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 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 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 Seven: Laundry Day

We actually made our goal of leaving the campsite at 7! Win! The overnight oats were a success and made for an extra easy morning. Campsites in such high demand there was a guy waiting to take our spot at 6:30. He took a final picture of the campsite number to share with Grandma, and then we were on our way. Coffee filled drives with views of going to the sun road in the opposite direction made for an amazing morning.

We arrived at Rising Sun campground and waited in line for about 45 minutes before getting our spot. Yes, even at 8 in the morning there was a long line of people hoping to secure a campsite. Success! We paid for two nights and then headed to the entrance of the park to find laundry. It was only about 9:30. Ah, the beauty of early morning rising. Johnson’s campground had a wonderful coin laundry service AND good wifi. WIN. I was able to get a little work done and do laundry at the same time. Fresh bedding. Fresh clothes. Happy Jake and Cass. After laundry our hungry selves went on our way to find some food at St. Mary’s lodge. It worked but we wouldn’t recommend it. Not to be rude, just honest. After lunch we picked up some groceries. They had the cutest little shopping carts that my little kid self got overly excited about! It’s the little things. Literally.

Jake dropped me back off at Johnson’s to continue catching up on work for a couple of hours while he checked out some fishing around the area. Then, we stopped at the KOA for long, well deserved showers. We were feeling fresh in every way. It was a very cleansing day indeed! We had a simple dinner of backpacking food. Dave’s recipe. Chicken Teriyaki in a tortilla. No pictures, oops! More to come tomorrow!

Day Twenty Five: Naps and Rainy Days

We woke up early this day, jumped in the car, and headed out to grab our campsite at Avalanche. On the way though, we made a very good decision to stop into the KOA and see if we could use their showers. We were going on day 3 and I was not okay with baby wiping any longer. KOA if you are reading this somehow we apologize BUT we actually just pulled up and were able to use the showers no problem. We left without any trouble and were very grateful for the quick hot water rinse. Headed back to West Glacier, we again, decided to detour and stop for breakfast. We hadn’t eaten out for a bit and a full breakfast was just too good to say no. It was very expensive but we were happy. We picked up some bread, beer, and avocados, and then headed to our campsite. Praying the entire way there that site #63 was still available! Our prayers were answered. I set up my hammock and sat and prayed for a long time. Which led to tears. Among other losses, my grandpa had passed earlier this year and it was just overwhelming to know that they had been at this exact site. Truly special. We made some tea and read for a bit before making the usual veggie sandwich lunch. We hopped into bed afterwards to escape the rain and ended up napping. Oh, boo, what a terrible time I know.After an hour of laying, I decided to head into town to attempt to find wifi and do some work while Jake went fishing. The only place I could find was the visitor center in West Glacier, but they were so friendly, and basically just grabbed me and told me I could sit wherever. Not ideal, but you make things work when it’s important to you right? Jake would be back to pick me up at 6. They closed at 5 so I headed up the street to a nearby bar to have a beer. It was a lovely little hour waiting. When I went outside and didn’t see Jake, I decided to get a huckleberry ice cream as well. Good excuse, right? Anytime I can squeeze in the local goods I try to do so, but only when it feels right and works out that way. As all things should be done. We arrived to a rainy campsite, made an assessment of how we would cook dinner, and decided that beer and music would help. So we turned on our trip playlist, opened the beers we had gotten earlier, and started to cook burritos. I’m not sure if it was the weather that made them taste so good but they sure were delicious! I should let Jake cook more often. We hopped into bed early and read because it was raining and cold and what else is there to do?

Day Twenty Four: Back to America!

We had a slower morning at the campsite. Anytime we have a nice space and a table to relax at we fully enjoy it. The chai we bought to mix with our coffee also made for a splendid morning! We made protein oatmeal, read our books, and then got ready to get out a hike in Waterton. We (I) felt like we at least needed to have one hiking experience in the park while we were here.

We decided to check out Red Rock Canyon, but to our surprise, the parkway was closed and it would take us about 6 hours to walk all the way in there. Tourist mistake. We walked in as far as we felt like anyways, and had fun laying in the fields of wildflowers. Despite the windy weather, the sunshine helped. After our hike, or walk rather, we headed into town to pick up a few camping supplies and gas. I also bought a pair of necessary but unecessary (but necessary) yellow pants that are now my favorite thing. It was Tuesday so I could treat myself, right?

Getting through customs was a breeze, we are so blessed to have U.S. passports but that’s a whole other story. We drove into Montana and were in awe of the mountains already. Both of our jaws dropped when we made it into the park and began driving up Going to the Sun road. It started raining a bit at first, but once the sun broke through the heavens sang and we were blown away. We had anticipated Banff being the highlight of this trip but were completely taken back. Glacier is defintiely a sight to see. Ask Jake, he could tell you.

We climbed up to Logan Pass and got out to check out the views and do the tourist thing. As much as we dislike the crowds, we keep reminding ourselves that we’re no better. A sign was hanging that perfectly described the dilemma I’m facing taking these photos.

We headed down the pass and checked out the visitors centers on the way to a free campsite Jake’s brother had told us about. As soon as we got service we found the location. On the way there we had pb&J’s for lunch and I discovered that peanut butter doesn’t agree well with my stomach. We stopped by Avalanche campground to see if anyone might be leaving, and spoke with the couple that was staying at the site we were hoping to get. The site where my grandparents stayed years ago when they came through the park on their motorcycle. Fortunately they would be leaving in the morning, and were sweet enough to let us put our tag under theirs to save our spot. When we got to our free site, it was about 6. We made soup and grilled cheese for lunch and I was so hungry when we got there I didn’t get a picture. The site was a sandbar next to a river just outside the park on blankenship Rd. It worked out perfectly. We were joined by many other car campers and felt right at home. You can’t beat free! Jake fished the river and caught a few, while I read and did yoga. A typical evening.

Day Twenty Two: Canmore, We Love You

We woke up in our little parking lot community of car campers and hopped in the car to find restrooms! There was a rec center called Elevation two minutes up the road and it couldn’t have been more perfect. It was just the start of our regret sinking in telling us that we should have come here yesterday…oops ! They had a sweet little library with strong wifi that would have been perfect for me to get some work done, and an array of activities for Jake to enjoy in the meantime as well. They had rock climbing, a pool, and an amazing view. Next time! After we got ready for the day, we headed downtown to check it out and were absolutely delighted. I almost don’t want to share because I feel like it’s a total secret from the bustling well known downtown area of Banff. We loved the quaintness and space from the crowds. After walking a short ways up the street, a bagel shop caught my eye (of course) and we decided to stop in there. Jake grabbed an outdoor table and we enjoyed our breakfast and my very fancy most delicious coffee I had ever had. Rose water and vanilla! It was lovely. I then dragged Jake from shop to shop and enjoyed every minute of it. Not the dragging part of course, but small shops are the best! My favorite spot was a used book store next to Rocky Mountain Bagel. It was like stepping back in time and was so very special. At one of the stores we got a recommendation from the worker on which back roads to take on the way to Waterton. Jake was pleased with shopping around after that.

We headed out of town, and stopped at the rec center so I could do an hour of work. Squeezing it in while I can! It actually working out quite well. That library is perfect and I would highly recommend it to all of my digital nomad friends out there! We followed our new friend’s directions and headed on our way to 742 Smith Dorrien Trail Rd. We would take this road to 40 and then onto 22 South all the way to Waterton. The drive was mostly gravel, but came with stunning views and many opportunities to pull off and soak in the wild open air. We saw some big horned sheep but not much else. Jake still hasn’t seen a moose! Poor guy. We stopped for lunch and made tuna sandwiches. Then checked out the lodge close by called Mount Engadine. It was delightful but out of our price range. We’ll stick with our hotel on wheels for now. We were out of service and had to go old school with the atlas to find our way! We got lost, but found our way again.

After a couple more hours of driving, we saw a place to pull off called “Cat River” It was about an hour and a half away from our original end destination but we were both a bit tired and loved it. I’m so happy we made the decision to stay. It was one of my favorite stops. It was probably all the horse poop smell from trail riders but I just loved it! Jake went off fishing and I stayed behind to do some yoga. It was about 6. I started making dinner when he returned and rain swept through. It was a quick finish trying to get the asparagus cooked before we were soaked but it actually tasted great. Win! We ate inside the truck and then waited for the rain to stop by watching a predownloaded movie and eating popcorn. We truly have everything we need. After the rain stopped, we cleaned up the damage and then headed on the most wonderful golden hour walk I think I’ve ever been on. The fields of yellow flowers were glowing and we could hear cows talking to each other. On our walk back we got a glimpse of our little home beneath the moon and it all felt so special. We would be leaving early to head to Waterton in the morning, so we climbed in early for bed.