Day Thirty Eight: Gratitude and the Most Important Thing

It might sound cheesy, but the most important thing about this entire trip was our time together. Time that many people don’t get to spend with the people in their lives at our age. There aren’t any pictures or stories from our last day, because our intention was to give this day as much time as we could in complete appreciation. We visited 3 national parks, drove thousands of miles, stayed in almost thirty different places, cooked hundreds of meals, and did it all right beside each other. We have come so far, have learned so much, and will forever cherish this time we have been blessed with.

I’m not exactly sure how a blog “ends” or is “supposed to run” and to be honest I’m not even sure if I’ve done what a blog requires. But sharing our journey for others to read has shown me how connected we can be. Reflecting on each day of a trip can give you a much deeper appreciation of adventure, and provide others with inspiration to take that leap. We are all more alike than we realize, and I will forever love traveling for this very reason. I will be sharing some product information and other notes about additional details of this trip to wrap it up soon, but until then, all of our love…

Jake and Cass

Day Thirty Seven: Yellowstone National Park

Jake and I successfully made it out of the park by 6:30. GO US! We got dressed made, the bed, and headed to the park, making a very quick pit stop for breakfast burritos at McDonalds. Rather gross, yes we are aware, but we just love them! Also it worked into our very early and quick morning schedule that day. We had heard that if there is traffic, it can take you up to an hour to get into the inner loop of where the park essentially starts. Driving in, we were so grateful to find this not to be the case for us! We were in the park in 15 minutes and decided to head North in search of wildlife. We had no real plan other than to see the brightly colored pools, and Old Faithful, so the day would really consist of driving through and stopping at various Geysers along the way. First stop, Paint Pots! For no real reason other than I loved the name.

After the paint pots, we continued North, and decided to visit the Norris Geyser Basin because it showed an information center near there. We were hoping to get a little bit more information about where exactly these more brightly colored pools were located. To our surprise, this Geyser Basin was worth seeing as well. That’s how we have felt throughout this whole trip to be honest. There’s nothing that isn’t worth seeing, and the best things come when you stumble upon them, without planning to. Being that it was early, there were few people, and we were able to stroll on the boardwalk, taking our time to admire these incredible natural structures that were so new to anything else we had seen on the trip. On the way out we ask two of the park rangers if they know where the best pools would be, and they pointed us in the direction of Old Faithful. Because that was to the South of where we were, we made the decision of continuing North, and wrapping around inner circle of the park and finishing the day with Old Faithful and the colorful pools. This was a bold move considering the size of the park, but we felt like it was a better decision than back driving back through where we had just come from.

So, we headed on our way, stopping where we felt like it and enjoying the magnificent scenery. We spotted Bison, Elk, and even almost saw a Bear on the side of the road. He was up ahead of a line of cars and we were unfortunately just out of sight. Around lunch time, I noticed a picnic area located on Gull Point on the coast of the Yellowstone Lake. When we headed in that direction, we stopped at what we thought was this picnic area. Two tables out off to the side of the road. However, when we got out of the car, we realized that these tables seemed to be very neglected, and for a very good reason. We were completely covered in may flies within two minutes and found it hilarious that we actually considered trying to eat here. Oh how far I have come with my bug tolerance. After realizing the ridiculousness of staying, we hopped back in the car, brushed off the flies that had attached to our hats, and continued along the coast in search of a different pull off with less bugs. Just 5 minutes away we found the most beautiful picnic site. The one most likely depicted on the map. There were deer roaming through, shade from the trees, and a view of the lake. We made our salami sandwiches and enjoyed every minute them! Also we have been total veggie sandwich lovers throughout this whole trip, there’s something about salami sandwiches that Jake and I just love. Not to mention the less time consuming clean up. We had chocolate for dessert, and then headed to Old Faithful.

Arriving to the parking lot by Old Faithful reminded us a little bit of Disney World. Only with less space and more diversity. There were people from all parts of the world, all ready and excited to see this spectacular natural showcase of Geyser power. We just happened to arrive at the right time. 30 minutes until it’s next scheduled eruption. We made our way to the crowded benches surrounding it, and luckily found a nice family who made room for us to sit on the bench directly in front. Talk about perfect timing! We waited patiently for the show, and more and more people began gathering around. At first it was a bit annoying, but seeing the look on everyone’s face, and hearing the oo’s and ahh’s from people who spoke all different languages was truly priceless. I loved that we could all enjoy this together in peace. It actually brought tears to my eyes, no surprise there. After viewing the grand eruption, Jake and I headed to check out the Old Faithful Lodge. Jake’s (and my soon to be ah!) father had mentioned he loved the lobby, so we were eager to check it out. I was hoping to find a good wifi signal so that I would be able to run my 5:00 Monday Meeting from the park and then be able to check out the pools afterwards, but unfortunately the Lodge didn’t offer wifi, and the signal at the Inn next door was rather slow. No colorful pools for us. We’ll just have to come back, and with a fishing license this time!

We stopped at the visitor center on our way back into town, and I ran inside to set up for the quick meeting! I’m so grateful I am able to run this business throughout this trip. Despite the hassle, it is truly one of the biggest blessings and I believe that my efforts put in everyday to make this a priority will pay off in the bigger picture. Jake filled up the water and cleaned the cooler while I was working, and also found us a free campsite to sleep at that was on the way to Bozeman! It was about a 30 minute drive. We headed there, Jake sleepy eyed and hungry, and me happy and giddy about life, as I usually am after meetings and fizz. We arrived at the site, and immediately saw a few bears on the other side of the road! It was a sign. However, my eagerness to continue working wasn’t quite swayed, and I felt I needed service. So we headed up the road, and pulled over at a place called the Covered Wagon Ranch. It was just beautiful! This whole trip Jake and I have made comments about how campgrounds with cabins just don’t seem to have that homey feel, and are more like suburban homes all crammed together. This place was anything but that, and it was very refreshing! The owner came outside to greet me, offered that I was more than welcome to use their wifi, and even invited us back for breakfast the next day! We were quick to accept, and knew that we would be back in the morning. I sent a couple of more messages, and then realized that maybe I was being too ridiculous about the no service thing. So we headed back to our free site with no service, and began making dinner. The rest of the spaghetti leftovers had never tasted so good! After dinner we had tea, I did yoga, Jake checked out the Madison river across the street, and then I caught up on some journaling. We headed to sleep around 10. Hearts full of adventure, and looking forward to breakfast and enjoying our final day of the trip!

Day Thirty Six: West Yellowstone

We woke a bit on the later side, and headed up the hill a bit with our chairs to find an area with a view of the lake to enjoy our coffee. It was a lovely start to our morning. We packed up our site, and then headed into the town of West Yellowstone to a new campground where we could shower and do a bit of laundry. It was only 5 minutes from the entrance of the National Park, so it made our plans for going to the Park early in the morning the following day much more manageable. We joke about the KOA’s being the Walmart’s of campgrounds, but sometimes it is nice to know what you’re going to get! We did arrived at our new home for the day, did some laundry, and then headed downtown to check out the area! The town was special, my favorite store was an Indian shop, and of course I started crying reading the bison masacre history. We got an appetizer and beer at a pub called the Slipper Otter. Our beers were delicious! However we wouldn’t go back to that pub, it wasn’t anything special.

After visiting the town, we headed back to camp to hang out, read, and soak up the hot tub! We met some lovely new friends from St.Louis and had a great time talking with them. Afterwards we showered and just had some simple vegetable Amy’s soup for dinner. My picture taking is lagging, and I apologize, however I’m sure we will have plenty to share on tomorrow’s adventure! Early wake up call and planned McDonald’s breakfast. Don’t judge us.

Day Thirty Five: Wade Lake

We woke up to rain the day we were leaving. Both of us bathed and packed up slow. We headed out in search of breakfast and came across a place almost identical to Pufferbelly’s in Grand junction. If you know you know! The place was called a Beanery, which I thought had something to do with coffee but we later found out meant “cheap” You learn something new everyday! We stopped for a kombucha on our way out and headed to Wade Lake. This spot was another recommendation Jake had received from a couple when he had hiked solo up to Avalanche to fish. We were excited to see what would be waiting for us and hopeful that we would get there in time to claim a site. It was our lucky day! There were only 2 sites left on the hill. We set our chairs down and then headed out to pick up some wood and beer and drank shakes for lunch on the way. Going down to the lake and seeing everyone with theirs made us want to join the party! We sat by the lake with our toes in the freezing water and watched the storm roll in. It was very relaxing until those storm clouds grew darker and darker. We packed up quickly, but before we knew it we were running up the hill with our hands on our heads to protect us from the hail! We hopped in the back and listened to the hail storm for about 30 minutes before we fell asleep. It lasted for a couple of hours, or at least we think so. We woke up at 7 to a wet campsite and Jake started making a fire right away. Spaghetti leftovers for dinner! They were even better the second time.

After dinner, Jake headed down to the lake to fish. He met the loveliest couple from New Zealand! I stayed back to tend the fire and catch up on some writing. However as soon as the sun set and I saw the sky, I put on a big piece of wood that would last and made my way down to the lake to join him. We watched a sillouette of a father and sons fishing on a boat. There was a fog coming over the lake from the storm and the colors of the sunset were a gift after the storm. We took it all in, and then headed back up to have some tea by the fire. Off to a new place tomorrow!

Day Thirty Four: Surprise Art and Wine Festivals

We woke up slow this morning. Enjoying making breakfast and coffee in a kitchen was certainly a treat! We headed into town a little later in search of a coffee shop I could do some work at, and then Jake took off to fish all afternoon. It’s been a perfect balance really, having time to ourselves doing what makes us both happy. All of the coffee shops closed at 2, so I explored the town a bit and found a soup shop that was perfect! Vegetable curry soup, kombucha, fresh baked pretzel rolls, and high speed wifi. I couldn’t have asked for more! The lady at the counter also mentioned that there would be a wine and art festival going on downtown from 6-8! How lucky were we?! I finished up at about 4ish and then walked just up the street to the room to drop my things off. Our room was nice and cool, so I made the somewhat ridiculous decision of going to buy a bath plug so I could take a bath while I waited for Jake. The little things make a big difference!

We headed out to the festival and had the best time. Free wine, beer, and snacks were available at all of galleries and we were able to see some incredible work displaying the beauty of the area. It was fun dreaming of the day we could purchase one of these pieces. But for now we just happily window shopped, sipped, and snacked. For dinner, we took the advice of the landlord in our room and decided to go to Neptune’s. Every person we’ve met on this trip has lead us in the right direction and this was no exception. The sushi was the best we had ever had and the restaurant had a fun ambiance. It was worth it to treat ourselves to a meal out in the evening. To end the night, we visited a bar that a friend had recommended in hopes of seeing John Mayer. No luck there, but they had a band playing that we both enjoyed. A shot of tequila to finish the wonderful evening and we headed back home. Back to car camping life tomorrow!

Day Thirty Three: Laundry and Livingston…but first, Helena.

We woke up relatively early, not compared to our fellow fly fisherman but it certainly wasn’t sleeping in. We had the usual coffee and oatmeal, and then we were on the road by 9! Helena was about 30 minutes away, and we had decided to stop there to pick up some more shaker cups for our shakes. Shopping at Target extra was fun because we hadn’t seen one in about 5 weeks! On our way out of town we stopped at Sportsman’s Wearhouse so that Jake could pick up some inexpensive flies and then afterwards I regretfully lead us to taco Bell. Don’t judge. It was actually that little decision that led us to have a lovely morning, no regrets here! Though my stomach might disagree. Anyways, the cashier there talked to us for a rather uncomfortable 20 minutes about all of the history and highlights of the area. When we left we felt like we were obligated to take his advice and check out Last Chance Rd where the downtown area was, and we were happy we did! It was a beautiful place with lovely shops, and there was even a small children’s parade going on which was cute to watch. For a bigger city, this place certainly had a small town feel. The best part of our detour though, was running into one of Jake’s old friends from Mesa at the country store. It was truly a series of fateful events! We finished off the visit with ice cream after a third person had recommended it to us and headed on our way to Livingston! We had about 2 hours to go.

We arrived to our airbnb and were both delighted. I was a bit more excited than Jake because of the location. It was in an old historic building where Rockiffeller used to visit and I just LOVED every bit of it! Sometimes I believe I was born in the wrong era but that’s another topic. We headed up the road to do some laundry, and then made the very ambitious decision to make spaghetti and meatballs. I think sometimes Jake and I forget that we are only cooking for two.

Nonetheless! The dinner was delicious and we made enough to eat it for two more nights. Next time, maybe we shouldn’t cook for six people and fix an “appetizer as well. Always learning!

Day Thirty Two: “At Least it’s not Raining”

Jake woke me up at about 6:30. Coffee made, bananas and breakfast bars out and completely decked out in fishing gear from head to toe. “Just relax I’m going to drive us to a new spot to fish on the river!” While laying in the morning is something I do love to do, I was not about to be driven and tossed around in the back of the truck. I hopped out, spent 5 minutes getting ready, and we were on our way to a new place to fish. Although I usually don’t partake in the fishing, the beauty of tagging along is really the beauty. I had a nice open field view, a book, my notebook, my coffee and my phone to work from. Ah the beauty of working from anywhere! Jake returned around 10:30, unfortunately unsuccessful, and we headed to a new location. Then, about 15 minutes later, he realized he dropped his fishing line at the other place so we headed back there and fished until lunch. I had found a cafe with WiFi in Cascade so we decided to make lunch there and then spend a couple of hours using the wifi. Veggie Wraps! Are you surprised?

We stopped at a gas station to fill up and pick up some beverages. When we returned to camp, the wind was blowing like crazy. Inspired by our sweet parents Dave and Lori, we set up our chairs and cracked open our beverages. Pausing for a minute thinking it would calm down after a bit. It did not. So we sat in the wind, laughing about how strong it was and just thanking ourselves that it wasn’t raining. Realizing that it was indeed not going to stop, I decided to go for it and make dinner. The drinks helped and it was a success! Garlic chicken with quinoa and roasted veggies! Followed by our new favorite Lindtt dark chocolate with sea salt. Despite the strong winds, Jake went back out to try and was almost successful. I kept warm in the truck and read. Off to a new place tomorrow!

Day Thirty One: Fly Fishing Heaven and Breakfast for Dinner

We woke up in the parking lot of our frien apartment and felt like bums. Why we decided to sleep in our truck instead of the fouton of her place I’m not sure. But I am sure that it was a mistake. Heat and bright street lights don’t make for a very good night’s sleep. Luckily for us though, showers were waiting inside and we had a very exciting day planned! We were headed to a secret place to camp and fish the Missouri River. Jake was more excited than me though for some reason I don’t know why. We picked up some groceries and a very unhealthy Sonic breakfast, which we later regretted, on our way out of town and were headed to our destination at about 8. Jake was like a little boy on Christmas and I was a bit of a zombie. We arrived at our campsite at about 10:30. It wasn’t fancy, but inexpensive and had everything we needed! Jake hopped out, grabbed his gear and was off. My sleepy self napped under the big beauitful trees we were lucky enough to have at our site. His first outing was very successful, the fish were big and beautiful and the weather was perfect.He returned from fishing at about 1 and we decided to check out the lake on the other side of the dam. We found a nice picnic table to make lunch, and then found a patch of grass to lay down in. I would have taken pictures of our tuna sandwiches but Jake is slowly losing his patience with all the picture taking. “Its for he blog!” is a phrase I’ve used only about 100 times. Though we struggle to come to an agreement of how many pictures are taken in one day, he does keep me balanced and for that I’m grateful. Otherwise there would thousands and I would never stop to smell the roses sitting alive in front of me. Okay back to the patch of grass. He napped while I read for a bit. Then I fell asleep too. It was a nice day recreational area and campground, but we liked our place more. Less people and more fishing. We returned back to the campground at about 4 and Jake went out for another successful round. He was having an okay time.He returned at about 6:30 and I proposed we make breakfast for dinner. Our neighbors had made bacon and eggs and the smell got me thinking of what we could make with the food we had. Jake approved. We made a college favorite. Potatoes O’Brien egg skillet with Maple sausage with our Canadian maple syrup we purchased earlier on the trip. We were very pleased with our decision.We ended the evening with one final outing. This time, I tagged along in hopes of catching one. No luck for me but I did get to practice. We ventured up into the canyon. On the way there we were talking about all the wildlife we had seen and how lucky we were. The only thing we hadn’t seen were Elk. Well…ask and you shall receive! Driving back to camp we were blessed to witness a heard of about 50 grazing in a field. The picture doesn’t due it justice. Thank you, God!

Day Thirty: Great Falls, Great Friends, and Few Pictures.

We woke up more slowly this day. Trying to enjoy the lovely campsite we had found by stretching and enjoying some tea. We headed out to the town of Choteau around 10, only to find that the downtown of Choteau was really not quite the downtown we were anticipating. So, we headed onward to Great Falls in search of workplace to coffee shop area there! On the way, we had our first truck hiccup. Some malfunctioning with the cruise control caused the engine to shut off. We took it into O’Reilly’s when we made it to the big city and all was good. I’m sad to say that I didn’t capture any pictures of this coffee shop we worked at. It was so awesome too! The best artwork, chai, and ambiance. It was called Electric City Coffee and Jake and I highly recommend it! I finished writing and working at about 3:30 and then we strolled around town to take a break before my meeting at 5. The only photo I captured was one of a smaller antique store with this random restaurant in the back. It was darling but strange at the same time!

We finished our strolling, and then headed to find a Starbucks so I could have my meeting and we could make iced green tea fizz beverages. They are just the best! The meeting was a success and we headed next to meet our friend at a brewery up the road. We shared stories and caught up on “the good old times” until midnight. It was the best. Jake and I decided to stay in the truck last night insisting that we would be comfortable and oh boy, that was a mistake! Some parking lots are not meant for car camping.

Day Twenty Nine: Moooooooooose!

We woke up a little late and had a typical slow Sunday morning with tizzy’s and reading. Our neighbors stopped by to chat for a bit and then we packed up and were on the road at 10:30 with our shakes. We saw a bear on the way out, just hanging out on the side of the road. It couldn’t have been a better exit from the park.

We headed to Two Medicine to have lunch there and check out that side of the park for a bit. Veggie sandwiches, are you surprised? Us either. They are our favorite. The area around Two Medicine was much less touristy than that of the West. More Western old town with a couple of gift shops and a laid back campground and picnic area. It was refreshing.

We headed on our way out, and pulled over next to a river Jake had seen on the way out. We’re so happy we did because…yes! Jake saw his first moose! Actually two. Right up the river from where he was. A perfect ending. He caught a few fish as well which made him feel better about the license purchase he had made. I read and did some planning for Arbonne while he fished. Soaking up the sun. All was well! We stopped for huckleberry pie and ice cream on the way out and then headed to our final destination for the evening in Choteau.

Choteau didn’t have much to see, but our campground was a very pleasant surprised. The name was Mountain View Campground. We loved the tent village we stayed in! It had nice grass, a cooking counter, outlets, and accessible water! On top of that, the showers were updated and clean with plenty of hot water, AND a big sink with hot water to wash dishes in. We were happy campers to say the least. We had a very detoxifying dinner of chickpeas and rice with ginger tumeric tea, followed by some stretching in the soft grass and a shower. Life was good. We wish we could pick up this campground and take it with us everywhere we went! It is a wonderful place to stop through on your way through Montana. Tomorrow, we head a little ways to Great Falls to visit a friend.