Instant Shed Build With Heartland Sheds

Today we are sharing our experience with getting a shed installed with Heartland Sheds. Full disclosure this shed was provided at no cost to us in return for our documenting the process on our blog and social media channels. As always all thoughts and opinions are our own.

We have needed a shed for YEARS!!! A few years ago we had our old shed torn down with the intentions of having a new one built quickly afterwards. That clearly didn't happen but we finally got one and we are so excited!! 
Let's talk about the process of having Heartland Sheds coming and build a shed for us. So when you go onto Heartland's website you'll pick out the shed/building that you want. We got the Classic Shed in the 12X16 size. Once you order it, someone from Heartland will contact within 3 business days to schedule your installation. Our installation date was 6 weeks from the time we ordered our shed. 

After that you need to check your backyard and have an area leveled that will fit the dimensions of the shed. You will need to make sure that the builders have 3 feet of space on all sides. So you don't want to level out a space right next to a fence or another building. The builders need to be able to move around when they are assembling your shed. 

The picture above here is the area we chose to have the shed built. What you can't really tell in this picture is how sloped our backyard is. The only other level area in our backyard was right next to the long white garden beds by our deck/patio area. Savannah did a mock up on Photoshop to show what the shed would look like in different places in our backyard. The space we chose is the only place where it didn't look weird.

We hired a company to come and create a level place to build the shed. It cost $600 to have someone level this massive area. I was honestly thinking it was going to cost more because of how much ground they had to dig. The downside is that it has left this part of our backyard a total mess. We still haven't gotten around to laying down grass seed. 

The guys that came out to level the ground also marked out the area where the shed was going to be built so that was nice. Having that big area cleared out really changed the slope of our backyard. 

Once installation day arrived the Heartland shed people got right to work. They had this platform built so quickly. It was pretty incredible watching them build the shed.

All of the wood comes pre cut and ready to assemble so that makes things go a lot quicker. There were 4 people to get the shed built. 

The builders were here for about 8 hours. Overall we had a really positive experience with Heartland Sheds. The only thing I would do differently is to have them paint the shed. When we were negotiating the terms of our agreement that's not something we worked in and I wish we would have just paid them to do it. Painting the shed only took an afternoon so it wasn't the worst thing we've had to do. But it sat unfinished in our backyard for about a month. What is great about Heartland Sheds is that they are primed, so you don't have to worry about that step.

Now we've got to finish moving all the things all over house that need to permanently live in the shed. Our studio in our house is full of items that have just been waiting to have a shed to be stored inside. It's a slow going process because this is the busiest time for us in the Stock Tank Pool Authority world and the gardening world. We cleaned up our deck though and it was amazing how much stuff we could put in the shed and not have sitting all over our deck. So grateful!

If your wanting a shed, we recommend checking out Heartland Sheds. Also check our You Tube video above where we talk about our experience with Heartland. Thanks for stopping by and don't forget to follow us on all our socials. We're most active on Instagram, and we're on TikTok now and we share a lot of gardening info there. 

5 Seed Starting Tips

If you've gone to a garden center and spent $20 bazillion dollars on plant starts, you'll quickly understand the value of starting your own. If 2020 taught us anything, it's that nothing is certain anymore. I know that's a super depressing thought, but the reality is some of us couldn't even find toilet paper last year. Seed companies had their highest sales ever last year because all of these people became interested in growing their own food. You will save hundreds and maybe even thousands of dollars growing food from seed instead of buying plant starts. However, I know it can be overwhelming to get started. Below are 5 tips for starting your own seeds. It's not as scary as you think! 

1. Utilize whatever you have. Obviously you aren't going to have everything you need to start seeds as you'll have to get a growing medium like sterile soil or coconut coir. But, seeds can be started in a lot of different containers. You can use old yogurt cups and poke holes in the bottom or solo cups with holes poked in them. Basically any container you'd like to reuse that can have holes poked or drilled into the bottom will work. You can even make your own newspaper pots like we did here.

2. Read the seed packet. Most seed packets have tons of information on it specific to whatever seed you have. Every now and then I'll get a seed packet that I've ordered online that won't have any information on it, but that is pretty rare. You should be able to find things like how early you should start your seeds inside, or if you should really just plant them outside. If a seed needs light to germinate, it will say that. Same with darkness. If it doesn't specify, chances are the seed needs to be covered. Your seed packet will also tell you when to move seedlings outside, how far to space plants, and maybe even what the plant should look like. But if there is any crucial information about the specific plant you are growing, you will find it on the seed packet. If you have doubts about any of these things or your seed packets doesn't list something you have a question, head to the internet! First start out checking the seed company's website for your seed type, but if you can't find what you need there, take it to google.

3. Dampen your soil before starting. You always want to start with well hydrated soil. Once your seeds are planted, you aren't going to want to pour a bunch of water on top as the seeds can dislodge and float higher or sink deeper into the soil. If a seed is too far down, it will not be able to germinate properly. (Depending on what seed it is, of course.) You want your soil to hold together when you squeeze it in your hand, but at the same time not drip any water out when you squeeze it. My favorite method is putting my soil in a 5 gallon bucket and then spraying water on top and working it in with a trowel. You can also use your hands!

4. Lighting is key! Once you've planted your seeds, you have to have a light source. We use these lights. You don't need to buy lights that are specifically grow lights. They are much more expensive. We had great success with our LED lights. Lighting is so important for the success of your seedlings. If you have a room with a sky light, you could possibly put your seeds right under that window (I'm talking 2" away from), but for the most part, windows are not enough. This is because all seedlings will start growing toward the light and become really leggy. They just will not grow straight up. Leggy seedlings are no bueno!

5. Don't start them too early! Oooh wee starting your seeds too early can really put you in a pickle! If you are in an area that has a long growing season like us (zone 7A) you have a little more freedom in when you start your seeds. People with shorter growing seasons have less leeway. On your seed packet it will say something like "start seeds 8-12 weeks before last frost." And last year we started all of our seeds in further away time. So if it said 8-12 weeks, we chose 12 weeks. I'm here to tell you to just choose 8 weeks. Your seedlings will grow surprisingly fast and 8 weeks is plenty of time to get the healthy and grown before transitioning outside. That extra 4 weeks is time you have to spend up-potting your seedlings because they've outgrown their pot. And if you have more than a couple seedlings, this takes a lot of work, time, and space to make happen. We spent the last 4-6 weeks before it finally stopped freezing (because bonus, our last frost date was not our last frost) trying to keep our seedlings alive and it was too much! So this year we are starting seeds way later and it's definitely something to consider yourself.

BONUS TIP! When you are brand new to growing your own food and/or flowers, getting all the seeds you want can be pretty expensive. This is when we suggest joining a seed swap! The best places I have found seed swaps is on Instagram.

ANOTHER BONUS TIP! When you are admiring your beautiful garden this summer, make sure you save some seeds from the fruits of your labor. You can use those seeds next year. Saving seeds is free and produces WAY more than what comes in a seed packet!

Don't get overwhelmed when starting seeds. Make sure you read the packet and follow the instructions and you will see magic happen. Watching a plant grow from seed and then being able to feed your friends + family off what you grew, is truly rewarding and worth all the hard work.

*** This blog post contains affiliate links. So if you buy an item using one of our links, we earn a teeny tiny portion of that sale. We appreciate all purchases you make through our links as it helps us provide you with this free content. 

DIY Magazines and Newspaper Seedling Pots

All of our seedlings are ready to be put in the ground. The only problem is that it's going to get down to 35 degrees and 37 degrees a few days this next week. Many of the flowers that we are growing need warm soil and 35 degrees ain't gonna cut it. So we made the decision to re-pot almost 200 plants. The only problem? We don't have that many pots!

I've seen people make newspaper pots, and while that is interesting to me, we don't have any newspapers sitting around the house. We do have a stack of magazines and catalogs though. So I figured out how to make a BUNCH of pots out of our magazines, and I'm going to show you how to do it! All you need are your magazines. No tape, no scissors, just old magazines and/or catalogs, or any paper that you would like to use.

I would like to really quickly say that if you do use magazines, make sure you remove the plant from the pot when you go to plant it in your garden bed. Throw the used magazine pot in the trash. Do not plant it in your soil and leave to decompose.

First things first, pull out all the papers in your magazine. Separate each one. Stack two papers right on top of each other.

Fold the top to the side edge and fold into a triangle.

Fold the bottom edges up along the edge of the triangle.

Separate the papers.

Flip one of the papers upside down.

Overlap the papers and line them up along the folded line.

Fold the papers in half along the fold.

Fold the papers in half vertically and then open it up again. This line is just a guide.

Take the top right corner and fold it in toward the middle and line it up along the middle fold.

Repeat on the left side.

Fold the bottom top layer upward and line it up below the triangles.

Fold it again.

Flip the paper over.

Fold the left side inward and line it up with the middle fold.

Repeat on the other side.

Fold the bottom upward and line up with the bottom of the squares.

Fold it upward one more time.

Take the end of what you just folded and tuck it in behind the other folds.

Fold the top point downward to meet the other folds.

Turn over and fold the top point back the other way.

Take the point and fold it over to the left top corner, but only press down half way.

And then open it back up.

Open up the bottom hole.

And prop it open into a square.

Push down the bottom where you made folds.

And press down the flap.

This flap will stick out, but it doesn't affect how the pot works.

And your pot is done!

I will be watering these pots from the top only. They are substantial enough to hold the plants, but we don't want to break them down super fast. I would like for them to last for a couple weeks! You could always plant seeds in these pots if you are just starting out. They are a great solution when you don't have a bunch of pots or can't get to the store to buy some, which is the exact situation we were in.

If you like this post, please pin an image from this post for reference later! And tag us in your pics on Instagram.

How To Grow Your Own Chicken Treats (Cheap, Fast, And Easy!)

It's the middle of winter, and everything is dead. Well almost. If it's alive, the chickens have eaten it. We are still working on making the chicken coop and run the most entertaining place it can be for them, but we felt like they still need something more. Then we discovered fodder.
Fodder is something used on farms and homesteads all around to feed livestock. It can be made at home from many different things- wheat, peas, barley, oats, etc. It grows fast and provides a very cheap treat for your farm animals. I first searched high and low for a huge bag of barley, but in the end our supply store only had oats, so that became our choice of grain! The 50 lb. bag cost about $15.

Now fodder is not supposed to replace the entire diet of your chickens. We are growing it for more of a treat and to offset a little bit of the cost of food. Mostly it gives the chickens something to do and be excited about, especially in the colder months when everything is dead.

I've had some trial and error. When I read about the process of making fodder online, it seems like it's easy and fool-proof. No one really talks about the ways it can go wrong. But on my first try (while following someone's complete instructions) only about 1/4 of the grains sprouted and I ended up with a lot of wet grain and a little bit of sprouts. The chickens enjoyed it anyway, but it didn't provide as much food/treats as I would have liked. So after numerous YouTube videos watched and blog posts read, I believe I figured out the best way to grow fodder in your home, *without* an automatic watering system. Because that is also a thing....

You may read this post and think, this is more work than I want to put in. And although you do have to tend to the project every day, you only spend about 3 minutes per day doing anything. So let's talk about everything you need to do, and what supplies you need to do it.

You will need:
- A large soaking jar
- Grains of your choice
- Kitchen Towel
- Bowl
- Strainer
- Tray with holes
- Tray without holes

Soak the grains. For a long time! I read to soak the grains overnight. This is not long enough. Just go ahead and soak them for 24 hours. I put about 2 cups in a giant mason jar and filled it up with water. I did end up having to add a little more water as the seeds started absorbing it.

Incubate the grains. Once the seeds have been soaking for 24 hours, strain the water out and give the grains a good rinse. Place a clean kitchen towel in a bowl and pour the grains on top. Then wrap the towel over the seeds to completely cover them. Leave them for at least 24 hours. I found that 48 hours for the oats was best.

At this point, your grains should be sprouted very nicely. Place the grains in an even layer in your tray with holes. Rinse the grains with water. I do this in my sink. Just spray with water and let it drain out. Once the water has mostly drained out, place the grain tray on top of the tray without holes. Use the kitchen towel (or anything you'd like, really) to roll up and prop up one end of the grain tray. This will allow any residual water to leak out instead of sitting with the grains. We do not want any mold to grow!

I rinse my tray twice a day. Once in the morning, and once in the evening. Basically when I wake up and before I go to sleep. Some people rinse 3 or 4 times a day, and that is definitely an option if you have the time. But I have found that the sprouts still grow very quickly with a twice a day watering.

Once your sprouts reach about 4 inches, you can give the entire tray to your chickens! Ours will spend a few days eating the 9x12 tray. One day soon I hope to grow multiple trays at a time so they can have a little bit of sprouts every day, even through summer. Especially on the days when we can't let them free range.

DIY Hinged Chicken Ladder Roost

We recently had to add another feature to our chicken coop, as our chickens were not using both laying boxes. I've watched a couple chickens act like they can't get into one of the boxes, even though I have seen a few of the others jump up in there from the ground. Our other box has a roost near it for easy access. And that's the one where we kept finding all the eggs. So we decided to add a ladder that would provide not only easy access, but also a couple extra roosting spots. Have I ever seen a chicken on the ladder? No. Are they laying eggs in that box again? Yes. Slowly, but surely.

For this project you will need:
- 1- 2"x4" wood
- 2.5" wood screws
- Hinges

I used some scrap wood we had recently picked up, but you could do this project with just one 2"x4".

To start, you will need to cut the sides of the ladder. I didn't actually measure this piece, but it ended up being about 21" long. Cut the ends of this piece both at a 45 degree angle, but where the angles are turned into each other. If you want this measurement to be more precise, you can figure out how high you want the ladder to be on your wall and then measure at a 45 degree angle all the way down to the ground. Make sure you cut two of these pieces exactly the same.

Next, cut 3 pieces (or more if you need them) of wood to 14", or however wide you want the roosts to be.

To make sure you attach the roosts in a way where they are level with the ground, use a right angle next to the top edge of the side piece and draw a line. Then draw every other line indicating where the roost will go parallel to the first line you drew. If this is a little confusing, make sure to check out the video where it's easier to see what I did.

Attach the roosts by using screws from the outside of the side pieces. I used two screws at each end. Now you ladder is done! Now for how to attach it to the wall...

I attached hinges to the end of each of the top pieces.

Once you've attached them to the ladder, put it on the wall where you want it and attach it by the hinges.

We wanted our ladder to be able to be lifted up so we could clean the bottom of the coop really easily. I attached a hinge so it could stay put in the upright position.

And here is the chicken coop with all it's roosts!

We hope this is helpful for you and your coop! We have a really cool coop project to share really soon, so come back to see what else we are adding to make the coop even more efficient.

Southwest Road Trip: 13 National Parks in 3 Weeks

In Mid November 2020 we took a 3 week long trip across the country and visited 13 different national parks for my (Casey's) 40th birthday. We traveled with our 2 dogs, Hazel (cockapoo) and Johnny Rose (yes named after Schitt's Creek, a cavalier/bichon mix rescue). We live in Nashville and drove to Texas to deliver stock tanks (this is our other business. Check it out at We left from Austin and drove down to Terlingua, TX in our 1996 GMC 3500 Vandura van, named Birdie. We literally finished converting this van after we arrived in Austin while we were staying with Savannah's grandparents. You can read more about our van conversion here.

The trip was epic and our itinerary changed many times. We had initially planned on driving up to the Pacific Northwest but pretty quickly realized we didn't want to drive that far with the amount of time we had. Then we planned on heading up to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons, but a few days in snowy Colorado turned us back around and headed back south. Another unplanned part of the trip was that we experienced some car trouble and had to get new brake pads. I also left my wallet at a laundromat right as it was closing for the weekend so we spent 2 days in Boulder, Co waiting for this laundromat to open and praying that my wallet was still there. Thankfully it was! No epic road trip is without its drama. 

Even with the setbacks, we laughed a lot and saw some incredibly beautiful landscapes. All in all it was such an awesome trip and a great way to celebrate my birthday. Keeping reading to see what we thought of each of the national parks we visited. They are listed in the order that we visited them.

1. Big Bend National Park

This was the first national park we visited and we really enjoyed it. Going in November was great because the weather was nice and in the 70s. It is right on the border of Mexico so it can get super hot in the summer, so take that into consideration when you're planning a trip here. We loved the purple prickly pear cactuses everywhere. We actually saw a bear which was so exciting! I've been to the Great Smoky Mountains a zillion times since I grew up near there and I've never seen a bear even though it has one of the highest concentrations of bears of any national park.

We took turns walking to the Santa Elena Canyon trailhead (pictured above), and I wish we could have done the whole thing. No dogs were allowed on the trail. Also, you have to walk through water to get to the canyon so keep that in mind. The water you see in the picture above, you have to walk through that. This is a national park that isn't really close to anything else and there's not much else to do in the area, but it's worth the drive! 

We stayed at this Hicamp for 2 nights and really enjoyed our experience. The host was great and it was just minutes outside Big Bend. If you're using Hipcamp for the first time use our code: HEYWANDERER to get $10 off your first stay or click here. This is not sponsored but we do enjoy Hipcamp and it's a great way to find unique camping sites. We highly recommend checking reviews of each place though. We have booked listings that were an instant books and showed up and the host wouldn't let us in. He said he wasn't doing Hipcamp anymore even though he still had a listing. Hipcamp was great though and provided us another place to stay. So I would make sure you have some contact with the host and you read the reviews. 

2. White Sands National Park

I have to be honest this wasn't a national park that I was particularly interested in visiting. Savannah has always wanted to go and since it was on the way to our next destinations we decided to go. Ideally we'd love to visit all the national parks so we might as well go when we are near one. I'm really glad we did go! This is one of the few national parks on our trip that the dogs could walk around freely. Most national parks don't allow dogs on trails or really anywhere except parking lots and campgrounds. We got to the park right before sunset which was so great because White Sands is beautiful at sunset. You can bring sleds and sled down the sand. Also, be careful because you are literally surrounded by white sand. So it can be easy to get lost if you wander too far. We didn't spend a ton of time here but it's definitely worth the trip if you're in the area.

3. Great Sand Dunes National Park

This was another park that was visited mostly because we were near by and wanted to get this park checked off our list. However, again we really enjoyed it. There weren't a lot of people so we let the dogs run around (leashes still attached to their collars but we weren't holding on to them) and they loved that. When you drive up to the park you are surrounded by mountains and you're like- um I can't imagine there being sand dunes anywhere. Alas, they are there and surrounded by mountains. So it's a totally different landscape than the White Sands National Park. 

Would I drive out of my way just to go to this park? Probably not unless you're like us and trying to visit all of the national parks. What I will say about all of the national parks, even the ones we weren't enamored with, we're never sorry we went. They all have something to offer! 
4. Rocky Mountain National Park

This is a park I definitely want to revisit without dogs and when it is warmer. Traveling with dogs at most national parks really limits what you can do and see. I'd love to come back here and backpack around for a few days. There had recently been a fire so that limited the area we could visit. Also like a lot of national parks that have cold weather, certain parts of the park can be blocked off because of snow/ice. So in some regards visiting in the winter can be nice because there is less of a crowd, but you can miss out on some areas of the park. 

We camped nearby at Golden Gate Canyon State Park and spent our Thanksgiving there. It was such a different Thanksgiving experience but I loved it. With the pandemic going on and not being able to spend it with family, having Thanksgiving in the middle of a beautiful state park was a lovely alternative. We made some things but also picked up some pre-made foods from a nearby Whole Foods. I attempted making a lemon icebox pie that never set up even though we left it buried in the snow overnight. 

5. Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

This is probably one of the most underrated national parks. It was SO COOL and I'd love to visit again without dogs and when it's warmer. Dare I say this but I think I enjoyed it more than the Grand Canyon. A big chunk of this park was closed down because of the weather. I will say I don't think many share this love of this park- another blogger, Renee of Renee Roaming rated this park in her bottom 10 after visiting all of the national parks in one year. What did we love about it? I think it was the shear magnitude of the canyon and it seems more awe inspiring than the Grand Canyon to me. The hiking opportunities may be less and there is certainly not as many facilities as the Grand Canyon. If you're into skiing it isn't far from several skiing towns in Colorado. 

6. Arches National Park

If you follow US based van-lifers, you've definitely seen them talk about this national park. When we drove to the campsite we quickly realized why so many van-lifers love this park. The campground has an incredible view that is super IG worthy. 

Arches is a cool place but we felt it was over-hyped. However, the day we went it was so windy and cold which does have an impact. We didn't want to get out of the van because it was so cold, so that definitely affected our experience. You also can't see a lot of the famous arches without hiking to them and again, no dogs were allowed so we missed out on this. 

7. Canyonlands National Park

Another underrated park. I think Arches gets a lot of hype which is well-deserved but we enjoyed Canyonlands more. It's hard to put my finger on why exactly, and the weather could have played a big part. It was super windy and cold when we visited Arches which made going outside kinda miserable, but it wasn't windy on our day at Canyonlands. So it may not be a fair comparison. Canyonlands felt epic. There is this place (pictured above) where you can walk out and you are surrounded by the canyons. It was one of the places where you didn't feel like you could properly catch the epic-ness in a photo. 

This was not the most dog friendly park and to my knowledge there weren't any paved trails or any areas other than campgrounds and parking lots where the dogs could walk. 

8. Capitol Reef National Park

Another beautiful Utah national park. One of the thing that sticks out to me the most about this park is that it has an orchard. There are fruit trees planted everywhere and when they are in fruit, you can just pick them. I want to go back just for that! Since we visited in December, we obviously missed that. This was another glad we visited it and we got to see the overall beauty but it deserves more time. 

9. Bryce Canyon National Park

So Arches, Canyonlands, Captiol Reef, and Bryce all kind of have similar vibe/look to them BUT they are definitely unique. What I mean is that they the main attraction to these 4 parks are the terracotta colored rock formations. However, all the formations are shaped differently and the surrounding landscape is often different. But it is really cool to think that all of the 5 national parks in Utah are within 1-3 hours from each other and have similar features but they are formed so uniquely. God is truly an awesome Creator and that became very evident on this trip. Bryce Canyon's terracotta rock formations are called hoodoos.

Relatively speaking this was another more dog friendly national park. They have a trail that is paved where dogs can walk. It's nice to not have to walk the dogs in a parking lot. But don't feel sorry for the dogs, they visited so many dog parks and had plenty of time to run free. They probably spent more time outside on this trip than they do at home. 

Would I visit this park again? Yes. Would I drive just to go to this one park? No. If you're going to any of the national parks in Utah, you are so close to all the other ones, you've got to see them all. They are all worth visiting and you could do an epic road trip where you just visited all the Utah parks. 

10. Zion National Park

This was one of the national parks we most looked forward to visiting and we will definitely be going back. Not to sound like a broken record but again we'd like to go back when it's warmer and without dogs. They did have one paved trail close to the visitors center (which was closed) where dogs could walk. I will say Zion was pretty busy even though it was so cold, so I can't say I'm looking forward to going when there are even more people.

We were visiting at a time when you could take your car on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. Most of the year, this part of the park is accessible only by shuttle. I can't even imagine how they did that in the midst of a pandemic but I am really glad we didn't have to deal with any shuttles. However, they only allow so many people on that road at a time. Our first day there, the road had already reached its limit. So your options are to keep driving back by in hopes that someone left for you to go in, or come back earlier the next day. That's what we decided to do.

Our first day there was on a Sunday so I know more people were visiting then, and we were back by 9:00 am on Monday morning. We were able to get on the scenic drive. Most of the areas that Zion is known for are accessed on this scenic road. I will say, the drive in from the east entrance is beautiful and it's much longer than the scenic drive you turn off. Since we couldn't do any of the hikes with the dogs, we really didn't miss much the day before.

With that said, the famous The Narrows hike is accessed from this road. Make sure to do you research about that hike before driving to Zion to do that. We considered boarding the dogs to be able to do this hike because it's so incredible but the water was so cold and we would have been miserable. We are definitely going back to be able to do all of the hikes we missed. This is a park that you can drive through and see a lot of beautiful things but you'll miss most of the incredible beauty the park has to offer if you don't get out and hike some of it. This park is definitely worth of a several day visit and lots of planning. 

11. Grand Canyon National Park

I'm going to say something so controversial. I think Grand Canyon is overrated. This was my second time going and it was Savannah's first and we both felt the same way. Don't get me wrong, it's incredible and beautiful and maybe we would have felt differently if we would have spent more time there. I also think being able to hike and backpack increases your enjoyment of visiting any park. We arrived close to dark so we got to see it at sunset which is extraordinary. We actually got to camp in one of their campgrounds, and the next day it started snowing pretty good. We decided to not stick around for that and head to our next destination. So our trip to the GCNP was short and I know it's worthy of spending more time there. Yes, we do think it's overrated BUT I'd still go back again because both times I went I was more passing through. I've never given it the time it deserves. 

12. Saguaro National Park

Okay so this park was cool, but it is mostly just a bunch of saguaro cactuses. It was cool to see them in such high concentrations and if you're into taking pictures of yourself, you could get some cool ones here. I do wish we had been able to see it at sunset because I've heard that's magical. They did have a nature trail where the dogs could walk on so we were super excited about that. They had the best visitor center/gift shop of all the parks we visited. It was seriously so well curated. We were getting a sticker for every park we visited and some of the parks had terrible options but Saguaro had a lot of great ones. I know that's a random detail but after being so disappointed by the gift shops at bigger parks like Grand Canyon, it felt worth mention. Zion's wasn't even open. 

After we left the park we happened upon a really cool state park, Tucson Mountain Park, so that is definitely worth visiting if you are going to Saguaro. 

13. Guadalupe Mountains National Park

Since this was the last park we visited,  I think we were possibly national parked out. This was underwhelming but if I'm honest, I just don't think we were in the mental space to enjoy it. I really don't even have a lot to say about this park. It's only 30 minutes away from Carlsbad Caverns and we almost shoved that in there because we were so close and it would be another check off our national park list, but we couldn't do it. We would have had to stay another day and we were ready to get back to Austin. We had to pick up some stuff we left at Savannah's grandparents house. 

The national parks were all awesome in their own way and we definitely liked some more than others. And you'll notice a recurring theme that we didn't feel like we got to fully experience the beauty of each park, but this was not what this trip was supposed to be. We wanted to get a general overview of a large amount of parks and this helped us know which parks we'd go back and visit and which ones we wouldn't. What's cool about a road trip like this is that some of the most memorable things were the moments that happen in between the planned times. For example, some of the places we camped were as memorable and breathtaking as the national park we visited. 

You will notice that we mention a lot of times throughout the post that we couldn't do a lot of things because we had the dogs with us. We knew this was going to be a big challenge going into this trip but we also knew we didn't have a way or a desire to leave the dogs at home for that long. Johnny Rose is a puppy and there is just no way we could have swung leaving him at home. Going on this trip did help him overcome his fear of peeing in new places. He'll pee anywhere now and it also helped seal the deal of potty training.

We did have a few incidents that required us washing our bed linens unexpectedly. Traveling with dogs is a whole other layer of stress and traveling with a rescue puppy was next level. But at the end of the day it was either not go on this trip or take the dogs with us. Another option if you do want to travel with your pets but want to fully experience all the national parks have to offer- take them to a doggy daycare. There are doggy daycares in a lot of towns nearby national parks. Zion National Park actually had their own doggy daycare facility. 

My advice if you are doing a trip like this is to figure out what you want out of your trip. Do you just want to visit as many national parks in as you can? Or would you rather visit less parks and really spend time in each park? Are you traveling with dogs? Children? How long do you want to drive each day? You need to consider the time of year you are visiting and think about when busy seasons are and weigh the pros and cons of visiting in off seasons.

There is a ton of information out there and it's great to read blogs like ours to get opinions but also keep in mind who you are and what you like because it could be very different than what the person likes who is writing. Most of all that the adventure there is just as important as the destination and plan on being flexible. Planning is important on a trip like this but you'll learn really quickly that your plans will change nearly everyday. Figure out what is most important to you for your trip and don't stress about the rest.