Learning and Exploring

Final Thoughts of Our Western Survey Trip

Most of us kept a travel journal. I painted two simplistic paintings on the spot and some rough sketches. I glued in a ticket and a menu. I have added in more details and will continue to do so until I feel it is complete enough, but I need to make a better effort next time by writing quotes, memories, activities, etc. down sooner before I forget.

I may have mentioned this before, but I added 7 new states for a total of 22 visited/lived in. Now, some of these we only drove through, but I am counting those anyway.

We brought plenty of car entertainment (far too much; we hardly used any, and we could have used the space), but my youngest sisters provided quite a bit on their own. For example, the first day we were regaled to the entire first verse of “God Bless America” for every.single.U.S.flag my little sisters saw. I feel like we were in flag territory that day too.

My foodie attempts failed, miserably. I will keep suggesting, but I just need to realize I will probably have to try new places on my own, we are a rather unadventurous and VERY impatient family when it comes to food.

I recently finished a book on Native Americans which mentioned the economy of casinos on reservations. We saw the evidence of that. We discovered that as reservations have their own regulations, casinos are allowed on reservations in states that do not allow them in other areas.

I loved seeing all the wildflowers. I feel like the areas of my state that I frequent most do not have the variety that I saw on this trip (or they are mostly yellow and white). I know that picking wildflowers is often illegal, so I did not pick any, but I wished I had researched to see if I could pick some in order to have a few for my travel journal.

We did not get very far into the trip before I decided to make dream itineraries for other road-trips such as the northwest, northeast, and Blue Ridge Parkway. I would prefer to be less crunched for time and to make foodie exploration more of a priority.

I did finish one of my photography classes and started reading my photography book before the trip. I brought two spare batteries and two extra memory cards. I replaced my battery maybe twice but used the same (16 GB) memory card even though I shot RAW. I learned some points during the trip and when going through my photos.

I still overshot, mainly at the zoo; I had my face to the camera the majority of the time there when I should have focused on my favorites and animals unique to the San Diego Zoo. Part of the reason for the the overshooting was the inability to tell how well focused the photos were. I came home with around 1200 (I think) photos. I would shoot and then delete the photos that I could tell were bad, but I need to purge at least 50%. I need to hone my skills, so I can take fewer photos faster (I was hounded about my speed) with a higher success percentage, but I also need to choose my moments and subjects. And I need a good tripod and self-timer if I want quality evidence that I went on the trip!

I posted unedited and lightly edited photos on this blog, but my main focus is a photo book, and I need to learn more about optimizing RAW photos with editing. I think I will give myself several months to complete this project because 1) I made myself sick of the photos quickly 2) I need to learn more, and 3) I do not want to feel rushed. I also need to research a reasonably priced, high quality photobook. I do not want to pay too much, since no matter how I edit my photos, they will not be professional quality, but I want my effort to pay off.

A Few Notes for Future Trips
-Better prepare for photography and art/travel journal (I think I want an insta camera to some quick moments for journal).

-If I want good food, I will have to buy it. But we should have made the effort to have a cooler. Jerky, nuts, dried fruit, fruit, fast-food etc. is not the greatest diet.

-Wetwipes are a must; I packed some homemade ones and these proved so popular we bought more.

-Calculate space for purchases (I toted around a box for my fragile goodies which cause grumpiness).

-Because of entertaining sisters and sound sensitivity the audiobooks and Adventures in Odyssey mainly served to take up much needed space rather than entertainment. If you can (we couldn’t in that car) take advantage of downloadable options.

-The coin laundry in hotels is EXPENSIVE. So you have to find a balance between space and expense when packing. Even on low outdoor and exercise days, I did not really want to re-wear clothes after using disgusting restrooms, so I washed clothes more often. Washing in the sink isn’t really an option if you are staying only one night it most hotels because clothes won’t have time to dry.

-Knits, knits! I ironed too much. I know most people won’t really have that issue, but I really need more casual and easy elegance clothes.

-I missed a few beauty tools/toiletries. Luxury yes, but I would have been happier with them, and they would have been small. I could also have downsized a few more items.

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