On the Road: Week 5

Westward Home!

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Big News and Excuses!

Some words on blog tardiness and life on the road without internet:

When we first ventured out I thought I would do these awesome and informative blog posts everyday, issuing them in real time and practically re-writing the Lonely Planet’s guide to the Northwest. Well, it’s harder than it looks. First off, there is a lot of wide open space out there. Just when you are feeling confined, like the population is closing in on you and there is no room to breathe, all you need to do is hop in your car and drive. You will soon find yourself “in the middle of nowhere” (Man’s favorite catch phrase). No cell reception, no internet cafes, heck you may as well turn in your car for a covered wagon! And guess what, when you are camping…no electrical outlets = no charging your numerous technological gadgets.

So I thought “OK! A weekly blog it is!” and I have stuck pretty true to form. But, you know there are days when you just have to sit around doing laundry. Or you are pooped and decide to go to the movies. I don’t think you guys want to read about those days. So I left them out. When you are traveling long term, they happen about once a week. In Yellowstone we had about three days of lounging around the coach, making home-cooked meals and watching TV. We’d been on the road about 6 weeks and we were all exhausted. So between car repair days and coach repair days and just plain laziness, it all added up to more than 5 weeks on the road. In fact we were out roaming for over 7 weeks!

As for this last Week 5 entry…I am about to pop…so we’ll be keeping it short and sweet. I’ve been telling this little guy he has to let me finish this entry and get one more newsletter out before he comes. But I am anxious to meet him, and I am tired of not be able to see my toes. Any wagers on the date?

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Without further ado…Here is the skinny on Week “5”, our last week on the road.

Day 29:

We finally arrived at Yellowstone National Park, the only place we’ve had advanced reservations. Yellowstone National Park is HUGE. And it’s fascinating. It’s probably the most diverse park in terms of landscape and natural features. Old Faithful to Mammoth Hot springs, the wildlife and waterfalls, the Inner Sanctum Lodge, they are all spectacular! Just take a look at these hot springs. Beautiful and BOILING. Do not put even a toe in there, unless you want to lose it! The earth is alive under Yellowstone – everywhere you go. If you plan a trip to Yellowstone and it’s your first time, you are really going to want to dedicate at least three days to exploring the park and all it has to offer. Below are a few of the highlights…

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And my personal favorite. I Love Bison!

Day 30:

We did spend 3 days up in Yellowstone, mostly recovering from our travels, popping into the park for a short time each day, and relaxing. It was our last stop with the rest of the family before heading back to the tent life, so we made sure to spend plenty of quality time together. Eventually we packed up and started the long trip back towards Colorado. Colorado was my main must-see, I didn’t want to miss it on this trip. I’ve never been, and I’ve heard such great things about it. On my many US adventures I have always missed it because it really is smack dab in the middle, so the Southern, Northern, Eastern, and Western routes all by-pass it. Man and I drove 11 hours from Yellowstone to Veedawoo, Wyoming as the first stretch. Mom and Dad said there was a great little camp ground there. I had never heard of the place, but we were determined. We arrived well after dark and it wasn’t until the sun came up that we discovered it really is a little gem! A big climbing destination, with fantastic formations, and a peaceful setting. Unfortunately, time was ticking and we couldn’t stay any longer…Boo!

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Morning View – Veedawoo, WY

Day 31: 

From Veedawoo (I just like saying the name), we finally crossed the border into Colorado! We made it! We stopped in Fort Collins for an awesome breakfast at a Creole Cafe, and drove up to Rocky Mountain National Park (pretty as a postcard), then down to Bustling Boulder for some shopping on Pearl Street. It is such a cute little College town. 

Finally it was time to head down to stay with some old friends from high school, great company, a cozy bed, and hot showers awaiting! Sadly it was destined to be a short stay, but it was definitely an eye-opening one!

Now, when our friend invited us down, she said “Come stay! Come visit! We’ll give you a glimpse of the medicinal marijuana industry!”. How intriguing is that? I always try and jump at the chance to see anyone living a bit of an “unconventional lifestyle”. Even though the industry in the states is beginning to become more accepted and mainstream, it is just the tip of the iceberg, with a handful of states legalizing the stuff. I also expected our friends were just growing a few plants in their garage. Au contraire mon frere, they had a MAJOR operation going! Between their laboratory, dispensaries (cute little retail shops), and gardens (read jungles), this was way more than we bargained for and it was absolutely fascinating to get the full VIP tour!

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We really felt like Walter and Jesse from Breaking Bad.

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I still have no idea what this stuff does, but impressive it is!

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Whoa Nelly.

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I asked Man how he felt to be back in the jungle…

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Then I asked how he would feel if I left him in this jungle, haha!

Day 32: We had such an amazing visit with our friends and we were sad it had to be so quick. I always say – if you don’t know where to travel to, travel to somewhere that you know somebody. It is always such a unique experience. Of course, being an anonymous tourist in any city has it’s allure, but really getting to know a place and all the hotspots through someone in the know is the best.  After a half day in Evergreen, Co. it was time to hit the road again. This time for a LONG haul.

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Man, practicing with the pooch.

Day 33: 

The long haul home…here is where it all gets a little blurry. The road from Colorado is spectacular. Their are so many spots I wanted to stop off and see. We passed Vail, Breckenridge, Grand Junction.  We vowed we’d be back, the weather was beginning to turn on us and it got really stormy! We were also really feeling the pressure to get back home. Man was a trooper, he drove nearly the whole way home, while I propped my swollen sausage feet up on the dash. After about 6,000 miles behind the wheel, he’s made serious headway in the driving department and even drove through San Francisco the other day! A far cry from his leg-shaking days driving through that little town with one stop light! Ha!

Once we hit Utah, that’s where the real regrets started to weigh in. First off, I didn’t expect Southern Utah to be so beautiful! Second, I wanted to see National Arches! Thirdly, I wanted to see Zion! And we just had to drive on past. We decided on our return to Colorado we’d have to leave some time for Utah as well.

It’s really crazy, you can either spend 50 solid hours in the car (or roughly 4 – 12 hour driving days) from Caribou, Maine to San Diego, California (those were the farthest point I could find), to drive straight across the entire US. OR you could take 7 weeks seeing the Western states and STILL be driving home thinking “Darn it! We missed seeing this and that!”.

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Utah Beauty

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The sky begins to swirl…

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Look at this rainbow column!

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And night falls.

Day 34:

We ended up driving well past dark and having to get a little motel (ew.) just before the Nevada border. We lit outta’ there at the crack of dawn and drove into Nevada. And then drove across Nevada. And kept driving. And driving. If you want to know what it is like to drive across Nevada…see the picture below and look at it for at least 8 hours.

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Across Nevada.

FINALLY we hit California, early in the evening, and drove to Lee Vining, just off Mono Lake, where we were to meet my Mountain Man brother, Daniel. Like an oasis, the Whoa Nellie Deli was there waiting for us. This place is just bizarre. It is inside the Tioga Gas Mart. It’s worth the trip in and of itself. The menu features everything from Ahi Sashimi to Wild Buffalo Meatloaf. And this spot is hopping! The food is SO good. The deli is described as “a casual gourmet restaurant” and it totally is. My mouth is watering thinking about it 2 months later! After dinner we pitched our tent and were down for the count – all those hours in the car catching up with us.

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Day 35:

Just when you are starting to think you are pretty hard-core, traveling across the US, 7 months pregnant, sleeping in a tent and roughing it (all in hopes this baby will catch your travel bug), you crawl out of your tent and find your brother sleeping soundly…on the ground…in the middle of the woods. He is the true ruffian  I think even Man felt a bit wimpy (and jealous) when he saw Dan out there sawing logs amongst the elements.

Dan is such a great guy to be around. He is often accused of “living the dream” and he’ll be like…”Yep, pretty much”. He works when he needs to, climbs and skis when he can, and is perfectly happy living outside, all the time. He’s a great reminder that we often make life far more complicated than we need to, and that there are alternatives…good ones!

He drove us up to Tuolumne, one of his favorite places in the world, on the Northern side of Yosemite National Park, to take us to one of his favorite swimming holes…so we could swim…and he could shower…haha. It was breathtaking and perfect. A sweet send off, to relax by a mountain stream surround by such natural beauty before going home to the hustle and bustle of the San Francisco Bay Area. I worked on my tan while Man and Dan fished, until we just had to load up one more time and head out. In three hours we would be back in our little cottage, a little disoriented, with no more wind in our hair.

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The Ruffian

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Tuolumne Splendor

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And that’s it! Now I am sad and nostalgic, coming to the end of our epic road-trip all over again.

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Yet, TOTALLY excited for our next big adventure! We’ll keep you posted!

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