East – the beginning

We stayed in Pennsylvania a couple nights ago. We were greeted with a beautiful, long awaited thunderstorm, lush green trees and all of the wild sunflowers bursting with their bright yellow faces.

Feels like home already.

There’s just something about the east that is so comforting and homey that the other parts of the US don’t have. It may not have crazy unique parks or landmarks, but it is beautiful. We drove up and down and side to side looking for our ‘home,’ and all along it was right above us somewhere on the east side. We’re being as patient as we possibly can to finally discover our home. I am absolutely aching inside to decorate it. Pinterest is both a blessing and a curse.

I’ve also been craving pizza and twizzlers. I’ve resisted for a good amount of time, but I don’t know how much longer I can last under the pressure. When the body wants something, it almost always gets what it wants sooner or later. (PS I’m not some health food snob, but after sitting for hours on hours every day I start to feel frumpy and try to eat healthy to combat that. But lets be honest…there’s just something about road trips and junk food that go so well together.)

UPDATE- I have satisfied my junk food craving with a full, delicious meal from Wendy’s. best decision in a very long time.

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CHICAGO

We walked SO much, so so much. We were only there for four days and we went to museums every. single. day. And these aren’t those small museums you can check off your list after an hour, no.. these museums are ginormous. We went to the Field Museum, Art Institute of Chicago, Museum of Science and Industry, Alder’s Planetarium, Shedd Aquarium, Willis Tower, and still managed to walk around downtown a bit to see the Bean, Picasso’s Statue, and all of the hustle and bustle. There was this super great deal going on where you could buy the CityPass, which included passes to 5 museums/attractions for half off! So we totally snatched that up.

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The Field Museum was unnnnbbeeeelivable. SO many things to see. We were there for six hours and still only managed to see about 80%, and we were walking and looking at stuff the entire time. I’m not even one to get all hyped up on history and I really enjoyed this museum.

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Art Institute of Chicago was freakin’ sweet as well. My favorites were the Impressionism/Modern/Post-Modern sections, but they had so much more than that. From Greek pottery to Middle Aged suits of armor to Salvador Dali. Even James enjoyed it!

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Museum of Science and Industry was off the chain. If you’re a Floridian and went to MOSI as a kid… well, this place totally blows MOSI out of the water into another space continuum. This thing had it all- submarine, actual airplane, tornado maker, 3D model that showed you what your actual heartbeat looked like.. (my favorite,) and a ton of other cool stuff. If I lived there with kids I would definitely be a regular visitor.

Alder’s Planetarium. Space. Really cool, they have cool short movies/lectures about the universe and planets and stars and galaxies and dark matter. They also have a lot of little rooms dedicated to certain aspects of space; planets, asteroids, moon landing, etc. This museum wasn’t as big as the previous three, and I was honestly getting kind of tired of walking, so it wasn’t my favorite but we still had fun.

Shedd Aquarium was huge! We went here after we finished the Planetarium because it was our last day and we had already been to various aquariums in other states, but it was still really fun. We weren’t able to see everything, but from what we did see it was a really nice museum. They even had belugas and dolphins! If you decide to visit Chicago and want to see the aquarium, I would recommend dedicating an entire day because it will take that long.

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Willis tower was awesome, the main attraction was the Skydeck…. standing in a glass room over Chicago… 1,353 ft in the air. The sun was behind some clouds so we got to see these really pretty sun rays shining all over Chicago. It was a bit cloudy that day so we weren’t able to see the other states as people say you can, but I’m still really glad we were able to do it. And no, it’s not that terrifying unless you have a really really really bad fear of heights.

I was also able in Chicago to expose James to some delicious Polish food!! He loved it. Unfortunately we didn’t get to experience a famous chicago hot dog… next time.

Yellowstone National Park

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Veni, Vidi, Vici.

We came, we saw, we conquered.

Okay so lemme get straight to it:

Pro #1– Awesome, awesome wildlife. We saw bear, elk, deer, bison, various birds of prey, sandhill cranes, swans, chipmunks, the whole lot of ‘em. The majority of what we did while in Yellowstone was drive around looking for wildlife to photograph and stalk.

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We saw SO many bison, they were definitely the most abundant- On our second day we came across a humongous herd in a field. We sat there for about two hours watching and waiting for something cool to happen. Between the huge busloads of asian tourists taking too close of pictures with the bison (who are known to maul people for no apparent reason) we saw two males fight! That was cool. We also happened to chance upon them going through some pre-mating ritual thing which was a bit weird, but hey, that’s nature. These bison came up so close… like five feet away close. And if you’ve ever been near one- those things are big. like mac-daddy big. Their bodies are a bit funny with HUGE heads and upper body, and teeny tiny legs. I kinda got bored with them after awhile because they’re slow and not the most exciting to watch.

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Bear! Grizzly bear!! He (or she) was down the hill a long way away digging up something in the mud, people suspected it to be digging for an old carcass or a ground squirrel. This thing was putting all of its might and soul into that digging. But it unfortunately ended up with nothing. So after about an hour of watching (there were a lot of people watching the bear, including five rangers) the bear decides that he wants to come UP the hill… towards the humans. The rangers told everyone to keep moving back and get into our cars. The bear actually managed to come up the hill, cross over the field, pass behind our very own truck and over the road to the other pasture. That was a big highlight because, in case you didn’t already know, bears are cool.

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We also saw four buck, one doe, and two fawns! They’re so pretty. So graceful and elegant, I love them. Two of the four buck we saw got spooked by something and started running…. then hopping down the beach! Hopping! Like Bambi! It was so unbelievably adorable and I was giggling about it for too long after.

Elk of course are great. Saw a good amount of females, but unfortunately no males! I was so hoping to see a large herd of them out in a field all grazing and beautiful with the sun setting behind them. But alas, it was a dream that did not come true.

Birds were everywhere! Hawks, osprey, geese, swans, etc. James got some really great shots of a hawk staring right down at him with its wings completely spread open. It is absolutely marvelous.

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Pro #2– The geysers were bazar, especially the Prismatic Geyser. It was like a big, bubbling, steaming hole full of rainbow water. However, once we saw that one, all of the other geysers, mud volcanoes, and hot springs definitely weren’t as impressive. (Plus all of the others smelled like rotten eggs, that sulfur can really stink up the joint.) I guess that counts as a con, but ah c’est la vie.

Pro #3– Because Yellowstone is such a huge park, they had a pretty adequate grocery store, multiple RV and automotive repair shops, and a post office! The post office was especially appreciated because I could ship in James’ gift! He had his birthday during our stay. I could also get in some new essential oils from Doterra because I’m positively hooked on that stuff.

And now… dun dun duuuuuuuunnnnnn:

Con #1 (the only one)- Hiking was ‘mehhhhhh.’ There was a big fire some time ago so a lot of the trees were dead. Like a ton. There were some new ones sprouting up but there definitely wasn’t that woodsy feel. A lot of the trees were cut down too so amongst the tall, grey, lanky dead trees, the ground was covered in more dead trees. For a park that big it’s a wonder why the trail upkeep isn’t all that great. The view as well wasn’t what we were expecting. It was pretty, but we didn’t really think it was spectacular worthy. Maybe because we’ve been to Yosemite and that place…. is just too big and beautiful for words.

And there ya have it. I would of course recommend Yellowstone to anyone thinking of visiting because it is beautiful and a fun adventure, and you should see as many National Parks as possible because you live in this country you should enjoy the beauty it has to offer! *takes a deep inhale because that was a mouthful*

If, however, someone asked whether they should visit Yellowstone or Yosemite… I would without a doubt say Yosemite. I would say that to every park when compared with Yosemite. It just has that breathless, captivating feel that cannot be matched.

We’ve been hit — by the Heat Wave

We have been looking forward to sun and warm weather for months.

Months I tell you.

Traveling since late February, in Alaska for the summer, we had missed out on the well-known and desired beach weather. Shorts, tanktops, flip flops, dresses.. all lost beneath the heavy winter clothes.

But at last! Montana! It brought sunshine and water and dark nights…. and the lovely heat.

But oh. no.

The heat is great … when you have a working AC unit. It keeps the air flowin’ and the temp down when you’re sitting in a 30 ft travel trailer. Keeps people happy. Keeps everything working together in a beautiful harmony.

Ours, of course, decided to not work. When we needed the AC, the wonderful cool air, the thing decided it’s kaput. We’ve barely used the thing because it’s been cold so how come it’s not working? WHY WHY WHYYYYYYYYYYYY

Irony, friends. It’s a jerk.

So, what do you do when it’s too hot outside? When it’s too hot inside? When you can’t escape the stifling heat?

Fans. fans fans fans.

We tried opening all of the windows, but that really only works when there’s a breeze. So we drove an hour each way into town to buy fans. And even still it’s nearly unbearable.

You can’t sleep, can’t read, can’t think. You can only sit in a hot, uncomfortable, nearly unbearable state and constantly remind yourself how hot you are.

So, I decided to also make some ice cream. Some delicious dairy-free strawberry ice cream with only three ingredients- full fat coconut milk, strawberries, and maple syrup. I can’t wait to surprise James with this wonderful gift of delicious coldness.

And we might buy a small kitty pool. Because that sounds divine.

Glacier National Park

We made it to Montana!  And we are lovin’ it. Well, Glacier National Park that is.

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^^ if you look closely, there are two deer near the water’s edge, they were drinking earlier.

Lemme tell ya, this place is one heck of a beauty. The colors of the water are incredible. We’ve been able to stay for a couple days and have managed to do some hiking, swimming, canoeing, photographing, animal-spying, and eating (yum yum.)

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(beaver bringing some goodies back to the hut)

As far as wildlife checklist goes : deer, beavers, mountain goats, bighorn ram, and a grizzly bear. (!!)

There were a ton of mountain goats in the upper side of the park when you drive up ‘Going-To-The-Sun’ road, that was really neat. The adult goats were all wearing these large, boofy collars for the gps tracking, I cannot imagine how annoying those things are. And they all had one baby – no idea what a young mountain goat is called- and two of them were play fighting which was adorable of course.

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Now, the water was pretttttyyyyy cold. We were so so hoping that we could go hiking and just get into a nearby creek or lake whenever we got hot…. but it didn’t turn out quite as we hoped. You really couldn’t stay in it for that long unless of course you’re used to swimming around in 73 degree water which sounds a lot warmer than it actually is. But we still had fun of course. It’s been ages since we’ve seen the warm sun and been in water, so we enjoyed it as much as we possibly could.

A word to the hikers —– the national park trail map and signs aren’t quite up to snuff. The map doesn’t specify the length of the trail, nor is it very specific in what other trails coincide with it. And the signs .. or lack of… aren’t the best at giving directions either. You’ve gotta rely on those inner nature explorer skills (probably just common sense to most.)

Another cool thing is there was a meteor shower one night! And because we were out hiking late, James was able to capture the milky way and meteors over the mountains. (I … however.. was tired and cold and a bit crabby so I slept in the car.)

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Our next journey will be Yellowstone ! Yay! Something we’ve both been looking forward to since we started this great road trip of a lifetime.

The Long and Winding and Bumpy and Construction-Obsessed Road — an ode to Canada

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Driving through Canada. The journey back home to the lower 48.

goatIt really is a beautiful drive. Endless mountains, forests, rivers, and fields full of dandelions. Again, we have been blessed with wildlife; bears, elk, mountain goats, buffalo, and I’m sure more as we finish the drive within the next couple of days.

The journey back through Canada is going a lot quicker than the first drive. It may be because we know what to expect or that long drives day after day isn’t quite as horrible as it was before.

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We decided to go another route and pass through Jasper National Park which was such a beauty. We, unfortunately, only stayed one night because we were both too exhausted from the previous ten hour drive to do any hiking, but that did not distract us from the seemingly unending beauty. Both of us wished to stay another day, but it just didn’t work out in our plan. If you have the option of visiting Jasper, I would definitely recommend it. There’s also a really cute town outside of it, reminded me of a college town.

It’s funny because now that we’re moving more down south, the sun is starting to set sooner and sooner. In Alaska we could stay out all night and there would always be some little light. But now… what is this darkness!? It’s great at night though, one can get back into that normal sleep time and not have to hang heavy blankets from the windows. Canada is beautiful but I am excited to get back into the ‘USofA’! Because America rocks, dude.

Denali National Park

Of course- Beautiful.

What else would you expect? This national park was the least developed park we have visited. You can only drive fifteen miles into the actual park, and then you are required to take a school bus (for 30 buckaroos) into the rest of the park. We decided to opt out of this feature because ::::

1. it was 8 hours long 2. sitting on a school bus for a lengthy amount of time isn’t the most comfortable 3. you couldn’t really get out and explore, if you did you had to wait for the next bus which would take who knows how long 4. we had already been extremely blessed in the nature department 5. well, we’re lazy and spoiled.

We did however drive the fifteen miles into the park and hiked a beautiful trail. I seriously felt like I was back in Ireland with the cloudy skies, rolling green hills with large rocks scattered everywhere. It was quite enchanting.

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We were also SO excited to come across… TWO MALE CARIBOU!! we stalked them for a good thirty minutes. Keeping a good distance of course. But they were magnificent. I personally feel they’re much prettier than moose- they remind me of deer in their elegancy, but more powerful. I still have to go through the photos from that day on my camera, but I will post some later.

So thankful for beauty.

Trailer Life (travel trailer that is) 

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As newly weds, we have spent more of our marriage in this 30 ft long trailer than in an actual house.

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There’s the layout. We have two slideouts for the kitchen and sitting area which is really nice, adds a ton of room compared to when the outside is flush.

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Surprisingly, neither of us have gotten tired of the small area, and are really comfortable. It is  amazing how little space one needs to be content. Now, don’t get me wrong, I totally can’t wait to have a regular house and a kitchen with ample cooking space, but I am totally happy with living in this trailer. I even have a tiny space on the floor where I manage to do yoga.

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One pro is that it doesn’t take long to clean. The flip-side of that is it gets dirty super quickly because it’s such a small area that if anything looks out of place the whole trailer looks like it’s in shambles. The key is to always pick up after yourself, always wash dishes after they’re used, have a weekly schedule to clean bathrooms, floors and do laundry. Honestly though, when you’re on the road, it is insanely hard to keep up with all of that.

But hey, cleaning is never the most important thing when traveling. That’s usually why people travel, amiright?

Tips for Road Trippin’ Travel

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As fun as travel is, you gotta know some ground rules. Some common sense, some so common they’re easily forgotten. Never hurts to have a reminder.

Food– so important- snacks, lunches, water, snacks, snacks, snacks. Because when you’re in a vehicle for hours, there’s not much else to do but eat. But hey, eating is great so who’s complaining. We try to stay healthy with our food, but sometimes those honey BBQ’d fritos are just too hard to resist.

Water– Totally need to stay hydrated. You forget you need to drink water because you’re so sedentary but then you arrive at your destination and you’ve got the worst headache.

Clothing– Well, yes, clothing is usually required in most areas, especially to prevent accidents and whatnot. We don’t need a reenactment of that Seinfeld episode. But Back to Business- even though it may be one temperature when you leave one spot, obviously, theres a big chance the weather could totally turn on you. Must haves in the vehicle- jacket, rain jacket, close-toed shoes. You never know when you might have an impromptu hike or something.

Books– reading is great and totally passes the time, but make sure you take breaks because you’ll end up with a stiff neck and sore eyes.

Music– Uh, gotta keep the jams rollin. Podcasts are great too. And books on tape.

Stretch– Before, after, on quick stops, whenever you can really. Your body is gonna grow old quickly just sitting there.

Patience– to put it bluntly- THE MAJORITY OF THE ROADS IN THE US ARE ABSOLUTELY HORRIBLE. Bump heaven. It’s pretty ridiculous. You’d think that because driving is the most popular and convenient way of travel that people would care more about the upkeep of their roads. But heck no, seems like every five seconds you’ve got to brace yourself before it feels like you’re about to be launched into space.

Flexibility– kind of goes hand in hand with patience… you never know when something isn’t going to work out, always best to have a ‘go with the flow’ attitude or else your trip isn’t going to be all that super.

Camera– always always always have a camera around. You never know when there’s gonna be an amazing view, wildlife, or whatever. Documenting is key for travel.

And that’s really all of the basics. Kinda just improvise and do whatever to stay happy and occupied. I once tried to paint my nails in the truck- probably won’t do that again.

Here’s an alpaca or llama or whatever it is. why hello

Road Trippin, Yo

So my husband and I are beyond blessed. More blessed than he or I could have ever dreamed. We are currently into our fourth month of traveling across country in our truck and travel trailer……. DUDE. WOW.

Started in FL and currently in AK. I tell you what we have seen some amazing things. Beautiful places for sure. God is one heck of an artist. As I write this post we are en route to Denali National Park from Anchorage. We have spent so many hours in the truck driving, so many that I don’t even want to calculate a rough estimate. Arches aka Mars

Our route kinda went like this — Florida —> Georgia —-> Tennessee —> Colorado —> Utah —> Arizona —> Nevada —> California —> Oregon —> Washington —> Canada —-> Alaska


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***Definitely needed help remembering all of the places we’ve been, kinda all just blurs together***

We stopped at the majority of all of the National parks, some state parks, big cities, etc. So far, Alaska is by far our favorite. California had a freakin’ beautiful coast, but Alaska has it all (including ridiculously cold winters, but thats why you visit in the summer.) Mountains, ocean, lakes, rivers, loads and loads of incredible wildlife.

I would love to encourage traveling. Not necessarily anything as extensive as the one we’re currently embarking on, but just something new to add to your life story. Exploring, hiking, camping, or even just sight seeing. There is so much in our world, and I feel it would be a waste to go about life and not even really see what’s outside of your front door. And there are so many economical ways of doing it- seasonal jobs, traveling jobs, WWOOFing, etc. If you really have a desire, you can figure out a way to make it work. Life is so short and I feel that the goals society pushes on us aren’t always the most important. Live so that you can happily remember it, and so that you have good stories to tell.

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