For those who don’t know, I’m not in Texas anymore. For those who do know I’m not in Texas anymore probably know I’m in Washington.
Since I had covered a majority of what I wanted to see in the West the last two road trips I took (see here), my Master Planner (dad) and I decided it would be best to take a different route and see MORE awesome things!
What’s that squiggly line, you ask? That’s called not planning ahead, a lot of which was not done on this trip.
My route was supposed to pass through Glacier National Park, but the road was closed due to —believe it or not—snow. Psh! Snow, in Glacier National Park? As if.
But more on that later.
Oklahoma, Kansas, Nebraska, South Dakota:
Similar to the lovely Texas, these states don’t offer much in the category of scenery. And the fact that I’ve been to these states multiple times didn’t leave too much for me to stop for or do.
But there is something to be said about having time alone in the car. The simple experience of traveling leaves time for thought and reflection. And, since this was really the first time I would be striking out on my own for good (I consider Wyoming a warm-up or Support Yourself Lite) the cornfields gave me lots of time to consider what I wanted for the near and far future. There was much deep thinking, singing, mumbo jumbo and nonsense and of course any time traveling is not time wasted.
I’ve been here once before, many years ago when my dad, brother and I struck out for a three week road trip. As with most things I witnessed back then, the sights seem much…smaller this time around. Still it was a blast camping out under the stars to the howl of coyotes and the immanent threat of ticked off Bison. Oh boy!
By now the temperature had begun to fluctuate more than I was used to. We were running our usually 100+ hot streak when I had left Texas, and by the time the temperatures dipped below eighty on my trip I had already whipped out the arctic gear.
But it was just a taste of what was to come.
The farthest stretch in one state, excluding Texas because…Texas. This was probably the most defining moment of the trip. Not only did I jaunt from one quaint fog covered town in the mountains to the next, not only did I spend two nights camping out under pouring rain with temperatures hovering around freezing, but it was my return to the mountains and to the landscape I’d missed since Wyoming. I just can’t seem to leave them for good.
I just ran, I ran all night and day
couldn’t get away
A couple nights were spent under pouring rain and the threat of lightning. Since my camping experience in the mountains is minimal, this was a trial by fire, and I relished the challenge of figuring out how to make things work.
Fortunately it didn’t snow like the forecast had predicted (that came later).
Glacier National Park
I had wanted to go here since I had been up in Wyoming, but I had never had (or taken) the time to seriously consider driving up there. This is where I hit my first bump. The pass I was supposed to take through Glacier National Park and on into Idaho was closed due to a VERY early bout of snow. It was early for me, at least. But then ANY snow was too early for me.
The snowy theme continued all the way into Glacier and, even though I could only drive halfway into the park, I wanted to see as much as I could while I was here. That, and I wanted to camp out that night. There were reports that:
- It was supposed to snow at lower elevations, and I REALLY wanted to camp in snow. Who cares if I wasn’t prepared
- Even if it didn’t snow the temperatures were in the teens with 10+ mile per hour winds and again, I really wanted to camp out
See, this was about testing my camping and backpacking skills. I haven’t had a whole lot of chances to do that lately and Texas winters are mild compared to anything up north. It was a chance to test my mettle.
After a day exploring the park I bundled up in almost every article of clothing I had (since most of it was for warmer weather anyway), pitched my campsite and…had a perfectly fine night. Sure it was a little colder than normal, but nothing to worry about.
The second bump in my trip:
I made a post here about this one. The short of it is, my trust truck finally broke down. I lost at least half a day waiting for the (literally) crazy tow truck driver to show up and get my parts in. But lessons learned. I couldn’t change what had happened so there was nothing to do but roll with it.
Idaho and Washington:
The rest of the trip was spent bumming around different National Forest, driving through the Cascade Mountain Range and eventually reaching Whidbey Island.
There were no more major bumps and even the minor ones like finding a place to sleep were all part of the experience I wanted. I like not planning where I’m going to stay the night. In some cases it’s smarter and necessary, but for the most part there’s a sense of true adventure just showing up and finding someplace. Of course having a vehicle limits the amount of places I could stealth camp, but I found some awesome spots by not planning ahead, like a cat infested park in Kansas, and the top of a mountain in Washington and Glacier National Park.
And for me that was what it was about: the experience and the surprises, which surprised me. I usually do like planning ahead. I like lists and knowing when I’m doing what, but this was good in that I didn’t have those things along. It was about just going with what was happening instead of what you wanted to happen.
Of course, on any sort of hiking or camping trip there has to be the element of safety and preparedness. That’s the Wilderness First Responder in me talking. I would have done a few things differently if I had not had a bail out plan of my vehicle. Adventure should never compromise safety and I learn with each trip more ways to have a good balance of the two. Granted, this wasn’t really TRUE adventure, but for now and until the future, it’s the closest I can get.
Not a bad trip.