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Our California to Tennessee Move & Road Trip

family life travel Oct 02, 2020

To say 2020 has been a little crazy would be an understatement. We never thought we’d leave California. But here I sit, in a cute little coffee shop in Franklin Tennessee, typing up this blog post for you. I always wanted to do a family road trip across the United States but I had no idea it would look like this.

I had visions and dreams of buying a cute little airstream, giving it a makeover, and then toting the fam all over the country for a few months. Instead, we had about 30 days to pack our house, book a moving pod, and plan a 3,500 mile road trip.

I must say, I’m pretty impressed with what I whipped up and can honestly say we had the time of our lives. We made memories to last a lifetime, marked quite a few items off the bucket list, and made our way to our new home in Franklin, Tennessee.

Did I mention we had three animals in tow as well? It was quite the adventure!

We were extremely limited in our choices to rent an RV. In fact the only company we could find that was offering one-way RV rentals was Cruise America. Due to COVID other companies (with much better reviews and prices) were not offering any rentals in the time frame we needed. We were actually extremely disappointed in Cruise America but that’s another story for another day. But just for future reference. We won’t ever use them again.

Irvine, CA to Foresthill, CA - 475 miles

Our plan was to leave California on August 3rd and arrive in Tennessee on the 11th. So this gave us 8 days to get across the country. Part of our trip included making some stops to visit family so our first stop was in Northern California. My brother and sister-in-law were due with their first baby and we were hoping to meet sweet little Asher but he decided to cook a little longer and Morgan and I ended up flying back to California a couple weeks later to meet him.

Foresthill, CA to Emmett, ID - 538 miles

Our next stop was Emmett Idaho. Ryan’s parents moved there a couple of years ago and we hadn’t been to their place yet. We spent a few days with them and Ryan’s brother and sister-in-law.

It was a pretty drive through Idaho and we absolutely loved Anderson Reserve.  “The Barn at Anderson Reserve is a combined custom butchery, market, and tasting experience.” The food, the service, and the view were amazing and we’ll definitely go back when we visit Ryan’s parents again.

Emmett, ID to Jackson Hole WY - 411 miles

After a few days in Emmett, we headed to Jackson Hole Wyoming. Ryan and I had been to Jackson Hole about 16 years ago and loved it so we were pretty excited to add this to the road trip. It wasn’t quite the same Jackson Hole we remembered because they were pretty insane on the whole mask thing. There were signs everywhere enforcing masks even when you were walking on the street which really kind of ruined Jackson Hole for us.

We did eat at a delicious pizza place, Hand Fire Pizza. It was seriously yummy with a great atmosphere and I highly recommend it!

We only had one night there (I would highly recommend at least a few nights) and stayed at Fireside Jackson Hole which was a lovely campground. They even have the cutest little cabins / tiny homes you can rent if you don’t have an RV.

Jackson Hole WY - Yellowstone - Red Lodge, MT - 281 Miles

We left early in the morning from Jackson Hole to head into Yellowstone. This is something we definitely want to go back and spend some time doing but we had a deadline so we only spent one day. As we left Jackson Hole, we cruised past the Grand Tetons which were breathtaking.

Our day was filled with many animal sightings including moose and buffalo. Be sure to watch my story highlight on Instagram to see all of the Buffalo jams we found ourselves in! We also made it to Old Faithful just in time for her to erupt.

We made our way through the park and to Lower Falls in what they call the Little Grand Canyon of Yellowstone and it was gorgeous. I’m so glad we made it to this part of the park because it truly was a highlight. The views, the sky, the falls, all of it was so incredibly beautiful.

After we left Lower Falls, we made our way to Red Lodge, Montana. We were meeting some friends here and she so kindly gave us the route to take that would be “much prettier.” Well, it was definitely pretty but it was the scariest thing I’ve done in my life. Haha. I quickly realized I am not a fan of climbing 11,000 feet up a steep mountain in an RV. Switching back and forth and praying to God that we would not fall off a cliff, then having to come back down those 11,000 feet… let’s just say I was popping my CBD chill pills in the back of the motorhome like there was no tomorrow. Because I really did feel like I might not make it to the next day.

By God’s grace, we made it down the mountain and arrived in the cutest little town, Red Lodge. We ate at the yummiest little restaurant, Piccola Cucina  and celebrated our friend's wedding anniversary. We ate a ton of pasta, drank a lot of wine, and danced the night away. If you ever find yourself in Montana, I highly recommend spending some time in Red Lodge. We didn’t have a ton of time and I was so sad to not be able to explore the cute little town more. We stayed at the KOA in Red Lodge that night and crashed pretty hard so I really don’t have much to say about it ;)

Red Lodge MT to Mount Rushmore to Sioux Falls - 790 miles

This was our last “fun” day of the trip and we definitely ended it with a bang. We made our way from Red Lodge to Mount Rushmore and I’m so thankful we went this route. With everything going on in the US right now, it was really important for our entire family to be able to go see Mount Rushmore before someone decides it shouldn’t be there. Our drive was gorgeous and it was actually the beginning of Sturgis so there were bikers EVERYWHERE! It was so cool and very fun to see. All of the little towns we drove through on our way were adorable and it was so nice to see so many people TOGETHER and out living their lives. Amazing how people live when they’re free and not locked down by a crazy governor!

After we left Mount Rushmore, we made our way to Sioux Falls, South Dakota. This was just to sleep because the next day (our last day) was going to be a long haul and we needed to get up early. We stayed at the KOA and I do not recommend it. There was nothing particularly wrong except that it was right next to a freeway and very noisy.

Sioux Falls to Franklin TN - 947 miles

Like I said, our last day was a long hall! 950 miles long! But we made it safe and sound to our new home, Franklin, TN. It wasn’t quite the road trip I always dreamed of but we had the time of our life and made tons of memories with our kids. We can’t wait to go back and visit some of these places some day. But, until then, we are grateful for such an amazing experience that we know not many will ever have.

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