Extraordinary MONTANA!!! (part one)

Clark Fork River, Montana

Let me take a moment to express my feelings…..

It has taken me way too long to write about Montana but honestly I was totally bummed about being back.  I had this really crappy moment when I was leaving Glacier.  I woke up on a crisp sunlit morning, neatly packed up my tent, loaded the rest of the stuff in my car and started driving to my new found favorite spot along McDonald Creek just north of McDonald Lake.  I was just about there when I felt a strong urge to leave and move on to my next destination.  So I turned the car around and said to myself, “I don’t want to rush my time here.  I don’t want to try and see everything in one fell swoop.”  I knew I’d be coming back Glacier sooner rather than later so I felt that it was a good time to leave.  I drove along Route 2 down the south end of the park and into the east end.  The southeast end of the park is beautiful with rolling landscapes of tall grasses and subtle views (compared to the stark ones of Going To The Sun Road) and way less traveled than other parts of the park.  This long winding quiet road allowed me ample time to get lost in my thoughts and desires about this magical, humbling, nurturing place I just spent the past several days in.  Glacier is a place that resets every part of your being.  It is pure and lovely, towering and intimidating, patient and raw.  Glacier will make you fall in love, threaten you with crazy storms and then it will wrap it’s arms around you with it’s wild, raw and free loving energy.  I fell in love with Glacier…hard…I fell in love fast.  I hated to be leaving but knew it was time to go.  That wasn’t the end, it was only the beginning.

Driving down route 2 to East Glacier I just started crying, sobbing buckets of tears.  Screaming in my head, “I KNOW I AM NOT READY TO STAY BUT I AM NOT READY TO GO HOME EITHER!!!!!!!!!!”   I was just done.  DONE in every sense of the word.  I just wanted to wander off into the woods, follow the rivers, find a great place to take a nap and wake up with all the answers.  I wanted to drive back up to Bowman Lake, dive into it’s crystal clear cold waters and just SCREEEEAAAMMMM.  Scream so loud that the fish scattered and the mountains trembled.   I pulled off the road somewhere in Black Feet Nation and just sat there staring out into nothing, wishing like heck I could fast forward to the place in time where I am ready to be ready.  Five to seven years ago I would have just given my notice to my boss, had someone pack  up my apartment and just stay.  Now I am in a different place.  This place of making a life that I can take on the road.  I don’t want a house, land or permanent address.  I want the country to be my home and the landscape of this wondrous land to be my life’s work….

Now back to the beginning…

Sometimes you experience moments and are happy you are by yourself.  Then there are some moments that are so EXTRAORDINARY that you wish you had someone by your side to share it with because you want someone to feel what you just felt.  Whether that someone be a lover, friend, niece or nephew, anyone to just to soak in that moment with you.  The emotion, the beauty, the chills flowing all over your body!  I had two of those moments on my travels this past month!  TWO!  I also experienced many many other great moments…how lucky am I?!?!?! 😀

Montana:  (facts courtesy of  http://www.50states.com/facts/montana.htm, except #10….that’s mine own fact!)

  1. Montana is the only state with a triple divide allowing water to flow into the Pacific, Atlantic, and Hudson Bay. This phenomenon occurs at Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park.
  2. Home to more elk, deer and antelope than people.
  3.  Has the largest grizzly bear population in the lower 48.
  4. It’s river and streams provide water for THREE oceans!!!
  5. Has the largest variety of mammals than any other state.
  6. It has the largest migratory elk herd in the United States.
  7. Montana means mountains in Spanish.
  8. At Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge it is possible to see up to 1,700 nesting pelicans.
  9. 46 out of Montana’s 56 counties are considered “frontier counties” with an average population of 6 or fewer people per square mile.
  10. So far THE MOST BEAUTIFUL STATE I have ever been to.

After I had five wonderful days with my best friend Shannon I was anxious to get on the road and travel to my homeland.  I was born in Great Falls, Montana.  I was a wee baby when we moved away but that is where I drew my first breaths and they have stayed with me all this time.

I never thought that I would be able to live in a state that is land locked.  I learned that the hard way living in Florida for a short time and although Gainesville is nice, it was torture living inland!  Never again.  And that is why when I lived in Venice and San Francisco, CA I had to be with in walking distance to the ocean or no more than a 10 minute drive.  Same goes for here in Ohio.  The country is beautiful for a little Sunday drive with its little farms and back roads but nothing is more beautiful than the wide open waters of the Pacific Ocean and Lake Erie!

Somewhere outside Butte, MT

Well…until I hit Montana.  Montana with it’s wide rivers, towering mountains, cloud shadows on the rolling hills and glacial lakes!  I cried when I experienced this beauty.  I was driving out of Butte, Montana when I hit a thunderstorm.  The rain was pouring down and dark clouds hovered above but all the while the sun was still shining.  A rainbow that was so bright, arced high above the mountains.  Between the rainbow and the sun the rain looked like crystals flickering to the ground.  That my friends, I have never seen anywhere else.  I cried.  I was soooooo contently happy and overcome with peace that I had to pull over just watch it for a while.  This happened many times while driving through Montana.  It really is one of the last frontier states and it’s vast openness is unsurpassed by any other state in the lower forty eight.

Montana rivers are huge.  I am talking wide, with clear rushing waters that just BEG you to go swimming in them.  One of my goals this trip was to swim in as many bodies of water as possible!  So I did!  I was driving into Montana moseying along down the road when I spotted a nice cool river to take a dip in.  Now Montana has great rivers for fishing and they have fishing access points all along the rivers.  Lots of fly fishing happening up there.  So when I came upon my first access point I pulled off and there was one camper and one car.  The only person I saw was a cute fly fisherman from Vermont (didn’t get his name…shucks!)  So I scurried down to a spot where the water pools and waded over to two giant rocks.  I saw the cute “fly” guy (hahaha) but had to wait until he made his way down stream so I could get in.  Yes, I swam in my t-shirt, bra and underwear that time and it was AWESOME!!!  Clear sparkling waters, tall pines and gorgeous river rock.  Gosh I felt SOOOO free!

So nice to cool off after driving for several hours!

Look at that technique!  Lol…  I came up with a way to take pictures while traveling solo.  Setting a timer was not conducive to getting a decent candid shot.  I cannot pose for anything and when I try I look ridiculous!  :p  So I set up my flexible tripod ($5 on amazon), hooked my phone up, set the camera to video that way I could record and swim around for as long as I wanted.  This way I wouldn’t have to rush out trying to get in the frame and not look like a dork!    When finished, I just played the video, paused it on a shot I thought was cool and screen shot it.  Wahla!!!  Last time I traveled out west it was with a disposable camera…lol!   But hey dudes I took some great pics without knowing if they were going  to be good or not!  Technology man…it’s a love hate relationship 🙂

But with Montana….it is just pure love!

To be continued…


“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow






Oregon…We’re going down like the Titanic!…..

Oh Oregon…I like you but need a better sign!

Dudes I am writing from Glacier National Park in beautiful northern Montana!!!!  I will dedicate like a 1,000 posts to this leg of my trip a little later ;D  First up…wonderful Oregon!

I was so totally stoked to visit one of my super best friends Shannon residing in The Dalles, OR!  Shannon and I have been friends for nearly 20 years and even though we go through spouts of not seeing each other we always pick up right where we left off!

Oh Oregon…I like you but need a better sign!  Dinner at Southland Whiskey Kitchen, Portland

Shannon moved to Oregon to take a great job and be with her boyfriend Matthew about 3 years ago and it has taken me this long to visit!  (I will not say that she never ONCE came to visit me in California!)  Oh wait… I just did…. >(

Anyways… What didn’t we do while I was in visiting?!  First off let me tell you that Shannon and Matt have a sick view from their backyard!

Yeah….that’s from Shannon’s backyard!


I got to hangout, chat, workout and chill with my friend Shannon 😀  Also her friend Dave was in town for a wedding so it was a Cleveland reunion!  #216love

Here is what I didn’t know about Oregon… the eastern part of the state is dry, dry and dry!  As an Ohio gal, I thought ALL of Oregon was covered in giant towering pines and lush forest ground!  Yeah, no.  As I drove across the country I was able to see how the landscaped changed over the course of beautiful endless miles.  It’s not that I expected each state to be a certain way, I just didn’t realize that drastic of a contrast to what I had in my mind about eastern Washington and Oregon.

With that said The Dalles is beautiful!  Hood River is beautiful!  All in all it is a great chunk of land that offers endless outdoor activities to take part in.  For instance: horseback riding (we didn’t this time but Shannon has horses so it’s on the list for next time), paddleboarding, sailing, hiking Mt. Hood, jogging along the river path and SO MUCH MORE!!!

I went sailing for the first time and whoa dude….crazy cool and crazy scary at times!  Especially when your BFF almost literally slips right into the water and you think, “yep this ship (boat) is totally going to capsize!!!!


That’s the boat.  Some fun facts that maybe one should know before the going sailing for the first time…MATTHEW!!!!….lol!

  1. Boat’s really do not sink without human error.
  2. You can cut the power of the sail (by dropping it) if crap hits the fan.
  3. There is a 6 foot 1500lb KEEL that is preventing that effing boat from tipping so far over that is goes UNDER water!!!!
  4. Sit facing HIGH side so you’re not turned around looking LOW side and thinking, “Oh POOOOOOOOOP  we’re going to Titanic the S%#T out of this boat!
  5. You can trust some dude named Matthew….because even though he’s only been sailing for a year…he know’s his stuff.
  6. 5-6 knots feels like 100mph!

After I survived sailing…lol, the next day we kept things low key and went for a jog along the Columbia River.  Just beautiful!  Then the next next day we drove to Portland tocheck out that very cool city, hiked Mt. Hood and paddled boarded ALLLLLLLL the way to Washington!  (the Columbia River averages a mile in width so it wasn’t that far.)

Did we do some drinking…yes but it was all because we prefaced it with a great workout!

I had a fabulous time in Oregon but sadly it was time for me to wander on 😀  I said my goodbyes (why does’t that look like goodbye is spelled right? LOL) and moseyed my way to Montana!

Thank you Shannon for being such and amazing, wonderful, adventurous and crazy friend!  I miss ya already!


“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow


Life (for a couple weeks anyways) on the road :)


Do you see that cloud?!  That cloud is a map of the United States, Canada and part of Mexico.  How awesome is that?!  I saw this cloud as I was driving through Montana, the state where I born.  😀  Yes, I was just a baby when we moved but none the less I can claim to be a native!

FINALLY the time has come for me to be on VACATION!!!  You know how you count down the days until your vacation starts but once it arrives it seems like some sort of dream?  That’s what it totally felt like for me.  It didn’t actually hit me that I was on vacation until I was driving out of Ohio.  This trip is taking me through the northern part of the U.S.A.  There are 2 main destinations on this trip. 1.  To see one of my very best friends Shannon and 2. To finally make it up to Glacier National Park!  Shannon lives in Oregon and even when I lived in California I never made it up to Oregon.  Although… I did almost move there post whitewater rafting accident but decided on staying in California.  Good decision?… who knows?!

Open road and a semi buggy windshield…lol
People kept asking me, “Why don’t you just fly?”  Great question people but the answer leaves a lot of people shaking and scratching their heads in disbelief.  I actually LOVE LOVE LOVE driving across country!  People then asked, “Someone is driving with you, right?”  Nope!  I have driven across country solo a few times before so it isn’t anything new nor is it scary to me.  People say flying is so much quicker, flying is so much cheaper and my personal favorite, driving is so boring.  Okay, okay… the first two are true.  Flying is way quicker and much cheaper but the third is SO not true for me.  Then people ask me if I get lonely out on the road.  It is very seldom that I get lonely while road tripping.  Would I love to have an amazing, adventurous, spontaneous and fun loving boyfriend to travel with?  Um…yeah!  It would be so great to share experience, the cost of everything, the driving, the set up of tents, picture taking and such but I’m sure as heck not going to wait around for Mr. Right to show up just so I can travel the way I love to travel!

Driving across this amazing land is a privilege and I am so lucky to be able live here as a free citizen and experience all the different landscapes these states have to offer!  What other country in the world can you experience all the different types of climate?  Between Friday and today I drove though a temperate humid climate, desert climate and temperate rain forest climate and that took less than 5 days!

So let me start this journey with you…

I woke up Friday the 30th of July and headed out of Ohio.  I packed only what could fit in the hatchback of my car.  I like to keep things neat and tidy when I travel!  Clutter in the car equals clutter in the mind…. and me no like clutter…LOL!  Heading out of Ohio was uneventful as was Indiana and Illinois (both beautiful in their own right.)  Although it took me a while to get through both states due to construction.  I looked at google maps ahead of time and wow…what a difference 10 years makes!  10 years ago there really wasn’t a google maps.  I headed to the west coast (to live) with an actual paper map!  I still love paper maps and almost prefer them because I think paper maps take a skill that is long lost on the newer generations.  Skills such as cardinal directions, legends and topography interpretation.  Now google maps tells ya the quickest route, traffic and construction!

About 12 years ago I drove the northern route out to the Badlands of South Dakota and then up through Wyoming and the lower part of Montana.  I took the almost the same route this time because it was the quickest and I really wanted to get out to Oregon.  I am going to mosey my way back through Washington and Montana once I leave Oregon. Wisconsin and Minnesota are so beautiful!  Rolling farms, views that go on forever and just the simplicity of the land.  Driving though those two states is very calming.


Minnesota and Wisconsin

I was SOOOOO excited to see Caribou Coffee that I literally screamed aloud when I saw the sign on the highway!  My girlfriends and I always used to go to Caribou when they were open in Ohio.  Caribou had such a friendly and cabin cozy atmosphere and it has yet to be rivaled by any coffee shop in the Cleveland area.  Erie Island is awesome and my new favorite but definitely not as cozy or friendly as Caribou Coffee… 😦  The giant load on the truck looks like a huge wheel of cheese and since I was stuck in a little bit of traffic in the cheese state capitol of the U.S. I thought I’d snap a funny picture!  lol…  I also love that there is a city somewhere in Minnesota called Blue Earth!  It sounds like it would be a cool place to visit!

I spent the night at a KOA in Minnesota and it was nice to wake up a take a warm shower.  Props to the KOA I stayed at because the shower heads were amazing!!!  I will say that this KOA was next to a highway and it was awfully loud.  I ended up going into my car in the middle of the night just to dampen the noise.  Ever since I started hammock camping I really dislike sleeping on the hard ground.  The car didn’t offer a better nights sleep either.  Oh well…that’s life on the road!


South Dakota


South Dakota will always be one of the most sacred and beautiful places to me.  12 years ago I traveled to The Badlands in South Dakota on a sort of spiritual pilgrimage.  I was searching for a spiritual practice and started reading a book called Black Elk Speaks.  This book opened my eyes and my heart and was the reason that I traveled to The Badlands.  The rest of that story I will keep to myself for now….I am sure I will share later!

Dudes…when you get to western Minnesota you will see your first sign for Wall Drug.  Then for the next 400 or so miles there will be a crap ton of billboards of all shapes and sizes advertising a free doughnut and a 5⊄ cup of coffee!  5⊄ cup of coffee?????? Heck YES PLEASE!!!!  Well the coffee if 5 cents if you sit down in the restaurant.  I bought mine to go as I have already wandered around Wall Drug before and it is very touristy and very crowded.  Definitely a must see if you have never been out that way!  You almost feel like a jerk if you don’t stop by because they goad you with cute and welcoming signs for 400 hundred miles!  I don’t want to dampen their efforts…so I always stop by when I am in the neighborhood 😀

After I left South Dakota I cut through the upper northeast corner of Wyoming.  Wyoming so much to see and I definitely recommend getting out there to visit but on this trip I took the quickest way to Oregon.

I am going to skip over my drive through Montana as I will be spending a majority of my time there and will write about it at length later.  I am heading out of Oregon tomorrow morning and making my way there!  I cannot wait!!!!

Next up Oregon!  To be continued….


“Give what you have.  To someone, it may be better than you dare to think.”

~Henry Wadsworth Longfellow