Mexican Domestic Goddess

Skemps Go West! Day 1 and Notes on Prep

Travel, CampingJacqui Skemp2 Comments

{read my previous post in this series here}

I’ll start with a little bit of trip prep and then get on to day one of our trip. 

I’m a planner and I like lists. Lots and lots of lists. I made lists on my phone, texted lists to Ian, and used our two (yes two) white boards on our fridge to make more lists. I wanted to make sure that we had everything we needed without over packing. 


Starting in March my husband took the time to plan out our route. We went through several options, used and google maps to plan our trip. The goal was to not drive more than 5 hours in a day. He booked the sites ahead of time, and we started to gather supplies. Since we didn’t know if we would like camping as a family, we borrowed most of our gear. Pots and pans, and a tent came from our friends. Sleeping bags and pads from my in-laws. We bought a small cooking stove, used our utensils from home, and picked up plates from target. This post by Susanna was really helpful. I  just copied and pasted her list to my notes app. Oh, and as for clothes, we knew we would be able to do laundry once we got to Salt Lake City, so I only packed enough clothes in each persons bag to make it there.

This is what went in the back of our vehicle:

  • We each got one small duffle bag for our clothes, travel pillow, and headlamps

  • One bag for shoes

  • One dirty laundry bag

  • One small carry on suitcase for our non-camping clothes and things

  • A bin for dry goods

  • A bin for cooking and miscellaneous goods

  • Our larger cooler in the back

  • Tent, pads, sleeping bags, and chairs

  • Bag for toilet paper, paper towels, and small lanterns

  • A bag with our swimsuits and floaters for the kids


In the front seats the kids each had a backpack with things to occupy them during the trip (more on that later), their favorite small blanket, and a lovey. I kept my bag upfront with a magazine, books, and my Kindle. We also kept a small cooler upfront with snacks and our lunch stuff for the day.

Our route included two nights in South Dakota, one in Wyoming, one in Idaho, and three in Utah. Our trip included seeing Badlands National Park, Blackhills National Forest, Shoshone National Forest, Grand Teton National Park, Caribou-Targhee National Forest, Cache National Forest, Salt Lake City and St. George Utah, and the God-forsaken desert between Las Vegas and Los Angeles. 

Day 1

About two weeks before we were set to leave, we got notice that our first reserved campsite was flooded and would be closed for the rest of the season. We scrambled to find a new place, and thanks for the recommendation of a friend, we ended up at a KOA in the middle of South Dakota. It extended our first day’s drive by two hours, making it the longest day of driving on our trip- or so we thought. The KOA (Kampgrounds of America) was the perfect way to start our camping trip. The site was clean, it had amenities, and was probably a step down from glamping. The heat index read 105 degrees that day, so after setting up the tent, I honestly wasn’t sure we were going to be able to sleep in it. Fortunately they had a pool available so we hit that up to cool off. We also ordered burgers and brats from the grill they have there. We chatted with the guy who made our dinner, and he was so encouraging and enthusiastic about camping with children. The pool and grill felt a little bit like cheating, but it was perfect for the kids and we still slept in a tent so there. The kids made friends and played with them on the playground right next to our site until the sun set. We all slept really well that night.


{read the next post in this series here}
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