Here's how we did it

       Planning a trip of this magnitude obviously took alot of time. I guess I worked a little bit on it almost every day for 8 months. I went to AAA and got maps and tourbooks for the different states. I listed the major National Park we wanted to see and mapped a rough route. I looked at all the NPS sites along our basic routes, read about the parks on their web pages and estimated how much time we could or would want to spend at each site. After reading about a few of the parks,  I knew all we'd do was check out the visitor center and do the driving tour with photo stops, like at Capulin Volcano or Natural Bridges. The times I calculated at some of the smaller parks turned out to be pretty accurate. The major parks I knew we'd spend the day or more - Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, etc.    
     As I was mapping the trip, I also checked out various state parks and other attractions along the way. Valley of Fire State Park north of Las Vegas, Goblin Valley & Goosenecks in Utah, Register Cliff & Oregon Trail Ruts in WY and Custer SP in SD were the most amazing. I had a few other sites included in the itinerary that we cut out when we ran out of time at the major sites.
      We sent away for various state tourism booklets for info and to give Wanda some reading material after recovering from knee surgery. The Enchanted Highway was discovered accidentally when Wanda looking at the state map of ND and asked what it was, I looked it up on the Internet & we had to see it.
       The biggest amount of time spent was figuring out the drive times. I used both Google and AAA maps and found AAA to be more accurate. The Google street view was great as I could drive the route online and see the scenery & terrain we'd be going through. After seeing the view of the Moki Dugway on Google Topo map and the street driving view, I showed it to Wanda. We didn't take it but did the extra 30 minute round about route.The Google map satellite views were fantastic to zoom in and see the colors and contours of the land we'd travel through. Look at Valley of Fire, Bryce Canyon or Arches from the satellite view, simply amazing.
    Dan at the Huntersville AAA prepared a Triptik for me after I wrote out the drive times. They are very handy for glancing at while driving;shows drive times, exits, gas ,food and  easier to read than a big map. I did not use GPS - I can read a map and Wanda's pretty good as well and there were places that were so far out of the way that the roads and GPS didn't match up. Wanda was concerned that we'd be on the road for many hours a day and be on a tight schedule. I tried to plan the days so we'd drive some, see a site, drive, stop & so on. We really only had 3 really long driving days when we were actually driving for 8 hours. My schedule for getting up & going in the AM was optimistic and we hit our departure times maybe 1/2 of the days. I also tried to schedule us getting to our hotels fairly early in the evening. I had no idea how tired we'd be & how much time it would take to upload the pictures & do the blog every night.
    I used KAYAK for all the hotels we booked since they compared all the other hotel sites, My 4 criteria were: 1.  price- 35 nights was the major trip expense, 2. ratings - 2 star or better and generally 3+ on the customer ratings, 3. breakfast - saved a good bit on the budget, 4. location- we payed an extra $25 to stay in Tusayan 5 miles south of Grand Canyon versus driving 55 miles from Williams & back, the next closest town. A few other places I chose for easy access to the interstate or we drove a little further the night before to get closer to our first stop in the am. The only really bad hotels on the trip were the Sunrise Motor Inn in Cody WY and the Best Western in Rapid City, SD.  The Sunrise was a disaster, not at all what the hotel ratings services said it was. The Orleans in Vegas was the highlight with the upgrade into the executive suite. The other great hotel was the Best Western Devils Tower- great cowboy, big game decor. The highest we paid was in Jackson, WY $160, West Yellowstone $154 & Grand Canyon $ 140. The Cheapest was the Orleans in Vegas $40 and we averaged roughly $ 75 per night.  Our total cost of rooms was about $3000 for the trip. I booked them all over a 2 night period on line about a month before we left.  We needed to book early at the major locations like Grand Canyon, Yellowstone and Moab, UT on July4 & 5. Many of the hotels were booked full.
   We kept to the itinerary fairly well, we kept a trip log of our stops, how long we stayed, comments on what we saw, etc. It got less detailed as we went because we were either tired or anxious to get out and see what there was or get back in the car & go.  We did eliminate a few stops. We talked to folks at the Canyon of the Ancients Cortez, CO who told us to eliminate the 4 Corners monument- it was on the Indian Res. and may not be open when we got there. We skipped Kodachrome Basin & Dead Horse State Parks in UT and Wind & Jewell Caves NPs in SD due to time. Hoover Dam had construction & we didn't want to waste a half day which gave us more time at Valley of Fire.
    One of the things that was a simple idea that worked well was dealing with luggage. I knew what Wanda would take and didn't relish the thought of unpacking & packing the car every day , so I bought some clear plastic storage bins that fit perfectly in the trunk. We used a small duffel bag to put in the next days clothes, swim suits & my toiletries and with Wanda's bag of makeup, etc., my school bag with the laptop and our small cooler, that was all we needed to carry into the hotel every night. I figured we'd have a day off 1/2 way through the trip for laundry, oil change,chiropractor, etc. and figured we could do laundry at cousins homes and a few of the hotels as needed, which worked out pretty well.
   We kept 2 coolers in the backseat, one for food: cheese, lunch meats, fruit, etc and the other for drinks. I used one of my fathers tricks for dealing with adding ice to the coolers. I had 4 1/2 gallon plastic milk jugs with part of the tops cut off. I poured the ice cubes into the containers which: kept the ice concentrated - food colder, prevented the food from swimming in nasty water and gave us cold drinking water, especially nice when we were in the desert. We also had a small one that we used just for ice for drinking. We always kept the water bottles refilled, especially the 2 weeks were were in the desert NM, CO, AZ, NV, & UT. Once we got past Rocky MT. NP, the 2nd cooler became unnecessary for drinks so we used it for storage We also had a box in the backseat with munchies- chips, crackers, bread for sandwiches, etc.
    Would we do this again, Absolutely! Make any changes? Add some more time in UTAH, like a whole week. It would have been nice to have some extra time to explore a few of the small towns we passed through but hotel reservations didn't allow us to do that.
   The final cost was about $6,000 - $150 a day like I told Wanda when she first proposed the trip .Hotels $3,000 , Gas $1400 -the highest $3.69 at Grand Canyon , the balance was food & souvenirs: we both got pins & Wanda bought lots of postcards & I bought a few posters for school and at home.