New Mexico

After California, we drove straight through Arizona (since we were just there), to finally make our way to New Mexico. We went to Albuquerque first but only for a night before making our way to our second Hipcamp. I had been looking forward to this Hipcamp for so long because it was a YURT!! Staying in a yurt had been on my bucket list for a long time, so to have the opportunity to stay there was so amazing! I was seriously so giddy leading up to the big reveal. And it did not disappoint! It was so beautiful and modern and in the best location. It was on a horse farm in the middle of rolling hills as far as the eye could see. I was able to finally take night photos because the space was so open and the stars were so bright. It was cold out, so I only got a couple night photos, but I was so happy to be there and taking pictures of the wonderful property. We only stayed a night, which was way too short of a time! I could have stayed for weeks, but we unfortunately had to move on. But click HERE for the Hipcamp listing of this amazing place!

A couple of days later, after exploring Santa Fe, we went to our other Hipcamp on a Goji berry farm right outside of Taos. We had such a great time walking around the farm, hearing about all the produce they make throughout the season, and staying in a beautiful old cabin. We were able to spend two nights there which was great so we were able to take pictures of the property, but also go and explore the town of Taos. The hosts were so welcoming and friendly. We had a really great time there! Click HERE for the Hipcamp listing of this place!

Exploring the towns of Santa Fe and Taos...

On our way from Taos to Texas, our van decided to get us more problems right outside the town of Tucumcari. Again, I'll spare you the details, but we were in that tiny rundown Route 66 town for a few days while we decided what to do with the van. We stayed in a retro 60's motel with yellow butterfly chairs in front of every room and a coffee shop attached. It was the only coffee shop in town. After a long, stressful couple of days, we were able to make our way to Amarillo to have a shop there further look into our van. The city of Tucumcari will forever be engraved into our brains!

Arizona & California

After Colorado we made our way to California. I had a wedding at Big Bear Lake in about a week, so we had a little time to explore though northern Arizona. First stop was the Petrified Forest National Park. I was SUPER intrigued by the place because of its name and the fact that I love Harry Potter. We had no idea what to expect, so literally everything was blowing our minds! It's such a surreal place. Our eyes were glued to the windows of the van while we drove through the park. And then once we got to the visitors center, we walked around and explored a bit because Skye was allowed on the paved areas. It's tricky exploring National Parks but also having a dog who wants to hike and explore as much as we do. Leaving her in the car is never fun, so we pick and choose what we want to explore wisely. Once we walked around a bit and looked at all the petrified wood, we camped on the opposite side of the park in a shop parking lot. That is the only camping for the whole park. But apparently that is something they are working on and are hoping to have more camping within the park soon. But it was free and had individual parking spots with tables and such. So it worked perfectly!

The next day we headed to Mike's uncles a-frame cabin. Mike has talked about this cabin since we were dating. He loved the look of it, the size, and the fact that he can build one himself. So it was very special to finally be there, looking at this cabin that has been talked to highly about. It was so gorgeous and perfect and everything we would want in a cabin. Hopefully Mike will build one someday just like it")

Flagstaff was next. I love this town. It has its querks for sure, but it is the prefect size with just enough great restaurants and coffee shops and tons of hikes and outdoor activites to keep you satisfied. They also have a dog park that we seriously went to twice a day everyday we were there. But Flagstaff was our time to do laundry, clean the van, pick up groceries, and get some work done at one of the coffee shops. And the weather was perfect which made our stay even better. 

After feeling like we got caught up a little bit on work and chores, we drove to Sedona. They weather was at least 20 degrees hotter and the city was packed with people! It was the first hot day of the season, so tons of people were parking on the side of the road and bathing in all of the watering holes. There is one road from Flagstaff to Sedona, and that happens to be where all the popular watering holes were, so it was not fun driving in the heat in traffic on this two lane road. But we finally made it through the touristy area of Sedona and found a Whole Foods, where we picked up some food, and most importantly, beer. Nice cold beer. After being miserable in the heat, we decided to drive back on the road to Flagstaff to find camping in the woods where is was a ton cooler. There was only one campground open at the time so we sucked it up and paid the $20 to stay there that night. As long as we didn't have to sleep in the heat we were happy. The next day we found a trail outside the city that lead to a watering hole. It was a 3 mile hike to the water and it was super hot that day. So the watering hole was nice and refreshing:) And that was our extent of being in Sedona. The heat was too unbearable for us.

We then headed into California. We had about 2 days until we had to be at Big Bear, so we spent a day/night in Joshua Tree. This was a national park that we have passed dozens on time from our travels from CA to AZ but never stopped in. And it was just as we had pictured it! As a photographer, I follow a lot of other photographers on social media, and Joshua Tree is a hot spot for photos. So it was pretty surreal to actual be there and witness in person what I had been seeing in pictures for so long. It was super windy while we were there, so we didn't really do any major hikes, and we don't rock climb, so we just took in the sites and pulled off to walk through all the cool rock formations. It was a short and sweet time there but awesome none the less:)

Then we finally got to my sisters house in CA. We stayed with them for a few nights before making our way up to Big Bear Lake for the wedding. Long story short, we had car problems in Big Bear and had to stay there a few extra days. But my sister and her husband and daughter came up so I could do a family photoshoot for them! At the time my sister was pregnant with her second child, so it was a family shoot but also a maternity shoot. And we had the best time!!! I love and adore my niece so much, so it was such a blessing being able to photograph her just being the little one year old that she was! And now my sister just had her second baby, Chloe, and I am DYING to see her and hold her! I love being an aunt!

While in California (after our van got fixed), my best friend had her first baby! So I was able to drive to Long Beach and see baby Violet and take photos their new little family in their adorable house! Vanlife is such a blessing because I get to be apart of my friends and families lives at moments like these that I might not have been able to otherwise! It was a long and eventful week in California, but it brought me so much joy and made me so happy. Now I can't wait to go back to see all these new babies! And just like that we were heading back to Arizona and the desert...

Colorado

For the months of January and February we decided to stay with Mike's brother and sister-in-law in a town right outside of Denver Colorado. We parked our van in their backyard and cozied up for two months. We had been traveling through a lot of big cities and spending way more money than we should have, so staying put for 2 months and Mike working was exactly what we needed. And my brother and sister-in-law were so gracious to us, letting us take over their house and backyard. 

But then on March 1st we were off again! I was nervous about the transition back into vanlife having been able to be at a house and in the same location for the last two months. But we decided to start it off again with a bang, visiting 3 national parks in a 2 week period! We decided to drive through the Red Rocks and explore that area a little bit before making our way to The Great Sand Dunes. It was serious the best way to start off part 2 of vanlife. We hit so many big cities on the East Coast all the way through to December, that we were ready for some camping and solitude. And the Great Sand Dunes delivered all of that for us. We found the most perfect camping spot, and since it was super windy and pretty cold, we basically had the whole place to ourselves! We hiked the Sand Dunes (which was very challenging physically and mentally. Physically going up the dunes, and mentally for me going down them because of my fear of heights. I might have cried a little bit....), hiked around our campsite, read a lot, cooked good food and just relaxed. It was one of my favorite experiences thus far.

After the Sand Dunes we made our back to Pueblo Colorado because I had my first wedding of the season! I had such a great time photographing that wedding and kicking off this season that I have been SO excited about! After Pueblo we drove to Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park. Once we got there we realized most of the park was closed for the season. We figured some of it would be, but they had closed off a lot more than we expected. It is a beautiful park, but we unfortunately did not get to see most of it. We did camp though for a few days and did as much exploring as we could. A place we will have to come back to during their regular season. 

BUT, then we drove through the Million Dollar Highway and the area TOTALLY redeemed itself! It was such a beautiful drive through snowcapped mountains and small mining towns. It is called the Million Dollar Highway for a reason. Completely breathtaking. And the highway took us to Mesa Verde National Park, which unfortunately gave us the same results as Black Canyon. We barely explored anything and we did not camp there, so our time was pretty short. Another place we will come back to. We did not camp there because I had my first Hipcamp assignment just 10 miles down the road in a small town called Mancos...

Hipcamp has been such a blessing for us! I am a field scout agent, so I claim assignments (locations) that other field scout agents have not been to yet. And then I go and stay on their property for a night and take pictures for their listing on Hipcamp! Basically to make their location/site/lodge/cabin/yurt/whatever they have look really appealing with good photos so that people will be more open to staying at their place. It is seriously such a great job to have and I've loved meeting all the hosts and hearing their stories and what they do in life. So this was our first location, basically tons and tons of land on this farm run by an amazing young couple. They are basically doing what Mike and I want to do once vanlife is over:) It was such a beautiful property with amazing views!!! We had the best time staying there. Click HERE to go to their Hipcamp page... they also do wedding on the property! So if you are getting married and are looking for a venue in Colorado, book this place and hire me as your photographer!!!!!!!!!

Below are iphone photos... Trying to balance taking photos on my camera and phone is hard! So below are more photos of Mesa Verde and Black Canyon. I didn't take a whole lot of photos of those places on my camera... And I did not take my camera on the dunes because I was afraid of same getting in my camera. So iphone photos will have to do:)

Gettysburg, Virginia & Nashville

After New York we headed to Philly for the night. It was cold and VERY windy. And because of that I didn't take any pictures... not even phone pictures really. But we did have a fun time walking the town (from building to building because of how windy it was) and reading all about the history. Philly was another place we had both been to but not together. But these were the places we ate at:

  • One Shot Coffee- MINI CRONUTS!
  • Square One Coffee
  • Revolution House
  • Jasmine Rice
  • Sweet Charlie's
  • Open House- awesome local store

Next was Gettysburg! It was still SUPER windy, but the sky was blue and we still had a blast driving around to all the historical sites. The town itself was adorable. Didn't really know what to expect with the town, but it surpassed our expectations. We made a lot of coffee and peanut butter sandwiches and just walked from battle ground to battle ground. Mike read all of the plaques while I took photos and we discussed what he read later. We seriously had such a great time in Gettysburg and we can't wait to take our future kids back there some day:) Oh, and we ate at:

  • Blue and Grey Bar
  • Ugly Mug
  • Dubbin Tavern/Spring House Tavern: this restaurant is in the oldest building in Gettysburg. It had an old dark tavern feel to it. We ate by candle light and felt like we were in a different era. Cheap cocktails, french onion soup and pecan pie. Can't get much better than that!

We then finally made it to Virginia for Thanksgiving! We stayed with one of my good friends from college and her extended family at her grandparents house in Bedford, Virginia. We had so much fun with them and they were so generous to have us over for Thanksgiving! I was also able to do family photos for them while we were there which was a real treat. Her grandparents live on a farm and raise cows, so to photograph their family on the farm was really special for me. And while we were there, Mike and I went exploring and when to Natural Bridge and hiked Sharp Top Mountain. Fun to explore just a little section of Virginia. And the weather was perfect!!! Sunny and 70's. In November!!! That will be a Thanksgiving we will cherish forever:) 

After Virginia the plan was to start driving back to Denver so we can stay ahead of the snow and avoid getting stuck somewhere. But the weather was SO nice and we still had 2 weeks before I was to fly back to California for a few days to visit family, so we decided to go to NASHVILLE! Nashville is in all caps because that was the number one place I was looking forward to the most and I didn't think it was going to happen until after the new year! Such a nice surprise! But first, we were told to go to Asheville. Because they have good beer and a lot of it. Asheville was a great town and yes we drank a lot of beer. Especially sours, which is my favorite kind of beer right now! These were the places we ate and drank at:

  • 12 Bones- BBQ
  • Green Sage Cafe
  • Wicked Weed Brewery
  • Funkatorium: LOVED this place! We took a tour and drank good sours
  • Asheville Brewing Company
  • Twin Leaf Brewery
  • Horse and Hero- Great local shop. Sold a lot of local art.

I feel like I'm missing some places, but that's all I wrote down so oh well!

Asheville was also the city our car started having problems... It had a hard time starting. But we were able to get it started after a little while of waiting and headed for Knoxville. The plan was to go camp in the Smoky Mountains, but that was the same time as all the fires were happening, so we had to skip it. Super sad about that, but hopefully we will go back soon. Didn't stay in Knoxville long, but it was a cute little town and we found good coffee. 

  • Balter Brewery
  • Remedy Coffee
  • Petes Diner

And then NASHVILLE!!!!! Our van was still having problems... we were parked in a Planet Fitness parking lot and when we came back out, the van wouldn't start... for a long time. It finally started so we took it to a shop to have them look at it. We had to rent a car, which was unfortunate, but fortunately we were able to stay with people we know who live in Nashville. We had such a fun time exploring the city and eating A LOT of food. The city was way different than we had expected. There was a street downtown that had all the bars and neon signs and everything you think of when you think of Nashville. But that's all it was, a street of like 3 blocks. And if you are a local you don't even go there that often. All the good restaurants and bars and coffee shop were outside that downtown area.  And we went to all of it! These were our favorite places:

  • Steadfast Coffee
  • Mas Tacos- our FAVORITE!!!!!! Ate there multiple times.
  • Jenis Ice Cream
  • Barista Parlor
  • Otaku Ramen
  • Batch Nashville
  • Pinewood Social
  • Hattie B's Hot Chicken
  • Yazoo Brewery
  • Butcher and Bee
  • Five Daughter Donuts
  • Ugly Mug

Ya, we spent a lot of money on food and gained some weight... all worth it though.

But the best part of Nashville for me was Hatch Show Print!!!!! I was a graphic design major in college, and Hatch Show Print was a huge inspiration of mine. After college I applied for an internship there, but didn't get it. They only choose 5 people out of the hundreds that apply. So to say I was excited to see their print shop and take a tour was an understatement. It was something I had been wanting to do for a long time... 

While we were in Nashville, they had their Christmas parade. I had heard that Kelly Clarkson was the Grand Marshal, so we decided to go and check it out. It was FREEZING and Kelly didn't even appear until the very end. I thought she was going to be on a float singing, but nope... she was just waving with her husband and daughter. We actually almost missed her because we didn't even think it was her. So that was kinda a disappointment, but it was fun nonetheless.

 

After the parade we went back to the place that had our van and found out they hadn't worked on it at all because it started every time for them. And they can't find the problem if the van starts every time. So we took the van back and prayed that we would make it back to Denver. We then drove to Memphis and pulled into town right in time for a Grizzles game. So we parked the van, walked in the rain to the game, and bought last minute tickets. We had such a great time until we got back to the van and it didn't start. Mike tried FOREVER to get it to start and it just wouldn't give. So we spent the night in a sketchy parking lot... My least favorite night thus far on the trip. We got a tow truck first thing the next morning, but since it was Sunday, we just had it taken to a shop we found and left it there over night. We got an air b&b 2 miles from the shop, so we packed up some clothes and started walking. We did not want to buy a rental car again. So we spent 2 days in Memphis hanging out in our air b&b. And the SAME thing happened with the van again! I would keep starting for them, so they couldn't work on it. So we took the van back and started heading towards Tulsa to visit Mike's brother. We would just never turn the van off until we got to Tulsa. And it worked. We stayed in Tulsa for the night and headed out the next morning with the van working fine. We started the drive to Denver and never turned the van off... but since everything seemed to be working fine, when we pulled into a Chick fil a in a small town between Tulsa and Denver, we decided to turn the van off and go get some food. Aaaaand then it wouldn't start. Mike tried everything he could, but it was just stumping us. So we sent the night in the Chick Fil A parking lot and got it towed to another shop. They started working on it and then they told us it was just because our tank was low. Which was for sure not the case. So they filled the tank and it worked just fine. Long story short, we have two fuel tanks. And there is a third one in the middle pumping the gas between the two. So the van would run just fine when we used the front tank, but when we switched to the back tank the middle pump had a hard time working. Which is why the van would never start when we had it on the back tank. So we took the van back and only used the front tank all the way to Denver. BUT then our alternator died on us 70 miles from Denver. So we waited for a tow truck on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere and got our van taken to a town 30 miles away. The shop there had the van for a few hours and told us it was for sure the alternator but that they didn't have the right one to replace it, and it wouldn't come until 5 (it was around 11 am at that point) (and there was nothing in the town but a gas station and Ihop). Or they could charge the battery enough to hopefully get us to Denver. So we took our chances and started heading to Denver. We hit traffic and ended up 2 miles away from Mike's brothers house before the van died again. So we left the van there, took some clothes and walked to the house. And the next day we got the van towed to a shop where they were actually able to work on it and replace that fuel pump in between the tanks.

So it was a LONG journey back to Denver, but Mike was a freaking champ trying to fix the van and calling all the tow trucks and keeping a level head through it all. There were multiple sucky situations we were forced into, but we kept calm and never got mad at each other and took each day at a time.  

Boston, New York & Providence

After Maine, we headed down the coast towards Boston. We took our time, stopping at any cute small little town we came across. We decided after driving from D.C. to Maine that we wanted to avoid tolls as much as possible. The east coast just sucks the money out of you, and tolls is no exception. So our travel time increased everywhere since we decided to take the back roads, but we didn't care because we had nowhere to be and the back roads are more scenic anyways. For Boston we decided to get an air b&b last minute. So we found one about 20 mins from the city and took the train in. And again we walked everywhere! About 16 miles total. We went to Harvard, Fenway Park, walked the Freedom Trail, you know, the typical toursity places. And I never took out my camera. I have a hard time "looking" like a tourist with camera in hand and taking pictures of the same things everyone else takes pictures of. And I felt like I did that a lot in D.C., so I was less inclined to take actual pictures in Boston. I love the city, a lot, but nothing was inspiring me to take pictures. But I did get some on my phone... And we were only there a day. But these were the places we ate at:

  • Flour Bakery
  • Flat Pattys (AMAZING burgers!)
  • Abbly lane
  • Galleria Umberto: calzones

And we hit up Plymouth Rock after we left Boston, and you know, that was a huge dissapointment.

We left Boston feeling refreshed since we were able to spend 2 nights at an air b&b and took as many showers as we wanted! We started driving to New York and decided to spend the night in Providence, RI. It wasn't a town we expected to like or really spend any time in. But we actually really enjoyed the area and ended up staying two nights there. The city was beautiful and covered in orange and yellow leaves. We walked around the city and Brown University and ate good food and found cute shops. We might have eaten at the same taco shop both nights... it was that good.

  • Tallelah Taqueria: the taco shop we ate at both nights:)
  • The Shop: good coffee and oatmeal
  • Craftland: I wanted to buy everything in that store. Sold local products
  • Revival Brewery: Good thing about living in our van, we can drink as much beer as we want and then sleep it off in the parking lot! We had a lot of beer here and played a lot of pingpong.
  • Shaynas Place: great coffee

Our bartender at Revival suggested that we go to Jamestown on our way out of RI, so we did. More coastal driving and more lighthouses. It made us really happy:)

New York was a tricky beast. We had both been before, but not together. So we've seen most of the touristy things, but decided to go see them all again. We got a hotel in Stamford and took a train in. And only spent one day in New York. Which is not even close to the amount of time you should spend in New York. But we were on a deadline to get to Virginia for Thanksgiving, and honestly that city is so expensive we didn't want to spend more than a day there anyways. We just didn't plan this city well. We wanted to go to a broadway show or see a Jimmy Fallon show, or anything like that, but apparently you have to book your spot at least a month in advance. And since we didn't know exactly when we were going to be in New York, we couldn't do that. So we tried stand by tickets and lottery tickets and no luck. It was a long day of walking back and forth places, running out of luck and running into people, being overwhelmed by the food choices, and not being in one place long enough to enjoy the views around us. Again, we didn't plan the day very well and you really can't do New York all in one day like we thought we could. So, it was kind of a bust, but we are ok with that. Big cities aren't our thing anyways. 

Maine

Oh man I don't even know where to start with Maine. Portland was high on our list of places to visit because it's so far Northeast, we both have never been before, and just something about it sounds appealing. And it was SO GREAT! We LOVED Portland and the whole Maine Coast. It actually reminded us of the Oregon Coast, which is one of my favorite places in the U.S. Portland had great food, it was clean, friendly people, good coffee, brick buildings and cobblestone roads. Everything we expected and more. And I'm a sucker for lighthouses and Maine has a TON of them! We then drove up the coast to Acadia National Park and it was beautiful. Cold and windy, but beautiful. It's a place we want to go back to during their peak season because, since we were there in November, a lot of the fun little stores and lobster shacks were closed for the season. But we still had a blast and exploring the coast was one of our most memorable moments of the vanlife trip so far. And I took a ton of photos. That's when you know I REALLY liked the place.

And we ate A LOT on the East Coast... so I started to write down every place we ate at... I should have done this sooner, but oh well. So these are the places we ate at in Maine:

  • East Ender
  • Holy Donuts
  • OhNo! Cafe 
  • Gilberts Chowder House
  • Nosh
  • Duck Fat
  • Standard Bakery
  • Pai Men Miyake
  • Arabica Coffee Company
  • Bard Coffee

Portland was also the place where we found out Trump became president. We were parked in a Walmart parking lot for the night and we stayed up as late as we could watching the votes come in, and then decided to go to bed. I checked my phone first thing in the morning and saw that Trump was president. I remember just laying there crying. We were both in shock. Walking around Portland that day was so surreal. We were like walking zombies, not quite sure how to handle the news. And everyone was talking about it. It was one of the weirdest days I've ever experienced. 

St. Louis, Indiana, Cleveland, & Washington D.C

Between Craters of the Moon and the east coast, we had a couple little stops along the way. First, I had a family photo shoot in Boise. We LOVED Boise! The family shoot was so fun, the town is adorable, and we went to a BSU football game (which is where that first photo of us was taken). And then we drove through Joseph Oregon and camped, hiked, and enjoyed their cute little town. Next we drove back up to Spokane for my last wedding of the season! From there we booked it to Colorado because I had an engagement session in the Rocky Mountain National Park 2 days later. I posted a couple of my favorite photos from that session below:) Mike's brother and his wife live in Denver, so we stayed with them for a few days before we took off again. And they graciously let us leave our dog Skye with them for the month and a half that we were going to be on the eat coast! We missed her so much, but it was also a huge relief not having her on the east coast. It would have been VERY difficult to have her with us through the big cities.

After Colorado, we made our way through miserable Kansas and stopped in St. Louis for the night. We didn't spend a whole lot of time there, but we DID go to the City Museum and it was AMAZING! It was one big playground with slides, tunnels, a rooftop ferris wheel, and so much more. I tried to capture it on my phone, but I don't think the pictures accuratly show how amazing the place was! Mike was like a kid, wanting to go down all the slides 100 times and climb through every tunnel. He actually ripped his pants going down all the slides! We had a blast and would reccomend that place to anyone.

We then made our way to visit my sister at Taylor University in Upland Indiana! She is finishing up her Masters program there and is loving every second of it. It was so much fun to see her in her environment where she is happy and loving life. Visiting her was such a joy!!! After seeing her, we stopped in Cleveland to visit my friend Kayli and her husband Joe. And we happened to be there during the World Series, so we went downtown during game 6 and it was crazy! We had such a blast!!!!! Too bad they lost it in the end (go cubs!!!).... 

After Cleveland, we finally made it to the East Coast! We made it to Washington D.C. November 3, so we were pushing it with the weather... nervous that winter would come early. But it was beautiful and the weather was perfect! We stayed with Mike's best friend Arie and his girlfriend Anna. It was so much fun seeing them and catching up and witnessing their life in D.C.. While they worked, Mike and I walked ALL over the city. 20 something miles. We had both been to D.C. before but not together. So we had a blast walking around and being tourists for the day. Museums and monuments all day long! The next couple of days we bar hopped, went to Georgetown, ate good food and watched football. We had such a great time:)

Yellowstone, Grand Tetons, & Crater of the Moon

This part of the trip was spontaneous. We were with our friends in Sheridan Montana and the next place we had to be at was Boise for a photoshoot about a week away. We looked at the map and realized we can easily go through Yellowstone on our way to Boise. To say I was beyond excited was an understatement. I had never been before and have always wanted to! If you follow our adventures on Instagram at all (@olivethevan), then you might have seen the post where I mentioned how I cried when I watched Old Faithful. That moment was what this adventure was about. Traveling to new places and witnessing events I've been dying to see. It was really really amazing and very overwhelming. Temperatures were cold and it started to snow while we were in the park, which made it pretty magical. And we saw lots of Bison!

Next stop was Jackson Hole and The Grand Tetons. We drove straight to Jackson Hole, ate dinner, walked around the town for a bit and then, after lots of driving, found a place on the street to park the van for the night. Smaller mountain towns aren't very welcoming to overnight parkers. So it took us a while to find a place to park the van for the night. And the next morning the plan was to wake up before the sun and drive to the Grand Tetons and make breakfast while we watched the sunrise. But it was FREEZING! We still woke up before the sun, got coffee and warmed up a little bit (that was probably the coldest night sleeping in the van), and drove to the Tetons. We didn't make breakfast because it was too cold outside, so we instead just enjoyed the sunrise from inside the van and then quickly took lots of pictures before my hands fell off. Watching the beautiful sunrise was a pretty spiritual experience. It made us stop and thank God for this adventure and the opportunity to soak in the beauty around us. It's an experience that is hard to put into words.... But we finally gave in to the cold and turned back to Jackson Hole to find breakfast. We ended up eating at Persephone Bakery and it was AMAZING! I would go back to Jackson Hole just to eat there again. Then we went for a hike which about killed me because of the altitude! It was pretty sad... I felt very out of shape. But the views from the top made it all worth it.

We then made a gamble going to a place we have never heard of... Craters of the Moon. Mike randomly found it on the map and it was on the way to Boise, so we said what the heck and decided to give the place a try without knowing anything about it. I think this stop might be Mike's favorite place so far. It was insane. We parked the van at a campsite for the night surrounded by shrubs, dirt, and black rocks. And we got REALLY excited to explore the next day! I took a ton of pictures just trying to give this place justice! It was pretty unreal. Walking through lava fields and reading about the volcanos surrounding us was totally Mike's jam. He loves reading about history and what happened in that exact location however many years ago. So I let him read while I take lots of pictures (mostly of him), and then I make him tell me what he read about:) It's a win win for me. I wish I could describe the place better, but words are failing me right now... so instead just take a look at all the pictures:)

Central Oregon, Washington, & Montana

Crater Lake:

So, after going south and visiting family in California and Arizona, we headed back up to Spokane for 2 more wedding I had in October. And instead of driving the coast we drove up through central Oregon. Oh, and we had a popped tire in the middle of nowhere central California, the first van problem we had encountered. But we were safe and we were able to pull over on the side of the road and switch out the tire. The first of many times God protect us on the road!

Crater Lake was our first National Park stop on our adventure! And it really did not disappoint. Despite the snow and the fog and lines of RV's filled with retired old people seeing the sites, it's been one of our favorite national parks. The fog eventually cleared up and the lake was just beautiful. But it was freezing, and we were both very sick, so we didn't stay too long.

Next was my good friends wedding in Hood River! (Don't even get my started on Hood River... we freaking love that place!!!). Wedding was beautiful and amazing and seeing friends from college was seriously the best thing ever! Stayed there for a few days, because we could, and the weather was perfect! Loved loved loved our time with friends and being in Hood River.

After Crater Lake we headed to a camp site for the night. We drove directly North from Hood River into the Gifford Pinchot National Forest and found a camp spot for the night. We were still VERY sick, so we had tissues stuffed in our noses and were taking cough drops and DayQuil like it was our job. And we had bought a little portable DVD player, so we watched a movie and fell asleep. The next morning we decided to go for a hike, despite the fact we couldn't breathe, and came across one of the most spectacular spots we've seen thus far. We hiked to the top of the mountain and the views at the top were of Mt. Baker, Mt. Rainier, and Mt. hood. It was amazing. And we were the only ones there.

So then the plan was to start driving North again and get to Yakima to stay with friends, and the only road north was CLOSED! The road had been destroyed and there was literally no way around it. So we had to drive back down to Hood River and take a different way up. Which really really sucked. BUT the good thing out of it all was that we ate and drank good beer at Everybody's Brewing, and then had amazing coffee and pastries at White Salmon Baking Company.

But then we finally made it to Yakima and stayed with our good friends Craig and Rebecca for like 5 days. We hung out in the town while they worked, went to breweries like Bale Breaker, visited old family friends (I grew up in Yakima), and hiked around Mt Rainier. We had a pretty awesome time in Yakima and can't wait to go back:)

Then we were in Spokane for a while for my last two weddings of the season! So these pictures were from when we decided to walk around the city while our car was being worked on. It was raining and cold, but we had Skye so we couldn't go inside anywhere! Ended up being a great time reguardless. 

Montana:

But then we waved goodbye to Washington for a while and headed to two of our favorite cities, Whitefish and Missoula! We met up with our favorite family in Missoula for the weekend and had a blast eating good food, drinking good coffee, and hiking up to the "M". We miss them SO much!!!!! I think a Missoula trip with them needs to happen every year.

My FAVORITE coffee place is in Missoula: Black Coffee Roasting Company. Trust me, I've had A LOT of coffee on the road so far, but nothing compares to them. Amazing people, amazing coffee, amazing atmosphere.  

Glacier National Park was our second national park on our trip. We LOVE Glacier! It was foggy and snowy at the top and absolutely perfect. I love fog:) And there was so much snow and fog that we could not see a thing! Which is why Mike was driving:) Going when we did was perfect because it wasn't crowded, but was also terrible because everything was closed for the season. So we will have to go back during the open season to fully experience Glacier. 

After Missuola, we headed to Sheridan Montana to visit our really good friends Karl and Ariel. We miss these two SO much and visiting with them and staying in their small little town for a few days was what our souls needed. We hiked, soaked in the hot springs, made pizza, and just explored Montana. I didn't take any photos on my camera for some strange reason, but I did take a handful of phone photos:)

I call this leg of the trip our "friendship time". We met up with and stayed with A LOT of friends. Which made us super happy because that is why we are doing this!!! We want to go and explore the states and visit as many people as possible! It had been way to long since we saw some of these people and we need to see them more often. Good thing we are coming back through all of these places so we can see everyone again!