Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Yellowstone was a place both Nic and I were looking forward to visiting! I couldn’t wait to see all the wild animals, and Nic couldn’t wait for the great photo opportunities! We were camping in Yellowstone at Grant Village. We were lucky to get a camp space because when we arrived all the sites in all the campgrounds were booked out for a while! We called ahead of course, but still. We went straight to old Faithful before checking into our spot. We sat and waited for an hour before she blew! It was fun watching all the geysers in the area shooting up into the air, or letting off steam from the heat of the surface water! When Old Faithful finally erupted, it lasted about a minute or so. After that, we walked around to see the other geysers in the area before heading back to set our camp up in the dark!

The next morning, we were planning on doing the grand loop in a figure 8 style. This drive took the whole day, but encompassed the great majority of the park. We saw tons of hot springs, mini geysers, and beautiful bacterial mats (weird sounding, but beautiful). Drive, stop, walk around, repeat. That was the mantra of the day. We covered the petrified tree, the northern, southern, eastern, and western sections, passing Yellowstone lake, many bison (aka buffalo), elk, a wolf, and hundreds of other tourists.

The park was beautiful. The views changed depending on where you were. We were both bummed to only stay two days, but it is on our list to come back for a while and hike around everywhere! On our way out of the park, we went to Grand Teton National Park. The Tetons were made famous by Ansel Adams before it was a national park. The Tetons (mountains) stand over the whole of Jackson Hole, Wyoming, which is the valley where Jackson, Wyoming is located. We walked around the town of Jackson, and then headed along our way to Salt Lake City! See you in the Great Salt Lake!

Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse, Keystone, South Dakota

The drive through South Dakota was very interesting. Lots of wide open agricultural areas, straight highway, and a fair share of farms. We were bombarded with a huge number of billboards advertising all sorts of things. There was one at least every 30 feet it seemed! It was crazy!

We arrived at Mount Rushmore after a nice lunch break followed by some frisbee playing. When we got there, we had been seeing the four president’s faces for a few miles. They wanted to charge entry to the memorial, so Nic and I decided to park outside and just look at it from the road. There wasn’t going to be much of a view change, so we decided to save our pennies!

The sculpture was huge! Showing the faces of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, Mount Rushmore is imposing to say the least! The faces are so massive! After checking out Mount Rushmore, we cruised down the road to see the progress on Crazy Horse. They also wanted to charge for admission, actually they charged double what it cost for Mount Rushmore. We also opted to see this from the road! The sculpture is not finish, not even close, so maybe we will come back when it is done! After our tour of presidential heads, we headed to Yellowstone National Park. The drive took two days, but we stopped off in Buffalo Wyoming for the evening! See you in Yellowstone!

Danbury, Wisconsin

Danbury, Wisconsin was the home of a rendezvous that we were attending to visit Nic’s Aunt Carol and Uncle Pierre. If you do not know what rendezvous is, you are not alone. I had no idea what rendezvous was until we arrived. It is a place where traders (vendors, which Carol and Pierre are) sell their items that are period specific. This period happened to be the French Fur trade era. There are other people there as well. People camp, live, and dress as if they were from this time period. It lasts a weekend and there is rendezvous set up all over the country. Usually it isn’t open to the public, but this particular one was. Nic and I did not stay for the weekend, but we stayed for two days while his family set up their shop.

It was great meeting the family. We talked about rendezvous, history, and current events alike. We camped out near their RV and helped out where we could in the set up. We walked around the camp that had people dressed as voyageurs, fur traders, trappers (of animals), etc. They had period tents set up, along with fires for cooking, period attire, and such. It was really interesting. I did not appreciate all the dead animals or the fur, but it was part of the experience, and I took it as such no matter what my feelings were on the subject.

We spent two days walking around, meeting other traders, rendezvous people, and our fair share of massive mosquitos! It was a nice time in general! We then headed to Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse! We stopped along the way in South Dakota, living through a tornado warning and a massive Thunder storm, the likes of which I have NEVER seen! The claps of thunder were so loud along with the lightning touching down feet from where we were! It was a rather scary evening, but really cool as well! See you at Mount Rushmore!

Nipissing, Ontario, Canada

We headed up to Northern Ontario for one reason only, Piebird Bed and Breakfast. Nic and I were genuinely hoping to stay at least a night at a vegetarian bed and breakfast during this trip. That may seem like an odd desire, but let me explain. It is my dream to own an off-grid, sustainable bed and breakfast that is supported by an attached farm and animal sanctuary. Piebird was a place we found during a google search, and we knew we had to stop. This place was amazing.

Piebird is a century old home owned by a young couple Sherry and Yan. They purchased this place about 5 years ago and have rehabilitated the place completely (with their own two hands!!). The place, as it is now, has a huge garden that primarily feeds Yan and Sherry all year, along with their bed and breakfast/community restaurant/picnics that they put on! Along with the garden, they have four goats: Ginger, Billy, Sunshine, and Sadie, two cats, and plenty of wild critters. Sherri also teaches holistic nutrition classes and cooking workshops from the b and b as well! My idea in my head come to reality!

We spent a lazy afternoon by the river, came back to Piebird to hang with the animals, and then sat down to a lovely dinner brought to us by the garden and Sherri’s awesome cooking skills! We sat overlooking the garden and the goats, talked about our trip and our future plans! It was bliss! We spent the rest of the evening walking around, reading, and just relaxing (a common theme).

The next morning we sat on the porch with homemade granola, fruit, and some cake (for breakfast!). While eating, we chatted away with Yan and Sherry, picking their brains about Canada, the bed and breakfast industry, their experiences in farming and rebuilding, along with just getting to know them! They were great! A bit later, we headed out again. Next stop, the middle of the Michigan peninsula, on our way to Danbury, Wisconsin to visit Nic’s Aunt and Uncle!

To find Piebird click here

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada

Hello from Canada!

Nic and I decided on the Canadian side of Niagara Falls because we heard that was the place to be. We wish that was the case, but unfortunately it ended up being the opposite of anything that we would be interested in. We arrived to our motel, and headed out to see the falls. We were a ten minute walk, but the walk consisted of 3 wax museums, copious fast food spots, casinos, arcades, and the list goes on. Niagara Falls was beautiful, but it was dwarfed by the high-rise buildings that sat yards from the Falls. The place was busy, and that is an understatement. Nic and I tried to be one with nature and really enjoy the falls, but it was damn near impossible.

I feel so bad for saying that this may have been one of my least favorite places on the trip. It was so built up and commercialized that it was near impossible to enjoy. I remember hearing so many great things about the falls, how magnificent, awe-inspiring, etc they were, but I only got that they were a tourist trap.

Don’t get me wrong, the falls were gorgeous, a huge waterfall that is pretty magically, but the artificial surroundings really detracted from the piece of nature that is so impressive. Maybe it was the poor choice of the Canadian side, or just the fact that Niagara has just been over built, but it was a sad testament to what will happen to our national treasures if we do not preserve them. Nic and I have enjoyed the ability to be with nature by way of visiting the national parks across the United States, and we were hoping for a similar experience in Niagara Falls.

If I may get on my soapbox for a moment:

SAVE NATURE! PRESERVE IT FOR OUR CHILDREN AND OURSELVES! That is my battle cry. We cannot allow capitalism to overtake the beauty that has been bestowed to us. We need to be guardians, not destroyers. PLEASE!

Ok, back to it:

After Niagara, Nic and I are headed to Toronto! See you there!

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Toronto, Canada was a stop on the list because I have always thought I would love the place. All I really knew of the city was that they have a very multi-cultural thing going on. Lots of different and ethnic neighborhoods, restaurants, shops, and such. We arrived from Niagara in the early afternoon. We happened upon a flea market of sorts and walked around for a bit. Then, we headed down to the shopping district. This wasn’t our original intent, but we went with it. It was quite a street. Two malls, and TONS of shops all along the way. I am not a big shopper, neither is Nic, so we walked by most of the shops, and then decided we were hungry. We headed to Chinatown for some veg food. We found a buddhist vegetarian place that we thought we would try. Bad idea. The place was simple to say the least, that did not bother us, but the food… We managed to eat some of each of the things that we ordered, but politely declined doggie bags, and left rather quickly!

After a failed lunch, we found a street called Augusta (I think). Ironically, we found about 10 vegan/vegetarian restaurants that we would’ve loved to eat at, but next time I guess! We went to an organic co-op and picked up some essentials, wandered around a bit, checked out some unique shops, and then sat down for a vegan ice cream cone! It was a good afternoon! We headed to our motel which was about 30 minutes outside the city in the late afternoon. Once checked in, we relaxed from our long day, and then prepped for the day ahead. The next stop was a little township called Nipissing (pronounced nip-Issing) in Northern Ontario. The adventure continues!

1,000 Islands, New York

Nic and I decided to forgo our plans to head to Maine after having a lot of trouble finding a place to stay. In addition to those things, we decided it was time to head back west. That being said, we wanted to see as much as we could along the way home. On a tip from our hosts in Boston, we headed up to the Canadian/USA border to see 1,000 Islands. This area is found on the St. Laurence River, upstream from Lake Ontario. The area consists of over, you guessed it, 1,000 islands, somewhere around 1600 islands to be exact. The definition of an island in this area is that it must be one square foot of land that is usually above water, and can support one tree. Some of these islands have castles, mansions, basketball courts, you name it! Others are more simple, containing a very tiny house or even just a small tree!

The area is beautiful, but in the dead of summer, it is crowded with tourists, boaters, and the like. We sat at the US/Canada border for 2.5 hours to get back over the border! It was busy! Nic and I took a boat tour of the area, seeing many of the mansions on “millionaire’s row”. This area is so interesting. It costs an arm and a leg to wire electricity or any utilities to the islands, but money is not something some of these places are worried about! One of the islands is actually owned by the infamous Skull and Crossbones society, with famed members being John Kerry and George W Bush among other very influential or wealthy people.

I would like to come back to this area when it is fall or spring. I would avoid it during the peak times of summer, as it is so busy that you can’t really enjoy it! Nic and I spent a few hours here, and then headed off to our next stop: Niagara Falls! See you there!

Boston, Massachusetts

Hello From Boston!

I love Boston. I love the history, the brick, the quaintness of the city, etc. We arrived and headed for Cambridge to tour the Harvard campus. We walked around in the rain for a while, soaking in the history and maybe some knowledge! The campus was beautiful, full of old trees and green, grassy student areas. We both really like the structures, as well as the feel of Cambridge. There were fun shops, used bookstores, and lots of young people.

After Cambridge, we went to China town to get our foodie fix. We went to a vegan Thai restaurant overlooking the city. We finished and headed out to Peabody, where we would be staying for the two days in Boston. Sue and Ken welcomed us into their home, even though they had loads of family staying as well. When we arrived, we were welcomed like family. Ken made sure that we were well taken care of and comfortable. They were fantastic hosts; Nic and I felt so bad to be interrupting their family time! We went to bed a bit late, but we were planning on getting up early to see the city.

The next morning, we took the metro into Bunker Hill where we started the Freedom Trail. This is a red line painted or made of brick that encompasses 3 miles of the city, walking past historical markers like the USS Constitution, Paul Reveres House, the North End church, Boston Common, and many other historical spots along the way. We did the walk, winding up in Boston Common where we took the Red line out to the JFK Memorial Library and Museum. We walked along the Harbor to the museum and toured the place for a while. The museum was really interesting and taught me a lot about JFK of which I was not aware. We then walked back along Boston Harbor to Downtown Crossing where we saw the financial district area of Boston, along with some of the shopping area. We walked back up the Freedom Trail to the Irish district where we had a drink and appetizers at the Bell In Hand, a bar that was established before the United States was established in 1765 or something like that! We ate a dinner of fries and beer (healthy, I know) before heading back to Peabody.Once in Peabody, we sat and chatted with our hosts for a while before calling it a night.

The next morning, we got ready and left for 1000 Islands, New York. We were planning on going to Maine, but our plans were foiled by a visit from the President to Bar Harbor, making finding a place to stay very difficult and expensive! We decided to take it as a sign to not head into Maine, and instead to start making our way back to Nevada. I am running low on money and to be quite honest, living out of a car has been getting increasingly difficult! So, Nic and I are planning on making our way back to Nevada over the next few weeks. We hope to come back to Maine, maybe when we have a bit more planning and money. Anyway, we have decided that the time is right to head back West! We will see you in 1000 Islands. And, yes, it is of the salad dressing fame!

Saunderstown, Rhode Island

We decided to go to Rhode Island because a friend of my mother, Martie, told us we would love the area, and she was right! We stayed in Saunderstown with Alex. Alex is a long-time friend of Martie, as was Chris (our host in NYC) and was so kind to offer us a place to stay in his lovely home on the water. We arrived and soon after walked down to the water for a bit before heading out to dinner at a Middle Eastern restaurant nearby.

Over dinner we chatted about Rhode Island, ourselves, and a host of other things. Alex was a great guy to talk to! After dinner, we went on a quick tour of the beach part of the area before heading back to the house to go to bed.

The next morning, we awoke, took a nice walk around the neighborhood, and then went kayaking. We took the kayaks out for an hour or so and paddled all around the inlet that Alex lives on. The weather was perfect and the water was warm! After kayaking, we showered, made some lunch, and then went over to the farm where Alex has a CSA (community supported agriculture). We picked some blueberries before helping him pick up his weekly supply of vegetables fresh from the farm!

We chatted about the local food movement in Rhode Island and were happily surprised to hear that they have a lot of local farms, farmers’ markets and a huge following! Nic and I are always so happy to hear about places that support organic, sustainable farming.

Leaving the farm, Alex headed home, and we headed to Newport, RI, just over the bridge. We got into the small town, and headed directly for Ocean Drive. We saw all the huge mansions (called summer homes by the rich and famous). The Vanderbilt family has at least three homes there, and there are a slew of other wealthy people owning huge palaces on the water. Newport is known for the America’s cup, a sailing race, so there is a definitive sea culture there. We took a drive along the coast, stopping to take some photos of the sailboats, lighthouse, and sea. We also walked around Newport and checked out a few shops along the way.

After getting our fill of Newport, we headed back to Alex’s place to make dinner for him, Terri, and her daughter and boyfriend. The whole group was so friendly and welcoming. Nic and I made risotto with garlic scapes and pesto (farm fresh) and Alex made a tomato and summer squash pizza. Dinner was as delightful as the conversation!

After dinner, we moved into the living room to watch the movie Fresh. It is a movie similar to Food Inc, discussing a need for local, organic, and sustainable food. It was really nice to sit down and watch and discuss. I love meeting like minds. We found a lot to talk about and the evening was perfect. We headed to bed shortly after.

The next morning, we made breakfast after getting ready and made our plan to head to Boston. It was still raining from the evening before, so we had a soggy drive up to Boston, but we were able to stop in Providence for a short picnic before making the rest of the drive. See you in Boston!

New York City, New York

We arrived in New York late in the afternoon. Chris, our host had gone through the trouble of picking up tons of fruit for us to munch on while we discussed our possibilities for our trip to the city. We decided on taking the subway into the city, we were staying in Long Island City, that evening to walk around and see some of the more touristy stuff. We took the 7 into the city, all the way to Times Square. When we climbed the stairs, we were greeted (or assaulted, you pick) by all the flashing lights, mega-tron television screens displaying everything from commercials to television shows. There were so many people that I didn’t know exactly what to do! A country girl in the city syndrome, I suppose!

We walked around a bit, before deciding that it was precisely the place that we did not want to be. Chris, acting as our tour guide, took us to Rockefeller center, Radio City, and a few other spots along the way. We dipped into Central Park, before walking over to the Village.

We walked and talked for a good while before heading into a pub called the Library for a libation. We had a drink before we headed out for a bit more walking around the area. We checked out Union Square and a huge part of the Village.  We finally decided to get some food and ducked into a brewery restaurant for a veggie burger and some people watching. The food was decent, though the beer left something to be desired. We then got back on the subway and headed back out to Queens to crash.

The next morning, we awoke, got ready, and then headed back into the city for a full day of touring. We started at Chelsea Market. If you don’t know what Chelsea Market is, the Food Network (my favorite and only TV channel I really watch) is located above the market. It is a big building where the bottom is dedicated to food places and shops, including bakeries, lunch spots, grocery stops, book stores, and a few clothing stores. The place is very uptown, but I really wanted to see it and hopefully glimpse some part of the Food Network inner workings. I did not see anything Food Network related, but the Market was a nice place to walk around and smell the delicious food being prepared!

After the market, we headed to the water to walk along the bay (harbor?) from Manhattan to downtown. The walk was so pretty! Jersey City was to our right and New York was to our left. We walked for a good while before coming across Ground Zero. Chris was kind and candid enough to share with us his story of 9/11/2001. We talked about the event, his experiences, and the impact it has had on the city. It was a difficult part of the day to be sure.

We didn’t linger too long, and finally made it to our destination: The Staten Island Ferry. We wanted to take a boat tour of the Harbor, but we didn’t want to pay the $30+ it cost to take the short trip, so we decided to take the Staten Island Ferry which takes you to, you guessed it, Staten Island and back. The ferry is free, but it passes the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, and gives you an amazing view of New York City. Again, the ferry is free, so if you have any interest in a fun and free thing to do in NYC that is it!

By the time we finished up at the ferry, it was almost 4pm. We decided to get some lunch/dinner. We took the subway back to the Village to eat at a recommended vegan restaurant called Angela’s Kitchen. We had some overpriced, but good food there and then headed to get some dessert at an all vegan ice cream shop nearby. It is so rare to find vegan ice cream, so we jumped at the chance!!

We walked around more, before deciding to head to Central Park to possibly see a free Reggae concert that was going on. We arrived a bit late, and they were at capacity, but we were able to walk around the park, taking in all the action, which included roller bladders, runners, musicians, street performers, and regular people walking around.

We sat and watched the activities for a while, then decided to head back to Chris’ place. We were all dead tired after walking the entire city for the whole day. Chris took us back ‘home’ and we relaxed for the rest of the evening. Nic and I were both sad that our time in NYC was so short. We talked with Chris a bit more before we all called it an evening. The next morning, Nic and I got up and ready before heading out to Rhode Island for the next few days.

Our time in NYC would not have been as good as it was if it wasn’t for our host, Chris. He was so wonderful in showing us the city, and talking with us, at length, about life. He was quite a kindred spirit for both Nic and myself. We really enjoyed his company, and were so thankful to have such a wonderful host in a city that we were both nervous was going to be way too big for us. The city was way too big, but it was manageable with Chris. He loves New York and it is very apparent in the way he shows people around. He was a knowledgeable and kind host and I have no doubt that we will see each other again!