try cowboy coffee.

Wood crates, designed for lasso practice, are spread out in an open space between barns.

A cowboy makes coffee at a chuck wagon. Sip your drink while hearing stories of real life on the trail! Check out the chuck wagon to find out what people were eating and drinking. Imagine cooking with the tools they had and eating out on the prairie.

3. Get your National Park stamps and Junior Ranger badges at Grant Kohrs Ranch.

4. Take a self-guided tour of historic buildings.

Tour a barn that has been in use since 1870 and a stable that was built in 1883. Grant Kohl’s is a working ranch so you never know what you will see!

Signs offer info about each item on the ranch. Tools, old wagons, horse shoes, saws, clothes, chairs, beds.

5. Take a guided tour of the ranch house.

Check out the Ranger tours to get a more in depth look inside some of the historic houses.

6. See a blacksmith at work.

Watch a blacksmith using old style techniques. We spent most of our time here and it was fun to watch real hooks and tools being made.

See real tools being made over a coal fire! It was tons of fun and we learned a lot!

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https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/06/20/dinosaur-national-monument-5-things-to-know/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/06/11/glacier-national-park-an-afternoon-at-two-medicine/

Grand Canyon: Camping At Hermit Rapids.

Have you ever wanted to camp in the Grand Canyon? If so, consider Hermit Rapids.

Here are five things to know about hiking Hermit Trail and camping at Hermit Creek.

1. You will need a permit.

This can be obtained at the back country ranger station. You must camp in designated sites. Hermit creek campsites are first and Hermit Rapids are second, 1.5 miles further down the trail.

The trail head can be accessed with your camping permit and is 8 miles west.

2. The trail is maintained but not always obvious.

Yes, we found ourselves off the trail a few times but never enough to get particularly scared or worried. I considered it to be a trade off for getting away from the crowds.

3. The hike is not easy.

In the nearly 10 miles from the trail head to the Colorado river, this trail drops from approximately 6600 feet elevation to 2300 feet. The first 2.5 miles alone drops nearly 2000 feet.

I loved this about this hike.

4. There is water!

Bring your filters and purification systems and get some water. Santa Maria Spring is 2.5 miles from the trail head and is a great place to catch some shade and some cool water!

Hermit Creek is the next water source. It flows from its location at the campsite into the Colorado River.

Not only did I appreciate the drinking water but putting my feet in Hermit Creek was like a slice of paradise!

Grand canyon.
A great place to take a break!

5. It is worth the hike in to the Grand Canyon.

The rapids are impressive and the night sky is dark. Expect to see a handful of others on the trail and at camp. For me, there were just enough people to help me feel like I was in the right place but not so many that I was aware of their presence in the canyon.

We hiked in May and the sun was hot. There is a period of shade if you hit the timing right on the hike but this is easy to forget once the hot sun hits you again.

We walked out of the canyon and straight to our car without being greeted by tour groups and day hikers. The trade off was that there wasn’t anyone there to cheer for us or congratulate us on our successful hike back from the canyon floor but still, it was worth it!

Tarptent
A period of shade on the way down and way up.

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https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/05/11/6-reasons-to-consider-a-floor-less-tarptent/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/05/10/10-clues-that-your-husband-was-a-thru-hiker/
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5 Tips for Starting Your Sprinter Camper Make-Over.

We have been home since mid-March. Our pandemic projects include sour dough bread making, teaching home school, and continuing work on our Sprinter camper. CD’s progress with the Sprinter has been the most successful of the three.

Roof rails are installed, LED lights are wired to a dimmer switch, cedar tongue and groove is in place, and two new cabinets are ready to be filled.

Writing guides for each of this projects will take a me a bit of time but while I work on that, CD offered his top 5 tips for our diving into a Sprinter camper project.

Sneak peek! I can’t wait to share more.

1. Accept gaps in wood spacing or make custom pieces.

CD chose to custom cut each piece of wood. Time was not of the essence.

2. Realize that your Sprinter is not square.

No matter how square things start out, your van is not square.

3. Create things with wiggle room.

Plan on fine adjustments and be flexible.

4. Consider both your ideal end product and your acceptable end product.

Decide which of these you are working towards.

5. Be honest about your timelines.

Realize that your acceptable product will likely take as long you thought your ideal product would. Set out to make your ideal product and you may end up with your good enough one. If you are set on your ideal product, plan to increase your time spent ten fold and have plenty of extra wood on hand.

Have Fun With Your Sprinter Camper!

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https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/05/23/sprinter-roof-rails-self-installation-12-easy-steps/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2019/12/11/sprinter-shopping-list-stocking-stuffer-edition/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/03/26/not-your-average-dresser/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2019/12/14/sprinter-diy-low-roof-vs-high-roof/
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Here is great source for van campers! Check it out!

DIY Promaster Camper Conversion Guide – Part I

Glacier National Park: An Afternoon At Two Medicine

I could write ten blog posts about my adventures at Glacier National Park. My first time in the park was over twenty years ago. Those few days of hiking and exploring were the spark for much of the traveling that has come since. Just when I thought I could not be more impressed by Glacier, I stumbled into Two Medicine.

Two Medicine is found on the east side of the park and on the shore of Two Medicine Lake. We arrived via Highway 2 from West Glacier on our way out of park. Once there, we found a campground, camp store, ice cream, hikes, picnic areas, boat rentals, and views for miles!

The view from camp store is awesome! The boat dock is to the left and hiking to the right. We recommend checking it out while eating ice cream and skipping stones!
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5 Ways to Enjoy Two Medicine, Glacier National Park.

1. Browse the Two Medicine Store.

Are you hungry? Do you need hiking or camping supplies? Are you just looking for a nice cup of coffee? If you answered “yes” to any of these questions, drop into the store. In addition to having everything you need and then some, enjoy its history and scenery.

2. Have a picnic.

Get your lunch to go and head out to the lake. Skip stones and listen to the waves as you eat.

We love having a picnic on the shore of a mountain lake, obviously!

3. Take a boat ride.

We didn’t have a chance to enjoy this first hand but we heard good reviews by people at the park. The tours were full so we will make a note to reserve a seat next time.

4. Enjoy a hike.

Hikes are easy to come and offer great rewards. Waterfalls as accessible in as little as .3 miles. Full or half day hikes and multi-day backpacking trip options are available as well.

This hiking trail was just right for us!

5. Stop by the ranger’s station. Get your National Park Passport stamp!

The ranger’s station was great and everyone was kind, of course! The kids were amazed by the size of this print. I was, as well.

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You can check out some of our other posts, as well!

https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/05/16/waterton-lakes-national-park-in-1-day/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/05/24/cranbrook-bc-stop-and-enjoy-5-things-to-love/

Florissant Fossil Beds: 5 Reasons To Check It Out!

We had been on the road for more than two months. We were eager to get home and anxious to be on the road when we found ourselves in Colorado with our “check engine” light on. Thankfully, family loaned us a car so we could set off on some day trips! Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is less an hour drive from Colorado Springs. It was one place that we had yet to explore.

Here are 6 reasons that we are glad we did!

1. Hands-on Activities

The variety and depth of hands-on experiences were more than expected. We joined the kids for one lap around the visitor’s center and nearby yurt before they settled into their activities of choice. From digging for fossils, to sorting rocks, we spent much more time here than planned.

We loved looking at fossils and rocks also.
Fossil sites are fun for digging also!

2. Hiking

I was glad to find more than 10 miles of trails to hike! In addition to meadows, you can find pine forests and boulder fields. The views are much different than those just a short drive east.

Not just fun hiking, the views are great too!

3. Self Guided Walking Tours

The walking tours are easy to follow and full of fun facts also.

Check out the tour, its worth it!

4. A Petrified Redwood Forest at the Fossil Beds

I expected to see fossils but I didn’t expect an ancient lake and forest!

This may be the best old forest of all time. We all agreed, by the way.
This “big stump” didn’t fit in the scene where it was stood but we thought it was cool.
Also, an old forest was there. The kids liked it too, however!

5. Get your stamps here: National Park Passport stamps and Junior Ranger Badges

Why not?!

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https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/06/05/craters-of-the-moon-national-monument-in-one-day/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/05/26/oregons-coast-manzanita-a-hidden-gem/

Manitou Incline: All Your Questions Answered.

The Manitou Incline is well known among Colorado Springs locals. It is the remains of a narrow gauge railway that was built in 1907 and destroyed by a rock slide in 1990. The rails were removed and the rail road ties remain.

Until 2013 locals and fitness enthusiasts would walk past “no trespassing” signs to hike up the remains. CD and I were among the people that made this trek and did so without injury.

It has since been repaired and officially opened to the public. Thanks to this restoration, the trail is much more safe which still being sufficiently challenging.

Manitou Incline Stats:

  • Altitude at the base: 6600 ft
  • Ascent: 2011 ft
  • Distance: 0.88 miles
  • Steps: 2744
  • Grade: up to 68%

Getting There:

  • By car: Manitou Springs is a 20 minute drive from Colorado Springs
  • By bus: Check the schedule here

Parking:

  • The base of the incline offers paid parking.
  • The town of Manitou Springs offers various parking options. A free shuttle bus runs to the incline every twenty minutes year round. I have also walked the approximately 1.5 miles to and from town but I thinking that the shuttle bus looked like a nicer option!
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Packing List:

  • Sunscreen
  • Hat
  • Trekking poles
    • 2 poles. Seriously – you will thank me later!
  • Water
    • To drink and to pour on yourself if are still there when the sun hits!
  • Snacks
    • I recommend a piece of fruit for a picnic at the top!
  • Camera
  • A friendly smile and a social attitude
    • Everyone is in this together! You will find that people are chit chatting and encouraging each other the whole way. It is the best!

Trip Planning And Other Tips:

  • Start early if you can
    • I usually don’t start early enough and end up mid incline in the hot sun. Be aware that there isn’t any shade. You can duck off to the side in the trees a bit but it won’t offer much relief.
  • Embrace the community! Talk to people. Give encouragement. Accept encouragement. Smile. Laugh, sweat, and cheer together!
  • Going down will take longer than going up. They don’t allow walking down the incline so be ready to hike the Barr Trail down.
  • Know that there is a bail out spot half way up. It connects back to the Barr Trail and heads down. If you can make it, keep going slow and steady. The view from the top is impressive.
  • Be aware of the false summit. Just like most mountain hikes, the incline offers false hope. For this hike you are pretty much always “almost there”.
  • Don’t be afraid to be slow and steady. I have climbed it fast and climbed it slow. Both have been great. In terms of the actual time, slow and fast aren’t really that different. Enjoy!

Please follow our blog for other adventures!

https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/05/26/oregons-coast-manzanita-a-hidden-gem/ https://ramblingfootsteps.travel.blog/2020/05/15/10-things-to-pack-for-hiking-the-pct/
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