"Live light, travel light, spread the light, be the light" // AmandaHoffmanArt 2017
This week started out at an amazing campsite on the edge of a cliff in ear and eye shot of Wapta Falls, a roaring waterfall down below. We were outside of Banff national park. I slept with the windows open that night and let it lull me to sleep. Nothing like falling asleep every night in the thick of nature, on a comfy bed. RV life is where its at.
Banff was beautiful and we did hikes in Lake Louise and the park & shopped around the city. We stocked up on sweaters for the upcoming chilly weather in Montana, as well as sweets from the candy shop (which it turns out is a travel must-have) & goodies from the farmers market. I will never tire of the mountain views, and climbing to glaciers. The water in the lakes and rivers near any mountain we've been to is more blue and clear than anything I had previously experienced and has without a doubt ruined all other bodies of water for me.
We were allowed back into the US via Montana and rolled into St. Marys area of Glacier national park. Spent our second rainy day thus far at a campsite outside of the park catching up on laundry and trying to stay warm. The rain cleared up later in the evening, but we had our first night with temps around freezing! With great weather for the next couple of days, we explored Glacier. One of my favorites places, thus far. We saw so much wildlife and so many amazing views in such a short span of time.
Hit another snag this week, on our way out of Glacier. We had planned to camp somewhere on our way to Bozeman, MT and were cruising down the road in the middle of beautiful Montana countryside, commenting on it being just what we thought, big sky and big fields and not much else. THWAAAACKK--ACKKK-ACKKK! We blow the tread off another tire.
We pull off the road and inspect, its the inner one on the drivers side. We are scheming, and checking things and figuring out the next move when a really sweet older couple pulls over to check on us. We decide to proceed slowly for a few a miles (since we have dualies in the back), but ultimately not feeling good about driving it anymore we pull over again, ready to call AAA to come tow us the 50 miles to the next town, or at least put our spare on. Within two minutes of getting off the road the universe sends us two great guys who are on their way home from work and offer to change the tire for us!! We were back on the road in the next 30 minutes and as if we werent already lucky enough, the guy who runs the tire shop in the next town offered to come back into the shop (after he had already closed) to get us a new tire and get us back on the road! Incredible small town hospitality and kindness in Choteau, MT. People dont talk enough about the generosity of others. We live in a world where we are taught to be afraid of so many things and in embarking on this journey so many people emphasized our need to be careful and be safe and be prepared. While we can be aware of things and not naive to the evils in the world, I will no longer allow that fear to dictate my plans. There is so much good in the world!
Ended this epic adventure of a week taking it easy in Bozeman where we stumbled on a classic car show downtown, lots of good food and drink & some pretty friendly locals. Now we are off to Yellowstone!
Love from the road,
Week 5 started out at a rad little diner in Seattle, Luna cafe, complete with super old juke boxes at each individual table - ours unfortunately did not withstand the test of time and played us no music. Said a sad farewell to our third wheel and headed immediately for the ocean!
Fun fact: you can stay at most casinos in the US for free in your RV so we found one next to the beach and set up camp! Took a foggy beach walk and collected lots of perfect sand dollars in the morning.
Did you know Washington is home to a whole bunch of rainforest?! Awesome to walk through this lush oasis.
Next comes the fun part. In Seattle we joked about buying a barge and turning our RV into a house boat. Seemed logical enough, so we decided to test it out with a little ferry ride over to Victoria and Vancouver Island. Lovely trip. We may or may not have seen a walrus. (Leyna swears there were tusks). It was definitely something, though we will probably never know what exactly. What I am sure of is that is was not a whale and that despite blasting the Free Willy soundtrack as we got on and off the boat the whales decided not to show themselves to us this time around. Major bummer. [Big thanks to Gavin for the cd which got us pumped on childhood memories and opened alot of deep discussion regarding whether that movie would still be as good if we watched it now]
Totally enjoyed the island, great food and drinks in Victoria, drank too much wine at a bar as we got completely engulfed in our first glimpses of the Olympics, and the next day found an amazing lake campsite. Spent an awesome day on Lake Cowichan soaking in the sun, swimming and taking in the scenery. Days like this are great. We spend alot of time moving around, either physically hiking, walking, exploring, or behind the wheel cruising and planning the next steps. Having a still day or afternoon to really enjoy where we are is incredible. Sidenote: Canada was hot. We were all, "load up the sweaters and the blankets! We'll need 'em in Canada!" Not true. I got a sunburn. (back in the states however [in real-time 8-18-2016, we just rolled into Montana today] we are currently testing out the RV heater, our thermal sleeping bags and prepping for lows of 29 degrees!!)
Had a tough call to make after our island adventure, rolled into Vancouver late on Friday night and due to logistics decided to skip the city. We instead drove up to Whistler where we stumbled upon a major mountain biking competition happening and had a great time! Well to be honest, we earned our great time, by first hiking up Grouse Mountain (Grouse Grind, as it is affectionately named). Its a 2800 ft climb over 1.8 miles, basically all "steps" carved into the landscape. Lucky for us, this is a one way journey and you must ride the gondola back down, which was great because legs = jello.
Enjoyed a walk around Rainbow park before heading out of Whistler on our long ride to Banff. Gorgeous spot.
Canada, in general, is beautiful. And you never forget where you are, since there is a maple leaf on everything. That and the credit card machines are bonkers, we've decided one in five Canadians has a personal card-swiper, which somehow still isnt enough as they always seem to need to get one from somewhere. Also had some initial trouble with speed-limits, so we made a cheat-sheet post-it for the dash. 30kmph=17mph, $10Canadian=$7.50American, 4m=12ft (Goldie needs an 11' clearance height), unfortunately when paying for minutes in the RV park shower, there is no conversion, 5min Canadian=5min American and is not enough time.
Heading to Banff to start off the next week, let the Canadian shenanigans continue!
Love from the road,
We started week 4 with our first rain (the only rain in 23 days!). We had plans to hike at Mt Rainier and decided not to let the rain & cold and cloudy weather stop us. This was a beautiful decision. Watching clouds roll in and out of the mountains around us was incredible. The fields of wild flowers around the mountains, covered in raindrops, and the glimpses of mountains and trees through thick fog made for gorgeous scenes.
(this guy was so cute -- we are making new friends everywhere we go!)
We rolled into Seattle on Wednesday and spent Thursday exploring Pike market & the city. Found some great little restaurants and bars. ChaCha's, a red-lit, tiki/punk bar in a basement being the fan favorite.
Things got quite the shake up Friday morning as westwewander hosted our first guest. Picking someone up from the airport in an RV is a fun experience for all parties involved, probably more so for the person being scooped, but we were super excited to have Alex roll with us for a few days. We went straight from the airport to the forest east of Seattle and spent the weekend climbing mountains, building upside down fires, swimming in glacier fed lakes, drinking Franzia and basking in the pure joy of Washington nature.
We are officially in full-on "self-sufficient" mode and have been keeping the fridge stocked and the stove burning. We've traded in our daily greasy diner fare for RV-home cooking (although we are still indulging on the good stuff every once in a while).
Things are working great (we even tried out the heater this week!) and we did some fixes (note: fixing sewer hoses and black water tanks are not for the faint of heart) that will make the rest of the trip go more smoothly. Currently stealing wi-fi from Starbucks and planning ferries into BC for later in the week! Look out Canada, we comin'!
Love from the road,
The time is flying by. Its crazy how much ground we've covered and at the same time how much it feels like we may have missed. This week brought us strangely into territory that felt like the southwest again. Maybe it was just a hot day, but Smith Rock in Oregon was brutal, sun beating down on red rock just like the southwest. There was, however, a river. This made it different. And despite the sweating, it was beautiful.
We excitedly headed towards Portland, for cooler temps and the booze and food and all things weird. Quick (totally worth it) stop on the way at Multnomah Falls was amazing. Super high waterfall (I believe, second highest in the US) with a lower area as well as a bridge you can hike up to. I guess one time there was a wedding party taking photos there and a humongous (like probably small house, RV sized) chunk of rock fell into the mid-pond area causing a tidal wave that crashed over the bridge and injured a bunch of people. This did not happen during my visit. Thank goodness Grandma is lighting candles for my safety!
Rolling into Portland was immediately like Austin, in that we were stuck in traffic. As soon as that broke up, it was unlike Austin (or anywhere else Ive ever been) in that we checked out the International Rose Test Garden. A beautiful landscape of thousands of rose-buds and hundreds of different kinds and colors of roses. The smells and colors and vibes at this park were incredible. I have never seen roses this big or fragrant or plentiful. Seriously. A sight.
The next couple days in Portland -- thanks to our great friend Jamie's sound advice on all things food and booze in Oregon -- we ate, we drank and we perused this very Austin similar town. It was great -- we have had such excellent weather thus far and it was no different here. Sunny skies and cool breezes. Also lets talk about berries. Oregon has invented a bunch of its own (or they have always been this way and I just didnt know) special berries and we were on the hunt for all things 'Marionberry" & "mountain huckleberry". I may or may not have even went was far as eating several berries from the forest while hiking. I am not sorry, they were delicious and I am still alive (thanks again Grandma). Powell books (the flagship store) was amazing, and we could have easily spent an entire day here. *Please note: we do not waste food. 90% of the time we are mid-western, plate scrapin' ladies and we put it away. The meal shown below was at Bollywood, in Portland and was more than enough for Leyna and I, and, as pictured, it disappeared. It was excellent.
This is where the week got real interesting. We ended up outside of Portland, in wine county, which was incredibly lovely. There is this thing that happens in small towns where the locals talk and we happened to be listening. We heard about this "old fashioned fest" that happens in Newberg, Oregon and this year was themed, Christmas in July. Everyone was going to be there. Including the local bar crowd one town over and so there was pretty much no way we were going to miss it. Bright and early Saturday morning we hit the Rotary clubs all you can eat pancake breakfast and that was just the beginning of a day full of parade, cotton candy, fresh squeezed lemonade, dream catchers, kettle corn & general merriment. Also we got sunburned.
Full of small town charm and sugar we left Newberg and headed for the coast. I absolutely love the beach and the water. Ive always thought someday I would live close to the ocean. I am enamored by it. We had an excellent dinner at Sand Dollar and watched the sun set in Rockaway beach Saturday night and I could have stayed there forever.
Ready for more of the coast, we hit Cannon beach, home of the famous Goonies treasure and incredible. Its somehow even better that it was cloudy and foggy, I dont think it would look quite as good in the sunshine. We also spent an afternoon in Astoria, cruising the local Sunday farmers market and watching boats come in and enjoying a cool day that called for layers and sweaters.
Its been a great week -- let me leave you with some campsite photos, because we have been finding the coolest free spots to camp! The white flowers were some of my favorites growing up, they used to spring up beside our house and back in the pasture. We camped at a spot this week that was covered in them. Super dreamy in the sunset.
Oh, I almost forgot, we also saw Mount St. Helens. Real life volcano + tiny cloud poof (because she is obviously dramatic).
Love from the road,
PS. We have a cold refrigerator again!!! There are eggs and bacon and cheese and happy campers!!!
Week two started out in an incredible way, not only did we make it out of the desert heat (driving through death valley is as brutal as it sounds), but we made it to the mountains outside of Yosemite and a spectacular little campsite. We had a view of the Sierras on one side and Mono lake on the other, incredibly peaceful spot.
First hike in the park, up Mist trail to the top of this waterfall was breathtaking (due to both incredible steepness and beauty). You feel like you're in a Bob Ross painting over and over again at this park. The rocks and trees and nature are so big around you it almost feels fake. As if spending the day in Yosemite isnt amazing enough, that night on our way out of the park and back to camp we experienced a full moon rising like I have never seen before. As if the mountains weren't cool enough already, just add the moon, wow.
After lots of hiking (and massive crowds) in the most popular spots in the park on day one, we decided to spend the next day in Yosemite off the beaten path. We made our way out to Tenaya Lake and had ourselves a lazy beach day. We found a totally quiet spot and read books and soaked in the sun and the clear water and the mountain air (which is literally fresher and cooler than regular air). Not a bad way to spend a day.
Well rested and ready to continue exploring, we headed to Lake Tahoe. There are several facts about driving your home around that Ive learned and will share; you cant park where ever the hell you want like everyone else and driving up and down and around mountains on narrow roads is crazy! (My station wagon is going to feel like a comfy cruiser after this, and I will never take for granted the thrill that is parallel parking again.) After finally finding a spot atop the mountain surrounding Lake Tahoe, the only choice was down. So we hiked down, the lake is massive and the views were amazing!
Here is where things really got interesting. As if climbing back up this mountain wasnt a challenge enough, we were suddenly faced with an even bigger, hairier obstacle. There is something that happens when you see a bear. Or something that happens to me when I see a bear, rather. Your brain sort of goes, "Woah, whats that? Is that a bear? No way, its right in front of me. Oh it just looked at me, I think thats a friggin bear." As I turned to get confirmation from another human of this bizarre thing my brain wasnt quite computing, Leynas eyes said it all. She had already started moving back in the direction we had come and she was mouthing "come on!!!!" before I even had the sentence, "is that a bear!?" out of my mouth. Heart pounding and out of sight from this bear, we paused to reflect. Not but a few minutes later some chatty, happy, hikers come strolling along all casual from the bears direction and say "oh yeah, we saw it, its cool, just dont look at it and talk to each other as you go by." Reluctant, we waited for a couple a suckers to come from the other direction and followed behind them (strength in numbers right?). Well we got by unscathed, and I was even able to get a photo. In retrospect, the bear didnt want to have anything to do with us, as he had all he could ever want, right there in that garbage bag.
PLEASE NOTE: Bears in photos appear smaller than bears in real life.
Having survived the bear encounter, and feeling more prepared than ever, we headed into Redwood National Forest, first having made it to the ocean, made it 'west' and literally feeling the air change again around us. As a person who has spent the majority of life towering over other people, Ive never felt smaller or prouder of towering than in the massive Redwood forest. These trees are massive.
And as if we didnt have enough amazing bodies of water in our week (I didnt even mention a campsite we had one of these nights, that was up a trail from a gorgeous clear water stream where I swam around and watched the sun go down), we hit Crater lake on Day 14 and I was blown away. This is the bluest, cleanest, clearest, coldest water Ive ever had the pleasure of being in. Its supposedly one of the most pristine bodies of water on earth and I believe it. Water so cold it makes your skin hurt, but you cant help yourself but to get in it.
To sum up, we saw more beautiful landscapes and sights than I could have imagined in a single week. We still have a non-functioning fridge (although we are hoping that changes tomorrow), but we've made the best of that by turning breakfasts into a challenge both in quantity of food consumed and in finding the cutest, small-town-iest, greasiest spoon diners around and it has been amazing. Sightseeing well, eating well.
Love from the road,