I learned that it is 4,036.8 miles from the street I lived on in Madison to my brother's street in Oakland, California, with everything I wanted to see inbetween. Seems like a dramatic title to a blog post, doesn't it? But really, this is all I've thought about for the past 9 or 10 months while planning this trip. I considered routes, national parks I needed to see, scenic drives I wanted to experience, and all the cities I could imagine.
After saying my goodbyes to friends, family, and my boyfriend, I got on the road on August 5th, 2014. My only goal for the first day was to drive until I was tired, getting as close to the Badlands as I could. I made it to Palisades State Park in South Dakota where I set up camp, ate dinner, and went to bed as soon as it got dark. I woke up a little before sunrise to explore the area before everyone else was awake and got to see the sun come up over the horizon. I shot some photos around the area, and got back on the road.
Next destination: the Badlands. I had no idea what they were or how incredible the scenery would be, so stumbling upon the vast ranges of mini mountains was really awe inspiring. I spent a while climbing around, taking photos, meeting a couple from Iowa, and wandering around the park.
Afterwards, I kept driving and happened to stopped at Wall Drug, which wasn't really worth my time but I wanted to see it anyways, and then through the night because the Sturgis biker festival was going on near there and I couldn't find a campsite or hotel. Wyoming turned out to be very wonderful to drive through, even at night. At one point, it was so dark out I couldn't see much around me, and a shooting star shot through the sky and I felt just a little bit more at ease to drive until sunrise. And It was totally worth it. Shoshoni, Wyoming had a street of run-down and abandoned buildings that I stopped at, as well as a gutted out motel I had to get some photos of.
The next stop on my list was Grand Teton National Park. I had been eyeing up a trail in the Teton range that finishes at two natural lakes made only of mountain runoff. My boyfriend had climbed the same trail years ago with his family, and it made me a little less homesick to tell him all the things I was seeing as he remembered them just the same.I fell in love with this park and the beautiful range that was always in sight, and I would recommend this park over Yellowstone any day. I started the hike early and it only took me about 4 hours round trip, but overlooking miles and miles of preserved national park was so worth it. The hike was about a 3,000ft. elevation gain and finished at both Surprise Lake and Amphitheater Lake. The lakes were so clear I could see every rock and fish in the middle of the lake! I hiked alone on the way up, but tagged about 100ft. behind a couple on the way down just to be safe. It was an incredible view and I would love to reach the Summit of the Grand Teton at 13,770 ft. once I become a more experienced and technical climber.
The next few days I had some troubles with my laptop (which is why I haven't posted anything!) and wound up staying in a hotel in Idaho to reorganize my car, resupply on food, shower, and sleep in a bed. After driving through Idaho Falls, Idaho and Spokane, Washington, I headed to Snoqualmie Falls to get some photos and then to Seattle. I headed to the Space Needle for a quick visit, and then met up with my friends to caravan to Vancouver for the start of the 2014 Flickr meetup!