Whitney Lauritsen takes us into the second part of her cross-country road trip. Picking up from Mount Hood in Oregon, she reflects on how she is drawn to the power of nature every time she travels. In this episode, Whitney recounts how she prepared for the trip and the interruptions along the way. One example is the traffic on Mount Rainier, which went against her plan. Whitney also shares her road trip experience from Oregon to Forks, Washington, and how it almost felt cinematic, like in Twilight. She then recommends items that can be handy when traveling, along with the stops you might want to make if you travel on the same route she had. So tune in and be inspired by Whitney’s trip to set out on your own drive!

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Experiencing Nature: My 2022 Cross-Country Road Trip, Part 2

This episode is part two and hopefully the final part of my cross-country trip from Los Angeles up to Vancouver, where I’m going to talk about in this episode and across to visit my family on the East Coast in New York and Massachusetts, along with lots of friendly people, friends and family. That’s where I am. I’m doing this from a little room at my parents’ house outside my childhood bedroom. There’ll be another episode once I finish this part of the trip.

I love talking about this. Some of my friends have been encouraging me to do more travel content, mostly on social media like TikTok. What I use to make these episodes is my photo album. I go through all the pictures and videos to remember things that I can share here in these episodes. There will be other parts because I feel like I’ve been doing so much traveling. If you are interested in part one of this, where I talked about driving from Los Angeles up to Mount Hood in Oregon, right outside of Portland, that’s where I left off in the previous episode. I’ve also done numerous episodes about other road trips.

Let’s pick up at Mount Hood. It was beautiful. I felt like going there was the beginning of seeing so many incredible things and specifically mountains. I kept reflecting on this trip and what part of nature was drawing me in. Every time I’m traveling, I think, “If I were to move away from Los Angeles, where would I live?” I don’t have an answer to that. I enjoy living in Los Angeles for the most part. I’ve been there since 2004. It was when I moved from Massachusetts where I am.

When I see mountains like Mount Hood, I feel in complete awe. I mentioned in the previous part of this road trip that I read this great audiobook on this trip called The Nature Fix. In the book, the author talks about the power of awe. It was incredible to listen to a book like that while I was doing a trip that was focused on nature because the reason I went to the places that I did was to experience nature.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

Cross-Country Road Trip: The reason I went to the places that I did was to experience nature.

 

When I did the 2020 road trip that sparked this annual adventure for me, it was mostly to get across the country. I went with my friend Leanne. We plotted out the trip and then started adding a few stops along the way. It was organic. As we looked at the areas we were going through, we were like, “How about we go there and see this person?” It was very light and didn’t take a lot of time. We plan that trip in a week and a half, maybe at the most, whereas this trip I’m documenting has been in the works for quite a while.

I didn’t put as much time into it as I would have liked to because I ended up going to Costa Rica and Singapore. Those trips took up so much of my time and mental energy. I remember getting back from Singapore and feeling rushed to plan this trip under a lot of pressure. What was also interesting is up until a certain point, I didn’t have anything else planned. I’ll share a little bit about what that means. I had a vague idea of what I was going to do. I knew I was going to see specific family and friends but I didn’t know where I was going to spend the night some nights. That was an interesting element. I’m giving you a preview of what’s to come. Let’s dive into it.

Mountain Hood

I woke up early out at Mount Hood after spending the night in a sweet campground that I talked about in part one. I talked about this part where I went over to the lake and saw Mount Hood. It was beautiful. The photos I have from there still bring me so much joy. It’s interesting when it comes to photos and videos. I’ve started taking them more for me and less for social media, which is interesting because I feel like many people, when they go on trips, take them for social media. Even if it’s a casual thing, even if you’re sharing it with a small group of people and you’re not an influencer or a content creator, it still feels like a lot of vacations are dominated by taking photos and videos for someone else to see and for you to tell that story.

You could say the same thing about a show like this but it’s been interesting over the years, watching how I’ve lost a lot of interest in that. I still have this desire to take photos for social but I don’t like spending a lot of time on them. I don’t want to go places to get a photo. That doesn’t feel right to me. I’m going there because I want to experience them. Many of these places have been influenced by what I’ve seen on social, especially on TikTok. A huge part of my trips has been inspired by spots I’ve seen other people go to on TikTok. That inspires me to post about my experiences and is part of the reason that I’m making this episode. Maybe I’ll inspire you to go to some of these places and you’ll be interested in them because of the details that I’m sharing.

A lot of vacations are dominated by taking photos and videos for someone else to see. Click To Tweet

When I look at these pictures I took at Mount Hood, I remember feeling like the amount of time and effort would have taken me to get “the right shot” and Instagram-worthy shot, if that term even still exists or if the right footage that I could compile for a TikTok video, was a lot. It was about 7:30 in the morning, which was fairly early for me. I don’t like waking up early but I do on these trips. There I am feeling tired having this whole day ahead of me that I’m trying to build my energy. The last thing I want to do is do a whole photo shoot and take perfect footage.

I did get some cool photos. I stopped at Dutch Bros. Coffee, which was interesting because it’s another thing that I was influenced to do by social media. I heard about Dutch Bros. through TikTok. I’ve only been there once because I don’t think that there’s one in Los Angeles yet. There are a bunch all across the Northern parts of the West Coast. As I discovered on this trip, they’re everywhere. I kept seeing the ads. They had this cookie dough latte and I couldn’t stop thinking about it. One morning after Mount Hood was the first time I had a little bit of time to go through the drive-through because all of my other days were packed together and/or I would pass by Dutch Bros. and it would be 5:00 at night. I’m thinking, “I’m not getting coffee this late.”

I finally got to go to Dutch Bros. and it was a bit anti-climactic because I pulled up to the window. I asked how they could make it dairy free and vegan. They had to take out a lot of the good parts. They used some cool cream foam topping that sounded good but they replaced the milk with oat milk and used some cookie dough flavored syrup. It wasn’t that good. I’m not sure I would recommend it but it depends on your coffee preferences. I mentioned in part one how I had amazing coffee at this place called Sisters Coffee Company in Sisters, Oregon. I loved it. I bought a bag of their beans. I’m still drinking it in Massachusetts with my dad.

Mount Rainier

He loves it too. I would get into more gourmet-style coffee but I still enjoy trying out the drive-through stuff every once in a while. I liked the experience, not just the flavor. It was a little disappointing. I got some footage and I sent it to my sister. I then went to Mount Rainier. It was the first time that I hit traffic. It was about noon. I waited in line to get into the national park for at least 30 minutes. It might’ve been 45 to 1 hour. One thing I’ve learned, especially during summertime, is the earlier you can get to a national park, the better, especially if it’s a popular one but it didn’t work out that way timing-wise. I plan my trips based on how I can get to as many national parks as possible.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

Cross-Country Road Trip: Because most of these parks don’t have great internet service, you can download the information from their app to your phone and still access it.

 

Sometimes the timing doesn’t make sense for me to stay close to the next one. Sometimes I’m going to multiple in a row on the same day. I still felt a bit surprised to have to wait in line and that cut back on the time that I had there sadly but I did appreciate Mount Rainier. It’s beautiful. You drive through all these wonderful areas and flowers are blooming, at least in August there were. I looked at a map and out the window. I didn’t get to stop as much as I would’ve liked to because my time got cut short. I did go to a pretty popular area. It’s the Jackson Visitor Center. There’s a big sign that says, “Welcome to paradise.” People stopped to take pictures. That was pretty.

It’s a beautiful looking mountain and you can get closer to it or at least I got closer to it than I did for Mount Hood. They reminded me of each other. They’re both beautiful mountains with white snow-colored areas of them contrasted with the warm air and all the greenery from the plants around. They’re nice to look at. I love seeing pine trees or what they are, the contrast with the blue sky and the rows. Up the area I parked at, you could do small little loops to walk around and they had all these beautiful colored flowers that were purple and red. I got some good photos there.

I also wasn’t allowed to bring Evie. I’ve talked about this in part one. It’s a bit of a bummer. I used my Tesla’s Dog Mode. It’s hard to leave her in the car on a hot summer day. I don’t feel comfortable doing it. Here’s another thing that I found interesting once. When I left probably the central part of California, Northern California and beyond through Oregon and Washington, even in Canada, there were many Bigfoot-themed places like gift shops, coffee shops and Bigfoot signs everywhere. I was fascinated by that. If you ever want to reach out to me and comment on an episode, I would love to know what you think about Bigfoot.

I don’t have much thought. I don’t believe in it but I’m very curious about people that are into Bigfoot. I find it a little hard to believe that people believe in Bigfoot. I’m not trying to be rude about that but it doesn’t make sense in my head. It draws me in. I’m like, “I want to know how did they develop these belief systems? Why are people so obsessed with Bigfoot? Why is there Bigfoot stuff everywhere in certain parts of the country?” Near any mountain that I’ve been to, any wilderness-feeling area with lots of dense trees, you’ll find a ton of Bigfoot stuff.

The earlier you can get to a national park, the better, especially if it's popular. Click To Tweet

North Cascades

From there, I went to an area outside of Seattle, Washington to meet up with a family member of mine that I hadn’t seen in many years. She is my sister’s cousin. I haven’t been up to Seattle in a very long time either. I’ve only been to Seattle twice. The last time was in 2010. I don’t even know if this family member lived there at that point. I made a plan and went out to dinner with her. It was wonderful.

We went to this great Indian restaurant and thinking about that food made me salivate because it was wonderful. From there, instead of staying with her, I decided to drive a little bit farther away, about 45 minutes North of her area, to get closer to the next national park I was going to the next day, which was North Cascades. It was through this website called Hipcamp, which is like Airbnb for camping, in which anybody who has property worthy of camping on with a tent and RV or whatever equipment can list it and you can go stay at people’s homes.

I vetted out carefully. Sometimes it can be more expensive than a campground. Sometimes it doesn’t feel super safe but this place ended up being amazing. The woman there had little pygmy goats, chickens and cute dogs. That Hipcamp was awesome. I felt super safe there. It was the only one there. I was parked down towards the base. She lived on a hillside and I was towards the bottom of the hill. It felt safe. She felt like a safe person. She was super nice. We talked for a while. It was about $35 to stay there and tax was added on but I did get a discount code for Hipcamp through REI.

I have developed a bigger passion for REI since I started doing these trips because they have all cool deals for members and it’s not that expensive to become an REI member. I bought various things from them. You get money back because it’s a co-op. At the end of the year, they give 10% off all your purchases. You get back with a check form. You get discounts on things like Hipcamp. They have exclusive offers. I developed an appreciation for them. I don’t shop exclusively with them because sometimes other websites have better prices but that was a cool perk being able to get that.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

Cross-Country Road Trip: It’s just fascinating. The more you drive around, take it all in and see how these areas have been marked.

 

The next morning I got up and drove to North Cascades, which was probably the least event folk eventful place that I went to. Mostly because I was short on time and it was influenced by a friend who told me it wasn’t that great of a park. I went in there, not expecting much. What I tend to do when I visit a natural park is pull up the NPS, National Park Service app.

On there, they will list out all things that you can do, all the highlights from the park, where to go and you can get maps there. Sometimes they even have guided audio tours that you can download. Most of these parks don’t have great internet service, so you can download the information from their app to your phone and still access it without service, which is cool.

I also always get a map from the entrance of the park but North Cascades is one of those parks that I don’t think I had to pass through an entrance booth at all, which is interesting. I don’t know how many parks out of the 63 plus parks there are do this but in some, you’re on your own. The app or the website is helpful. That’s how I found out about Diablo Lake, which was pretty. It’s my favorite part of that. It was one of those beautiful blue lakes beneath mountains. I also became a little jaded from the mountains after going to Mount Hood and Mount Rainier. Seeing all these other national parks on my way felt like another drive.

To be honest, a lot of the places I drove through on this trip all started to mesh together, even if I wasn’t in a park. I was passing through beautiful areas. Sometimes you would enter a park but it would still feel like the area outside of the park. It’s fascinating. There are also so many national forests that border the national parks. Those are wonderful too. It’s fascinating the more you drive around, take it all in and see how all of these areas have been marked.

Olympic National Park felt so lovely and almost cinematic. Click To Tweet

The same day, I got up super early before 6:00 AM to start this day. I rushed to North Cascades. The reason that I didn’t have a ton of time is that I had to drive back down towards Seattle to get a ferry and go across to the other part of Washington, the peninsula. I’ve never been over there before. I haven’t taken a ferry in a long time. Fortunately, my family member whom I had dinner with the night before explained how it worked.

She recommended I get there at least one hour before the ferry departed but she warned me that because I was going on a Friday, there would probably be a lot of traffic. I tried to get to the ferry as quickly as possible. I arrived about 12:30. This is called the Edmonds-Kingston Ferry. I get there and I’m in a line of standstill traffic. I was trying to catch the 1:30 ferry but no. I was sitting in that standstill traffic until 2:00. I knew the next ferry was supposed to leave around 3:15. Fingers crossed, I would get on it. I had no idea.

It was an interesting experience having to let go and sit in that unknown. Finally, the traffic started moving and I got to the booth. You pay about $20 if you drive on with your car as I did. The woman told me I would get on the 3:15. The other thing tip is if you decide to do this, you can go onto the Washington Ferry website and sign up for text alerts. They’ll keep you posted about what’s going on with all the ferries. You can also use the website to see where the fairies are, their ETAs and their departure. Find out if they’re running late. See how long the approximate weight is. That was super helpful but there were still a lot of unknowns.

The cool thing was once I paid and got through the booth and was officially on the next ferry, meaning I had my place on the next ferry, you go into another section and essentially park your car in a lane that waits for the ferry and then you wait there. I waited for at least one hour. It was cool because there was a bathroom, little shops that you could go to and people got out of their cars and walked their dogs. I charged my solar-powered power bank. I got it from a well-known company called Jackery. I’ll put my affiliate link if you’re interested in buying them. A little hint about Jackery is that I saved up my money for months.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

Cross-Country Road Trip: Lake Louise is incredibly photogenic.

 

I heard about them probably in 2021. When I looked up the price, I was like, “This is so expensive,” but I wanted one. I started saving my money and waited until they went on sale. I got the Jackery 300 and that cost $299. I wanted to get the solar power connector so that I could use it, even if I didn’t have access to a plug to recharge it. You have this mini solar panel and connect that to the Jackery power bank and the solar power. It becomes solar-powered. Both of the units were $299 each. It is $600 total.

There are competitors. You can look into them as well. I’m not exclusive or sponsored by Jackery. It’s because it’s like the name brand. I felt like I could trust it. They’ve got a good warranty. I felt the money I would save to buy a different brand didn’t quite feel worth it to me. The good news is I waited and bought it on Amazon Prime Day and saved so much money. I got both units for $420, instead of $600. I got a savings of almost $200.

I bet they’ll go on sale again during Black Friday. You could wait for any big sale. I would recommend signing up for their newsletter because they have sales throughout the year. Amazon Prime Day and Black Friday might be their two biggest sales. The cool thing was I took out my solar panel while I was waiting in line for the ferry and put it on top of my car. It was able to charge the Jackery. I felt like the coolest official camper. It was like, “I’m driving this electric car. I got my solar panels out.” I felt like a very fancy eco-friendly person.

The other goal thing about waiting in line for the ferry is they got amazing coffee from another place I wanted to try. It was not a chain but once I got to Washington or Oregon, I started seeing all these little coffee shacks. They might refer to them as chalets but it could be wrong. They’re these tiny little coffee shops. They’ll have them in parking lots or on the side of the road. Most of them are drive-throughs. Similar to Dutch Bros., I wanted to go try one. I saw one on the side of the road right by the ferry waiting area.

You plan as much as you can. Click To Tweet

I walked over there and had low expectations after my Dutch Bros. experience. I’m like, “I’m going here to experience this. It might not be great coffee.” I walked up and the woman was nice that ran this place. She said she had at least 50 different types of coffee syrup behind her. There was no menu. You just looked at the syrup bottles and decided if you wanted some. I’m a sucker for things like that. I love trying different flavors but I felt so overwhelmed that I called my sister. I’m like, “If you were here, what would you get?” She was like, “See if she can make a s’more drink.” The woman didn’t have anything Graham cracker flavored but she had toasted marshmallows syrup and mocha flavor. I had my milk.

My favorite milk is called Sproud. It is a combination of pea protein with a few oats mixed in. It’s super low carb. Even though I like things like syrup, I still try to buy as many low-carb products as possible because it works better for my body. I have my refrigerator in my car too, this awesome little 12-volt powered refrigerator that I keep in the front seat of my car. It’s a game changer because I can bring my milk and whatever else I want to store. I bring vegan cheese, fresh produce and things like that, all sorts of snacks and dips. I keep it in that little mini fridge and it’s awesome. That one is cool. It was under $200 when I bought it. I’ve had it for years and it works great.

I asked the lady, “I already have my milk. Could you do an espresso shot and mix some of the flavors?” She’s like, “Absolutely.” She made me the most delicious, strong espresso shot. I took it back to my car. She even put it in my reusable mug, which was awesome. It was already in the coffee cup I use on these trips. I added in my milk. She even put it on ice. When I added in my milk, it was this incredible latte. It costs me $2 and change to get that espresso from her.

I always travel with some coffee. I love to make cold brew coffee. It’s an awesome plastic, leak-proof cold brew coffee maker. It’s been the easiest way for me to make my coffee throughout my trip. I also have a little French press thing that I never used but I always bring it with me in case I want hot coffee. I will also bring instant coffee with me for the worst-case scenario because I don’t like it. I haven’t used that in a while. I’m into coffee. She made this amazing espresso and I hadn’t had an espresso for so long. I felt grateful.

 

I finally get on the ferry. The ferry is cool. You drive your car on and you’re all jammed together. People can leave their car, walk up to the next level and sit inside or outside. I sat outside with Evie. She loved it. I got the cutest photos of her on the ferry and the breeze hitting her ears. She’s smelling the fresh air. I felt so happy. I felt this deep gratitude. I went to another level in my emotions on that ferry. It was also a relief because getting to the ferry felt very stressful and waiting, not knowing what time I was going to get there. It was a pretty short ferry, maybe 30 minutes to get to the other side.

Olympic National Park

There’s a sweet little town built around this ferry area over in the peninsula. I started driving into Olympic National Park. You’re going to have to wait for the next episode to find out something that went wrong, the worst thing that happened on my entire trip. I detailed this in the next episode. I don’t mean to leave you hanging but it’s a long story. I have so much more to share. I’m already feeling maybe this might turn into a three-parter. There are many details to tell about these trips but if you’d like to know that story, stay tuned for the next episode.

I go to Olympic National Park. It’s wonderful. I stayed at another Hipcamp there. It’s both of the places I highly recommend. They were run by great people. They had everything they had promised. They were beautiful, safe and comfortable for me with my setup. I took some wonderful walks in Olympic National Park and went into the rainforest the next day. I went to the ocean and saw this beautiful beach over there.

I loved Olympic National Park. It felt so lovely and almost cinematic, which is interesting because one part I went through is called Forks, Washington. That’s where the movie Twilight took place. They filmed in that town. Maybe even the book is based in that area. I don’t know much about Twilight but it felt like out of a movie. It was cloudy. It rained for part of the day. When I went into the rainforest, it was raining. That was cool. The rainforest also had a wait. It’s called the Hoh Rain Forest.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

 

You had to wait in a car line. I only had to wait 20 or 30 minutes. When I left the rainforest, there was a two-hour wait to get in there. The timing makes a difference. I highly recommend that you plan as much as you can if you have the luxury. I didn’t always have the ability to switch up my schedule to accommodate this stuff but it was worth it. I would love to go back because the Hoh Rain Forest, according to something in The Nature Fix book, has one of the quietest square inch in the United States. Some organizations claimed it as that.

I wanted to go there but it took about 3 miles to hike in there. I didn’t have a chance. Atlas Obscura seems to have some good details about it, like pebble marks in this area. It didn’t seem that day a big priority for me to go see that square inch. I thought it would have been cool to experience what that level of quiet sounds like. That’s a cool element of it but it was beautiful. They have all these Moss trees. The trail that I went on was loud. Ironically, there were a lot of families there, screaming kids and people talking.

It didn’t quite give me the solitude I wanted. Rialto Beach was stunning. There are a bunch of different beaches that you can visit. Olympic National Park is huge. There are also a lot of areas where you don’t have to show your pass. I did have to go show it in the last section I went to. You can drive up above the park and overlook the water. I had to show my pass to get up there. That wasn’t worth it. That was right outside of Port Angeles, where I took my next ferry. I didn’t feel that impressed but it was checking it off the list.

I also got coffee from a little booth drive-through. That was super disappointing but I started to get so tired. It was cold since it was raining and I wanted some warm coffee and not more cold brew. The little coffee booth or shack wasn’t that great. That’s the downside of being a coffee, I’m feeling disappointed. I took a ferry to Vancouver Island to visit friends there. I ended up meeting this other couple that happened to be right in front of me in the line for the ferry. They were driving a Tesla too. We talked for a bit. They were super nice. They were staying at hotels. They were not camping.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

 

Similarly, you park your car there and wait until your ferry boards. You can walk around the area of Port Angeles. They had a few restaurants with vegan food but none of them sounded that good. I made myself some instant soup. I always bring along instant soup with me to have because it’s cheap and lasts a long time. I’ll boil water in my little mini-fuel stove set up. It is an inexpensive way to travel around. I always have access to hot water. I went on another ferry. That was nice. That brought me to Victoria. That was beautiful. I was blown away. It truly feels like another country entering there from the United States.

I did have to go through Customs. It took me 20 or 30 minutes that day but it can take a while. You show your passport and tell the officer a little bit about what you’re doing there, for how long and you’re on your way. I didn’t even have to get out of my car for that. I drove to my friend’s place, which was wonderful. My friend and his wife are incredible people. You don’t need to know them but if you ever want to guess, you’re welcome to message me and I can tell you privately. I had a wonderful time with them. They have this great home on the island and I camped out my tent. That’s the only time I’ve used it.

It’s an SUV tent that is inexpensive. I set it up and attach it to the back of my car for extra storage or safety but I rarely ever sleep in it. This might’ve been the first time I’ve slept in it before. My friend’s wife wanted to sleep in her tent in their backyard and encouraged me to do the same instead of sleeping in my car. There was a long story about why it didn’t stay in the house. I decided to set up my tent and brought all my stuff from my car. I got super comfortable.

I used the TESMAT mattress, which is a special memory foam mattress designed for Teslas. I put that in the car and that was super comfortable. I brought in my way the blanket and memory foam pillow on the glamping side. I also got to use my Jackery in a cool way because I set that up so I could charge my phone overnight in the tent. I had my noise machine on, even though it’s nice to hear natural sounds, just nature. With my sleep challenges, having white noise helps my brain while I’m sleeping or falling asleep.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

 

The whole night, I kept thinking that a wild animal was going to break into my tent because on Vancouver Island, they have bears, cougars, on and on. They kept telling me about all the wild animals they see. I was like, “That’s going to help me sleep.” I was a little paranoid but it was super fun. I’m trying to convince my sister to sleep in the tent with me at my parents’ house one night. Evie seemed to like it too. That was her first and only camping or tended to experience. She was great in there. The next morning, we all had breakfast together. I got to shower.

Showering on trips like this is such a luxury. My big recommendation is if you’re going to car camp or do any type of camping, try to find campgrounds, friends and family, wherever you can get a clean shower. I bring a little portable camping shower with me but it’s such a pain to set up and you have to think a lot ahead. It has to sit out in the sun for a while to get warm. You could pour hot water in there if you wanted but it’s probably best for backpacking. I have only tried to use it one time on my trips and it was a pain in the butt. It’s there for a worst-case scenario.

Vancouver And Lake Louise

I’ve always tried to conserve water. Most of it is for drinking water. The water feels like a precious resource. Being able to shower, especially in someone’s home is amazing. I showered and then headed on to another ferry, the third and final ferry of this trip. I took from Vancouver Island to Vancouver, City in Canada, where I’ve never been before. That was awesome. I went to this farmer’s market. My friend recommended a separate friend of mine who lived in Vancouver city for a bit. It’s called Kitsilano.

I got plant-based gluten-free dumplings from this place called the House Of Yee. I got a gluten-free vegan sugar-free muffin from a little booth called Marie’s Guilt Free Bakery. That was lovely. I had it for breakfast the next day. I walked around, taking in the farmer’s market. It was pleasant. They even had vegan pierogies there. I have a lot of Ukrainian family members. Pierogies have always been big food love in my family. They also made gluten-free pierogies there. I don’t know if they were vegan and gluten-free but they were out of them nonetheless. I didn’t get to try them. I got some beautiful pottery. I got a stunning mug. It was like a family-owned pottery company.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

 

It was this beautiful August day there. I love that farmer’s market. My friend also recommended that I go to 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters because she knows how much I love coffee. I got a fantastic oat milk latte there. They also had incredible vegan baked goods but they were out of vegan and gluten-free options. They had vegan and gluten-free doughnuts but I didn’t get there until 2:00 and they were sold out. Looking at the pictures of that coffee reminds me of how great that coffee shop was right across from Whole Foods. I went in there. Whole Foods had incredible things. They had a vegan crème brûlée in the refrigerated section that you can eat right out of the container.

It wasn’t the best crème brûlée I’ve had but I appreciate it. I got little snacks. They even had these incredible vegan keto buns. It was bread but it was round. That was one of the best things I brought on my whole trip. I didn’t have a ton of time in Vancouver City or didn’t make a lot of time based on the rest of my schedule. Sadly, that was about all I did in the city. I wanted to go into Stanley Park. Long story short, it became a bit of a debacle.

I was there on a Sunday. There was traffic and people everywhere. It became stressful. I took the wrong road. I kept looking at my schedule thinking, “I’m running out of time to get to my next destination.” I didn’t even know exactly where that was going to be. I skipped Stanley Park. That was a bummer. Part of me was like, “Why am I going into a park in a city when I’ve been in all these incredible national parks?” I was on my way to another one. I skipped it but I would like to go back. I started driving away from Vancouver. Within 30 minutes to 1 hour, you can see more mountains in the distance. On the highway, you’re driving towards stunning snow-covered mountains.

My friends in Vancouver Island told me it was going to be like that. They’re like, “You’re in for a great drive.” The whole drive that day was beautiful. I ended up spending the night in an area called Salmon Arm. There was a cool campground there. I tried to go to a Hipcamp but it was a little too last minute for me to coordinate it. I ended up going to this campground resort. That was awesome. It was one of my favorite places that I stayed on the whole trip because it was family-friendly.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

 

Everyone was nice. It was safe. I got this great little spot to set up my tent. It felt extra special because I decided to pull out that little camping stove and make those dumplings I bought from House Of Yee. They were frozen dumplings. I put them in my refrigerator, and that way, they stood out a little. By 9:30 at night, when I finally got all settled, I set up my tent and went inside. I have a little portable table and chair. I got out my camping stove and experimented with cooking the dumplings in there.

They didn’t turn out perfectly. If you cooked them on the stove properly, they would have been amazing. They ended up being the perfect camping dinner for my desires that night. I made it work on that little stove and it was fun. I set up my iPad and downloaded an episode of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel. I put my headphones on so I wouldn’t disturb any of my neighbors outside the tent. I sat in there eating my dumplings and watching my show. I felt so happy. It felt cool camping experience versus a lot of the other nights on my trip, I didn’t eat dinner.

I would snack the whole car ride. I would get to my camping destination. I’d be exhausted that I’d maybe watch twenty minutes of Maisel or whatever other shows I was watching and I’d fall asleep. This was one of the very few nights that I spent the time to make a proper meal, set up my tent and enjoy it. I loved it. They also had showers and a nice bathroom there. I don’t think I used it but I’m always appreciative of nice bathrooms because at least I can brush my teeth and wash my face versus trying to do that more off the side of my car. That’s no fun. There’s also a cute cat there. This resort had a mini golf course and a pickleball court. It was fully set up for lots of family fun.

I started driving to Banff National Park, which I had so much anticipation for. Sadly, that got in the way. I’m appreciating it. It was very pretty. Shortly after I left Vancouver, I could see incredible mountains the entire drive to Banff. You’re seeing this beautiful landscape and water all along the highway, getting closer to Banff. There were streams. They were practically clear but they also had this pretty green or blue tint in them.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

 

It’s lovely to look at. It certainly felt nice but it wasn’t as powerful as I thought it was going to be, sadly. I did feel incredibly grateful to take the advice of my friends to go to Lake Louise but that was quite an undertaking. It was a Monday by the time I got there and it was still packed, so much so that when you drive up to Lake Louise, there are only a few places you can park at the top.

You have to pay for parking in these parking lots. They have so many employees there that if they don’t have a ton of spots open, they won’t even let you stop and wait for a spot. You have to leave. They force you to leave the area and it’s up this hill. You have to drive back down the hill. You could go back down there and take a shuttle up. It’s a few miles. I saw people walking up there and I was thinking, “That would take forever.” That’s my guess.

It would probably take 30 minutes to 1 hour to walk up there. It was hot but my friend gave me a tip, which is, “If you go up to Lake Louise and they don’t have any parking, you can circle. You have to start going back down the hill again but turn around and go back towards the parking. The second time you might end up getting a spot.”

That’s what happened to me. I didn’t give up. It costs about $9 to park there. It was $12 Canadian. You take a short walk from the parking lot and you’re at this incredible lake. It was one of the most beautiful things I saw during my whole trip. It is incredibly photogenic. There are people paddleboarding, canoeing and walking around trails. There’s an incredible hotel there. It was beautiful. I spent one hour and a half there. I’m walking around. It’s very dog friendly, so Evie come with me. It was lovely. That was one of the most beautiful things I saw during my whole trip and it is part of Banff National Park.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

 

Driving Back To US-Canadian Border

The rest of the park, I don’t know. There were areas for hiking, which I did not do. Imagine if you were hiking in Banff. It’s incredible. I got a little bit jaded from the other parks I went to and all this driving. It didn’t move me as much as I’d hoped it would. However, on the other side of Banff is this incredible mountainside town called Canmore that I also heard about from my friends in Vancouver. If I were to do it again, I would have planned at least a few hours in Canmore and stayed overnight there. I’m already considering a trip to go stay in Canmore for a few days because it’s this stunning town with tons of restaurants and coffee shops.

My friend told me about a place called Eclipse Coffee Roasters. That might’ve been the best coffee I had my whole trip. Sisters, 49th Parallel and Eclipse were fantastic but there was something about Eclipse that stood out from the rest. It was rich, perfectly brewed. It was a great atmosphere. You’re walking around this little town with almost a 360 view of the mountains around you. Contrast all these little shops, it was a little on the touristy side.

It reminded me of Boulder, Colorado. Also, with a hint of Santa Monica. There’s an area in California called 3rd Street Promenade. I used to work there at the Apple Store. It would feel like that if it were in the mountain. It’s touristy. There weren’t any major retailers that I saw but there were tons of touristy types of gift shops and all that. It didn’t matter because it was cool.

I loved being there. They had an ice cream shop that made plant-based coconut, ice cream from scratch. There are so many coffee shops. It was a bit overwhelming. I went to a sweet little natural market over there. It was very special. I kept driving. I spent one final night close to the Canadian and US border, between Montana and Canada. It was called Rivers Edge RV Park. It was this random park. It was owned by this nice woman. She generally doesn’t let people sleep in their car there but she had Tesla drivers there before. It was an interesting experience. When I first called to make a reservation, she was going to turn me down. I said, “No, I’m camping in my Tesla.” She got it.

 

Some of these RV parks are very particular about who stays there, what type of vehicles they have and what their setup is. It’s a good reason to do some research. I booked at the super last minute. I called her a few hours before I got there. I was running out of options. She had a nice bathroom. I took a shower there and felt safe. The next day, I entered back into the States, sadly. I was enjoying Canada. Crossed over into Montana, I saw buffalo or bison. I have only one picture on my Instagram as of the time of doing this because the buffalo were photogenic. I walked right up to it.

It doesn’t look like there’s a gate between us but they were in some gated field. I walked up. They were curious about me. I took a great photo that I loved. I also randomly came across a Prairie Dog State Park. It’s a park built around the Prairie dogs to keep them safe. It was free. I drove in there and admired how incredibly cute they were. That night, I stayed at one of the most interesting can be in places. It was called the Small Towne RV Park in Montana because it was maybe the smallest town. I went through in Terry, Montana. At the time, it worked out for me to go there. It was probably also the cheapest because it was $25 cash and no tax.

He also took Venmo and it was run by this guy. He had eight spots for RVs and had some Teslas go through there too. He was familiar with that and got to charge my car. That’s the big advantage of going to RV parks with a Tesla. He was a super cool and interesting guy that grew up in Montana. He lived in the house right next to the RV park and had more cats than I could count. They were running around, kittens, older cats. He had one of the friendliest cats I’ve ever met that I was very tempted to bring home if he had let me. I probably would have a cat but it was cool. That area is known for rock-hounding. You can go and find all these incredible rocks and crystals that I would love to go back and do one day.

The next morning, he had recommended in a small town this shop where they had gifts and coffee. That was probably the worst coffee I had. Sorry to say. The oat milk that they used was not good. I couldn’t say for sure if it was the coffee or the milk but I felt nice supporting a little small business because it was truly a small town. It was also very pricey for what it was. It was around $6 or so for that drink which wasn’t very satisfying. You’re always rolling the dice with places like that.

MGU 381 | Cross-Country Road Trip

 

I went to Theodore Roosevelt National Park, which was cool. There wasn’t too much to see. There is some history there about Theodore Roosevelt. They had Prairie dogs, wild horses and tons of bison. If it weren’t for the final few minutes of this park, it would have been easy for me to forget my experience. As I was leaving the park, about ten bison were crossing the road right in front of me. This is a dream of mine. I saw them in the park in the distance. I would see them near other cars but by the time I got there, they were gone. This was my dream to be right in front of bison. It was like a movie.

The photos I took do not do justice to how close they were to my car. They felt like they were right next to me. There was a baby bison. It was sweet. That was all of the exciting parts of my trip. After I went to Theodore Roosevelt, I went to this area called the Enchanted Highway. They had all these structures on the side of the road. A lot of people said it wasn’t worth doing. I went out of my way to do it out of curiosity but I’m not sure if that was worth it. It wasn’t that exciting but it was pretty.

That night, I stayed at a cool place called Sauk. That was a cool campground. It was on the side of a lake. My car was parked right next to the lake. It was beautiful, quiet and very family-friendly. I showered there. They have great showers. I loved it. It felt like an amazing summer night to be at this lakeside. That was great. The next day, I got up and drove to Saint Paul, where I saw family. My dad’s side of the family lives there, his brother and my cousins. We had an amazing time. We went to Olive Garden. They wanted to go there.

They have a bunch of vegan options. A lot of people were surprised when they told them that. Afterward, we got coffee from Dunkin’ Donuts. Before I saw my family at Olive Garden, I went to this cool place called Coconut Whisk Café, which is in Downtown Minneapolis. It’s amazing and entirely vegan, gluten-free and allergy friendly. They make amazing boba or bubble tea, plus mini pancakes and waffles on a stick. You’ve got to look them up.  I found them through social media. I met the owner. He was incredibly nice. I loved that place. They put gold dust on my mini pancakes. I will put a photo of that because it was awesome, then I went to Olive Garden.

I had a great meal with my family, then we went to Dunkin’ Donut, which was good, especially in contrast to Dutch Bros. It’s because I grew up with Dunkin’ donuts. It was awesome. They have milk there. It was a fun place to hang out with family. That’s when I went to the final campground, which was in an area called Albion, Wisconsin. It was pretty run by this wonderful woman. It was mostly an RV park charged there. They had one of the nicest bathrooms on my entire trip.

I went to Chicago. I met up with my amazing friend Kelly. We went to this great market called the Foxtrot. I got a fantastic coffee. I can’t believe how many coffees I ended up buying. We had a little picnic in the park and they were rehearsing for the famous Chicago air and water show. We watched all these planes do incredible tricks in the air. That was amazing.

I headed over to Indianapolis, where I stayed a few nights with a good friend of mine from high school. She has two beautiful children. We went on walks. I finally have a picture of that ciabatta. It was a coconut ciabatta from a company called GluteNull. If I can get my hands on this again, I’d be thrilled but it’s a Canadian company.

I also use this chia spread that I mentioned in part one from my friend. That was lovely. After I visited Indianapolis, I went to see my family in Cleveland. I spent a few nights there. That was super fun. We went to the national park in Cleveland, which I didn’t even know existed. I grew up going to Cleveland almost every year of my life.

It’s called the Cuyahoga National Park. It’s cool but it feels like it’s in a city. After my time in Cleveland, I went and saw my sister in New York. Thank you so much for reading. If you have questions or comments, you can email or direct message me. I’d love to hear from you. If you want to find out about upcoming episodes, be sure to subscribe. Don’t miss any of the future episodes. Bye for now.

 

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