The purpose of this blog is to document and share, in words and in pictures, the travels of a couple (Bri and Dan) during a 6 week loop around the country after recently graduating from James Madison University in Virginia.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

The Last Stretch of the Loop

Before making our last stop on 'The Great American Journey,' we drove through Chicago literally just to get one picture of The Bean. I am not sure what the significance of The Bean is, but we were told to see it, so we did. Chicago is definitely a city I would like to go back to because it seems like there is a lot to do and see there. As we continued our drive through Illinois, Indiana, and finally to Ohio, we noticed how much it looked like we were already home. It was incredible to see how drastically the scenery changed as we drove.

Our last night was spent in Cleveland, OH visiting my cousin Carol. She took such good care of us and cooked an amazing Italian dinner. It was the perfect ending to an unbelievable journey.

We got up the next day and headed for good old PA, which was not a quick trip. Pennsylvania is huge! It ended up taking us about 8 hours, but when we got back it was wonderful. My parents cooked us a fantastic steak dinner, but it wasn't just the food that was great, it was seeing my parents again that made it perfect!

It's so bitter-sweet having to end this trip because part of me feels like we could keep going until we see everything in the US, but my bank account is saying no. Dan and I will write a concluding post, but for now I just want to say thank you to everyone for following our journey across the US and back. We really appreciate all of the help, advice, and hospitality. Hope you enjoy the pictures!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Cheese Curds, Music Festivals, and Family Fun

And of course our amazing road trip wouldn't be complete without stopping for few days in the land of the cheese heads in good ol' Wisconsin! We first stopped in Madison to see Dan's cousin, Erin who showed us around the area and her amazing office a bit. From there we headed to see more of Dan's family, the Landi's, in Waukesha.

On Sunday, we went to Summerfest in Milwaukee, which is the world's largest music festival- 11 days, 11 stages, and over 700 bands. We got to see some great band's like Better than Ezra, The Airborne Toxic Event, and Rodrigo y Gabriela. Last week Keith Urban was there and this weekend The Fray and Guster will be there. It was so much fun. I wish they had festivals like this back at home because it's such a great way to kick off summer for people of all ages, and it's cheap too!

Today we spent some time trying the different foods this state has to offer like cheese curds and custard. I had never even heard of cheese curds, but wow they were pretty good! We also went to the downtown and walked along the river for a bit. This area is just beautiful. I never knew what to expect of Wisconsin, except for it being incredibly cold, and I am very pleasantly surprised (especially because it's actually really hot in the summer!) It's actually really green here with lots of trees, farmland, and rolling hills. I can see why the Landi's like it so much.

This has been such an amazing experience traveling across the country, and we have been so fortunate to have great family and friends who have been more hospitable than we could have ever imagined! Last stop: my cousin Carol's house in Cleveland, OH. I can't believe it's almost over!

Relaxin' in Minnesota

Well we made it through the Badlands and the cornfields of Minnesota to arrive in beautiful Owatonna, MN to see my Uncle Rich and cousin Shauna. (Unfortunately we didn't get to see my Aunt Tracy and cousin Kelli.. but Tracy was off taking on the Rockies in a backpacking trip and Kelli was finishing up working at a camp in northern MN... so we hope you both had great experiences too!)

We were lucky to have some beautiful weather while there, and got to spend some time relaxing and visiting by the pool. My Uncle Rich took me golfing in the afternoon while Shauna and Bri hung out by the pool, which I think was great for both of us! I hadn't been golfing in almost a year so it was great to get back out there, and Bri got to enjoy some time relaxing in the sun with Shauna.

It really is bizarre for us to think that we have been on the road since May 15th... and things are now beginning to wind down. A few more days of driving is all that we have left, with one more big stop in Wisconsin to visit more family near Milwaukee!

South Dakota

After our exciting night of camping in a teepee.. we set off for Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota... This was one of our stops that was planned from the beginning, mostly because we simply felt we had to see it with the nature of our road trip. The ride through eastern Wyoming was less interesting than driving through the mountain scenery we had been.. but eventually we made it to the Black Hills of South Dakota. On the way to Rushmore we went by where the Crazy Horse Memorial is being carved out into a giant rock mountain, and we were perfectly content with saving $10 and getting pictures of his face (the only part that is currently distinguishable) from the highway. Then after about 6 hours we made it to Mt. Rushmore, where we did have to spend $10 to park because for some annoying reason our US National Parks pass isn't valid even though it is part of the National Parks family. We did enjoy seeing the monument and it was impressive to see how the faces were carved into the side of a mountain... but it is only somewhere that you need to spend about 20 mins. We continued on toward Badlands National Park a couple more hours down the highway where we were supposed to camp, but we actually ended up staying in a motel in Wall, SD down the street from the world famous "Wall Drug". (You can look it up if you don't believe us..)

The next day we were to set off on another 8 hour drive to Owatonna,MN... with a detour on the way to drive a long loop through Badlands National Park. The Badlands was very cool to see, and it was a park that we were just fine with driving through unlike some of the others we have been to that you really have to get out and hike or stay a couple of days to fully appreciate. Some of it reminded us of the parks in Utah, just not as tall. As we have come so far along in our trip we even talked about how we think it is pretty cool that we have seen so much and have the experience to compare one place to another... places that we didn't even know existed a month and a half ago.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Teepee talk!

Hey all! So we are about to get on the road right now but just wanted to write a quick note that we are WAY behind on uploading to our picture site, but we got a couple more albums up this morning, so check it out. We will have a few more done in the next 2 days until we are caught up!

We had a great time staying in our teepee last night in Cody, WY.. the rodeo capital of the country. On our way to Mt. Rushmore and the badlands of South Dakota now!

Happy summer to everyone :)

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Glacier National Park

Dan and I spent the last few days really getting a feel for the great outdoors in Glacier National Park. We first arrived there on Friday morning and yet again it was pouring and cold. We wanted to drive down the "Going-to-the-sun-road" but it was closed because they were still trying to get snow off the ground, so we decided to head 2 hours to the east side of the park to see the big glaciers and do some hiking in hopes that the road would open by our last day. On Saturday we got up early to start our 10 mile hike to Iceberg Lake. It was one of the most amazing hikes I have ever done. We started off along a path through a field which then turned into forest where we were a little nervous about seeing some bears, but lucky for us none were found. As the hike continued the temperature actually dropped, but the sun was shining and it was incredible. We saw some waterfalls, and a few mountain goats from a distance which were funny to see because they look like huge white puff balls. The reason it got cooler was because we were heading for snow. We actually ended up hiking through tons of snow, which I was not prepared for, but it was so cool. When we got to the lake we had our lunch and relaxed for a bit. The lake was almost completely frozen still and it was definitely the coldest water I've ever felt. It was just an awesome day overall, and I wish I could describe better how beautiful it was.

The next day we did a little hike in the morning and then headed back to the West side of the park only to find out that the road was still closed unfortunately. But we made the most of our day and found a place to go whitewater rafting. It was a 2 hour trip down the Flathead River in 30 degree glacier water. The rapids weren't too big, and it actually was pretty relaxing, which I didn't mind because I certainly was not about to fall into that water! Later that night we drove to Avalanche Lake where we decided to camp for the night. Of course, yet again, we woke up to rain!! I couldn't believe it. So instead of being able to do a hike to the lake we ended up hitting the road and heading to southern Montana just outside of Yellowstone.

We ended up finding a great little town called Livingston, where we stayed in a hotel that was built around 1903. It is such a cool hotel, very historic, just like the town. Now today we are heading to Yellowstone to drive through the park and see as much as we can before driving to Cody, Wyoming where we are camping in a teepee! How cool is that? I'm so excited... I bet none of you ever thought you would hear me say that.

We will try to put up pictures tonight. One week left :/

Friday, June 19, 2009

Washington The State

After leaving Portland, we drove up to Dan's Uncle Paul's house which was right on a really beautiful lake. Him and his fiance were great to us, and allowed us to really feel at home for a few days. We played ladder golf, did some karaoke, went fishing, ate lots of fish, and made some smores. It was great spending time with Dan's parents and Joe and meeting some more of Dan's family.

Tuesday night we left Paul's house and went over to the Snoqualmie to spend a few days with the rest of Dan's family. We met them at a pub where we played trivia, which was a great time despite losing terribly. For the next few days, we just relaxed at Dan's cousin, Adam's house, and were able to spend some nice quality time with his Aunt Rosie who is just awesome. She took good care of us making smoothies in the morning (and adding 5 hour energy which I don't recommend doing if you've never had it- wow!) That night we went out to a casino where we had dinner and there were about 13 of us. It's so nice having a big family. I also watched Dan do some gambling after I put a $20 bill in the machine and lost $2 but then gained it back and won 4 cents haha.

The next day we did a little bit of hiking and saw the Snoqualmie Falls which were really amazing to see. Then Dan and I decided to head out a night early to break up what would have been a 13 hour drive and headed to Idaho to camp for a night before heading to Glacier National Park which we are about to do now.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

The Oregon Trail!

Hey everyone!! So we can't believe how fast time has been flying as our trip has progressed. Tomorrow (Friday) officially marks our 4th week on the road and although we are still thousands of miles from home the end is very much in site... which is kind of a bittersweet feeling. We are looking forward to getting back and being able to settle down after such a rapid beginning to our summer with finals, graduation, then hitting the road. But it has been fun and exciting to wake up every day and look forward to whatever the day would bring, so we will miss that a bit..

So anyway.. what's new with us?? Well we left San Francisco a week ago (which seems incredible, because it feels like yesterday..) headed for Portland, OR with a brief stop in Redwood National Park to see some reaaally big trees. My parents and brother Joe flew out from Boston to meet up with us in Portland at my Uncle Brian and Aunt Tracie's house. We spent 3 nights in Portland visiting with family and checking out some of the local sights, as well as Brian and Tracie's farmhouse outside of the city in beautiful wine country. We loved walking around the land and driving the tractor! :) The house is gorgeous and full of character and the views from the porch were incredible... even without being able to see Mount Hood because of the high cloud cover. We also spent some time driving around the Colombia River Gorge, and viewing all of the water falls that feed into the river before making their way to the Pacific. On our last evening, we went to check out the Portland Rose Garden and walked around getting plenty of pictures of.......roses. Portland was a really beautiful city where you could drive through downtown and see trees, grass, and parks everywhere. We also had the opportunity to enjoy some delicious home-cooked meals, so that was a really great treat for us having been on the road for so long!

We hope everyone is doing well and enjoying summer! Thanks to everyone who has been a part of our journey so far by giving us places to stay, things to see, and keeping up with our blog and pictures.. we love being able to share a part of it.

Next up... Washington, the STATE!


Saturday, June 13, 2009

The San Francisco Treat

It has been quite some time since our last post, but that is because the past week has been absolutely packed with different things that I don't even know where to begin.

As we continued our drive up the incredibly scenic coast, we decided to stretch out our time a little bit and call my friend Eliza, who I also met in Paris, and is from Santa Cruz. Luckily and thankfully, Eliza was able to have us for the night and it was so wonderful catching up after not having seen each other for a year and a half. This trip has been full of surprises.

The next day we got up and drove up to Half Moon Bay where we spent some time walking along the beach and trying to find the sun. I don't understand this whole June Gloom thing still... but apparently it's usually overcast in Half Moon Bay anyway. It was still a beautiful area.

Our few days in this city seemed like just a complete whirlwind of events. It is an amazing city, and Dan and I got to know it quite well. When we first arrived, we had no idea where to stay and we knew that most places wouldn't be quite in our budget, so thank you once again, GPS! We called a few places listed and found a Travelodge for only $62, which for that area is incredible. If you need any advice on how to find inexpensive places to stay, Dan and I can certainly help you.

That night we walked to Ghirardelli Square and Fisherman's Wharf. We ate at the famous Boudin Cafe, and then had enough room left for a hot fudge sunday from Ghirardelli's, which was amazing!

The next day we managed to take almost every form of public transportation the city has to offer. We took a cable car to Chinatown, then a metro to Golden Gate Park, and then the bus back to our hotel at the end of the day with the locals. We honestly felt like we were locals, and could definitely see ourselves living there one day. In Golden Gate Park we walked through the Japanese Tea Garden which was very unique and something worth seeing.

We were also able to spend some time at Pier 39, where we watched the sea lions playing in the bay while we ate our lunch. Over the few days we were there though, we had a great time meeting some JMU Alumni who helped us feel at home in the city. Thank you Mr. Paul Holland and Matt Langan for all of your help and making our trip a more unique experience.

Overall, we really loved this city and hope to come back some day. Now, we are in the gorgeous state of Oregon spending some time with Dan's Uncle Brian and Aunt Tracie in Portland. Check for more updates again soon, and you can click the link on the right to find our new photos!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Cruzin' The Pacific Coast Highway

Dan and I have spent the past few days driving up the coast of California. We spent one night camping in Malibu, overlooking the ocean (not too bad). It was gorgeous- much nicer than the smog that greeted us in LA. Oh, but LA was pretty interesting... or at least the people were. I have never seen so many people that look like they just went to a Halloween store, bought a costume, and said "Hey, I think I will be Elmo today" or some other character. It was funny to watch. We also drove down Rodeo drive and saw a photo shoot taking place and so I took a picture and then realized as we were driving by that I took a picture of Michael Kors in front of his store (most girls will know who I'm talking about).

Then we met up with our friend Sean that night and went out to dinner in Malibu and took pictures of the sun setting which will be posted soon. Yesterday, we just laid at the beach for most of the day and it was so beautiful out finally- we did not bring the rain for once. After we got our fill of sun for the day, we kept driving up the coast and walked through Santa Barbara. I love that city! It has everything you could need in one town- the mountains in the background, the ocean in the foreground, tons of shopping and restaurants, and amazing weather. I would definitely go back there to visit, and if it wasn't so expensive, live there. I can see why people go to school there.

Last night we camped out in Buellton, and little city inland. It's a really great campground here- affordable, friendly, and well-maintained. We would like to spend another night, but we must press on. Now, we are going to head up to Santa Cruz and probably spend a night there, and then it's off to San Francisco!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

All New Updates

Don't forget to read all of the updates below of where we have been in the past week and a half. We didn't have internet for all of that time so we did some major updating since then. Hope everyone is enjoying summer!

California Dreamin: Good food, great friends!

We arrived here in the beautiful San Diego, CA on Tuesday after our 6 hour drive from Vegas where we are visiting one of my best friends Jenna and her fiance, Chris. Jenna and I met when we were in Paris together, and she also went to JMU so it's great to see the different places we have been together. It's funny to think that in order to see her in her new home town, we had to drive across the country, but it truly is the best way to do it!

Jenna had a whole list of things for us to do and see when we got here. She welcomed us with dinner that she had made which was delicious and a great change from the food we have been eating on the road. Then we went to the beach to watch the sun set- a bit of a change from what Dan and I are used to. It was truly beautiful and we got lots of pictures. The next day we spent some time at Coronado Beach and La Jolla, again taking pictures and seeing as much of the city as possible in the short time we have. That night we finally got to meet Jenna's fiance, Chris and we all went out for pizza which was a lot of fun!

Today Dan and I went to the San Diego Zoo which was awesome! We love doing stuff like that, and although somewhat pricey, it was definitely worth it. The Sea Lion show was the best part- they were so cute!

And now, for our last night here we are having another home-cooked meal with Jenna and Chris... good old fashioned meatloaf and mashed potatoes- mmm! It has been such an amazing time being here, truly a great place to visit and live, especially when there are great people to see. Next stop: LA!