After weeks of planning….its finally here, our 2015 road trip! This trip was really difficult to plan and I spent endless hours scouring the web for accommodations and attractions that were within our means. Travelling in the states when the dollar is so bad, really makes it necessary to budget carefully. In the end, I think we have quite a trip planned with lots of spectacular sights to see and adventures to keep it fun!
Days 1 to 3: Winnipeg, MB to High River, Alberta
The first 3 days of our trip were spent at a family reunion in High River, Alberta. We arrived around dinner time on Friday night, just in time for a family wiener roast. The weekend was packed with visiting and everyone had a great time re-connecting. My mom’s side of the family has had several losses in the last few years, so it was great to gather on a more positive note.
Most of the reunion events were held at the George Lane Memorial Campground. The facilities were great and the group camping easily handled the 100+ people in attendance. We wanted to camp with other family members at the reunion and this meant we needed to bring our gear along on the road trip. The Canadian dollar has gotten so bad over the past few months, that we decided to do a combination of camping along with the other accommodations we’d already booked to help offset the poor exchange rate.
The campground is situated next to the Highwood River and the kids had lots of fun riding the mini-rapids on their boogie boards and skipping rocks in the shallow depths near the campsite. Shay did some fishing, but didn’t get so much as a nibble.
Although we have tented for years, I must say I was a bit apprehensive about tenting on this vacation. It meant we had to pack all our gear and take the chance of encountering poor weather each night we set up. However, we agreed that tenting would certainly help make our 23 day vacation more affordable. We decided to take only our basic gear and leave everything that wasn’t necessary, at home. To make the set-up easier, we left our queen sized air mattress at home and purchased two more of the self-inflating mats. This made a huge impact on the set-up and pack-up times. Without the hassle of blowing up the air mattress and setting up the gazebo and camp kitchen, we had our tent set-up and beds made in 23 minutes. (I think it might actually be shorter than checking into a hotel and unloading the luggage.)
Day 4: High River, Alberta to Rexburg, Idaho
We got up early Monday morning to the sound of light rain…every tenters worst nightmare. We skipped making breakfast and packed-up as quickly as we could . With the tent only slightly damp, we dismantled the camp and were on the road within an hour.
It was a long day of driving, but the scenery was spectacular during much of the journey. We enjoyed the beautiful rocky mountains as well as a variety of other landscapes. There were lots of photo ops which Eden and I both loved! Between the odd bit of construction work, bathroom breaks, stops to fill the gas tank and the scenic bypass we added near the end of our trip, the anticipated 9 1/2 hours became 11 1/2. The kids were great and despite the length our spirits were high. Eden’s road trip playlist kept us going!
The highlight of this drive was definitely Mesa Falls which was located on a scenic bypass just of Highway 20 near Yellowstone National Park. The falls were spectacular and well worth the extra time (about 45 minutes) and $5 entry fee.
I had spent about 80 hours researching this trip. With the dollar being so bad, it took me longer to find affordable lodging and the most economical way to purchase attraction tickets. One of the resources I discovered was www.freecampsites.com Our first stay in Rexburg, Idaho was found through this site. The site allows you to search a location and then find free and low-cost sites that suit your needs. One thing I found was that camping in or near small towns is generally cheaper. If possible, avoid the touristy areas and prices are much better. Beaver Dick Park was located 5 miles west of Rexburg. The park is situated next to a river (forget the name) and is very well maintained. The sites are well-developed, with gravel parking pads, grass tent sites, fire pits and picnic tables. There are several sheltered picnic areas and the park is really quite lovely. Although you can’t make reservations, we came prepared knowing that there were only vault style toilets and no running water. We had a lovely site and Shay was able to do a bit of fishing while we were making breakfast and packing up. Overall this was a fabulous campground for $5 per night ~ clean, well-maintained and scenic. Although there was no water and the toilets were only vaults, there were several bathrooms scattered through the small park for convenience. I would highly recommend this campground, but be aware of the limited amenities.
*We passed through a small town called Ennis, Montana while travelling south on Highway 287. It is just north of the Montana/Idaho border. Although we didn’t have time to stop, I would definitely take some time to explore this little town if we’re back this way again. The town store fronts had an “old west flare”, but not in a tacky way. It seemed really quaint and worthy of checking out. It was nestled near the mountains and really piqued my curiosity. Too bad we were already running behind schedule and had to pass through without stopping.