planning ahead

Planning Ahead

Just as in the above picture, taken on our approach to Moab six months ago, the road ahead is always hidden. Which isn’t always the best thing.

Last week we made reservations at the way, way northwest Olympic National Park (for June 2021) and at the way, way southeast Key West (for January 2022), a transcontinental slash from corner to corner of the lower 48. That means dragging our house more than 3500 miles by any efficient route, and more like twice that on our planned hopscotch through National Parks: Mount Rainier, North Cascades, Glacier, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Rocky Mountain, Petrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Saguaro, Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend, Hot Springs, and Everglades – among the many dozens of other base camps we’ll have along the way.

Which is a lot of miles and a lot of addresses. And that means a lot of planning.

It Takes Advance Planning to Live in the Moment

When we began our Haven’s Path adventure we adored the idea of taking life in immediate doses, seizing the moments directly in front of us and leaving the future as tomorrow’s problem, with only a few tentpole destinations as vague guidestars. Along the way, we’d be light of foot and quick to change directions.

Discover a place we like? Stay a month or two. Hate a place? Leave on the spot. Then drive until we reach the next adventure, wherever that may lie.

We like spontaneity, we thought. Go where the wind takes us, we thought.

Turns out, not so much.

We’ve discovered that there’s enough unsteadiness in living day to day that leaving the next year or two as unplanned surprises kicked our anxieties into overdrive. We’ve discovered that the more reservations we make in advance the more we’re free of worry in the present.

To our surprise, we find that we can live more in the moment when our next year is mapped out.

Our Next Twelve Months

So lately we’ve been doing a lot of mapping out and making reservations, even a year in advance.

Because that’s how far in advance some of our not-to-miss places are booked up, and since most of those places are National Parks, those are where we’ve been locking in our calendar as soon as spaces become available to reserve.

These days most national park camping reservations are handled by the centralized website, where availability is released in a rolling six-month advance window. Many of the more local system have a similar calendar; others open their sites for reserving a year in advance. Getting a prime spot is exactly like trying to snag concert or comic-con tickets the moment they go online, with all the delight and disappointment that can bring.

Through some luck and persistence, our reservation calendar now has about two dozen advance reservations in place, with more to follow as we have cell signal and time to find the best addresses in America to live at, one week at a time.

Here’s the outline of our calendar so far:

MarchCAYosemite, Pinnacles
MayORCrater Lake
JuneWAOlympic, Mount Rainier, North Cascades
AugustWY/COYellowstone, Grand Tetons, Rocky Mountain
OctoberNM/AZPetrified Forest, Grand Canyon, Saguaro
NovemberAZ/TXGuadalupe Mountain, Carlsbad Caverns, Big Bend
DecemberAR/LA/AL/MS/FLHot Springs

See You There?

If you’re at any of these places, or might plan to be, drop us a message. We’d love to camp alongside or meet up.

Planning well in advance, of course.


    1. That’s what we’ve heard! It’ll still be early season (which means snow) when we’re near there so our plan is to camp nearby and make the day trip up. Can’t wait!

  1. WELL! That is some itinerary! We have seen one or two of those places during visits to the USA in the mid-90s, but how we would just love to take a trip like that! Sadly, we are still (at least partly) employed, so we can’t yet go out and live on the road. Good to have a planned itinerary with “anchor points” along the way, then you can fill in the gaps with the more random and spur-of-the-moment decisions. Looking forward to read all about it!

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