The Journey West

We departed from Wisconsin on Saturday, March 9th to start our Spring 2024 road trip.  We plan to visit 9 different National Parks in Arizona, California and Texas over the next 5 weeks.  Then, near the end of the trip, we will experience the Solar Eclipse in Eagle Pass, TX.  First, we need to spend a few days traveling out west.

Gotta love technology. We used DoorDash to deliver sushi to our campsite the first night.
Our first Buc-ee's experience gave us an opportunity for a silly selfie.

We stopped the first night just west of St. Louis, after a windy day of driving.  We made it to Tulsa, OK for the second night (Sunday, March 10th).  We’ve traveled this route on previous trips, so we prioritized driving over any fun tourist stops.  We did, however, have our first ever Buc-ee’s experience.  You know you’ve had a long day of driving when the highlight of the day was stopping to refuel at a Buc-ee’s travel center.  If you’ve never been to one, you really need to experience it.  Monday, March 11th, we followed the old Route 66 path to Amarillo, TX. 

The Big Texan Steakhouse in Amarillo, TX is a touristy stop, and they indeed have big steaks.
A nice sunset over the RV as Lucy & I returned from our after dinner walk in Amarillo, TX.

Tuesday (March 12th) we drove to Grants, NM and stayed overnight at a junkyard.  Yes, you read that correctly.  The Junkyard on 66 Brewery has great beer and excellent BBQ.  And, it is a junkyard.  Since it is a Harvest Host location, we stayed for free.  It was the first (and hopefully the last) time we slept overnight at a junkyard!

The Junkyard on 66 Brewery doesn't look like much, but it was an interesting stop!
The inside of this dog-friendly brewery was entertaining, with old car parts everywhere.

We left the junkyard on Wednesday morning (March 13th) and headed south on HWY 53 to the nearby Ice Cave.  Laurie had noticed an abundance of volcanic rock the day before as we arrived in Grants, NM.  She learned that a nearby dormant volcano had erupted 10,000 years ago.  One of the lava tubes collapsed, forming a unique cave that has 31 degree air temperature year-round, creating a thick layer of ice that is over 3,500 years old.  We hiked through some old lava fields to see this unusual phenomenon. 

Laurie enjoys a desert snow storm as she walks past a lava field at the Ice Cave location.
A staircase descends to the bottom of the cave, next to a thick sheet of ice. Notice the green arctic algae.

The snow storm kicked into high gear as we drove further west Hwy 53.  Visibility was so poor that we barely could make out the outline of the unusual, historic cliff structure called El Morro.  Who would have thought that we’d leave behind 60 degree weather in Wisconsin so that we could get caught in a desert snowstorm in New Mexico!  We drove through snow squalls all the way to Painted Desert and Petrified Forest National Park.  

The snowstorm prevented us from being able to explore El Morro National Monument.
We finally made it to a National Park!
We took this photo of the Painted Desert just minutes before thick fog rolled in.
Beautiful landscapes abound throughout the park, reminding us of the South Dakota Badlands.
The southern part of the National Park has petrified logs everywhere.
All those dark spots are not rocks, they are petrified log pieces, strewn about.

We stopped for the evening in Holbrook, AZ.  Next we will travel across northern Arizona and into Nevada.  Our next National Park will be Death Valley.  Stay tuned!

Sign up to be notified by email of all new posts on  We promise to never sell or misuse your personal information.  We wouldn’t do that to you.  Besides, we have no idea how to do that anyway!

Please enable JavaScript in your browser to complete this form.

2 thoughts on “The Journey West”

Comments are closed.