Just awesome from start to finish! (I'll edit this post to include more and more pictures as get them sorted, but wanted to get the thread started so the others can add their perspectives and pictures as well).
We began by bombing out of Denver Friday at 10am on I-70 to Rifle. From there we turned north to Meeker and then northwest in the the White River National Forest. We got to the Marvine campground shortly after 3pm. This is where I found my first mistake. I neglected to inform the group that there are three Marvine campgrounds. There's Marvine proper which is where I made our reservations, but Morris, Mike and David got there before us and set up in East Marvine campground 1/4mile away. This worked out fine though since they still came up for a campfire and to chew the fat, but were able to sleep far enough away that they didn't have to listen to my toddler wake up frequently through the night. The whole area was absolutely beautiful and we were able to catch up and swap stories and lies. This was also the only site where we were able to have a fire, although we might have gotten away with Morris' portable LPG firepit in Utah and Wyoming, but the need never really presented itself. We were all pretty bushed from the road and few of us were up past 9pm, haha!
Day 2 is where it really got fun! We took some scenic roads via Rangely into the badlands of Utah and were able to find Fantasy Canyon. This is a weird geological feature that was used as the planet "Klendathu" in Starship Troopers. I'm glad we were able to see it because it's become a target for vandalism. Before rolling up to Dinosaur National Monument, we lined up for a group shot. From left to right, it's Mike's LR, David's incredible van, Morris' LR and finally, our Trailhawk.
From there we rolled up to Dinosaur. I was a little disappointed at the cost here. It's $20 for a week pass, unless you roll in after the gate is unattended, then it's free to get in but the welcome center and grand hall are closed. Camping is another $20, with KOA style "camp hosts", so all in all it was $40 a vehicle. On the other hand, Dinosaur would be a great destination at that price, since we didn't even see 1/10th of all there is to see and do there. Even so, Layton in his Tacoma joined us here for the night and we rolled out around 9am the next day.
Day 3 was mostly highway. We took a long route up from Vernal, UT and followed the western edge of Flaming Gorge to get to I-80. About halfway through, after we lost sight of the LRs, I decided to get my comms radio up and running. That's where I found my second mistake. I really should have got the comms radio all setup and programmed before rolling out on Friday, but I figured I'd be able to screw around with it while my wife had the wheel. Turns out it bleeps and bloops too much for her when I screw around with it, and really the views the whole way were to pretty to take my eyes off them. Ultimately, somewhere between Rock Springs and Rawlins I did get it to take a simplex channel and we were finally talking to eachother. As a group this was the least interesting and longest drive day. We rolled up Green Mountain in WY around 4pm. There was 20 miles of washboard to the campground and Nate got there before us. David was able to raise him on the radio and he lead us up to a great dispersed campsite he scouted out the day prior. It really was beautiful, with great views, elk tracks all over, wild horses cruising through in the middle of the night and a LARGE pack of Coyote yipping up a storm all night long. Tom and his daughter were already here as well!
It was also at this site that I really got to feeling that David's van needs a nickname. Brown Bear just seems to generic and over used. David thinks Elephant or something along those lines works, but I don't see it. Also, you don't get to pick a nickname, it get's assigned, haha!
I could probably get behind Mastodon though. This was another early night as we hoped to storm out by 7am the day of the eclipse.
Day 4, Eclipse day!
We were largely successful at getting out at 7am. We came back via the campground to dump trash and use the vault toilets, but still got on the move quick! We took a spirited route up through the WY badlands. We kept a pretty open interval due to the dust. I only lead us down one deadend, and even then, it was only because of a water crossing I wasn't sure our Trailhawk could make. Nate was able to hear from Christine that the airfield I'd targeted for the eclipse was gated with a NO TRESPASSING sign, so the group adjusted track to view the eclipse from a hill we were cresting. Since I'd espoused the airfield for the last three weeks, I continued there just to see if anyone I wasn't tracking showed up there. I stopped at every vehicle in the area to see if they were there with RMO but fortunately everyone was just there as part of their own thing. I hurried to find a turnoff with a clearing big enough to set up some chairs and watch the eclipse with my wife and daughter. It was perfect. All the astronomy articles I'd read said not to ruin the experience trying to take pictures so I didn't and I don't regret it. I kept looking back and forth between my solar filters and a patch of white sand on the ground and caught the "shadow snakes" phenomenon. As totality set in, the wind stopped, the world was still lit up enough to see, but so incredibly muted. It felt as though we were in limbo between worlds. Looking up I was first able to spot Venus to the southwest of the sun, and then Mercury became visible to the northeast. One thing that I did not expect to see was how far the mass coronal ejections actually project from the sun. They look like lens flares, but they don't move based on your perspective. It really was amazing and I'm so glad we went!
After the eclipse I met back up with the group one more time before bombing back to Denver. Everyone who came on this trip was just awesome. I had so much fun I'm going to try and get another trip planned before it gets too cold for family car camping!
As I get our pics sorted out, I hope that anyone else who went finds the time to get their story and pictures shared here too!