This past October…
…Matt and I packed up the 4Funner and headed out on the road for a few weeks. Our original plan was to head east to NY, then to Toronto, Michigan, North Dakota, Montana, British Columbia, Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada and the back to Colorado.
Our plans ended up differing a bit. We left on October 3rd, a few days late, and booked it 30 hours straight to Albany, NY, where Matt is from. We had built a bed in the back of my car, so it worked out perfect to switch on and off driving while the other spelt, with plenty of stops for puppy bathroom breaks. Let me tell you - that car can get a real good stank goin on after 30 hours with two humans and two pups. For a minute we thought something had happened, like a dog leak such as an anal gland release etc.. nope we just all were really stinky hahah!
After arriving in Albany we spent a few days exploring, hanging out with the Terimina’s and Dirolf’s - a day up in the Adirondacks, Lake George & Lake Placid was breathtaking! WOW - I am a lover of mountains, and had no such idea of the beauty that resided in the mountains of the east. They speak to your soul with such age and lusciousness, you can feel the humidity on your skin, and the essence of the surroundings just soak in. I could most definitely spend a summer up in the Adirondacks. Such a beauty of a place, although the ticks were in full force, we found one on Keira after we had finished the trip and were back in CO! We attended the wedding of Matt’s cousin Patrick just outside of Saratoga, it was a beautiful sight. After spending about 4 days in Albany, we spent our last 24 hours in New York up in Syracuse touring the campus and hanging out with Matt’s Aunts! Also - a guest appearance was made from my best friend in high school - Tay - such a treat!
After our time in NY - we decided to cut through Ontario to see my grandpa. My Didi (Croatian name for grandpa) it a hell of a guy, he spent his early days in Canada working lumbar up in Thunder Bay. At 93 years old he can recall all of his life, and in the summers he still has a thriving garden in his backyard. He is an immigrant from Croatia. Ya know - It’s always interesting spending time with him, my Dad has estranged himself from his father, so every-time I go to see my Didi, part of the time is spent on my end just listening and letting him process. My dad’s side of the family is a bit messy you could say. I won’t get to far into it, someday i’ll open up. The visit overall was so great! I love getting up to Toronto when I can.
After spending the day in Canada - we finished out our drive from NY and booked it to Michigan - up to my hometown of Traverse City! Where we spent the next 5 days seeing all of my mom’s side of my family and exploring the shores of Leelanau County. We visited my Grandpa Len out on his 50 acre farm, picked some apples, saw my aunt & uncle and their kids, visited with my Nana etc.. The list goes on, we covered all the basis, it was peak fall time so the colors were in full swing and so were the apple cider doughnuts! Everywhere we turned we couldn’t help but find doughnuts lingering. The smell always in the air.
We spent some time out at one of my favorite spots - Stormer / Nornconk Road. Climbing the bluff jumping in sand etc.. we saw a family of Bald Eagles, that was pretty unbelievable. What I love about Leelanau county is that through every chapter of my life, it always seems to stay the same, sure the tourists bloom and beckon along M22, but my secret spots, still stay pretty uncharted. My sister took us to an abandon ski resort that I had known about forever but never ventured too - it was a special bonding moment for us, to have her share a her special Leelanau place with me. This is feedback I have gotten a lot from my friends and family back home, that they were inspired by me (before I moved out west) to explore the greatness that we have in Northern Michigan, I would take daily drives out to Leelanau, just to clear my mind - go rock hunting, find a new hike etc.. it just was what filled my soul and fueled me to do what I do today. Chasing the feeling of aliveness that the outdoors brings me and others.
After all our time in the splendors of MI and NY it was time to get back out west. Leaving Traverse City - we went north over the Mackinaw Bridge, through the Upper Peninsula and then west. Spending a night in WI and the next day arriving in Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
The beauties of this National Park are not your stereotypes, they were communicated through the wildlife that roamed the open fields and landscape, with dry canyons and sunshine - it felt like subtle magic everywhere you glanced . We spent the night inside the park, campgrounds are pup friendly, just have to keep them on a leash. Upon entering the campground we did see a lady getting arrested for drug possession. The town that surrounds the park is small and in the middle of nowhere, if that paints any kind of picture. The next morning we awoke at sunrise packed up and headed for the 30 mile driving tour. Not but 5 minutes in did we see wild horses roaming near the camp we had just made. Shortly after followed by a coyote hunting a small gathering of deer. With the morning sun shining down on them. I felt like we were in Planet Earth or a Nat Geo special. Nature was just happening all around us, engulfing our senses with the wildlife. The vast landscape has us stopping to take pictures at every corner turned. If you ever drive on I94 - you have to stop and see this park, you will not be disappointed, fall is an exceptional time to go as well if I might add.
After our time in the park - it was time to start the big boy tour - at least that’s what was in my head, the great rocky mountains of the north, we BOOKED it to Whitefish, MT. Montana has a special place in my heart, as i’ve said time and time again - it’s my favorite place in America. I can’t tell you why, maybe it’s because the mountains have definition like others you can’t find in the states, or because the the water meets the mountains here with plethora’s of freshwater lakes, and the snow isn’t too wet - I can go on and on. Anyway we spent about 36 hours in Whitefish. Which were incredible, seeing my favorite spots and exploring new ones such as Hungry Horse Revisor. We even saw a Grizzly Bear in a pile of oats on the way up the North Fork.
We received some saddening news at this point in the trip, though. Our roommate casually mentioned that she was raising our rent 50%. Man, we turned our trip around so fast! The drive home was gorgeous however, ducking down through the Swan Valley in Montana and onto Interstate 15, the wide open spaces and the mountains in the distance made for a peaceful drive. We did the drive back to Vail, CO - 15 hours straight, stopping only for potty breaks and viewpoints. Somewhere near Craig, CO, I stopped to buy a lottery ticket - thinking it could solve all our problems. We made it back safe and sound and settled into a new place. We now have breathtaking views and a wood stove in a log cabin. It proves to you that the universe always does have your best interest. Even when you think you wanted something to go another way. I have landed two paid adventure jobs since I’ve been back and my freelance business seems to be doing well. I couldn’t be more thankful. It’s also incredible to have a partner that stands by you and supports you in those tough times too.
Anyway that was our October road trip round up! I’ve been hiding out, hibernating, recovering, and planning during November and December and can’t wait to share what is in store for 2019!