A Week-In-The-Life of Sue: Road Schooled

by Nora on August 3, 2009

grand canyon_1Sue started traveling solo in America when she dropped out of a chemistry PhD program at the University of Minnesota, packed up her car with camping gear, and hit the road to….somewhere. Her Web Site Road Schooled is about what she has learned on the non-traditional road. Below, please enjoy what a week-in-the-life of Sue looks like as she travels from Padre Island to the Grand Canyon.



Day One

Morning

Wake up on the beach of Padre Island National Seashore on the Gulf Coast of Texas.  Make some chai tea and watch the sunrise while noshing a Clif bar.  Go for a walk on the beach and reflect on my last 6 weeks of living on the island.  Wish I would have had my camera with when I helped rescue a sea turtle.  Oh well.  Collect a few sea beans as souvenirs.

Afternoon

Wash the salt off my tent.  Go for one last bike ride on the beach.  Eat soup out of a can for lunch and don’t care about the fact that I’m eating soup out of a can because I’m hungry.  Soak up a few last rays of island sunshine and take in a few deep breathes of salty air.  Pack up my tent and say goodbye to the island.  Thanks for the memories, Padre Island.

Evening

Drive to Austin, Texas.  Set up camp at McKinney Falls State Park.  Enjoy the tree-filtered sunshine and realize that an overabundance of direct sunlight at the beach was wearing at times.  Enjoy a warm shower and go to bed.

Day Two

camping on padre island_1Morning

Grab a Clif bar and go exploring.  Hike to the waterfalls, check out some ruins, slip on a boulder and nearly knock the wind out of myself.  Pack up my tent and hit the road.

Afternoon

Drive across Texas.  Texas is HUGE.  Think about cowboys, alternative energy, and the movie No Country for Old Men while driving.  Wish I would have never seen No Country for Old Men because the thought of the guy with the air gun is creeping me out.

Evening

Still driving.  Did I mention that Texas is huge? Debate if I should drive all the way to Guadalupe Mountains National Park or stop elsewhere for the night.  Decide to keep driving.  Dodge jackrabbits on a deserted road.  Finally make it to Guadalupe Mountains National Park and call it a night.

Day Three

Morning

Watch the sunrise on Guadalupe Mountain and go for a short hike.  Hit the road and finally make my way out of Texas to New Mexico.  Go caving at Carlsbad Caverns.  The huge highly decorated rooms are amazing – best cave ever!

Afternoon

Drive to Roswell, New Mexico.  Check out the UFO museum.  It is a bit cheesy so I decide to drive to Santa Fe instead of spending the night in Roswell.

Evening

Arrive in Santa Fe and discover the mountain campground I was going to camp at isn’t open for the season yet.  Go to my back up campground.  Not open either.  Go to the KOA campground I saw a sign for when I came into town.  Set up my tent, do laundry, mess around on the internet, and figure out what I’m going to do tomorrow.

Day Four

 

Morning

Renew my campsite because I’m too lazy to take down my tent and find a better place to camp.  Grab some coffee and get the oil changed on my car.  Eat too much free popcorn in the lobby while waiting for my car.  Grab some free coffee to go on the way out.

Afternoon

Check out the art museums.  Have a tourist call me a Taos hippie and get way too excited about seeing a Taos hippie that she read about in a guidebook.  Have another tourist follow me around trying to take my picture.  When I ask her if she wants to take my picture she replies that she wants to take my picture but doesn’t want it to look posed so I should just keep looking at things.  Seriously people, I am not a Taos hippie.  Do you really need to follow me around and take my picture?

Evening

Check out downtown.  Decide I’m not going to spend another day in Santa Fe because I’m sick of tourists.  Enjoy the final hours of daylight downtown and head to bed.

Day Five

Morning

Wake up cold.  It is snowing.  Pack up and head for warmth.  Grab some coffee and drive to Arizona.

Afternoon

Warm sunshine!  Explore Petrified Forest National Park – painted desert badlands, remnants of Route 66, and petrified logs.  Wonder if Mars is like the badlands.

Evening

Drive until I get tired.  Get tired around Flagstaff.  Grab some dinner.  Drive to the campgrounds just outside the Grand Canyon.  Sleep.

Day Six

Morning

Wake up feeling tired so plan to spend a leisurely day on the rim of the canyon before hiking down tomorrow.  Head to the visitor center for a ranger talk about the geology of the Grand Canyon.  Learn about DUDE.  Deposition.  Uplift.  Down cutting.  Erosion.  DUDE is how the Grand Canyon was formed.

Afternoon

Go on a walk with a ranger on the rim of the canyon.  She talks a lot about scat and even brought some samples in jars.  A fine batch of scat specimens indeed!  Spend the rest of the afternoon walking the Rim Trail to Hermits Rest.  Take the free shuttle back to the village.

Evening

Watch the sunset over the canyon.  Amazing!  Grab some dinner in the village.  Upload some photos and mess around on Facebook until I’m tired enough to sleep.

Day Seven

Morning

Grab a hearty pre-hike breakfast.  Pick up some more Clif bars and Gatorade for the hike into the canyon. Take the bus to Bright Angel Trailhead.  Hike down into the canyon.

Afternoon

Enjoy the view of the Colorado River at Plateau Point.  Refuel for the 6 mile hike back up to the rim of the canyon.  Walk uphill for a very long time with frequent Gatorade breaks.  Make it to the rim of the canyon.  Woot – I hiked the Grand Canyon!

Evening

Take a shower and watch another sunset over the canyon.   Have a hearty post-hike meal and a celebratory Fat Tire.  Feel high on life.  Go to bed happy.



So far, Sue has solo road tripped the lower 48 states as part of her mission to visit all 50 states within the next year. Hawaii and Alaska are next on the agenda to complete her list. Please enjoy her beautiful photos and posts at Road Schooled, and stay tuned for a book based on her solo road trip experiences.

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Frank August 4, 2009 at 11:02 am

Now THAT is the life, jealous, VERY jealous. It WILL happen soon!

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2 Anna August 5, 2009 at 3:41 am

What a girl, just like that! We live only once, so why not enjoy the life. Anna 🙂

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3 one.year.trip August 5, 2009 at 11:42 pm

I’m told the canyon really is one of those things that has to be truly seen to be appreciated – no amount of television, reading, or photos can do it justice (kind of how i feel about Tokyo, and New York.) True?

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4 sue August 6, 2009 at 12:37 pm

@Nora – thanks for giving my the opportunity to write a post for your week in the life series! Love the series!

@Frank – I am totally jealous of your bushwalking so we are even!

@Anna – Girl power! Woot!

@one.year.trip – Totally agree about the Grand Canyon being something you have to experience to appreciate – well deserving to be named one of the seven wonders of the natural world.

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5 creativevacationsolutions August 7, 2009 at 6:18 pm

OH! Really thanks alot for explaining the sessions also like morning,afternoon and in the Evening in your trip or vacation. Thanks alot.

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