Well, now that we’re home, and the laundry is done, and the luggage is (mostly) put away, we just wanted to take some time to reflect on this enormous, 7-week adventure of a lifetime.

Most people have asked us, what was your favorite place you went, best thing you did, etc.

Unsurprisingly, this question is nearly impossible to answer! There were definitely some highlights and some lowlights (here’s looking at you, I-15 from Vegas to LA), and so many places we want to return to for a visit! We definitely short-changed the Pacific Northwest on this trip, with our rushed tour of Olympic National Park, Seattle, and Mt. Rainier.

Our hike on Mt. Rainier was definitely one of the best. There was a huge variety in the scenery throughout the hike, with snowfields, rocky areas left behind by glaciers, and gorgeous meadows. The problem is that it’s hard to declare it THE best hike.

Observation Point in Zion was also amazing. The views of the canyon below were breathtaking (not just because of the altitude).

The hike in Glacier National Park was beautiful and allowed us to see mountain goats – definitely a highlight!

We still can’t pick a favorite park. Maybe the hiking in Yellowstone wasn’t as great as some of the others, but you can’t beat it for wildlife encounters. So many bison!

And we saw dolphins and a whale on the way to the Channel Islands, which was incredible as well.

Oh! And the stars in Big Bend! The magical quality of the dark and silence out there was unforgettable.

Exploring the national parks was a favorite part of the trip. But another amazing part was getting to visit with friends and family all over the country. It was wonderful to see everyone, and we were so grateful for their hospitality. The best way to see any city is definitely with the guidance of the locals. We absolutely loved just getting to spend time with people who are normally so far away.

Did we have a favorite city? Impossible question and we shall continue to dodge with egalitarian answers! We were big fans of the nightlife in Nashville. Even without being country music buffs, we still loved sitting in the bar and listening to great live music.

San Francisco was also fun – we loved walking around and definitely felt there was more there for us to see, and would happily go back to explore more.

Once again, our time in Seattle was far too short, so we will definitely want to go back and explore more (and even hit some tourist sights for Sam, who has never seen any of them!)

Getting to go the art museum in Chicago for free! Yes!

We spent over 100 hours in the car. Close to 200 by our estimate. How did we survive? It’s strange, but some of our longest drives were some of our easiest.

While driving from Texas to Arizona, via New Mexico, the time really seemed to go by. Maybe it’s because the highway in New Mexico was so straight (with gorgeous rainstorms in the distance). Any drives with great scenery were downright enjoyable, and there were many of them.

The stretch of Pacific Coast Highway stands out.

So does the drive to Big Bend, with dramatic rock formations sticking out of the landscape and rendering it alien to us, who are so used to trees and greenery.

We listened to quite a few podcasts, and we can highly recommend! We listened to 99% Invisible, a show about the design of and story behind everyday overlooked objects. We also enjoyed getting sucked into the conspiracy of The RFK Tapes, about the assassination of Robert Kennedy. Bubble, a fiction sci-fi comedy show about millennial monster hunters was great, too. Other excellent podcasts: Judge John Hodgeman; Lore; My Brother, My Brother and Me; and The Soundtrack Show.

Bathrooms on the road, for those wanting to know: Pilot truck stops are best. But really, most gas stations with a convenience store were clean and fine!

Did we learn anything from our adventure? Yes! The U.S. seems a lot smaller when you explore it via short-ish drives. This country is filled with so many breathtaking landscapes and cityscapes – many people probably don’t even recognize the beauty right in their backyards. Book National Park lodging at least one year in advance. Elvis hails from Connecticut. There is good food to be had almost anywhere (there are exceptions – the lodge restaurant in Big Bend, for example). People in rural Montana are really good at trivia. People in Portland are extremely nice. Hiking at 8,000 feet elevation is different than hiking at 800 feet. Friendships can survive many months and thousands of miles of distance apart. Two people spending almost every moment of 49 days in a row can enjoy it quite a bit.

This trip was in the making for close to a year, and we wholeheartedly recommend, if you are at all interested in doing something similar, go for it!


3 thoughts on “Reflections

  1. I counted 9 “yums”!
    $2 bean burrito
    30+ varieties of cider
    9-inch subs
    all of the available flavors at a chocolate shop
    all-you-can-eat sushi
    BBQ pork sandwich with all the fixings
    bean frybread tacos
    beet and walnut burger
    best sushi
    big plates of Mexican food
    big salads
    biscuit egg and cheese
    bison burger
    bison meatloaf
    blondie with dark chocolate and meringue
    blood orange with chocolate/pistachio coating ice pop
    bloody mary came garnished with cheese
    bourbon pecan pie a la mode
    Brussels sprouts
    bubble tea
    buffalo artichoke cakes
    buffalo frybread tacos
    Buffalo wings
    caprese on ciabatta
    caramel chocolate peanut butter milkshake
    caramelized onion cheddar cheese
    cardamom-infused “flan brûlée”
    cauliflower burger
    cauliflower-based “sandwich” with naan
    ceviche tostadas
    chai tea
    cheese enchiladas
    cheese grits
    cheese omelets
    cheese plate
    cheese sandwiches
    cheesy popcorn
    chicken quesadilla
    chicken salad
    chicken-less salad
    chili rellenos
    chocolate cake.
    chocolate with Almond Joy ice cream
    chocolatey confection
    chow fun
    chow mein
    cinnamon raisin toast
    clam po’ boy
    cod sandwich
    cold brew coffee
    cold tomato soup with caviar made from citrus juice
    Colorado peaches
    concrete (frozen custard + toppings)
    cookie ice cream sandwich
    cookies and cream ice cream sandwich
    crab cake sandwich
    crab cakes
    crawfish sushi
    crepes filled with berries
    delicious mussels
    delicious taco
    donut peaches
    drinks at the Venetian
    egg custard
    fish tacos
    free chocolate
    free hot breakfast
    fried catfish
    fried catfish special
    fried cheese curds
    fried mackerel
    frittata (tortilla?)
    frozen jackfruit mousse
    generous pb&j
    giant doughnuts
    glass of wine
    goat curry
    goat enchiladas
    granola bars
    green tea dipped in chocolate with pistachio dusting ice pop
    heirloom tomatoes
    home cooked meal
    home cooked meal
    home-cooked meal
    homemade chocolate using cacao beans from Ecuador
    homemade chocolate using cacao beans from Papua New Guinea
    homemade chocolate using cacao beans from Peru
    honey lavender chocolates
    honey-flavored ice cream
    hot chicken
    huckleberry ice cream
    ice cream
    ice cream
    ice cream
    ice cream
    ice cream cake
    iced coffee
    key lime chocolates
    largest zucchini
    late night quesadillas
    leftover cheese
    lobster rolls
    local Mexican beer
    local pastries
    lotus seed moon cake (with two egg yolks)
    margherita pizza
    Mexican food
    Mexican food
    Meyer lemons
    mild shrimp po’ boy
    mocha chocolate cake
    naan tacos featuring various meats such as tandoori grilled chicken
    Ontario sour cherries
    other veggies
    oyster po’ boy
    parsley parmesan French fries
    pb& honey sandwiches.
    peanut butter and BANANA sandwich
    peanut butter and honey
    peanut butter sandwiches
    peanut butter sandwiches
    peanut butter sandwiches
    picnic lunch
    picnic lunch
    picnic lunch
    picnic lunch
    poke bowls
    poke bowls with everything
    pork and green chili stew
    pork shumai
    portobello mushroom burger
    potato rosemary pizza
    prawn po’boys
    pretty good salsa
    quick breakfast
    quick breakfast
    quick picnic lunch
    Rainier cherries
    reheated frittata
    rhubarb tart
    rice, vegetables, chili pepper paste, and protein (usually egg and meat/tofu)
    riverside cocktails
    salad bar
    salad with grilled chicken
    salad with yellowtail
    salmon belly nigiri
    salmon soup
    seafood pasta
    sesame ball
    side of fries
    simple breakfast
    smoked caramel chocolates
    soup-and-salad dinner
    sour cherry compote
    spicy crawfish po’ boy
    strawberry ice cream
    tomato/basil tuna roll
    tons of fruit, bread, and yogurt
    tuna burger
    tuna tacos
    vanilla passion fruit chocolates
    vanilla with Twix ice cream
    vegetable omelet
    vegetarian curry pizza
    veggie burger
    veggie burrito
    veggie burrito stuffed with butternut squash
    veggie tacos
    watermelon agua fresca
    Which Wich
    Wisconsin cheese
    wok bowl with noodles or rice and a variety of veggie and meat toppings


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