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 Twenty Six: Trail of the Cedars & Avalanche Lake

We woke up to rain. Drizzling with a hint of depression. Just kidding, we truly have nothing to be sad about, but were getting a bit sick of the rain at this point. None the less! We perservered, made oatmeal, and put our rain gear on and headed out to do a couple of hikes before lunch. Trail of Cedars and Avalanche lake were just a short walk from the campsite, just as my grandma had told us. We did the trail of the Cedars first. A nice “forest bathing” stroll on a boardwalk as a warm up. There were plaques with poems on them along the way. That was my favorite part. Well, that and the ferns. The hike to Avalanche lake was only about 2 miles up with just the right amount of incline. The sun peeked out a bit and we shed a layer on the way up. The trail was lined with a babbling river and waterfalls , it seemed like we beat a rush of people also which was nice. When we got to the top we met the nicest family, of course. They suggested we visit a Glacier on the other side of the park so we made that our new plan! I shouldn’t even really say new because we didn’t quite have a plan to begin with, and that’s the way we like it.

When we got back to camp we made tuna sandwiches. I got a little crazy and added cucumber, sprouts and avocado to mine. It was delicious! We then hung out for a bit and read. I fell asleep.

When we (I) woke up at 4:30 Jake decided to go back up up Avalanche and fish. Crazy man! He ended up having the most incredible time and catching beautiful pink colored fish. He captured some beautiful shots as well. I stayed behind and did wifely things. Re-organized the truck, clorox wiped everything, threw away anything we didn’t need, made some overnight oats for the morning, and hung the blankets out to dry in the peek of sunshine we were blessed with.

I had tea and a very simple solo dinner, and left it out for Jake to have when he got back around 9. Leftover burrito filling and a premade salad mixture. It was delicious! And more importantly, super easy. We were both fulfilled in all the ways, and were ready for a good night’s rest. We would be up at 6 tomorrow to head over and try and get a spot at our new campsite!

Day Twenty One: Back to camp life, but first…

We had one of the slowest and most needed mornings yet. On our way to the hot tubs we stopped at the truck to make shakes to reset our bodies from all the backpacking food. So delicious and necessary. After an hour of sauna and spa time, we went back to the room to do some yoga and shower. 12 o’clock check out time came quickly, and we headed out the door to…well we didn’t exactly know. I needed to get some work done for a few hours so we found the sweetest coffee shop called “Little Wild” that worked out perfectly.

Jake left at about 3 to go do some laundry (best fiance ever) and came back at about 5:30 with some premade salads to eat until we figured out what we were doing. We found a free place to park overnight in Canmore but weren’t sure of what to do until then. So we headed to the Christmas store like tourists! Of course. I had been excited to see it ever since we passed by. It didn’t dissapoint. Such magic. Afterwards we picked up a few more gifts and then had a drink at the very fancy bar of the Maple Leaf. Still no plan. The bartender suggested that we go check out the Fairmont and use their swimming pool and hot tub for a low cost. That sounded good to us! First, groceries and dinner. On our way to the grocery store to pick up a few things, we heard someone mention ramen. We were planning on cooking to save money but Jake couldn’t resist. The Ramen place had the longest line, so instead we went to a Chinese restaurant close by. Aside from the view and my green tea bubble tea, the food was a fail. It was a weird thing to do in Banff.

We drove up to the castle that is the Fairmont and once again, it was like the whole wierdness of the day had led up to this magical moment. The receptionist at the spa was the nicest and gave us the local rate, and we headed into our very fancy changing rooms. Seniorita by Justin Timberlake was playing in mine and I danced the whole time I was changing. It was fun pretending like we could afford to be here. We made our way out to the outdoor pool, which we found out was a giant hot tub. It was so lovely. We used their bathrooms to change into our pajamas and get ready for bed, then headed to the overnight spot in Calgary. We weren’t sure about the safety of the spot, but were pleasantly surprised when we found a crew of car campers all huddled together in the parking lot outside of the downtown. Our people!

Day Eighteen: Up the Mountain!

Today was the first day of our backpacking adventure! We woke up to rain drizzling and started getting ready to leave the site. Two Jack’s was okay but I doubt we will be back. A bit to out of the way and no showers. We headed into town to pick up some last minute groceries, get some ice, and make sure our cooler was free of perishables while we were gone. We ate our taco salad leftovers in the parking lot for lunch nad then headed to the base of Taylor Lake trailhead to start packing our backpacks full of everything we would need!

We headed up the mountain at about 2. The trail was 6.3 km with a 3,000 ft. gain. I complained much more than I should have. My pack was heavier than usual and the incline really did us in. Shouldn’t have brought the night creme. When we made it to the top it started raining, and we quickly (after taking a victory picture) found coverage to wait in until we could pick out site to set up camp.

We found the least squishy place to set up our tent, and took shelter from the rain that came back through. We ended up taking a little nap and then Jake headed out to fish. I, on the other hand, stayed in and made tea while reading. It was lovely. This lake is like glass and the mountains are just incredible. It felt like our own little sanctuary. When he got back we made dinner. Vegan rissoto! For backpacking food the ingredients were actually really good. It began raining again so we headed in. Both of us were incredibly sore so sleeping wasn’t the easiest. However the peace of where we were definitely helped.

Day Seventeen: Tourist Mistakes and Happy Endings

We woke up slow. The days here are so long it’s easy to stay up until midnight or later and feel like it’s only 9 or 10. Our plan for the day was to visit Lake Louise and Moraine. We made shakes to have on the way and were hyped up on this new coffee we bought. Or at least I was. So much singing and anticipation to see the views we had been dreaming of. To our surprise we of course were very late and the overflow parking for the shuttle to either lake would be a 2 or 3 hour wait. Oops. We adjusted our plans and decided to make the most of our day by visiting a park nearby until about 8 tonight when we would try again and hope for the best. Jake and I aren’t much for waiting or large crowds so this was going to be interesting. We continued up the highway and pulled off onto the Iceland parkway in Jasper national park. I was still a little bitter from the change of plans but it didn’t last too long because hello there is SO much to see. We looked at the map and decided to hike back into Glacier Lake. We made it to the red chairs overlooking the old fur trade route and had our pb and J’s and then continued on our way in the wrong direction. Oops again. By the time we turned around and found the correct route we just decided to head back and check out a few more places on the way out.

Jake was interested in seeing a free campsite we had found online. After some off-road driving we found it and were quickly filled with regret in booking the other site. This was much closer to the places we wanted to see and FREE. Ah well, next time. Afterwards we stopped by Mistaya Canyon and then pulled off into a campground by Waterfowl lake. Jake fished while I read and did yoga. Then I made us dinner. Beef burritos and taco salad. Way too much, but it worked out well! We saved the leftovers for lunch the following day. After we ate, we headed up to give these lakes another try. Having everything we need in the truck really makes things easy to make things up as we go. Especially when things don’t go as planned, which is mostly always.

Grass fed beef with taco seasoning, avocado, bell pepper, Mexican rice and a taco salad mix with cilantro

We drove through the village of Lake Louise and followed the signs to what we thought was the lake itself. We found ourselves in a long line of cars and weren’t sure if we had made the right decision or not. It was about 8:30 and we could hardly keep our eyes open. As we pulled into the parking lot the heavens opened up and there were PLENTY of spots. Hallelujah! To top it off we had actually driven to Moraine Lake instead. Oops again! This day. We climbed up to the view point and it was almost as if this entire trip had led to this moment. The water was even more blue than we could have imagined. It was truly unreal. The timing of the evening couldn’t have been more perfect either. The skies were turning purple, people were leaving, and we just sat. Staring at each detail and taking in every moment, laughing about how the seven peaks seemed like seven old and noble men. I have feeling we’ll be coming back here for our anniversary someday. We didn’t make it back to camp until midnight. We were exhausted but entirely full. Our plans to see Lake Louise were set aside for now. That was all we really needed in the end.

Day Sixteen: Arriving in Banff

We left the campsite rather quickly, as we were excited to get to Banff. We were in such awe driving in that we could hardly contain ourselves. Just a lot of “wows” Giant mountains peeked through the clouds that looks like space ships and it seemed like every lake we passed was crystal clear. We drove through the downtown area, picked up some groceries and soup for lunch in the park. I can’t wait to go back and check out the Christmas store! We might move here.
We left town to check out our campsite and see the area a bit more. The views only became more and more beautiful. We passed by lake Minnewanka on the way to Two Jack’s Main campground where we would be staying. More “wows” There wasn’t much as the campground, including no showers. It’s a good thing we love each other. We made shakes for a second lunch and headed to a hike through the canyon by the lake where we met the sweetest couple from Montreal.We headed back to town so I could get a few hours of work done and have my weekly Arbonne meeting. Jake did the laundry while I was working. He’s the BEST. When I was finished we headed back to the lake so he could do some evening fishing. I called family and enjoyed my new favorite beer while he did. This is taking work life balance to a whole new level if you ask me. We stopped to watch the sunset on the way back to camp. No matter where you are in this place, every view is just incredible. When we got back I made pesto pasta with Chicken. I tried to take a picture but Jake’s response was a hard no. He doesn’t feel I need to capture every meal. I disagree. #compromise

Day Fourteen: Hidden Gem in the Hills

We woke up around 8 and had bananas and coffee before packing up and heading out for another 6 hours of driving. I made shakes for second breakfast. The province of Saskatchewan is mostly farmlands and prairies, so I focused on getting some of my work with Arbonne done in the car while listening to more Joe Rogan podcasts. Beautiful skies made up for the lack of scenery as well as having each other.

We stopped in Swift Current for groceries. Their town slogan read, “Life the way it should be” The older homes and neighborhoods reminded us of Grand Junction. As we were veggie wraps for lunch in the parking lot, a guy came over to talk to us about the truck. He loved it! It was so sweet.

We had about an hour and a half before getting to Cyprus Hills Campground. The campground looked like a good location but could only tell so much about the site online. To our surprise, it was truly a hidden Oasis amongst the prairie lands. Not to mention it was massive. It felt like the supermall of campgrounds. Our site was all the way up and in the back, and it couldn’t have been better. We had an open site with lots of light that kept us warm, and there was hardly anyone around. We changed as soon as we got there and went on a walk to explore the grounds and move a bit. It was a lovely walk filled with good and much needed conversation. We had been so on top of each other we really hadn’t gotten a chance to decompress and breathe like this for a minute. It felt so good. Having each other to lean on during this journey has taught us so much already. Both about ourselves and our relationship. There will always be kinks, but there will always be a deep love to come back to as well. At the end of the walk we came up to a snack bar that we were hoping had beer. It didn’t, but after I asked the checkout counter guy, a kid with the BIGGEST grin and squinty popped his head out and said “I could sell you some in the back alley later if you’d like eh?” It was the way he said it that just made us laugh so much. We shared a mango milkshake instead and then headed back up to our campsite.

When we got back, Jake started dinner and I re-organized everything. My favorite thing to do. The setting for dinner that night was as if a fog had been lifted. The deep conversation we had, funny encounter, delicious food, wine, and golden hour made for a memorable evening. After dinner we cleaned up and drove down to the lake to fish. I caught up on some reading and writing while sitting in awe of the view. This night. We made our way back to camp , made small fire, and finished our wine. The field behind us lit up from the thunder storm rolling in. It was unreal. We went to bed soon after, listening to the rain.

Day Thirteen: Fields of Yellow Flowers

We had a slower morning at the campsite. As much as we wanted to stay longer, we were determined to get to Banff by Monday, and didn’t want to travel too far in one day. Our morning consisted of yoga, a shower, and coffee. We did some nail care as we drank our coffee at the table and it was pretty adorable. I made our shakes for breakfast and we finished packing up. We listened to some music but were quiet for a lot of this drive. I think the moving around everyday had caught up with us that day. Other than the gleaming fields of yellow flowers there wasn’t much to see on this stretch. Just farm lands and open prairies. We stopped at a place called Clear Water market about 2 hours out for chili and a Reuben. It was a lovely stopping point.

Around 7, we pulled over at a campground called MeadowLark. We didn’t love that it was right by the highway, but it was only $15 for the night with showers so we did it. We did a 20 minute workout to move and stretch, and then made dinner. I used the “meat” we bought the day before, quinoa, and all of the veggies to make bowls and a wrap for Jake. After dinner we had tumeric ginger tea and Jake played guitar while I caught up on some writing. 7 hours of traveling tomorrow! We’ll see where we end up.

Quinoa, veggie meat cooked with seasoning, avocado, peppers, and sprouts.

Day Twelve: Omens and Blue Lake

We woke up to the buzzing of mosquitoes early this morning. Realizing that having coffee and breakfast here would not be enjoyable, we basically just hopped in the cab and left. We didn’t even make the bed because we knew we’d get to do laundry later that day. Yippee! We stopped for gas nearby and decided to have breakfast at the hotel restaurant connected to the gas station. It was called “Drifters” so we thought the name made sense also. When we sat down Jake noticed on the map behind me a compass identical to the one on the drawer of the truck. Omen! Our breakfast was delicious, our waitress was the nicest (of course) and soon we were on the road again.

Another beautiful day with stunning views! We feel so blessed. We stopped at Safeway to pick up some groceries and then over to Walmart so Jake could pick up a new watch because his had broken. I found the best “burgers” that looked like they would last two meals and would be yum! If they make something like these 1/2 vegan burgers in the US someone please tell me. I made shakes for us in the parking lot and then we hopped back in the car to head to Willows Campground…or so we thought.

About an hour away from our destination we stopped at a Fort Gift Shop and BBQ because I couldn’t hold it. So happy we did! Jake ended up talking with an older man who filled us in on the fishing and wildlife around the area, as well as other traveling tips. I picked up a few things (of course) I just can’t resist homemade organic goods! Natural bug repelling lotion, a citronella and cedar candle, and a mala bracelet made by the woman I was speaking with. They insisted we visit Blue Lake right up the road, and we decided to check it out. We were greeted at the park by such enthusiasm from our new friend Grant, that we ended up staying and having the best evening. We showered, did laundry, and made a 4th of July inspired dinner of cheese burgers, potato salad and chips and dip. After dinner, we took out the canoe to watch the sunset and fish. They certainly call Blue Lake for reason, this campground is 100% worth visiting . We came back to the campsite, folded all of the clothes, and then made the bed. We hopped in to read and enjoy the fire from afar. Clean sheets felt so good.

Heavens Door ~ Unedited