Slug Life Status Report: July 2018

Yikes! We're late!

This trip around the United States has been an absolute whirlwind! We've been moving around so frequently that we've really been struggling to keep the blog and photos up to date, so naturally, this Status Report is also a little late. So, without further ado...

Where we've been

We started the month with a slight fuel crisis getting between Guadalupe Mountains National Park and Phoenix, but luckily we made it to Las Vegas unscathed. After a few days exploring Sin City, we headed to our next major must-see destination: the Grand Canyon. Our next stop was Moab, where we spent a couple of days exploring Arches National Park and Canyonlands National Park, and a memorable few nights battling outrageous dust storms... After an overnight stop in Salt Lake City, it was on to an absolute dream come true and trip highlight, Yellowstone National Park. Our short time there was nowhere near enough, but we carried on to Missoula, Montana, where Zev met his Dad and Uncle for a fishing trip. While they fished, I headed off on my first ever solo camping trip, back to Yellowstone for a couple of nights, and then on to Estes Park, on the border of Rocky Mountain National Park. Next, we reunited both with each other, and with the rest of Zev's immediate family in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where we also hung out with Zev's Dad's mentor's family, before we hit the road again to drive the two and a half days to the family reunion in Lakeside, Michigan. We wrapped up the month in Chicago, catching up with a long lost friend from NZ/England/Sweden (it's hard to tell), and staying with Zev's aunt and uncle.

Travel Distances

This month, it's been all driving again for me, and a couple of sneaky flights for Zev.

  • Zev flew 1,637km, so to make things easier, we'll just count that (trip total 31,397km)
  • We've done no train travel (trip total 2,204km)
  • We racked up another 10,016km of driving this month (trip total 20,337km)
  • Again, we've done no real walking of note, so the trip total stays at 95.6km

Highlights

It seems unfair to lump them all together, but for brevity's sake, all of the National Parks we visited were an absolute highlight. Each one had their own unique personality, but it's definitely ensured that we'll be back to the US to cross some more national parks off the list.

For the first time on this trip, we went our separate ways. While it took a little getting used to, we each had a blast on our respective adventures

We had an absolute ball in Albuquerque, and were kept very busy with a host of fun and interesting activities with Margarita and her family

Although we've managed to squeeze a lot in to our time in the US, this was the main reason for our trip to the US, and it was amazing. Both meeting and reconnecting with family from all over the US was wonderful, and we all had such a great time, we wished we could have stayed longer.

Lowlights

While the surrounding National Parks were an absolute delight, the nights in the stifling heat, while the tent filled with sand were not the best...

While my solo camping adventure was otherwise a highlight, finding myself trying to get from Yellowstone to Rocky Mountain National Park with no cellphone service and no GPS was a slight stressor. It all worked out in the end though, even if I did end up driving a little further than I needed to.

  • Deflating camping mattress in Oklahoma City

After pulling up to our campsite in Oklahoma City to find that our 'campsite' was actually a strip of concrete driveway, we ended up spending the night at a minor league baseball game. Imagine our disappointment when, over the course of the night, our camping mattress slowly deflated, until we were sleeping on the concrete. We were devastated that we might be moving on to our third camping mattress of the trip, but upon closer inspection, it appears that someone who shall remain nameless (but his name means Wolf in Hebrew) had just not closed the valve properly. Crisis averted.

We'd been looking forward to the Foo Fighters concert for a month, and they're one of our favourite bands. At the time, I was too sick to even care that I was missing the show, but now that I'm better, I'm definitely feeling some pangs of envy for those who got to go! When I remember the aftermath for Zev though, I feel a little better.

Best accommodation

  • Camping

Even with our mishaps with sandstorms and deflating air mattresses, we've had a great time camping our way across America.

Worst accommodation

  • Camping
Photo 13-07-18, 3 20 44 PM.jpg

See sandstorms and deflating air mattresses. And no air conditioning.

Best meals

An absolute standout. If you ever find yourself in Vegas, you have to go there.

Worst meals

  • Every side of the road fast food meal while driving long distances. Well okay, maybe not EVERY meal was terrible, but it was certainly devoid of any actual nutrition.

Finances

I'll be honest, things are a little grim. We've spent about what we anticipated in the US, and have managed to save a lot of money by staying with friends and family, and camping along the way. We purchased an annual National Parks pass, which cost us $80, and saved us loads on entries. But the real nail in the coffin for us has been the car rental. It cost us about $3800NZD per month to hire the car, so that's a big chunk out of our budget.

Where to next?

That's been the big question on our mind this month. We've been swinging back and forth about whether it's time to head home, or whether we should carry on. At one point, we were so sure we were heading home that I even emailed work to tell them to put me on the September roster.

After some soul searching, number crunching, and conversations with family, we've decided to make the most of the opportunity we have. We're closer to lots of destinations we're yet to visit than we are when we're at home, and we still have the rest of the year off. We're going to dig a little deeper into our savings, which is a little terrifying, and we're still not sure we're making the right decision, but at the end of the day, we both have jobs to go home to, so we can always make more money.

Right now, we're back in New York, and our plan is to head from here to Cuba, and then on to Mexico (although we still haven't booked anything, so nothing is set in stone!). Zev has applied to do NZQA marking which would start at the beginning-middle of October, so we are thinking we'll be back by then at the latest. So wish us luck!

Lots of love,
S & Z
xxx