Wenatchee National Forest

July 27-30, 2017

Where to now was the big question? As much as we planned the first few months of our trip well in advance, things change and plans change. We left Glacier NP earlier than anticipated and arrived in Spokane earlier too, but there was no danger of us staying there any longer! For the first time we had no idea where we would be sleeping for the next few nights - we had about 5 nights to spare until our next reservation in Seattle, so off we went exploring deep into the woods! It was fun, (I promise) we drove around Wenatchee NF scoping out some good spots to camp, we got to see some amazing views and wildlife, but we still hadn’t found that perfect spot (still fun though). Wenatchee is an amazing, dense forest with many rivers flowing though and we really wanted to camp and be close to the river. Eventually we found a couple of spots but some of them were trickier to get to than others (fun scale going down)! The sun was beginning to go down and eventually we decided on a good spot, now we just had to navigate the trailer into the perfect position (fun scale still falling)...Parking at a campsite usually goes one of two ways:

  • You arrive, you have a pull-through spot, you park, you get out to look at the levelers (front and side) and BOOM, they are perfect, you do a little happy dance and then get on with life :) happy days.

  • Then there is the scenario of getting to the campsite and it’s either sloped, small with lots of obstacles in the way that could potentially cause significant damage if you hit, or the terrain is so uneven you want to cry! In this scenario we would spend A LOT of time backing up, pulling forward and trying again, putting down leveling blocks that don’t work in the way you anticipated...you get the picture.

Well, you guessed it, our time in the forest was the latter of the two parking scenarios. This might have been the toughest spot yet, it was late, it was getting dark, my legs had become dinner for many mosquitoes as I tried to help David get the trailer into position. I would say that the art of communication is not lost on us but truthfully, David does a great job navigating our house around and I usually stand there looking like I’m auditioning for a job with air traffic control!

  After a long day of being in the car it was time for some serious down time. We spent the next 2 days barely doing anything and it was bliss! We set up our hammocks and spent most of our time reading, napping or just listening to the sound of the river flowing by - this was exactly what we needed. Of course neither of us can sit still for too long so we did manage a few morning workouts, where coach Rosen put me through my paces, and an afternoon bike ride in the toughest of trails we have come across to date - is it still considered biking when you walk along side your bike?! As the weekend rolled around, the forest became less secluded and that meant it was time to leave.     When we left Wenatchee National Forest we drove to Mt Rainier for the day. Ideally, we would have loved to have spent longer here but the timing just wasn’t right. Being on the road full time often presents the problem of continually wanting to go go go, but sometimes you have to be ok with not doing and seeing everything and as a great friend once told me, “visit places with the mentality that one day you will go back and take the time to enjoy what you do see”. This is definitely a spot we would both love to come back to and spend some time. Next stop Seattle.

After a long day of being in the car it was time for some serious down time. We spent the next 2 days barely doing anything and it was bliss! We set up our hammocks and spent most of our time reading, napping or just listening to the sound of the river flowing by - this was exactly what we needed. Of course neither of us can sit still for too long so we did manage a few morning workouts, where coach Rosen put me through my paces, and an afternoon bike ride in the toughest of trails we have come across to date - is it still considered biking when you walk along side your bike?! As the weekend rolled around, the forest became less secluded and that meant it was time to leave.

When we left Wenatchee National Forest we drove to Mt Rainier for the day. Ideally, we would have loved to have spent longer here but the timing just wasn’t right. Being on the road full time often presents the problem of continually wanting to go go go, but sometimes you have to be ok with not doing and seeing everything and as a great friend once told me, “visit places with the mentality that one day you will go back and take the time to enjoy what you do see”. This is definitely a spot we would both love to come back to and spend some time. Next stop Seattle.

Spokane, WA

July 25-27th

What’s that saying your mum always tells you, “if you don’t have anything nice to say…”  Well, maybe I should stop here!

Spokane is a small city in the eastern side of Washington State and is surrounded by a lot of nature, so in that regards it’s a pretty great place. I think we just got off on the wrong foot, and personally, I wasn’t a fan. It was disappointing because I was really looking forward to being in a city after 3 weeks in the wilderness and probably had higher expectations than I should have! We arrived at our campground about 20 minutes outside of the downtown area, and were greeted by the overbearing camp hosts as soon as we got there - this is where things turned sour for me! At first they were helpful in guiding us on the best way to get to our camping spot, but as they stood and watched us back our trailer up, and proceeded to tell us that we needed to back up more, or move a little farther to the left, and then our car was still an inch on the road (eye roll), I had had enough! Then, we made the mistake of asking about the generator hours. It was hot in Spokane and we wanted to leave Moose and head into town to check out the city and have dinner, but our lovely camp hosts made sure to let us know that it was frowned upon to leave a dog inside in hot weather. Well, that’s what the generator is for, so Moose can enjoy some lovely AC and a much needed nap. When we finally made it downtown, it was like a ghost town - OK, it was a Tuesday evening but it was strangely quiet. We tried to find a good place to eat dinner and failed, then we walked around the empty, dark streets and left with a bad vibe and ready for bed! The following day we headed back into the city to give it another chance, still not much action or sightseeing to be done, we grabbed some lunch and headed back to the campground for some more nature and to get ready to hit the road in the morning. Our much needed city break turned into a much needed get-away back to nature! Next stop???

Glacier NP

July 19-25, 2017

After spending about 5 hours pitched outside a Toyota dealership in Helena, Montana, we finally hit the road to our next destination, Glacier National Park.  We arrived at Two Medicine campground, on the east side of the park, around 10 pm and it was still light out - I love the north west, it keeps reminding me of home!  We had previously arranged to meet our friends (Uncle) Kyle and Adriane at Two Medicine where they had graciously snagged us a campground spot next to theirs.  Kyle and Adriane were at the end of their 6 week cross country tour so it was awesome to not only spend time with them but, to hear about their adventures. It was actually also great to have a catch up with good friends and other people to talk to besides each other!  As much as we love each other, we miss our families and our friends so much and being on the road has its challenges - all in a good way.  

  We spent about 3 days at Two Medicine with a relaxing buffer day on either side of our epic hike. The great outdoors man AKA Uncle Kyle dragged our butts on a 20 mile hike through Glacier National Park and it was AMAZING!  I say it was amazing and while it was, it was much more amazing once it was over! Anyone who knows me knows that I love to run and like any race, this hike took us through similar emotions and thought processes - “woohoo this is awesome”, “Oh god we aren’t even halfway”, “LOOK AT THESE VIEWS”, “I am so happy that I am doing this, this is awesome”, “if a car were to pass by right now and offer me a lift to the end I would absolutely take it”, “my FEEEEEEET”, “this will be worth it for the beer at the end, we are almost there”, “WHAT?! An hour still to go”.... You get the message, it was an extremely challenging hike and although we are fit and healthy, it was still tough, but also worth it for the beer at the end :)

We spent about 3 days at Two Medicine with a relaxing buffer day on either side of our epic hike. The great outdoors man AKA Uncle Kyle dragged our butts on a 20 mile hike through Glacier National Park and it was AMAZING!  I say it was amazing and while it was, it was much more amazing once it was over! Anyone who knows me knows that I love to run and like any race, this hike took us through similar emotions and thought processes - “woohoo this is awesome”, “Oh god we aren’t even halfway”, “LOOK AT THESE VIEWS”, “I am so happy that I am doing this, this is awesome”, “if a car were to pass by right now and offer me a lift to the end I would absolutely take it”, “my FEEEEEEET”, “this will be worth it for the beer at the end, we are almost there”, “WHAT?! An hour still to go”.... You get the message, it was an extremely challenging hike and although we are fit and healthy, it was still tough, but also worth it for the beer at the end :)

After we said our goodbyes to awesome friends and came to terms with the fact that we only had each other for company from here on out, we headed to the west side of the park to do some more exploring. Here we spent some more time relaxing, because what else is this lifestyle for!!! We also drove the Going-To-The-Sun Road, which was amazing although pretty scary. I decided to give David a break from driving and offered to drive this road since we did not have the trailer with us, well, never have I been so scared of driving a huge pick up truck up the side of the mountain. I thought driving small, windy roads in Scotland had me well prepared for anything but NO, I was a nervous wreck, so much so that David had to take over and of course made it look like a walk in the park!  The next day we biked around the park and spent an evening watching the sunset at Lake McDonald, what an awesome way to end our time at Glacier National Park, another park already on my list for return! Next stop Spokane, Washington.

Yellowstone NP

July 15-19, 2017

Is it possible to see any more beauty than we already have?!  Every destination we visit seems to exceed our expectations or just leave use generally stunned at the natural beauty we are seeing.  Each day there is more to explore and Yellowstone, being the mammoth park that it is, definitely didn’t disappoint.  Yellowstone is 3,471 square miles - WOW that’s a lot of park to explore.  The day we arrived we decided to spend the day driving around to different attractions in the park, we figured we would cover more ground and Moose could join us in the car :)  

First stop was Old Faithful.  Although Old Faithful is spectacular, it definitely wasn’t my favourite part of the park, it was very crowded and a bit too touristy for me and that ruined it a little. Yes, I know I am a tourist too! Fun fact - Yellowstone averages around 4 million visitors each year, with over half of those visits happening during June, July and August. There is something to look at in every inch of this park, it seems as though every few miles we were pulling off to the side of the road or into a car park for another hot spot. That day we drove to Black Sand Basin, Biscuit Basin, Midway Geyser Basin and Fountain Paint Pot, (pictured below) all on the south west side of the park. We also saw tons of wildlife including bison, bull elk and bighorn sheep - no grizzly’s yet but there is still time!

The National Parks offer lots of “Ranger Talks” and various “Evening Programs”, so when we arrived at Yellowstone and David saw that there was a talk that evening about birds of prey, he said he wanted to go - Ok, I thought, something to do! On the way out the door, I grabbed my phone (and a beer) because even though there is zero service around here, worst case scenario was that I could always revert to a good old game of solitaire if the party around the campfire got a little wild.  We were a little early (I know shocking that we would be on time, never mind early) and at first, when we sat down in the amphitheater I presumed that the previous kids evening program was just wrapping up.  Well, no I was wrong about that, needless to say we made a quick exit back to our campsite and hit the hay, it was past our bed time anyway!

The following day we took the canoe out on Yellowstone Lake, it was pretty windy so we found some smaller coves to hang out and do a little fishing - somebody please tell us where all the fish are in this damn part of the country!!! For a moment, I thought I caught one and got so excited, mainly because I would have caught a fish before David :P but my line was snagged on some debris in the lake…..better luck next time!

Time to get on our feet! We hiked Mount Washburn, which was just over 6 miles round trip, and a good strenuous climb to the top. The views at the top were incredible and actually I felt like I could have been in Scotland here - the high winds might have added to that feeling! We didn’t spend too much time at the top in fear of losing our hats and possibly our footing. The best part of this hike (besides the views) might have been the snow! It was so cool to see and touch snow in July - we had fun with it!  After our long hike, we stopped by the Yellowstone Canyon area in hopes of seeing some of the falls. When we got to the lookout, there wasn’t much to see and it was a bit disappointing, but there was a ¾ of a mile trail that led you to a better spot. We debated the hike since it was all downhill and we just walked almost 7 miles, but everyone around us said it was totally worth it.  And it was :) This was probably my favourite day at Yellowstone.

This park is already on my list of places to re-visit, we spent 4 days exploring but could have done with 14 more!  If you haven’t been to Yellowstone, it’s a must see! Next stop Glacier National Park but not before an oil change, some routine maintenance for the truck and a trip to walmart to stock up on food! We still have chores to do on the road!

Grand Tetons NP

July 13, 2017

  WOW WOW WOW, what an amazing place! Even driving toward the National Park has spectacular views.  We spent 3 days here and camped in the Colter Bay area, which is a first come first serve campground.  When we arrived to inquire about a spot, we were told that someone had to leave and they asked the campground to “pay their spot forward” and so we got 2 nights for free!  YAY - there are good people in the world...now we have to do a good deed and pass it on.  We spent a day hiking Taggart Lake trail and part of Jenny Lake (pictured above), it was amazing (I know I keep saying that) but I loved the views and the clear, clean water - I might never swim in a Texas lake again!  The following day we spent biking around, it’s not the most bike friendly park but we did manage to find some good places to go and stay off the main roads as much as possible.     The night before we travel somewhere new, I get really excited and cannot wait to explore our next destination, I’m like a kid at Christmas who can’t sleep with excitement - oh wait, I can’t sleep because I acquired a hundred million mosquito bites and the itch is driving me crazy! Oh well, next stop Yellowstone!

WOW WOW WOW, what an amazing place! Even driving toward the National Park has spectacular views.  We spent 3 days here and camped in the Colter Bay area, which is a first come first serve campground.  When we arrived to inquire about a spot, we were told that someone had to leave and they asked the campground to “pay their spot forward” and so we got 2 nights for free!  YAY - there are good people in the world...now we have to do a good deed and pass it on.  We spent a day hiking Taggart Lake trail and part of Jenny Lake (pictured above), it was amazing (I know I keep saying that) but I loved the views and the clear, clean water - I might never swim in a Texas lake again!  The following day we spent biking around, it’s not the most bike friendly park but we did manage to find some good places to go and stay off the main roads as much as possible.

The night before we travel somewhere new, I get really excited and cannot wait to explore our next destination, I’m like a kid at Christmas who can’t sleep with excitement - oh wait, I can’t sleep because I acquired a hundred million mosquito bites and the itch is driving me crazy! Oh well, next stop Yellowstone!

Brooks Lake, WY

July 10, 2017

  Brooks lake AKA mosquito land, is located about 45 miles west of Grand Teton NP, in Shoshone National Forest, and what a place this is.  If you want peace and quiet and some R&R this is a must stop, plus the views are spectacular.  We camped at the Pinnacle Campground, which was less busy than Brooks Lodge Campground on the other side of the lake.  Since leaving Michigan, almost a week ago, things have moved quickly, we covered a lot of miles in the last 5 days and were feeling pretty tired from it all.  We spent a few days at Brooks Lake relaxing and were forced to take it slowly and be a bit lazy, considering we were in the mountains and at an elevation of 9,200 ft - just grabbing a beer from the fridge had me puffed! We finally got our canoe in the water and enjoyed cruising around the lake, of course David was fishing every chance he could get….still no bites!

Brooks lake AKA mosquito land, is located about 45 miles west of Grand Teton NP, in Shoshone National Forest, and what a place this is.  If you want peace and quiet and some R&R this is a must stop, plus the views are spectacular.  We camped at the Pinnacle Campground, which was less busy than Brooks Lodge Campground on the other side of the lake.  Since leaving Michigan, almost a week ago, things have moved quickly, we covered a lot of miles in the last 5 days and were feeling pretty tired from it all.  We spent a few days at Brooks Lake relaxing and were forced to take it slowly and be a bit lazy, considering we were in the mountains and at an elevation of 9,200 ft - just grabbing a beer from the fridge had me puffed! We finally got our canoe in the water and enjoyed cruising around the lake, of course David was fishing every chance he could get….still no bites!

South Dakota

July 6, 2017

We made it to South Dakota on day 2 of driving, however, Badlands is at the western end of the state so we still had a long way to go.  One of our goals on our travels is to find and camp places for free - sometimes this will be in a Walmart car park (more on this later) and sometimes it will be in some really cool spots - aiming for the latter most of the time, obviously! Camping for free means no electricity or water hook ups, which can make it difficult to do normal everyday things like make coffee or wash your hands! So, we have set ourselves up with a generator, solar panels and a selection of other batteries that I really know nothing about (I am learning), which allows us to have electricity when we need it.  Water is a little more difficult, sure you can fill up your fresh water tank easily but it only holds 30 gallon, which surprisingly isn’t that much!  Our water situation has definitely made me much more conscious of not wasting water.

Byre Lake

Freecampsites.net has a been a great tool for us and allowed us to find this awesome spot, Byre Lake - Kennebec, South Dakota. We spent just one night there, it was a great location, not too far from the highway and very peaceful. David managed to get in some fishing in the morning before we hit the road - no bites though :( and I managed a little outdoor gym session before spending another day in the car! This life is pretty amazing!

Badlands - July 7, 2017

We made it!!  Badlands was badass! Not only did we enjoy some amazing hikes around the national park but we got to see one of the best (and that is hard having lived in Dallas for some time) storms I have ever seen, with a full double rainbow all the way across the sky! The picture does a much better job of explaining, although as always it never does the reality justice.

None of the hikes are very long in Badlands NP, (there is a 10 mile one but it was too hot), we hiked most of the smaller ones, the Notch, Window and Door trails.  The Notch trail is just less than 2 miles roundtrip and was pretty difficult, there is a steep log ladder that you have to climb, which wasn’t too bad on the way up but a little more scary (for me) on the way down! I definitely wasn’t prepared for how hot it was in South Dakota, I just presumed being farther north it would be colder than Texas but it was in the high 90’s-100+ degrees F during the day.  Although I am somewhat used to the heat, it doesn’t mean I like it!

Buffalo Gap National Grassland - July 8, 17

We only spent one night camping in the NP and aimed to find another free night in the area. Again, thanks to my awesome website for free camping spots, Buffalo Gap National Grassland was our next stop on the road (just outside of the National Park).  This location was off the grid and had no water or electricity so we had to use our generator because it was so hot during the day, and we filled our water tank before leaving the NP.  There was a lot more wildlife to see at this location, probably because it was less populated.  We biked around exploring the grassland area and then back out the the park entrance for that obligatory picture by the sign :)