Our departure on our RTW is coalescing around the realisation that if we want to hike the Grand Canyon (check), camp in Yosemite (check) and in Yellowstone (check!), we will have to start thinking about bookings soon. Horror of horrors. What if we're not ready by spring 2011?
Well, at the very least, we will be committed to a holiday in the American south west. But I'm going to assume we will be ready. I've even started doing some tentative planning. My initial idea of driving across the US has morphed into something that's more wrapped around the climate and those three major bottleneck bookings. I also realised, to my great indignation (ha, ha) , that I will need to apply for a US tourist visa that lasts a maximum of 6 months. Given the laid back approach we want to take, and the fact that Mike will need to continue working this probably won't be enough for the full USA. We're in the east pretty often, so I thought we would stick to the west for most of this trip. Actually, I could avoid the tourist visa and go straight for an unlimited visa as spouse of a US citizen visa, but also, in a way, 6 months seems like quite enough.
After talking back and forth, we've also pretty much decided that our budget and desire for flexibility will be best served by going the campervan route. It was a tough call, given the tiny space and Mike's working needs, but I am totally excited about knowing that I've got somewhere to sleep, and that I don't have to plan ahead. We probably will check in to hotels from time to time, and maybe even some vacation homes, but it will depend on Mike's work needs and the money his work adds to the budget. I am so happy that I can just think about where it might be fun to go, as opposed to where we can afford to sleep that's likely to be tolerable.
The very generic itinerary (subject to loads of future changes) is as follows:
March - deserts of the south west, California, Arizona, New Mexico
April - the Pacific Coast, from bottom to top
May - will be wrapped around bookings for Yellowstone, Yosemite and Grand Canyon with anything we can fit in on the way.
June - definitely the Black Hill areas of South Dakota, probably bits of Utah and Colorado on the way
July - slowly wend camper back to San Francisco, take the California Zephyr out to Chicago
August - take a car from Chicago to the Upper Michigan peninsula, train back to the east coast to see family and friends, sail home on the Queen Mary II (no harm in thinking big!)