Two years ago this month I drove across the country with my best friend Kate. She was moving to Utah for the winter so, naturally, we decided to take a month off from real life and go on an adventure. We drove through fourteen different states, explored six National Parks, camped & hiked through countless wilderness areas, and got to see lots of friends and family. It was my first extended period on the road and, as expected, I was hooked.
Driving through the Adirondacks in peak fall color
Badlands National Park. We were satisfied with our dinner of veggies, hummus, and red wine for our first night of National Park camping but a kind older couple insisted on sharing quesadillas from their on-the-go kitchen set-up. We ended up sharing food, wine, and good conversation late into the evening.
Bighorn sheep getting an early morning start, just like us. We were happy to share sunrise with them!
Spotted in South Dakota
Having checked off the only trail at Mount Rushmore (clocked in at under a mile...), it's unlikely I'll go back many times. However, it was pretty cool to see the sculpture in person and revel at the thousands of hours of work that must have gone into this creation.
Welcome to Wild Wyoming
We arrived to Great Teton National Park well past sunset. Waking up to sunrise at the Snake River overlook and seeing the mountains for the first time bathed in the morning glow was a truly special experience.
As we drove into Jackson for the best breakfast of our trip yet (I'm looking at you, The Bunnery!), we spotted two moose having a morning snack n' stroll.
Our trusty steed, Hayduke, posing pretty with the Tetons. He took us from forest to desert to snowy mountains without missing a beat!
Kate had her bike with us, so I borrowed on from our friend Julie for this lovely morning bike ride to Mormon Row. Kate & I met Julie while we were all studying sustainability in Costa Rica in college. We were stoked to be able to see her & crash in her cabin at the Teton Science School!
We woke up before 6AM in our tent at Madison Junction with icicles growing on our beanies. The stunning, private performance by Old Faithful made it all worth it!
Fall in Yellowstone
My first grizzly - spotted in Yellowstone.
My personal favorite spot in Yellowstone, the West Thumb Geyser Basin. Where else can you find rainbow colored hot springs, geysers, a deep blue lake, and mountains?
Traffic jam, Yellowstone style.
Going to the Sun Road showing off her autumn colors.
Hidden Lake, a cool short hike from Logan Pass. Pro tip? Don't go in Birks!
Diner breakfast in Ellensburg after driving all night to make the morning ferry to the San Juans. Having the motivation of being terrified by a close encounter with a grizzly in Glacier the night before sure helped us get the drive done...
Driftwood at dusk on Lopez.
Great beer, great beach, great company!
Turns out that camping at Crater Lake in late October is chilly but beautiful. Worth it? Only if you have extra fuzzy blankets and red wine!
Crater Lake at dawn is a sight to behold. And cold. Did I mention the cold?
Thankfully our next stop was the decidedly warmer California coast.
The traveling treehuggers (as we jokingly/not so jokingly called ourselves) spent hours wandering the Redwoods. Seeing trees that big was a first for us and I know I can speak for Kate too when I say that they were breathtaking. Plus, in the words of Ben Wyatt, "Wait. I'm ON Endor!"
Mountain jay spotted during a surprise detour to Lake Tahoe.
We couldn't leave California without a girls' day in Napa Valley! We met up with Kate's friend Marjorie from college who now lives in the bay area for a sunny afternoon full of vino.
Woke up to views like this for my birthday week in Big Sur. Couldn't feel luckier.
Hiking through my favorite State Park on the Cali coast, Limekiln State Park.
Hiking through Limekiln State Park, pt. 2. (Also titled, little Keene's, big clovers).