Hope Over Land and Sea: 8000 miles, 9 weeks, NC to Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Badlands and more in 2023.


Pontoon Admiral
Ha! Not sure the teenage boy could have handled 'too many' more musicals but it is on the list for the future with my wife!!
While Branson has tons of musical shows the big attraction is Silver Dollar City, get a season pass or 3 day pass, it takes 3 days to see it all and teens like it too.


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Great report so far. I am from Oklahoma and was unaware of Red Rock Canyon State Park. I will have to add it to my list.
I really think it is a hidden gem and is "something different" from a lot of other parks in the state! I lived in OK two years, 1985ish and 1990 and really love the diversity of the state from the trees and hills on the eastern side to the vast openess on the western end.


Well-known member
I really think it is a hidden gem and is "something different" from a lot of other parks in the state! I lived in OK two years, 1985ish and 1990 and really love the diversity of the state from the trees and hills on the eastern side to the vast openess on the western end.
Yes I agree. Most people don't do the research to know that.


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New Mexico


Soon after crossing the state line into New Mexico you should look for exit 369 and take some time to swing into Russel’s Truck & Travel Center. This is by far the coolest place we stopped for fuel on our entire 8000 miles! (Sorry Buc-ees!)


Tanner and I spent probably a half hour or more wandering the FREE Car & Collectible Museum, drooling over the Willys and Corvettes that were our favorites. I have a 1946 Willys CJ2a that my dad restored and I love it but this burgundy Jeep is gorgeous.


Dad’s 1946 CJ2a for comparison


I joined Harvest Hosts / Boondockers Welcome and this was to be my very first night staying at one of their locations. The Sandia Valley Church of the Nazarene / Mission Training Center was very gracious and allowed us to not only park at their location, they actually have 30 amp service on the back side of their building and they allowed us to hook up.

After dropping off the Aliner we headed up to the north side of Albuquerque to see the Petroglyphs. No matter how many times I heard Bugs Bunny saying he made a “wrong turn at Albuquerque” I still cannot spell it without help!

The Petroglyph National Monument is our first of many National Parks, Monuments, Historic sites and Memorials on this trip. I have a bunch of stickers and stamps in our Passport book. This is something I would highly recommend to anyone traveling in the USA along along with the America the Beautiful—the National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass. That $80 gift by my brother to me for the pass saved me hundreds of dollars on this trip.


We hit the visitors center and then drove back down to the main trailhead. This hike is not really very long, maybe a mile or so all told but is very steep in places and you will want a good sense of balance. We were warned as we first entered about a rattlesnake that was hanging out under one of the first boulders and kept a respectable distance while ZOOMING in for a few pictures.


Beware, rattlesnake under there!!


One of us hikes faster than the other, of course his excuse is the picture taking and Youtube content he is creating and his channel DOES have about 200 subscribers compared to my 2 so maybe he is the smart one here?




Some incredible views of the area from on top of this hill, we only got to spend a single day in this area but I am already planning to go back.


The next most important question of the day is what is the “Best Tex-Mex” food in Albuquerque? The answer is El Modelo Mexican Foods according to Google and we headed straight over. They do not have any inside seating but they do have a great picnic area next to their parking lot.


Just down the road from the restaurant was a train yard and this required a stop for pictures and Uncle Sam managed to find the right spot for the boy to climb on TOP of the rollbar and snap some pictures of a really super duper special train paint job only known to exist… well honestly I have no idea but apparently this train is important in some form or fashion? Maybe you are a train person and have some clue?


Jeep’s One Touch Skytop comes in VERY handy for vlogging and pictures!


Time to head west again, towards the Petrified National Forest, Sedona and finally the Grand Canyon.

I will leave you with a few more pictures of “cool trains” that we saw while driving down the interstate that may or may not be historically significant in some fashion!?



Well-known member
Awesome adventures! 👌

Love the backstory and all the detail in your adventures. Glad I found this thread.

BTW, what mount are you using on the hood of your vehicle for the Starlink?


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Awesome adventures! 👌

Love the backstory and all the detail in your adventures. Glad I found this thread.

BTW, what mount are you using on the hood of your vehicle for the Starlink?

My Starlink was the 2nd generation, I sent it to these folks and they modified it for me, cut down and installed in their 3d printed looking box. I got the dark / grey material for my plexi glass, in hindsight that probably ends up getting warmer than the clear/white, but looks cooler which is super important!

The mount they supply looks like 3d printed, not sure, and I did notice by end of the summer it is getting a "bow" or sagging over time / heat. I may put a X style cross brace on it before heading out this year. Looking at moving it over to mount on the Aliner itself, but if I do I want something that can tow flat and then with the top of the A frame up, it would be level again, so a folding brace of some sort. Got it in my head, not built it yet.

Then I am using SeaSucker mounts, purchased via the Star-mount folks website. They held up really well, love the face you can easily see if they need pumped back up, been using them about a year now. On the RUBICON hood, 3 out of the 4 held just fine, the hood is pretty curved AND the decals can be a place where the air can get in under the suction cup. But those 3 were plenty of power, held up with zero issues for the 8000 miles. Seriously considering their product for mounting my solar panels too instead of drilling holes in the camper.


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Petrified Forest National Park

If you are traveling westbound on Interstate 40 in Arizona, you will want to take exit 311 to visit the Petrified Forest National Park. This is actually part of the Painted Desert region that stretches 150 miles from the NE corner of Arizona all the way to the eastern end of the Grand Canyon. I remember this area vividly from my own road trip with my parents when I was 15 years old.

A large part of this road trip trip with my nephew I find myself wandering down memory lane from that trip so long ago.

We were moving from Oklahoma to Mississippi and my Dad had already moved our furniture and then came back to take our family on a month long journey around the USA. I remember it was about 5000 miles all told in an 1982 Caprice Classic, just Dad, Mom, my brother and myself.

We traveled I-40 west out of Oklahoma to California, down to San Diego and then walked across the border to Tijuana to buy sombreros. Then up to Las Vegas, Salt Lake City and then finally headed back east across Wyoming to Indiana for the Church of God annual conference in Anderson. After that we drove just a bit further east to visit my grandparents in West Liberty KY and then south to our new home in Laurel MS.

My parents nearly had to get marriage counseling about half way through the trip in SLC, I remember the intersection vividly as Dad was driving, Mom in charge of navigation as we were headed out of town on the highway near the airport.

He was simply asking for directions, “Left or Right” as we approached the sign on the highway. Mom being the wise soul she was, answered “Straight ahead.”

Dad repeated his question, “Left or Right” and being the 15 year old ‘know it all teenager’ and backup navigator, currently in possession of the Rand McNally, I also replied along with Mom once again, “Straight Ahead.”

I believe my 10 year old brother also chimed in about this point because as all rational humans could see, the sign clearly showed the interstate we were looking for was “straight ahead.”

My father is no longer around to argue his completely irrational argument about how the road is splitting and there was clearly a Left and RIght. He swiftly pulled across 2 lanes parking on the side of the interstate at that exchange and walked back a 100 feet or so or so to take this iconic picture.

This has been such a treasured family picture that it is proudly included in a frame in my parent’s living room and had been discussed in depth over the last 3 plus decades.


A picture from about the same time as the family road trip!


I love you Pop and look forward to meeting you in Heaven someday so we can seek the wisest of counsel about this intersection and decide finally who is correct, “Left, Right or Straight Ahead!?”

Just to clarify, we were looking for Interstate 80 EAST which is the two middle lanes and thus “Straight ahead.” The RIGHT lane clearly turns toward Interstate 80 WEST and the LEFT lane turns towards the Air Cargo area of the airport.

Please ignore the fact that the center lanes are ‘somewhat’ curving to the LEFT… this way leads to madness.

I am not sure any marriage counseling was arranged, I do remember hearing afterwards that there was some discussion about SOMEONE getting on a plane at this point and flying home and that it was a fairly quiet travel day through Wyoming as the snow fell in the middle of the June!?

They celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary a few years before my Dad passed away and I actually think the picture from that intersection MIGHT have been included in the decorations!?


So back to EPIC Adventure story in 2023. Tanner and I took exit 311, 38 years after my family took that same exit and spent a bit of time learning more about the park in the Visitors Center before taking the scenic drive through the park.


Traveling westbound you can drive the entire park and ultimately exit and drive west on Highway 180. You will arrive in Holbrook AZ to merge back onto Interstate 40. If you are going eastbound you will want to do the opposite, getting off on Exit 285 or 286 and take Highway 180 east to the southern entrance of the park..


The ooo’s and aaah’s start at the very first turn and there are lots of places to pull off and take pictures and go on short hikes.


This was the first of many WOW moments from my Nephew, and impressing a teenage boy is not an easy task. He was really digging all of the Route 66 signs and information that we passed starting back in Amarillo. The park has a pull off on the old highway with information about the historic byway.

I was digging the fact that this old Model A (not really sure of this exact model) had the same ‘folding roof’ design as my Jeep Sky One touch soft top on the Wrangler 4XE nearly 100 years later!


After crossing the Interstate heading south in the park the colors shifted from the red, tan and orange to more grays, blues and purples.


At one of the pull offs we met a couple from NC that were working their way home in their custom skoolie. Andrew and Susanna had spent the winter in Baja and were headed towards home in Raleigh, NC. I really enjoyed meeting them and spending time talking about their choice of rig, travels, Starlink and what was next for them.

Andrew and Susanna Vanlife


WIth a few more stops along the way, this was a great start to our summer, the first of many National Parks, Memorials and Historic Sites.


Next Stop Sedona Arizona



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Sedona is drop dead gorgeous and I cannot recommend it enough as a place to visit when you are nearby. The town is full of contradictions with Pink Jeeps parked next door to Ferraris.


Our campsite here at Rancho Sedona RV park was our most expensive of the trip at nearly $100 per night. The park is beautiful and the small creek running down one side is worth a visit to get your feet wet.



There are several more campgrounds in the area that are in the area that you can find on Recreation.gov but we wanted to stay in town because we were meeting Tanner’s parents, Chad and Tracy as they had flown in to visit with us here and then for our time at the Grand Canyon.


I am not sure there is a BAD place to take a picture in this area, whether you are in front of the local pizza / taco joint or just a mile further down the road on a pull off.



Chad and Tracy rented an AirBNB in town so we parked and walked around the town soaking it all in. The town itself is VERY touristy and fairly expensive, so allow for that in your budget and how long you can afford to stay here!


One final recommendation is to take a few minutes to visit the Chapel of the Holy Cross. We parked at the bottom and hiked up the road to spend a few minutes inside of quiet reflection and prayer. I truly appreciate the inspiration behind this structure and plan to visit it again on my next trip to Sedona.



When we drove from Flagstaff down to Sedona, we took Interstate 17 south and then took exit 298 onto Hwy 179. We took that north all the way to Sedona, stopping at the Red Rock district ranger’s station to get more information about the area.

As we left Sedona heading back north, we took Hwy 89A. This is a VERY tight and curving road with a set of switchback as you climb up to Oak Creek Vista. Larger trucks and campers were discouraged but I saw several brave souls in much bigger rigs than my own.



It is worth the 5 minute hike to take in the view back down the valley from on top of the pass and there was several local merchants there that had their wares on display.

Next stop, the BIG one… the GRAND CANYON!

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