After a great afternoon at the museum we headed out to Kerry Park. This park is on the outskirts of the city and offers some stellar views of Seattle. It seemed like the clouds may roll away for a bit this afternoon, so we were hopeful we’d have a nicer afternoon than morning weather wise. We had plans to bike around the park a ways, but it was not really feasible to do so once we arrived as Kerry Park is rather small, and a bit smaller than we predicted prior to arrival. Going up the hill, we instead walked around the park and took in the city views. It was a very pretty location, and we wound up having snacks on a bench and looked out over the city.
This was a great way to close out the day, on its own, but after about 2 hours in the park exploring and enjoying the views, we decided to head into the city with our friends for a bar/pub crawl and check out some of the watering holes. Unfortunately off the top of my head now I don’t recall any of their names, but the beer selection in Seattle was excellent at every place we went. They were all incredibly delicious and locally made beers. This had been one of the things my boyfriend wanted to explore most during this cross country trip, the local beer varieties. This is not something we had a lot of time and exposure to until this point, having been camping and in national parks for much of our trip so far.
There are a lot of great local beers and bars in Seattle, and this was without a doubt one of the better parts of the trip for us. We drank until around 11pm and then headed back to our friend’s place to sleep off the bender and a day of travelling around the city. Our friend was a huge help, and it was awesome to spend two nights in a real bed and use a real shower. The next morning we got up early, said our goodbyes, and continued on.
Onward to Portland
Riding out from Seattle at about 7:30am, we headed to Portland. This was a fairly short drive, at least compared to the Western plain states we just passed through. It took us about 3 hours to get there from start to finish. The Oregon coast was incredibly beautiful on this drive, however. About half of the way there, we stopped and biked around the coastline for about an hour and stopped and got lunch at a local diner afterwards. As many of you may know, I had been using a particularly effective HCG drops treatment to help me lose weight for some time during this trip. I used HCG to help me burn fat, during exercise, and also build up leaner muscle. I had been on this diet for much of the trip, though I wasn’t following the normal super diet protocol as I was using it build muscle instead of burn just fat.
As a result of being on this protocol, I tried to avoid too strenuous of activity on a daily basis, unless I had a lot of calories to offset the fat burning properties of using HCG. So we limited our time that day, since we hadn’t exactly eaten very well all day, to maybe 30 minutes to 1 hour at a time. After about an hour I was exhausted and we needed to find real food to eat for lunch, not campfire food. So the diner was welcome relief. However, Portland is where we were headed, as we had heard nothing but good things from friends about it. As a little bit of a “hipster” ourselves, we were hopeful it would jive with our lifestyles.
Barreling over the hills of the Pacific Northwest, hungry and tired from a very long drive out of Montana, we finally saw the skyline of Seattle peaking above the horizon. Certainly was a beautiful evening, but we were both extremely tired and in no mood to “enjoy” the overcast clouds and Mt. Rainier on the horizon, though it was beautiful in retrospect. We quickly called our friend who works in the area, and had an extra bedroom we could stay, and trekked over there as soon as we could. This was about 20 minutes Northeast of the city, but fortunately it was a fairly easy drive.
I wanted to shower in air conditioning, and I wanted a home cooked meal, and I wanted to put my feet up on a coffee table for a change (the little pleasures? I suppose that’s what I craved most). I suppose I’m not cut out for long periods of time out in the wilderness, though those days were amazing in all of their own charming ways. We arrived at about 7pm PST and I thanked our hosts and hopped into the shower right away. They owned a great apartment between the Microsoft Headquarters in Redmond and the city, so it was really a great place to stay. Wow, I cannot describe how awesome it felt to shower after so long camping out and taking showers outside, with cold water, and toweling off in the wind. We wrapped up the showers, went out to a pub as a treat for our hosts and crashed at 10pm, just like you’d expect us elderly folks to do.
Our First Day in Seattle
Yeah, there’s no doubt that Seattle is overcast basically all the time. Our first day there, however, had some sun peaking through the clouds on two occasions while we were out exploring the city. Much like Portland, Seattle certainly wears its “try pants”. A city full of the socially conscience, it was a very enjoyable experience go visit the sights.
We woke up early and headed to the Space Needle hoping it wasn’t going to be too busy so early in the day. As it turned out, this was a good strategy, particularly on a Tuesday, We rode the elevator up and looked out over the city and Mt. Rainier peaking above the horizon as the sun was coming up. It was indeed a beautiful way to start the morning of this city tour.
We were lucky to have native friends in the city, as they pointed us to all of the best places to go that we likely wouldn’t have thought of if we had been there on our own with only tripadvisor to guide us. Our friends recommended we head to the museum of flight, which is apparently a really awesome place, so we headed over there after grabbing breakfast at a local hot spot (I had pancakes, which were great!). We made it to the Museum of Flight around noon, and this place was huge! There was a ton to see.
There’s tons of planes, of all types, and from all eras at this museum. Everything from SR-71s to pre-WWI planes were on display in the main building. We spent at least 2 hours inside there before trekking outside. There museum goes on and on, and you could spend a solid 6 hours there if you’re interested in learning more about aerospace. After about 3 hours checking planes out we headed back into the city for some parks, and other sights. This will be covered in the next post.
Days spent in Glacier National park were an incredible time, and afterwards we wanted to get out of the cold, damp weather outside and find some more civilized refuge. Unfortunately, it’s not like there was any close by. We were forced to trek to Washington from Montana to get to Seattle, where we had a friend who offered a roof over our head for a few days. Problem was, this was a good 10-11 drive from where were.
This wasn’t going to stop us, however, from getting there as soon as we could. So we got up very early, before the sun was fully above the horizon and packed up our camp. The boyfriend drove for the first 5 hours, but after that his back was sore, understandably. I picked up the slack for the rest of the trip. This was a beautiful drive into Idaho, but we didn’t stop anywhere as we were sick of the lack of real showers, and wanted some real food for a change instead of made over a campfire (not that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy that when we started). Civilization awaits, and I was not full of patience to wait for it to arrive.
Amazing views dotted the landscape as we drove, and I enjoyed it the entire way. Views like the one below were commonplace, and you even forget how beautiful the area is after seeing it for so many hours on end. Yet, looking back shortly afterwards I realized there was much to see here, if we had the stomach to stop during our trip. Ultimately, we both missed civilization a bit, after weeks in the brush. Missed reliable internet, and all the trappings of society. I suppose that doesn’t make us “real” outdoorsy people, eh?
Pacific Northwest, a Beautiful Car Ride I Wish I Saw More
The car ride though the northwest was amazing, and I really haven’t written much on the car driving itself. I typically hate driving, but I realized on this trip that what I really hated was traffic. Driving through beautiful terrain with few people around can actually be a fantastic, albeit tiring, experience. There’s nothing like stopping in the middle of the desert, kicking your legs out the door, and having a packed lunch on the side of the road. It’s a truly “American” experience. You can drive from deserts, to snow covered mountains, to rolling planes all in a day. There’s nothing quite like the experience of such changes in landscape. The only place I know of that offers something similar is New Zealand.
As we went over the rolling hills and hour after hour passed, fortunately only having to stop for gas once due to the nice fuel economy we got in the car at the time, we saw Seattle break through the horizon. The trip itself was great to get there, and some great music/time with a loved one, but ultimately it was good to walk into a city with restaurants, grocery stores, gas stations and warm water to shower with. After almost a month in the middle of nowhere cooking over fires, and making the most rudimentary meals, having something home cooked… sounded like heaven at the time.
After a good week stint in the Badlands of South Dakota, we faced a decision. Where do we head next? Do we go to Idaho? (I had heard good things about the landscapes there) or do we head to Montana to see Glacier National Park and the surrounding areas. I had heard nothing but good things about Glacier, and the idea of passing it by on this road trip felt like a crime, as a result, that’s where we went next.
Now, it should be noted before I begin the recounting of this story that it’s by no means a short trip from the Badlands to Glacier Valley Montana. This trip took the better part of a day and the next morning to arrive there. This was the point in the trip where I began to realize just how huge the United States is, particularly the Western states. They go on and on. That’s not to say we didn’t thoroughly enjoy the drive, being with someone you’re close with when you travel always makes the road lighter and the progress more endurable.
A Beautiful June Morning in Glacier
We arrived 2 days after leaving South Dakota, relatively exhausted, so we set up camp in the first area we encountered within the park itself. After a quick meal, we slept the drive off and awoke the next morning at about. The next morning we awoke naturally quite early, with the sun this time. It was beautiful out, and you could feel that this was going to be a great day to bike. We weren’t in the best spot, so we drove a short while to the next site after packing up our gear and then hopped on our bikes. What greeted us down the road was beyond words, at least for my small brain at the time.
Have you ever been to a place, and experienced something, that pictures just cannot even get close to expressing? That was our 4 days at Glacier National. We spent the first day riding over 20 miles around mountains, lakes, and thousands of years old cut rocks. I’ve never felt so fortunate to live in America, where we have protected these locations for over a hundred years. Glacier National Park is truly a treasure to behold.
This was my first time there, but this experience really struck me at a core level. No matter how many amazing places we biked to, how many hills we climbed to see some new area, everything was breathtaking. Everything seemed right in the world every hour we spent in this place. You can call me sappy if you want, but this was a truly magnificent place to be in.
Certain times of day were the best to travel around this park, as tourists and other hikers were rare or not even seen at all. Early mornings and late evenings (before sunset) were by far the best, though it made it difficult to ensure you could get back to camp in time for the evening trips. Helicopter rides are a common tourist attraction for the park, and I’m not selfish enough to think they should stop these tours for my view. However, the early mornings were quite, and you could be introspective for hours looking out over amazing skies and from excellent locales.
We biked over to Lake McDonald on the second day, and put our feet into the waters. Brrrr, it was indeed cold, and what you’d expect from a place marked with the scars of eons of glacier movement and receding. We had lunch by the water and enjoyed one of the most breathtaking areas of the park. We biked down to the Glacier Park Lodge, thinking we may stay in for a night. However, instead we wound up outside again. The sounds and the calm were just too much, maybe tomorrow? Maybe.
After a further 3 days of trekking we decided once to stay in the Many Glacier Hotel. Great aaccommodations and it was nice getting out of the wilderness for a day. It wasn’t the cheapest place in the world, but the food was really great. We had huckleberry pancakes, a first for me, and the next morning we rented a kayak and went out on the lake nearby (I cannot for the life of me remember its name, sorry!)
All together, one of the more amazing parts of our journey across the northern Midwest, though if I were to rank locations, Glacier would be the absolute top.
Starting out this blog with a tale of my around the nation journey a few years ago sounded like the best start as any for the readers. I began my journey from Milwaukee Wisconsin, where I was at the time, and traveled west into South Dakota. There’s not much in South Dakota, and I’m sure I sound a bit predictable saying so. The journey through South Dakota was a long one, lasting about 5 hours. On the way we saw sites for the Corn Palace all over the place, and many signs for “Wall’s Drug”. We weren’t sure what this place was, if it was a pharmacy, if it was a chain of stores, or if there was just the one of them
.Along the way we stopped at limited locations, and didn’t make it even to Mount Rushmore. We had a specific goal in mind, as my boyfriend at the time and I were avid mountain bikers and the outdoors type. We made it across the state in roughly 5 hours, and hit the well-known “Badlands’. I was shocked by how far reaching and desolate the area was, but also absolutely breathtaking as well. We got out of the car as soon as we hit the edge of the area, and sat down on a hill drinking water and enjoying the view.
The Ride – Roaming Through the Badlands
Our first day in the Badlands riding was markedly excellent. We road for at least 5 hours total, covering approximately 25 miles according to my iPhone tracker. There was significant amount of time spent due to stoppages for scenery, lunch and enjoying areas we were in. The Badlands went from a grassy terrain to rocky ridges and more “desert” rather quickly as we progressed throughout the day. Still, it was a gorgeous afternoon to ride.
We decided to set up camp, rather than going to a nearby town to see if we could seek a airbnb or similar accommodation. Really though, the closest town was over one hour from where we were. On a cross country vacation, you realize how short one hour really is to drive, at least for the typical creature comforts. However, after 5 solid hours of driving, and hours of biking, we had no energy for this. We camped out in the middle of the area alone, likely no other souls within 100 miles in any direction. It’s hard to put into perspective what that feels like, but it was a challenge for me to imagine this now that I think about it again.
I’ve never really relied to heavily on needing other people around to be feel safe and secure, but at the time I was too caught up in the stars, and seeing the Milky Way so clearly above to notice how alone we were. Without rescue, without any ability to contact help (no cell signal for miles and miles), this is a truly isolating area. This can be both wonderful, if you are with someone else like I was, or harrowing. Fortunately, I had no time to worry about such things. We had fire, food, water, and a great camping location. Though there are wild animals out here, like coyotes, few really posed any grave threat to us. Fortunately, we were too tired to really care what was out there that could have potentially been a problem, we just set up our tent and bags and slept the 10 hours away. The next day… however… proved to be even better.