Journeying with an open heart on the open road reveals life’s grandest tapestry in the tiniest moments. Buckle up, dear listeners, as we hit the road again to unpack more lessons from the Ohio trip. After a reflective solo adventure, Whitney Lauritsen shares the profound insights and lessons she got from traveling, nature’s wonders, and meaningful encounters with incredible people. Whitney unpacks a lot in this episode. She discovers how traveling isn’t just about the destination; it’s about the art of noticing. She also shares her discovery of nature’s unpredictable beauty, and how nature doesn’t always adhere to our expectations, but it offers exactly what we need. And her list of discoveries goes on: resetting perspectives with nature, making connections, appreciating life’s abundance, and more! Don’t miss these heartfelt lessons from the open road. Tune in now!
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Heart Open, Road Ahead Part 2: Unpacking More Lessons From The Road
Welcome back to the show in part two of a previous solo episode I did about my 2023 Cross Country Road trip. This has been a regular series, essentially, that I’ve done over the last few years. This is the fourth time I’ve done this particular trip, and I’ve yet to figure out how to tell the stories and share all the details of these road trips very succinctly and concisely.
I can’t remember what inspired this thought, but somehow I was thinking about the fact. Maybe it was through some work I was doing with this other podcaster who reminded me that it’s okay to simply express yourself in whatever way it comes out. While that might sound obvious, it’s also easy to feel self-conscious about how we present ourselves, especially professionally, and how we express ourselves.
I also was listening to a wonderful podcast episode on the show called Being an Artist with Tom Judd. He interviewed Rosanne Cash, the musician. Between the two of them, they talked about how no artist is ever satisfied, they could be successful for many years, get recognition, and yet still feel insecure, vulnerable, and still feel like their work isn’t good. I have those moments all the time. I’ve done almost 500 episodes of this show. Yet after the previous episode, part one of this two-part, hopefully, I don’t think it’s going to extend to three. Part one, I remember thinking, “Why didn’t I talk faster? Why didn’t I include so many details? Why didn’t I leave out some things?” Just being critical of myself.
Between those perspectives that I just referenced, it was an important reminder for me that it’s okay to be long-winded, to have multiple parts, and not be concise. I want to also acknowledge the experience that I have as a podcaster because not enough people acknowledge those things. Many podcasts are designed to be very strategic. As a little side note that correlates to that, in the last few weeks, I have been building up my freelance services in the podcast world. As a result of that, I have interacted with tons of podcasters.
I’ve just been examining all these different shows and looking at all the different perspectives, and the different ways that people approach podcasting. It’s been super interesting. My biggest takeaway from that has been that there’s just no right or wrong way to it. Some of the most experienced podcasters do things in a way that I don’t align with and some very inexperienced podcasters are doing things brilliantly in a way that it’s never even occurred to me. I feel just in complete awe of them. Experience, success, and external validation do not necessarily line up with what feels fulfilling and what feels right for each of us.
With that said, I’m going to continue the conversation. If you haven’t read the first part of this, I was sharing about the trip from Los Angeles to Voyageurs National Park. Where I left off was a hurried story behind the very windy night that I had. I’m going to pick up, I might overlap a little with that story. I intend to one day upload the video to YouTube, but for now, the videos live within the Beyond Measure private community, which is free to join. It’s open to anyone. Unless you happen to be rude, judgmental, and critical of me or other members, you are welcome there. If I see that behavior, you’ll be taken out.
I assume if you’re tuning in to this show and you’re interested in joining a community, you’re going to be a phenomenal fit. With In Beyond Measure, I record episodes like this live, so you can come and chat, ask questions, give feedback, and be part of the conversation. You can also go and see the video and episodes like this might be something you want to see visually because I’m going to share.
I also made an exception to a decision I made in early 2023, which was to not do blog post versions of episodes like these solo episodes. I made an exception because this is a very visual thing. For those of you who want to see photos that you’re not part of and don’t want to join Beyond Measure, you can still go to WellEvatr.com and see what I’m talking about across parts 1 and 2.
Voyageurs National Park
I left off after my adventure, which was truly an adventure on this island in Voyageurs National Park, which is right at the border of the United States and Canada. I felt a combination of a lot of emotions. Evie was chill. Thank goodness that she wasn’t fazed by the experience. She acted like it was no big deal. That was a wonderful thing to notice how an animal responds to nature versus how I might respond to it. I was grateful for Evie’s company because I did feel vulnerable. I felt unprepared and unsure. The sides of the tent were just blowing like crazy. Pieces of the tent were starting to come ungrounded. I was trying to sleep. This was at 2:00 in the morning when all this craziness was going on, and it just felt unsettling.
The weekend before I recorded this episode, I went to Maine. I’m jumping ahead a little bit for context, but I stayed with my friends in Maine who are extremely experienced in outdoor adventures and all sorts of wilderness experiences. One of them specializes in that. His name’s Eli, and he has a brand called Wicked Good. he’s an amazing person, so knowledgeable, and his wife, I’ve been friends with my entire life. Our parents met in Lamaze’s class. It’s such a gift to have known someone since the womb who’s not a twin.It's such a gift to have known someone since the womb who's not a twin. Click To Tweet
Anyway, I went and visited them and told them all about my experience. They were so supportive and had all these stories about their adventures in places like Alaska where I planned to go at some time in the next few years, and telling me how they had to stay days in a tent because of hurricane winds. It just felt like I crossed this new threshold of camping and outdoor experiences. Having survived this night, my tent stayed in one piece but also took away a lot of information about how I wanted to do things differently. That was a big part of this experience.
I was very grateful for my tent. I mentioned it last time. It’s the Ozark five-person SUV tent. Not the type of tent you want to have in this environment, and certainly not a great fit for me being by myself, setting up this huge five-person tent was unnecessary. It’s not a tent that was designed to be in these circumstances. A big mission of mine is to buy a new tent. Thankfully, Eli gave me a lot of great advice and helped me narrow it down. At some point, I will be purchasing a much smaller sturdier tent for these circumstances. I’ll let you know when that happens.
I left this island with Rainy Lake Charters, who I mentioned in the previous episode, Captain Ken. If you haven’t tuned in to the previous episode yet, he came on this little boat and dropped me off here and picked me up. In addition to recommending Eli at Wicked Good in Maine, if you do go to Voyageurs National Park and you need a water taxi, could not recommend Captain Ken and Rainy Lake Charters enough. He was just fantastic.
Captain Ken picked me and Evie up the next day and drove us back to shore. I was very grateful to be back on the mainland and continued driving. Picked up some firewood along the way, which is always so interesting. I took some pictures of this stand that I went to because there was no one there. This is how it’s set up all over the country. There’s just stands with a little box where you can put in money. Usually it’s $5. This one was just really cute in the middle of nowhere. You put your money in. You take your bundle of wood.
I might have mentioned this in a previous episode, but just in case I haven’t, one thing that I learned in 2021 through the leave-no-trace principles, is that you need to buy firewood in the area that you’re going to burn it. I’ve learned a lot of things because I hadn’t done a lot of traveling and I also didn’t do a lot of fire building. I didn’t know that you couldn’t bring firewood from area to area. I made that mistake in the past. I’ve been very intentional and I like buying from small privately owned businesses or even not a business, but just a guy on the side of the road, a girl, or a person selling their wood.
Grand Marais Campground
I continued through Minnesota along Lake Superior. I stopped at this little gemstone store that I had read about. That was cool. I went to one of my favorite campgrounds maybe of all time. On this trip, I went to a number of great campgrounds I talked about some in part one of this series. On my way to the next national park, I went to an area called Grand Marais. It was a phenomenal place. Maybe overall, my favorite, most surprising place that I went to. The campground was huge. As a whole, it wasn’t the best campground there, but it just felt so cozy. I felt so safe there. There were just tons of people and families and everyone felt so welcoming.
I set up my car at an RV spot. I mentioned in part one that I had a poor experience at an RV park on this trip, and this place made up for it because they were so welcoming to me with a Tesla, and had no problem with me charging my car there. That all worked out well. I just walked around admiring all the different setups that people had. This campground is right on the water, so you can walk down to the shore of Lake Superior and it was stunning. This is mid-August of 2023. It was great weather. I happened to be there right around sunset time. I walked through the shoreside town, which had all these cute little restaurants and just people quietly doing their thing there. It was just magical.
Evie and I took a long walk and there were all these birds on the side of the water and all these beautiful stones on the beach side. I was taking in all of these cool little stores and restaurants that didn’t go into them. Most of them were closed, and I didn’t feel like it. I just wanted to be by the water. I just was in complete awe. I walked out to this little lighthouse and it felt like a magical experience. That’s what made it feel special for me because I didn’t expect that. I thought I was going to go to this campground and go to bed. Instead, I was surprised by how lovely this area was. It was somewhere I would go back.
This is a place of a coffee shop called Java Moose that I went to the next day when I woke up. I took a picture of the exterior. I love Moose, I love coffee, and I wanted to go get a really good cup of coffee and read wonderful things about it. The next morning, I woke up and went there, and this place was even better than I imagined it to be. First of all, the coffee was great, but second of all, it was cool inside. Multiple people there talked to me. Most of them were locals and they were just starting conversations with me. I felt so taken in and supported and just amazed by the kindness of the people there.
Isle Royale National Park
I drove up to Grand Portage to take another ferry except this time with a huge group of people. I don’t know if huge, that’s probably an exaggeration. Maybe there were 30 people. You had to book this way in advance. They had very limited tickets. This is the only way that you could get to the next national park I went to, which is called Isle Royale National Park. It’s technically Michigan, but I left from Minnesota to go across the lake. It was the smallest operation. There weren’t a lot of people on there, but the people I met also blew me away.
I met this group of people who took me under their wing and ended up telling me all of these stories about their journeys. This photo is of one of their phones where they had listed out all their favorite national parks that they had been to. This might’ve been their 61st or 62nd national park out of 63. I was blown away by their stories, but also loved that they had this list. Number one on their list was Glacier National Park, which I went to a few years ago. That was in 2021. Second on their list was Yosemite, which I went to in 2012 before I started this show but I’ve talked about it a few times.
Number three is Everglades, which I went to earlier in 2023. I did an episode on that Florida trip. They had this wonderful list, showed it to me, and were just telling me all about their experiences, and I just felt so grateful to chat with them. The ferry landed at the National Park where we were greeted by wonderful park rangers who told us the story of what was at this park, how to treat it well, and what to do while we were there. You had four hours on the island before the ferry left. You could camp there overnight, which I would’ve loved to do. It didn’t make sense to me because I had Evie. One thing I skipped over is I hired someone on Rover to watch Evie during the day because dogs aren’t allowed on the island.
That was a huge ordeal. It took a lot of work to figure this out. There is a dog border service at Grand Marais, but they were all looked up. I ended up finding this wonderful woman on Rover who took care of Evie. It took me a while to figure out what I was going to do with Evie. Once I got that all figured out, went to the island and there wasn’t that much to do except walk around and be in nature. That’s what I did. I did not see any major wildlife. There are tons of moose there. It’s also known for its gray wolf population. Didn’t see any of them. It’s pretty rare to see them. Maybe if you camp there, you have better luck.
I did see lots of different types of plants all different types of berries. I saw a bunch of birds and all sorts of little critters. I walked for 5 or 6 miles just on a trail and took in nature. I was by myself. Over the three hours I was walking, I saw five people. Most of the time I was by myself. That was just nice. I felt very safe and comfortable here. It was wonderful weather too.
Sat down at one point towards the end and had some snacks. I ate some berries on the trail that I trusted. I forget what they were called, but they’re very similar to raspberries, they’re a special type of berry that grows in this area and they were in abundance. The trip flew by. Before I knew it, I was getting back on the ferry and ended up seeing that group of people. They were so kind. They invited me to sit with them again. They even gave me a beer to drink. We passed by this cool lighthouse in the ocean and made our way back to shore. I went and picked up Evie.
I mentioned in part one that my windshield had a crack in it. I continued to document that. Something fun happened. Shout out to one of the Beyond Measure members who is here right now, and is a cat lover. I have this video of this incredibly cute kitten that the woman who dog-sat Evie had rescued. If this cat had been available to adopt, I may have continued to the next part of my trip with this kitten in my car because it was truly one of the cutest kittens I had ever seen. The woman that looked after Evie not only found this kitten on the side of the road, on a rainy night and rescued her, but then decided to keep her. It was so incredibly cute and heartwarming that I forgot the cat’s name. Had a really cute name too.
I moved on to my next spot without a cat and made my way to Wisconsin. I stayed at a tiny campground, mostly for RVs called Anchor Inn Campground. It wasn’t anything special, it was just a pit stop, a place to sleep. It was nice. They had a nice bathroom here. It doesn’t look like it in the photos, but it was just like the perfect bathroom. I took a shower and that was nice.
Apostle Islands National Lakeshore
The next morning, I woke up at the crack of dawn and drove to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore. This was interesting. I went on a trail that I thought would be the best way to see the shoreline, and I’ll show you some great photos I took of it. I ended up not enjoying myself very much. It was going to sound strange, but I felt so bored. This trail was just in the woods, mostly on these wooden slats for a very long time.
I remember feeling frustrated. It was super early in the morning like 6:30 that I hit the trail with Evie. I just remember feeling anxious. I wanted to get this trail over with. It took me 45 minutes or so to even see this side of the water. It’s a little hard to describe, but the Apostle Islands are a string of islands named after the Apostles.
I thought I was going to be able to see them but it turns out I just got to see the side of the land that resembles the islands if this makes any sense. It was very beautiful. This is a rare case where the photos are almost better than the in-person experience, although of course photos rarely do things justice. It was cool how the rock formations and the colors in the land and just the way the water looks next to it.Photos rarely do things justice. Click To Tweet
Was it worth getting up that early and walking for two hours before I had a long drive to get to my next destination? The jury’s out on that. I also didn’t even get to see the islands. The islands are in a different section of this area and I thought I was going to be able to see them from a distance. Either I misread the information about this trail or completely screwed up. I would maybe go back and go out on a water taxi or a ferry to go see them but it’s hard to say.
Evie and I continued our journey and we were in the car all day long. Part of the reason that I felt frustrated by the Apostle Islands trail is that it took two hours and then it pushed back the rest of my trip longer than I anticipated. My anxiety was mostly that I was eager to get to the next stop. Along the way, I did make time to go to another Sierra store, which I talked about in Part One. Sierra’s a website I love browsing through and buying from. They have some retail locations and if there’s a Sierra in an area that I’m passing by, I have to make time to go in there. This one happened to be near one of the Tesla chargers.
I went in there and then drove to the next campground, which was part of HipCamp. I also mentioned HipCamp in the previous episode or part one of this. HipCamp for those that don’t know, is Airbnb for camping. You can get great deals on people’s properties, meaning it can be a lot less expensive than a campground. A campground can be anywhere from $15 to $50 plus, whereas HipCamp averages on the lower end like $15. This one I went to outside of St. Louis was $15 a night and it was on this beautiful property.
I did get there after dark. I don’t have photos of when I arrived. There were all of these ginormous spiderwebs hanging off of the trees and I almost ran into one of these giant spiderwebs in the middle of the night. That was a reminder of why I do not like getting to campgrounds after dark. You don’t know what’s in front of you. It was beautiful to see during the day when I could see the web and avoid it. They were all over the property. These huge, multiple feet long stretched across in between trees. I was trying to walk around and drive my car into the property and figure out where I was going to park and set up for the night. Did not anticipate spiders being part of the equation.
It all worked out. I got a good night’s sleep. There’s nothing there. This is one of those campgrounds where because it’s part of someone’s property, it’s often rare to have access to a bathroom or other forms of plumbing. I just set up my little bathroom. I’ve mentioned this before. I have this little pop-up tent and I have multiple toilets. I have one fold-up toilet that I bought on Amazon. I also have The Carloo which is one of my favorite pieces of gear of all time. That’s mostly for women to pee in the car.
I’ve talked about them before. I hope they never go out of business. It’s a small female-run business. The other one is a fold-up toilet that you can use for whatever your bathroom needs are. I’ll set that up inside this pop-up tent and have my porta potty, which is so great on properties like this. I also always bring lots of water. I use another piece of gear called Suds2Go, which is a little mini hand-washing station. Comes in handy in places like this.
I’m always prepared for these different situations. I also tried out the Thermacell. The jury’s still out on that. I mentioned in part one how I feel conflicted about Thermacell because they are a company that uses the special, what they say is an all-natural formulation to repel mosquitoes. Mosquitoes have been a big issue for me while camping. I tend to attract them. I get bit up. I get very uncomfortable. I’ve tried all different types of natural sprays and have started resorting to other things that are maybe not as great for the body or the environment. I feel split about the Thermacell. I’m going to mention it. I’ll keep you posted. If you have any advice or perspective on the Thermacell, I’d be very interested in hearing it.
Essentially, people are just worried that it could be harmful to animals or bugs. I don’t know if enough research has been done. Thermacell says that the product is safe. A lot of people have raised concerns about it. It’s formulated from some plant. It’s not to my knowledge done in a super harmful way. It’s just that the specific compound, the way that it keeps mosquitoes away, people are afraid that it’s going to be impacting other parts of the environment. That is my warning label for this. You have to make compromises and I’ve learned this a lot.
When it comes to the outdoors, you follow the leave no traces principle. I am always trying to pick the most natural options and buy from small businesses like Carloo as I mentioned. I also buy products on Amazon that are maybe cheaper made and more generic. Sometimes it’s to save money. Sometimes it’s the convenience. I need something fast. There are various reasons and I’ve learned a lot through my travels that to try to do everything right, it takes a ton of time, a ton of education, and a lot of money.
To make travel accessible, oftentimes, we have to make compromises and do our best. One thing I’ve learned through doing these trips over all these years is every year I learn more and I save up more money. I have a bigger budget for travel versus 2020 when I did this first cross-country trip of this kind, I suppose. I didn’t have any travel budget. I also was making a lot less money back in 2020. I scrapped that whole trip together in a lot of creative ways. I got products donated. I did reviews in exchange for them. I did half my trip with my friend Leanne, who contributed to the budget as well and now I do things very differently in 2023. Still not perfect, but lots of learning and improvement along the way.
Evie and I enjoyed this property and HipCamp. This is in Warden. It’s very close to St. Louis. I essentially was looking for the best camping situation near St. Louis as you’ll see momentarily what I did there. This is a great choice. I looked at a ton of campgrounds and RV parks. Sometimes I will pick a Hipcamp, not just to save money, but also because the experience is a lot nicer than some of the other options that are closer to a city like St. Louis. It certainly was lovely.
Gateway Arch National Park
The reason I went there to St. Louis was to go to the Gateway Arch, which a lot of people are surprised to learn is part of the National Park system. This surprised me a lot. I’ve driven by it, with the former co-host of the show, Jason. He and I did a road trip in 2013 or 2014, and we drove through St. Louis. I remember passing by this but not giving it much thought. It was really neat to return and specifically go to this arch.
I drove downtown. I found this wonderful parking lot after lots of research was affordable. It’s part of how I plan trips. It also felt safe because I couldn’t bring Evie with me into the national park, the arch. I decided to leave her in the car with dog mode on and dog mode in the Tesla regulates the temperature. It also allows you to check in on your car virtually. They updated this new feature in the Tesla where you can use your phone and see the cameras. There’s a camera inside the car and multiple cameras outside the car so you can check and make sure that the temperature is regulated for your dog. You can check to make sure no one’s broken into your car and you can check the cameras and see inside as well as outside the car.
Also, for cases like this where I’ve had to leave Evie, I put up little signs in the car that have my phone number on it and a little explanation about why she’s in there and how the temperature control is on. That way, if anyone was ever concerned or some emergency happened, they’d be able to reach me. I’ve developed that system over time.
Evie loves being in the car. When I do need to leave her in a case like this, I leave her food and water out. She’s got her little fan going. She’s got her comfortable seat. I’ll come back and it’s like I never left. She’s just sound asleep in there. As I mentioned with other elements of travel, it’s not my ideal situation. I would much rather leave her with a rover sitter or a dog boarding. Sometimes it’s complicated and hard to find, or sometimes it’s a brief period. This has been an ongoing challenge, going to the National Park. The dog is not easy and there are a lot of things that you have to factor in, but luckily this parking lot was a great choice. It was super safe and everything worked out well.
After I got Evie all settled, I headed over to the Gateway Arch and it surprised me. You go in there with your tickets. Everything is timed out. There’s an incredible museum that you walk through that has all the history and then you go up to the top and you wait in line. Everybody that worked there was so kind. Everything was organized, ran on schedule, and was informative. It felt simultaneously futuristic and old. I forget what year this was built, but it was built with so much intention, artistry, and stability and you can learn so much about all of it.
It was like out of a movie. What’s that famous Harrison Ford movie? They did a sequel to it. It feels almost like you’re on a spaceship or you’re in some futuristic time. If you’ve seen the photos that I have of Gateway Arch, maybe it’ll make sense. It feels just like a sci-fi movie ultimately. It was built quite a long time ago. You stand in line and in groups of five go into these little pods and the pods are all connected like a train. They travel up the side of the arch quickly, like in a matter of minutes, like at an elevator pace. Fast, but not scary whatsoever.
Before you know it, you are at the top and you walk out and there’s not a lot of head space, so you’re ducking a little bit and you walk up into the arch. It reminded me of being at the top of the Statue of Liberty. If you’ve ever been up there, it’s maybe not as cramped. I haven’t done that since I was a kid. You can see out the window. They only give you ten minutes at the top. That’s all very organized. The staff is keeping you informed. You don’t need more than ten minutes. Even a couple minutes up there. You look out the windows. You see downtown St. Louis and the river. What is that river? Is it the Mississippi?
You’d think with all these trips I would be great at knowing what everything is. By the way, the Harrison Ford movie was not Indiana Jones. It’s like a futuristic movie and there’s a scene in this famous building in Los Angeles. Those are the only details I can think of. They redid the movie a few years ago. Ryan Gosling was in it. Blade Runner, that’s the name. For some reason, that’s what came to mind as I was trying to describe the arch, what it’s like inside. I don’t know if that’s accurate whatsoever, but that just came to mind.
It is quite high up at the top. It’s 630 feet high. The architecture is stunning and how they’ve maintained it is cool. I did not notice the Budweiser facility that’s somewhere down there in St. Louis. My mom was shocked that I didn’t look out for the Budweiser campus or whatever it’s called. I did not notice it. I didn’t go over to it. Sometimes when I look through my photos, I’m like, “Maybe I can see it out in the distance.”
I just noticed. In a photo, you can see the shadow of the arch. That is so cool. You’re up in the arch looking out into the city and the shadow is there underneath you. That’s neat. Amazing the things that you can notice over time. Couldn’t recommend going to the arch more because some of these things it’s easy to just drive by. One thing that I’ve realized through my trips is that there’s so much to see, there’s so many little details, and to immerse yourself in it is such a gift. It’s also something not to take for granted. A lot of us do.
Something like the Gateway Arch, maybe you go and do with your family and you don’t think much of it. Regarding the family that was in the arch with me, I was wondering if their kids appreciated at all or if they just felt like other parents were dragging them to this. I certainly used to feel that way. I don’t even know if I appreciated the Statue of Liberty. I’ve been there a few times.
Went back down in one of these cool pods and then I went to the museum and walked around. It’s neat because they tell you about the arch itself and how that was constructed. There are all these different models of it, but they also tell you the whole history of the area and why the arch was built to begin with. That was cool. I went outside and took a bunch of selfies, lots of different angles, went and touched the arch, and then went and got Evie and she was all content in the car as if I hadn’t left, just like I said.
I had taken pictures by my friend Melissa Schwartz, when I was in Boulder. That’s in part one. Melissa came on the show a little while ago to talk about her new endeavor, which is an incredible body and face pillow. She also is a phenomenal photographer and took all these great photos of me and this is one of them.
Indiana Dunes National Park
I was in Indianapolis and I stayed there for a few days with my friend. We walked around and spent time with her kids, ate food, and had a lovely, peaceful time. From Indianapolis, I drove only two hours north to go to Indiana Dunes National Park, which I believe was Park number 50 for me. Out of the 63, this was the last park I went to officially that I hadn’t been to before. That was neat. It was on the water and I felt very clear about being on Lake Superior, but I keep forgetting the name of this lake. It’s Lake Michigan. This is where Chicago is on.
I find this very confusing for some reason, probably because I didn’t grow up in this area of the country but like the Great Lakes for some reason makes no sense. There’s Lake Michigan, which is where Indiana Dunes is on, Lake Superior, which is where I spent a lot of time, Lake Huron, Lake Erie, and Lake Ontario. If you quizzed me, couldn’t guess. Lake Superior is probably the only one that I could remember and get right.
This is on Lake Michigan and it was neat. The park is split up in a few different ways. You can go to the dunes, which are these dunes of sand, and walk around and enjoy a beach. It feels like you’re on the ocean. It was lovely but extremely hot. So hot that I was very worried for Evie’s safety. I was walking with her around and kept wondering if she was going to get heat stroke or something. I didn’t get to spend a lot of time here because I wanted to get her back into the air-conditioned car.
We did a very brief trip. You could see her panting away on the water, but couldn’t tell if she was enjoying it or on the verge of a medical issue. That was a little uncomfortable. We walked back to my car over some cool platforms and wooded areas and it was very pretty but brief. Once we were back in the air-conditioned car, we drove over to a neat area called Century of Progress, which is a historic district with all these cool homes that don’t remember what year they were built, but they also felt like they were out of a movie. Maybe 50s or 60s.
This one, it’s called The House of Tomorrow. You can look them up. They have all the details. Does it have the date? No, I don’t see the date, but I wouldn’t be surprised if these were used in movies or inspired various architecture. I was just very impressed with this whole Indiana Dunes area because it felt like such a cool place to hang out and enjoy the water. I wish I had been with other people or had scheduled a little bit more time just to relax and go swimming.
Most of my photos and videos were of me with my family members joking around. I am very close to my family in Ohio and we all love to be silly. There’s a lot of silliness in my photo album, but the photos that I am going to share are this cool place called the West Side Market, which my mother loves and insists I go to, even though she wasn’t with me. She’s always talking about the West Side Market and I couldn’t remember if I had been there before. This is the first time that I remember going there. It’s this giant market with all these different produce and food stands, any food you could imagine from local businesses. It was neat.We all love to be silly. Click To Tweet
Cuyahoga Valley National Park
From there, ate lots of good food, went to a lot of different restaurants, spent a lot of time hanging out with my family, and going on all sorts of different adventures. I’m scrolling through very quickly to get to what I will share, which is a national park I went to last year called Cuyahoga. I went on a bike ride. Multiple family members of mine are very passionate about biking. One of them took me and was an audience of the show. I don’t know if you want your name mentioned, but I will reference you anonymously, but you know who you are. We had this wonderful time biking through the national park and it was neat to experience it through the eyes of somebody else.
Lessons From The Road
I went with a different family member in 2022 and walked around it. To bike it was cool. We biked 10 miles, so I got to see a lot more than I did by foot. In the park, there is this cool farm stand that we stopped by, and it had all these people out there enjoying food and hanging out in the beautiful weather. That concludes the highlights of this Ohio trip, at least the non-goofy family member moments, which took up the majority of my Ohio experience. I had such a wonderful time with each of the people that I saw there and stayed in Ohio for five days. It was quite an extended period.
After Ohio, essentially I drove to my parents’ house. Now that I finished going through the pictures, that reminds me of how it all concluded. I made it to the opposite side of the country to my home base where I’m recording this episode from right now in Massachusetts. I’ve been out here for about a month since I’ve also been to Maine. As I mentioned, I was talking about my friends, including Eli from Wicked Good. I went to New York, which I plan to do a separate episode on, and I mentioned a bit in the COVID episode.
If you haven’t heard that, I did get COVID for the first time. That was right after I returned from visiting people in New York State and going to the plant-based World Expo in New York City. I will be doing a separate episode talking about a plant-based world in combination with the Natural Products Expo. Another place I traveled to in Philadelphia. I will share some of those details there.
Getting COVID put a wrench in a lot of my travel experience. Now, I feel fully recovered almost as if it never happened. I’m very grateful for that. Not everybody who gets COVID has that experience. A lot of people develop long COVID or other symptoms that are lingering. I am just so relieved that has not been my case. I talk a lot about that in the COVID episode, just how that experience shaped my viewpoints on COVID. Essentially, the last few weeks have felt a bit like a blur. It’s just interesting how travel impacts me.
I went to Maine over the weekend. Now quick summary, I go every year, including before I started doing the road trip. I’ve been going to Maine every year since maybe 2018, maybe a little bit before because I have such great friends up there and I love Maine. Every year we go on some different adventures. I do have a lot of good photos. I’ll share some of those. I think of this as separate because I had almost over a month of just being on the East Coast and floating around in all these different cities. I’ll add this to this story.
This is Eli on a kayak adventure. They took me out, he and his wife, my great friend, not sharing everybody’s names to protect their privacy, but they took me out kayaking. We did 2022. Had such a great time that we did it again. My friends have all this equipment at their house. Eli specializes in outdoor adventures and teaching and touring, and he also does plant medicine. It’s impressive, what he does. They have access to all this knowledge and it’s all of this cool equipment too. We went out to an island and Boothbay is where we were. If you know where LL Bean is headquartered or have heard of LL Bean their headquarters are in Freeport, Maine.
We were near there. You had to drive up the coast a little bit to get to the specific place where we put the kayaks into the water. Drove up there with the car, with the truck, and at the kayaks attached to the top and paddled out to a string of islands called the Goose and Goslings Islands. We didn’t see any geese that I know of. We did see and hear loons, which was cool. We went and had our lunch out on this cool little island. I wear these pants. I need to give a shout-out to them.
I got these cool pants at that Sierra store that I mentioned earlier. They’re through a brand rename. They used to be called SheFly now they’re called Gnara. They were a highlight for me. I wore them for the first time. The reason they were initially called SheFly is because they have an extra fly on the pants that allows women or people who do not have male genitalia to use the bathroom outdoors with some privacy. You can squat while keeping your pants on. I’ve become obsessed with these pants. They’re so cool, incredibly comfortable, and great for going to an island because there was no bathroom there, so you had to use the bathroom somehow.
I could have just done it like how you normally would with a pair of pants and taken them off. Not having to take off your pants and be able to pee is pretty awesome. Shout out to Gnara and their amazing design. I took so many photos. I got the new iPhone 15. It was my first phone upgrade in five years, and that camera is so much better than the previous camera that I just took tons of photos. We also, speaking of Sierra, went to a Sierra in Maine. That was cool. I found another pair of those pants. Now I have two pairs of the Gnara, formerly known as SheFly pants, and they’re awesome.
The day after our kayak trip, we went to this neat botanical garden. Maybe this was what was in Boothbay, a lot of these areas are similar to me at least. A lot is going on in Maine when it comes to the outdoors. We went to the Coastal Maine Botanical Gardens, which was beautiful. Lots of incredible plants there. I got to play around with my camera and take all sorts of fun photos. We went on hikes within the botanical gardens and that was beautiful. I highly recommend going there. My friends go there all of the time.
One of the highlights of this botanical garden is the trolls that they built. They’re made of wood and an artist came in and designed these giant trolls that are sprinkled throughout the gardens. There’s at least one of you tuning into this show, who would’ve greatly appreciated this. I feel like it’s right up your alley. They also had a whole fairy section of the botanical gardens where all these little fairy homes are. You know who you are. I thought of you while I was there looking at all the fairies and the trolls. You would’ve loved this place.
We went to a place for lunch that blew my mind. It’s called Cozy’s in Boothbay. They were so accommodating to me with my gluten-free vegan diet. They had the Impossible burger, phenomenal French fries, and a bunch of salads. I was so grateful to go to this tiny little dockside restaurant and get the Impossible Burger. It was pretty there. I don’t know if the French fries were made by them or another company, but they were good chips. Had a great time at this restaurant and would go back there in a heartbeat.
All these little moments of trips add up over time. The day after that, I continued on my way. I stopped by LL Bean, their main store out there. It’s a cool property. I will go there every few years that I visit Maine just because it’s so nice there. The people who work at LL Bean are nice. The people that go there all seem to be nice.
It was like that experience I had at Grand Marais in Minnesota where I was like, “I just feel welcome here. I feel like there’s kindness and beauty. One of my big takeaways from my whole cross-country experience was how much I enjoy seeing different things and meeting different people, but also noticing what makes me feel all warm and cozy inside. What makes me feel welcome, and included, what challenges there are?
The story I started this episode out with and ended the previous part with is an interesting testament to nature. For the second time since I’ve been in Massachusetts, I camped in my parents’ backyard in my hammock. I first did this in September 2023, and it was a disaster because there were tons of mosquitoes and it was hot and humid the night I camped out there. I didn’t find it very comfortable. Nature was not on my side. That night, the temperature was perfect. It was like in the low 60s. There were no mosquitoes or bugs, and I felt so relaxed and grateful.
I was woken up at 5:00 or 6:00 in the morning with unexpected rain. I checked the weather forecast multiple times. There was no indication that it would rain and my hammock does not have a rain cover on it. I woke up to big drops of rain hitting my face. Yet it was a sprinkle because I was underneath the tree. After all, I was hanging in the hammock. The water was like hitting the leaves and maybe sitting on them for a little while and then dumping these big drops on me every once in a while.
It was very light rain, but an interesting experience to be under a tree. Yet, despite me not expecting it, and despite rain sometimes being uncomfortable, it was so magical and I felt so accepting of it and I embraced it. I was all warm in my water-resistant sleeping bag, which is a NEMO Forte 20, if you’re curious. They make them for men and women. The reason I bought that sleeping bag is because it’s designed for side sleepers and I can link to the hammock. I got an inexpensive, first-timer trial hammock from Amazon and the brand called Covacure. It’s great. It was so inexpensive, like $20 or $25. I’ve used it a ton. I talked about it on my camping trip when I went to the Sequoia National Forest.
It’s awesome. I’ve slept overnight in it twice and I want to do it again. I also use my Exped MegaMat, which is a special air mattress for camping. When you put that in the hammock with the right sleeping bag, it is a pretty posh glamping experience. I woke up this misty rainy morning all by myself in a hammock in the back of my parents’ property and felt like nature’s incredible, which is an understatement, and maybe a cliche may be obvious, but these trips that I take teach me that over and over again.
They remind me that nature is unpredictable. They remind me that nature’s beautiful, to take good care of it, raise my awareness, teach myself new skills, do my best, forgive myself, and know that I can’t always control things. Most of the time, you can’t control things. Sometimes you’re not always going to be prepared even when you think you’re prepared. That night’s experience in the hammock, I didn’t expect the rain. My crazy, windy night, I also didn’t expect but I’m grateful for it all. I might’ve said that last time too, and I probably have similar conclusions.
I’m so grateful for my friends and family. From Eli in Maine to my incredible family in Ohio, to my friends in Indianapolis and Melissa in Boulder, Colorado, and all the other people I mentioned in part one. I feel a deep sense of gratitude for the people I see. For the strangers too, those people on the ferry. We’re being reminded of the kindness of strangers as such a gift of traveling. You are not always going to encounter it. Strangers can be scary. A lot of people are concerned that something awful is going to happen to me.
I’ve mentioned before, that I have that concern too. It’s so overshadowed by all of the beauty, wonderfulness, and kindness of these travels. I also don’t take for granted the privilege to travel. I work remotely. I make enough of a living where I can put money aside, save, and plan for these trips. I have the passion and the drive. I have the physical ability. I have very few things that prevent me from doing these travels. Nothing.
They haven’t been prevented, but I have minor obstacles and I don’t take that for granted. Sometimes experiences like this allow us to reflect on everything that we have, all the abundance. In the times when we’re feeling insecure, as I talked about at the beginning of this episode, I get the opportunity to spend a lot of time thinking, processing, and noticing. That is the reason I continue to do this.
In addition to the other episodes I’ve mentioned, I will be sharing at least one more episode about my travels as I venture back to Los Angeles. I’m planning that trip for the end of October 2023, so it’ll be probably two months out that you’ll have that episode by the time I get back to LA and record the journey. If you want to come join that live recording, that’ll be within the Beyond Measure community. I’d love to have you there. I’d love to answer your questions and hear from you. Oftentimes, before I do these episode recordings, I chat with Beyond Measure members and we catch up. Sometimes at the end of the recordings, we all hang out and discuss the episode.
It’s wonderful to connect with people in real-time and make this an interactive experience. It’s not just me talking, but it’s me talking to you and getting to know you. That is something I cherish. If you want to come join and maybe be part of the next travel update, I’d love to have you. The wonderful team at Podetize has edited this episode and put together the blog post and I’m very grateful for them too.
With that said, the next episode with a guest of all sorts of incredible people lined up. It’s my big aim to bring you a lot of value, whether it’s just me talking or someone else in a conversation. I’m also going to be experimenting with the schedule again. The last few months have been an opportunity for me to pace myself with my travels. I may go back to two episodes a week. They used to be on Mondays and Fridays. I also just scattered the episodes across multiple days of the week. There hasn’t been a super consistent release schedule that’s been on purpose. It’s been consistently inconsistent.
I’m planning to go through and look at the data and see if any particular day of the week seems to work best. If you ever have feedback on this, I’d love your input. You can email me or you can come over to the Beyond Measure community and message me or tell me in real-time. I would love to hear from you. Thank you for tuning in. Stay tuned for more. I wish you all the very best with whatever journey you’re on now, in the future, and between now and the next time we connect.
- 2023 Cross Country Road trip – previous episode
- Beyond Measure
- Wicked Good
- Ozark 5 person SUV tent
- Rainy Lake Charters
- Java Moose
- Rover sitter – Velena in Grand Marais
- Anchor Inn Campground
- Pop-up privacy tent for toilet
- TRIPTIPS Portable Toilet
- The Carloo
- Melissa Schwartz – previous episode
- West Side Market
- NEMO Forte 20
- Covacure Camping Hammock
- Exped MegaMat 10
- Grand Marais boarding – Rocky Knoll
- Isle Royale Ferry
- Quik Park garage in St. Louis
- Rechargeable camping fan
- Thermacell Mosquito Repellent E-Series
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