driving

the fun never stops by Kayci Detweiler

Ok all. I know everyone has a million questions, and so that I don't have to answer them to everyone individually, I decided to do an "all questions answered" post. Hopefully this will cover everything you've ever wanted to know about taking a crazy trip across the country! Here goes...

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Weeks gone: exactly 10 full weeks on the road
Miles traveled: approximately 14,633
States visited: 42
Countries visited: 3
Northern most point: Glacier National Park
Southern most point: San Antonio, Texas
Highest elevation: Pikes Peak, Co {14,114 ft}
Longest driving day: New Orleans, LA to St Augustine, FL {8.5 hrs}
Longest location stay: Harrisonburg, VA {4.5 days due to car trouble}

Favorite natural location?
How do you pick one best place out of all the diversity and natural beauty in this country?! I think my favorite National Park was Zion, and my favorite "nature" experience was Fern Canyon in California. Both were magical.

Favorite city stay?
As an overall experience, Austin, TX and New York City were my two favorites...we had great days in both places. I also really enjoyed both of the Portlands! 

Favorite experience?
Looooooved our beach times in SoCal, especially paddleboarding in La Jolla. Also, checking off the bucket list with the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta. Amazing.

Best doughnut? {I know you're dying to know}
Hard to choose, but I think my two faves were the Lemon Poppyseed from Blue Star in Portland, and a Key Lime filled from a bakery in Toronto. Yum.

Easiest part about this trip?
Having fun with Kelby, of course! Couldn't have asked for a better travel buddy.

Hardest part about this trip?
Staying in a new place each night, and accepting hospitality from strangers. I learned so much about both giving and receiving hospitality! Also being mobile and unstable for 2 months was a bit rough for me...but I made it.

Is there a place that stands out as the next step?
NO. I am extremely confused, but happy to be in one place for a little while as I figure it out. I have also discovered that, personally, as much as I enjoy visiting the city, I don't think it's a great option for me as a living place. I need a little breathing room. 

Do you have a next step?
NO. See above. If anyone has any suggestions, I would be happy to hear them. Also prayers are welcome. I'm looking forward to a bit of discernment time, but also don't want to sit around for too long. Must keep busy!

Do you have any regrets?
Not a one. My only regret is that we went so fast and didn't have time to properly explore each location. If I would do it again, I would have less area to cover and more time in each place. Would I do it again? Not exactly the same...living out of a suitcase for 2 months got to me a bit :)

What a wild ride! I'm so thankful for this experience, and I will have many stories to tell for the rest of my life. 

free water & prairie dogs by Kayci Detweiler

Oh, South Dakota. How I love you. Today was a FULL day of activities and sight seeing. I will try to remember the highlights while I still can. 

We said goodbye to the grandparents in the north and headed to the south this morning {after loading up with plenty of coffee and more snacks!} The sky has been showing effects of the fires in the west, with haze and fog clouding our views a bit this morning and into the afternoon. I hope that it isn't blocking the beautiful sky for the whole trip! 

Anyway, on the road we didn't run into a whole lot (besides the magical sunflower field that we had to stop beside). South Dakota is full of wide expanses of prairie, which is beautiful, but empty. The speed limit was 80 on the highway. Nuts. After driving through that for a while, it was hard to believe that we were going to see anything of note during the day. 

And then we hit the badlands. 

The badlands are magical. I wish that pictures could do them justice, but as always, it is hard to capture all the beauty and color of real life through the lens of a camera. I gave it my best shot. 

Many photo ops were taken advantage of during our drive through the park. We only hiked a bit, as we were not super prepared for that kind of adventure today, but what a great climb it was. Luckily, we did not see any rattlesnakes. That's something I could live without, I think. 

OH, I must go back in time. Before the badlands there were prairie dogs. Ha! We stopped at the Ranch Store, where you can not only take a picture with a giant stone prairie dog, but they are actually running around and you can buy peanuts to feed them! A kind stranger gifted us some food for the dogs and we spent a bit of time feeding them. What funny little critters. They reminded me of large squirrels or something. 

Fast forward to after the badlands...and we arrive at Wall Drug. What can one say about this strange pit stop? The town of Wall, South Dakota has a population of about 800, but Wall Drug must employ half of them. Home to the free ice water, 5 cent coffee, homemade donuts, jackalope, and more! We stopped for a look around, a donut, and some coffee of course {unofficial coffee tour stop 3?}

We ended our QUICK tour of South Dakota with a visit to the ole' presidents on the hill: Mount Rushmore. It's amazing when you think about the process they had to use to complete such a project... what a feat for it's time! Tonight is our first night camping, although it's the "soft" option at the KOA, but we still had to set up the tent and sleep on the ground, so it's a step in the right direction! 

On to Wyoming tomorrow!

the long version by Kayci Detweiler

I am a road trip junkie. I'm not ashamed to admit that driving to a new destination is a thrilling experience for me...whether it's a 2 hour or 12 hour journey. There's something about seeing the scenery change over that time, sometimes so gradually that you don't even realize it, that amazes me. Why fly to a destination that's only a 10 hour drive away? I would rather turn up the music and pack in all the snacks for the road, singing and dancing my way to the finish line.

As a kid, I might not have enjoyed the novelty of road trips as much as I do now. Our family would pack up the van in the summer, hitch the camper, and head off from our Indiana home on trips to Colorado, Maine, Missouri, Georgia, etc. The endless {or so it seemed} hours in the car would be spent playing road bingo, listening to CD's, or even {in the later years} watching a movie on our portable tv if we were lucky. It wasn't glamorous, but it taught us to entertain ourselves a little bit. I blame these trips for infecting me with the travel bug...learning that there was so much out there to explore if you take the time to leave home once in a while.

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri 1996(?)

Lake of the Ozarks, Missouri 1996(?)

Since I was in high school, I have dreamed of taking an extensive trip..from coast to coast, or route 66, something epic. It's something on my "bucket list" you could say. As I have gotten older, work and money and time have pushed this dream by the wayside, and I began to think it just wasn't going to happen. 

Two states at once! Day trip 2008

Two states at once! Day trip 2008

Recently, however, I made the decision that I would leave my job as a graphic designer and travel around the United States for 2 months. What?! 

The past couple months have been a time of transition for me {it seems to happen far too often these days.} I was getting ready to move back into my parent's house, and feelings of restlessness that have been nagging at me since the beginning of the year finally got the better of me. I needed a change, but wasn't sure what that looked like. And then I had this crazy idea...

Why not take this trip I've always dreamed of while I'm still young and single? Why not take advantage of not having a lease on an apartment or a house payment to make? Why not use some of the money that I have been so diligently saving over the past couple years? I even found a travel buddy, Kelby, who was in a similar situation and wanted to go on an epic adventure! I couldn't think of many reasons NOT to do it. 

And so the adventure begins. This blog will follow our travels. Starting in northern Indiana, and circling back here after a couple months. We'll be driving through 40 states and possibly 3 countries. Seeing whatever we can see along the way, and meeting some new friends while doing it. 

The map of our approximate stops

The map of our approximate stops

Because, at the end of my life, I'm not going to look back and regret staying at work when I really wanted to take an epic adventure across the country. Life is fleeting. Carpe Diem. 

...and YOLO!