There are a million places in the world to see, all of them exotic, all of them amazing. Back when we were dreaming up where to go on our honeymoon, we thought of all of them, I assure you: New Zealand, Morocco, Hawaii, France, and even the foothills of Everest! We could get on a plane and go anywhere! There was a whole world out there to explore! And then we thought: Wait a minute, what about right here in our own backyard? Just how much is right here in America that we haven't seen?
The idea stuck. As outdoor industry professionals, we immediately began conjuring up images of national parks out west: Glacier, Joshua Tree, Zion, and the North Cascades, just to name a few. But which one would we go see? And then we realized: Hey! Why just see one of them when we can see all of them!
We had three months. We had the fall. So we decided to load our gear up in the Jeep and take a road trip. It was going to be a magical experience!
First across the plains to Glacier, then up and over the North Cascades before shooting down the Pacific Coast and zig-zagging our way up through the canyonlands of the Southwest towards home in Wisconsin. We climbed mountains, descended canyons, encountered black bears, defended our breakfast from curious mountain goats, and spent afternoons watching seals and sea lions play in ocean currents.
We visited friends and family in Minneapolis, Seattle, San Francisco, Tucson, Phoenix, and Omaha. We lived, loved, and explored in both sickness and health, creating a home within each other, rather than one tied to any formal address.
(It didn't hurt to pepper our journey with a few nights at well-appointed B&Bs, either. And the restaurants we ate at were beyond compare!)
Our "Grand Honeymoon Tour", as we called it, was not without its trials, however. One morning, while backpacking in the California Redwoods, we faced a six-mile 3-in-the-morning hike through rain and hail and inky darkness in order to cross a low footbridge we feared may soon wash out.
Another morning, Sara had to drive me 30 miles to the nearest urgent care facility when I woke up with a pounding headache and painful, strep throat-like conditions. In the mountains of the Pacific Northwest and high desert plateaus of Southern Utah, we routinely battled below-freezing temperatures, and in southern California we had to drag ourselves back across four miles of parched landscape in the searing hot midday sun after hiking out to a real life fan-palm oasis in the middle of nowhere.
Yet our honeymoon's sublime rewards knew no bounds: Falling asleep to the burbling water of Bright Angel Creek at the bottom of the Grand Canyon; discovering a cave with Native American pictographs not located on any official park maps in Joshua Tree; watching ocean swells curl up and surge and crash through rock gardens along the Oregon Coast; hiking along a knife-edge ridge between two glacial valleys in Glacier National Park; contemplating the surreal nature of Utah's Delicate Arch, perched atop the edge of a great cliff, connected to nothing; waking up each and every day next to the one you love, never knowing what was waiting for you around the next bend in the trail. In three months, we truly had a lifetime of adventures!
For that gift we couldn't be more grateful to Traveler's Joy. Our Traveler's Joy registry was the perfect way for friends and family to provide us the gift of adventure and shared experience. Which is of course the best gift one can ever give!
Now, no matter what circumstances Sara and I find ourselves in, we can always look back and say: Remember that time we walked to Walnut Brewery in Boulder, and we went to a real-life Athleta store? Or that time we sat in the rain and watched seals play at Shark Reef Sanctuary? Wasn't that fun! Wasn't that amazing! I love you!
The whole three-month journey cost us under $5,000 -- gas and all. Yet its value to us will remain forever priceless.
When people ask us if we would recommend our honeymoon trip to others, there's no doubt in our minds: Yes! We explored the entire American West, accomplished things we had previously only dreamed of, and grew even closer than ever before. It would take a book to write about it all!