Having set our two primary destinations for the trip (Texas and the Oregon Coast), our next step was to identify important intermediate destinations that were not too far out of the way. While the home to Texas leg needs to be quick this trip, it is a long way between Texas and the Oregon coast and between Oregon and home, so some intermediate destinations are definitely in order.
There are tons of things in the southwest to see, but most of them are starting to get hot in May. We’re planning to escape winter for a while each year, so we should have plenty of opportunities to check out the southwest more thoroughly in cooler months.
One big destination along our southern route that is not hot in May is the Grand Canyon rim. Oma had never been to the Grand Canyon, and while I was fortunate enough to spend nine days on the Colorado river many years ago (Pipe Creek (via Bright Angle Trail) to Diamond Creek), I actually never spent any significant time on the rim. So the Grand Canyon became our first intermediate destination on this trip.
We also noticed that Google had plotted the “direct” route pretty close to Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. I’d been there for a weekend in early April years ago (when I was in Silicon Valley for a conference), but only had a day and a half in the area. Oma has never been there. Add another intermediate destination.
For the drive between Oregon and home, we decided to make the Black Hills our break point. It has been many years since we’ve been there and it sits roughly halfway between Oregon and home. The Badlands would have been another option, but we have visited the Badlands far more often than the Black Hills.
What did we consider but decide not to include on this trip? Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas is high on Oma’s list, but time constraints for the trip down mean that we’ll have to wait until next trip. Death Valley will be way too hot in late May. Glacier is a fantastic National Park, but we’ve been there multiple times and we did not want to extend our trip home by a week or more for a proper visit. Likewise, Yellowstone and the Tetons are also fabulous, but they deserve a lot of time and we did not want to deal with the early August crowds.
These intermediate destinations break our trip up into segments of 600-1300 miles. They only added about 300 miles to our total (now 6300 miles according to Google), so my 7,000 mile estimate still seems in the ballpark. The next step from here will be figuring out the timing for each of the trip segments and booking campgrounds where necessary (which unfortunately will be much of the time for this trip).