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  • Steve Grant

Road Trip Planning

As I sit in a coffee shop in February 2021, I have been lucky enough to have received my first and second vaccine shots. I am still socially distancing and wearing a mask, but it has given me the certainty that if I were to come in contact with the virus, I should have a mild bout of it.

This has got me finally thinking of a road trip that I have been thinking about this summer. My wife and I have been loosely talking about many ideas and places to travel, but like you, it always ended up as well... let’s see what things look like next month and so on.

We finally agreed on the place for a summer road trip. We will be heading from Arizona to the Florida gulf coast. We love beaches and flip flop weather. We also wanted to get a better feel for the area. Obviously, white sand beaches and turquoise waters are the main pull, but we also like to see the cultural differences of specific areas. Each town and region across the United States has their own blend of people, behaviors and attitudes. We have really become aware of this and are so curious to see the different flavors within regions of the country.

So, the preparation for this next road trip begins. I am the obsessive compulsive researcher type that goes down every rabbit hole of information. I cross reference review sites, independent information sites, and mountains of data I uncover. My wife usually just keeps me out of the weeds and summarizes my lengthy ideas. We really make a great team that way.

My preparation for this road trip will involve starting with the goal of making sure to see most of the beaches people rave about as their favorites. Looking on google maps to see their locations compared to each other. I figure if we start off by logging long miles first, it will give us more time in the area exploring and soaking in the beach vibes.

Next up, looking for places to camp or stay overnight for the approximate dates in June. See if their are better deals on weekdays or certain weeks. I made the mistake one time of getting a hotel before heading into camping in Yosemite National Park during a huge festival. Guess what I heard in the hallways of the hotel and outside in the parking lot all friggin’ night... Let’s say it was almost like we were at the festival.

Another tool we use if we have service while road tripping is the Zillow home search app. It allows us to quickly look at a larger city and identify the nicer areas versus the not so nice areas by housing prices. Sure, it isn’t fool proof, but it helps understand an area and decrease my chances of theft and other crimes. Especially when arriving late at night in an area you do not know very well. We rolled into a town in Pennsylvania late one night, grabbed a hotel thinking nothing of this and were eyed up and down by people hanging out in the parking lot, lobby and walking the hallways all night. At one point, gunfire was heard out our window behind the hotel. Ya, we have learned a few things since then. I would rather just steer clear of any hoods from now on.

I will start looking at Florida campsites after getting a rough idea on our schedule and locations. I just know I want to travel East while exploring, so we can keep the views out our right side of the vehicle and it makes pulling off and back on easier... see, I am an analytical nightmare, ha ha. I just call it forecasting.

Which brings me to weather. Normally, I research the best times to visit an area, any things that may be going on in the area during different seasons, but I already know that I am confined to June on this trip.

We will be taking a west coast beach trip in March in Southern California. It will be a trip to iron out any kinks traveling and camping in my Toyota 4Runner. You will see photos and a blog post on that shortly after. This is now going to be my diary of sorts. Beach camping in Southern California is amazing. The problem is it is so congested and campsites have to be reserved months and months ahead. They sell out within 2 days usually but have a rolling 6 month reservation window. Campsites for popular beach access areas say on June 15th, will go on sale January 15th. You get the picture.

The Florida beach camping road trip will hopefully be less crazy than Southern California, but who knows. I love the freedom to just keep driving if something is not working out.

So, it is off to note taking and research for a bit. The weather here in Arizona is pretty decent in the lower desert areas, hitting 75 degrees as a high while Wisconsin has a high of -1 today... Beach dreaming, and I know I am not even close to being the only one. Brrrrrr.

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