9 Days in a Winnebago | Roadtrippin From Idaho to Texas

I blink my eyes open, rub the sand and dirt out of my lashes and try to work out the kink in my neck. The oven-like temperatures have only increased since I nodded off and I’m clearly sweating through the 1970’s art deco upholstered seats in our 1977 Winnebago. Oh, but what’s that? A fresh breeze from the open window? Nope, more like a blow dryer, on high, to the face, and I can tell I’ve been sleeping with my mouth open. It’s then that I look over and see the two cutest damn faces I’ve ever seen…Chap & Tye in the driver's seat, Waylon Jennings on the 8-track. I try to communicate that I need water but we can’t hear one another over the roar of every open window in our traveling circus, the creaking bunk bed, falling boxes, and never ending rattle of all the shit we own clanging together. We’re somewhere in the middle of no-where Utah and in our first week of this glorified vagabond life. Can’t wait for the next 51. 

Since I’m FINALLY getting around to blogging I thought I’d start with a quick (or not so quick) overview of the first half of our cross-country road trip to the sailboat in Texas. As many of you know, we bought our 40' Hunter sailboat on Lake Texoma on the Oklahoma/Texas border and have since shipped it to Pensacola, FL which is where we'll set sail from. 

It’s been an adventure just getting to our adventure. 

We left Coeur d’Alene, ID on September 5th. It was a cold, smokey day and the gloomy overcast only added to the somber mood. I’m not going to lie, I woke up with a knot in my stomach knowing we’d be saying goodbye to our loved ones for quite awhile. We were leaving a very comfortable life, one that we loved very much, for something that we new very little about and all I can think is that I sure hope it’s worth it. Needless to say, it was a very emotional, tearful "see you later."


Tye and I did everything with his parents. Sometimes too much…like that time I went with Dick (a.k.a. Ricardo) to watch and film the removal of his back cyst (Too much? Not for our love, right Special Friend? {INSIDE JOKE, don’t be weird}). We’re so very thankful that we have such a close relationship with Dick & De. Back home, we’d have family dinner multiple times a week, travel all over the place…Nashville, Alaska, Canada, Cabo…you name it. Tye calls his parents daily and I even train for triathlons with his mother (she’s a badass, OK). So needless to say, we are missing them like crazy and it was incredibly hard to say goodbye. 


We are also extremely close with his brother and sister-in-law and have a very tight-knit group of friends in CDA that we hated saying goodbye to…almost enough to make us stay. 

My dad was also there to send us off with well wishes and I can’t explain to you how especially meaningful that was to have him there all the way from South Dakota. No mater what, goodbyes are never easy. The only thing that got me through that day was knowing we’d see them on the sunnier side, welcoming them with a drink in hand. 


So, naturally, I was a ball of emotions. However, there was also something very surreal about pulling out of the driveway and I couldn’t help but feel a sense of accomplishment at the same time. We were actually doing something that we set out to do. We were living our dream as scary as that can be sometimes. The previous year and a half of planning was finally manifesting into go-time and we were, proud. 


In that moment, we had our entire life and trust in a 1977 Winnebago that Tye randomly bought at a Montana auction. And it looks like a meth lab.

We really didn't have expectations for Winnie. Each mile was a win and each mile meant we didn’t have to purchase a U-Haul or rent a hotel room…double win for the unemployed. 

Everything was going great those first two hours, until Tye decided to take a gravel road short cut across Idaho…{whhhhy…insert super annoyed face}. Dust, gravel and everything else began coming in through every crack and crevice in Winnie. I’m pretty sure she has as many holes as a shot up tin can. We completely dusted out all our belongings and when you’re living in such tight quarters, cleanliness is key. It was downhill from there. I’m pretty sure I asked Tye to take me home. I was ready to throw in the towel or at the very least burn all my belongings after the dust storm. The heat and dust only increased as we headed south. 

We spent our first night at a campground at Redfish Lake outside of Stanley, ID way up in the mountains. We rolled in after dark so we were unaware of our surroundings until morning. The shores of Redfish Lake happened to be just a couple yards from our camp spot and we woke up encircled by mountains and sailboats. Very fitting for our upcoming adventure, I thought. 


The next couple days were ghetto fabulous as we trucked across the smokey Idaho landscape.

Did I mention there's no A.C.?


Our first real destination on the road trip was the Bonneville Salt Flats in Utah. Tye is the best vacation planner, I can always count on him to him to come up with unique, very meaningful adventures during our travels. He planned it out so we’d be camping under a full moon on the open salt flats. It’s one of the coolest things I’ve ever done. Salt for as far as the eye can see makes for endless margaritas. We arrived at the Salt Flats after dark and just literally drove off the road until we felt like “this is the spot” and pitched our stake in the ground. It was slightly eery but the glow of the full moon reflecting off the white salt cast beautifully across Winnie. Naturally, being a photographer, I couldn't pass up a photoshoot. It was that night that we decided Winnie looks like a pig. 


The next morning we snapped a few more photos as the sun rose and hit the road on to our next destination, Bryce Canyon National Park with one of our best friends, Old Man Abes!

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Johnny (A.KA. Old Man Abes), is one of Tye’s best childhood friends and we were so honored he took time out of his busy work schedule to spend a few days exploring Utah with us. After meeting Johnny, and stuffing our faces with breakfast at a gas station restaurant, we hit the road for Bryce Canyon. (I feel like I need to add a disclaimer that if you order a scone with honey at a gas station in middle-of-nowhere Utah, they will bring you a funnel cake. You are forewarned.)

Bryce Canyon did not disappoint. One of the highlights was when Johnny caught a rare desert fox and stuffed it into his backpack. 


Dogs are not allowed on the trails so we improvised and carried Chap in our pack and it seemed to work. She didn’t make a noise or move a muscle…she’s such a good girl. The orange rock and cathedral spindles unique to Bryce canyon almost felt like another world. I haven’t spent much time in the South or more specifically in desert environments but Utah and Arizona are truly an adventurer’s paradise. There’s SO much to see and an abundance of hikes canyons to explore. We could have spent a couple weeks in just this area and definitely plan to go back. 


You can read more about Bryce Canyon and see lots more photos here (coming soon!).

The next morning we took off for Escalante Park with a whole list of things to see such as the Hell’s Backbone, Devil’s Garden and the Grand Staircase. However, we only had a half day before we had to hit the road for Phoenix and Johnny had to head to California. In hindsight, we probably should have mapped out these locations a little better because we ended up spending more time in the car then we thought, and only made it to one location, which actually wasn’t the location we were looking for, before we had to call it a day. 


Escalante park is a vast area and not very well marked. In search of the Devil’s Garden we drove down a gravel road for 10 miles before we came to a small, unmarked parking lot to the side of the road which, based on our ambiguous online directions, we guessed was the right spot. Our vague directions told us to cross the road and follow the dirt path a half mile in to Devil’s Garden. We figured a half mile isn’t that far so we only need a couple bottles of water and Johnny opted to wear his shoes without socks. Just a quick hike right?  


We laughed at the “Warning! Hot Temperatures! Bring water!” sign posted near the trail head. Those signs for are "those people" who don’t know what there’re doing on a half mile hike, right? Well, after about a mile and a half in, we were "those people."  The sweat was rolling and there was no sign of any large rock formations for as far as we could see. We determined that we must be on the wrong trail and since hiking in the desert without socks is no bueno, we decided to turn around and possibly try to see something else on the way out of the park. (Terrible decision. Stop. Don't. Do. It.) 

On the way out of the park, when we were back in service, we were able to locate our previous location. Wait for it…Zebra Slot Canyon. Yep, turns out, we were only a half mile from Zebra Slot Canyon! Wat? Yes. Everything happens for a reason right? But sometimes that reason is you’re stupid and you make bad decisions. To come all that way and to be oh soooo clooose. I can't think about it anymore. If there’s ever been a time I wish I could go back in time, this is one of them.

Zebra Slot Canyon is one of the very few natural attractions that isn’t crawling with other tourists and it looks epic. It would have been a very authentic adventure resulting in some priceless photos. Take a look at what we missed out on. Disclaimer, this is not my photo. 


After getting over our missed opportunity, we parted ways with Old Man Abes and headed for Phoenix with a pit stop at Horse Shoe Bend. The drive from Escalante to Page, AZ was incredible. I’ve never see such awe-inspiring rock formations. There we SO many attractions along the way that were SO hard to drive by such as Peek-A-Boo Gulch and the Grand Canyon! You can find me day dreaming of future Utah and Arizona adventures. 

We did make a quick stop at Horseshoe Bend to get that epic Instagram photo…we couldn’t pass that up. This actually ended up being my favorite attraction during our road trip. The sheer vastness of this place is mind-blowing. The photos Do. Not. Do. Justice. I’m just blown away by the natural beauty we have in the U.S. and I get a headache trying to make sense of how these formations were created over time. I can’t think about it too hard. 


What you don’t see at Horseshoe Bend is the 3/4 mile walk through the sand to get to the edge. We visited during the hottest part of the day so I think it was about 107 when we made the march. And what you rarely see in the photos is everybody else. It’s a train of people walking from the parking lot to the canyon edge and you pretty much have to stand in line in order to get a good photo of the canyon. I’m surprised someone hasn’t capitalized on this natural attraction, charging admission. I’m sure someday that will be the case. I was also surprised at the amount of foreign languages we heard. This is apparently a hot spot for European and Asian tourists. For a few minutes, we felt as if we were touring abroad. And the last thing I was surprised about was how more people don’t fall over the edge. Morbid, I know, but there are hundreds of people just standing on the ledge, pushing to get a spot at the center. 😲 


After leaving Horseshoe Bend we had a hot drive to Flagstaff, AZ. We called in Thai Food takeout (which is our usual go-to) and toured the downtown while we waited for our food. I have always heard great things about Flagstaff and it totally lived up to it’s M.O. What a cool town! We were only able to spend about an hour there on a Friday evening, but the town was bustling and had a great outdoorsy vibe. Another place I’d love to go back and spend more time. 

That evening we made it to Tye’s sister’s house in Phoenix where we spent the weekend. What a saving grace it was to sleep in a REAL bed and take a REAL shower and catch up on laundry. Not to mention the great company all weekend. It was the perfect reset and seeing family again made our hearts full. 

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We hit the road again on Monday morning and by 9am it was already 110 degrees. We passed an older RV that was pulled aside on an exit changing a flat tire and we both looked at one another like “suuuucks to be them.” Maybe it was foreshadowing, maybe it was karma, either way about a half hour later were were in the same position. Winnie started loosing tread on the rear passenger tire because the roads were On. Fiya. 🔥 We were about an hour out of Phoenix and 30 minutes from Tucson. Luckily Winnie has dually tires so we still had one functioning tire. We decided to drive very slowly to a tire place on the edge of Tucson. I’m sure we were quite the site traveling about 30 mph on the interstate with rubber chunks flying behind us. 


We made it to the shop just fine but our troubles were not over quite yet. After waiting an hour, the mechanic notified us that he couldn't legally put on our spare tire because it was too old and he didn’t have a spare on hand that would fit Winnie. Cool. Thanks. Peace. 😑 

So on we went in search of another shop that had a tire our size. After wasting a large part of the day slothing around Tucson we got a new tire and were on our way again! 

About a half hour out of Tucson, Tye pulled over at an abandoned roadside restaurant and told me he needed to “check the new tire.” I didn’t think much of it until I heard him speaking to someone outside as if they were meeting. I thought it was odd, but then remembered who I was with. Then I realized that Tye was clearly meeting with this man and taking boxes from him. What is happening?

Turns out, Tye surprised me with a water maker for the boat! If you’re unaware of what this is, it basically allows us to create our own fresh, purified drinking water straight from the ocean. This is something I desperately wanted, but Tye never thought it was a necessity. He thought our 100 gallon holding tank was enough to get us from island to island without trouble, and it would have been, but our quality of life would have been greatly sacrificed. Having to conserve water, drink tank water, and worry about where to find fresh water can significantly change your cruising experience. And if I’m being honest, I was most exited about the ability to take quality showers whenever we want. 

If you know Tye, you know he always has a surprise up his sleeve. He ended up finding a custom water maker distributor in Arizona who just happened to be on the way to our boat. You can read more about our specific water maker and why Tye chose this model here (coming soon!). 

That night we slept in the Walmart parking lot. Yep. It happened. 

But the following morning we woke up before sunrise and drove to the White Sands National Park. It appeared that we were the first people in the park. We had the entire oasis to ourselves! Not a footprint in sight, just ripples in the sand from the night wind. I wish I could take each and every one of you to the White Sands…it was like powdered sugar between your toes…mountains of powdered sugar for as far as you could see. We just wandered out into what felt like the Sarahara Desert for hours snapping pictures along the way. The contrast between the white sand and blue sky was striking. It was deathly still and quiet. But I think my favorite part of this adventure was watching Chappie loose it in excitement over the sand. There’s something about sand that makes this little nugget go turbo time. She sprinted for hours up and down the sand dunes, rolling and jumping. I’m pretty sure she had a legit smile on her face too. The road trip up until then had been a little difficult for Chap. We could tell she was out of her element and extremely bored and/or tired so it warmed our hearts to see her lil personality come back at the White Sands. 


If you're interested in seeing more photos from the White Sands you can view them here (coming soon!).

There isn’t a whole lot to see, other than oil fields, from Alamogordo, NM to Denison, TX, so we pushed it to get to our boat the next day but that meant a 15 hr drive in Winnie. 


Up to this point, I hadn’t seen our sailboat outside of a few photos Tye took when he flew to Texas earlier this year to purchase her. So needless to say, I was excited, anxious and having all the feels to finally see our new floating home! And I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised. You can read more about our boat here (coming soon!). 

(Last sailboat on the left.)


I feel like at this point I need to give a shout our to our faithful Winnie for her highly unexpected performance. That ol’ girl got us all the way from Idaho to Texas safely, over 2,000 miles (and then even further)! She was such a nostalgic beast on the open road. We received numerous honks, thumbs up and fist pumps by passing vehicles who appreciated her in all her glory. It always made our day. (Yes, that's a dinghy strapped to the top.)


Our road trip to Texas was not perfect, it was not glorifying or even comfortable…ever, it was hot, sweaty, dirty and a constant inconvenience, but it was also real. It was an experience, and a pretty kick-ass one at that, something we’ll never forget. I’ve come to learn that sometimes the best memories come from the most imperfect of situations, the ones that make you belly laugh at the randomness of life.