I think all of us have been in the house “hostages” for so long this year, it’s hard not to crave an escape. Lucky me, I’ve travelled pretty much all year and even during this pandemic. Started the year out traveling to London and from there to my home country Romania.
Unfortunately I had to cut my vacation short and return back to the States when all this craziness started. I went to Boston and from there to my mother in law’s place in New Hampshire where I stayed for a month and then we took a road trip to North Carolina, where I enjoyed the warm weather and the ocean breeze.
After a month in North Carolina, my husband, my son, our dog Bruno and I took a road trip across the country, all the way to Seattle where we’ll be living now. So probably, this year I had the opportunity to travel more than I ever have, which is kinda funny (I guess I am lucky).
But during this last road trip, I visited places I’ve had on my bucket list for some quite some time. It was also perfect timing because everything just opened back up again literally a couple days before us visiting, so the places were pretty empty. That made us feel a little more protected by being distanced and also afforded better photo opportunity’s without people in the background (let’s be honest, that’s every Instagrammer and Bloggers dream)! But more than that, we avoided the waiting in traffic, lines and actually spent the time enjoying what we planned to see.
It was really a great getaway and I want to share it with you, to inspire you to do a road trip and visit this beautiful country, especially since the borders are still closed anyway.
Columbus – Ohio
Our first stop after leaving North Carolina was Columbus, Ohio. We decided to drive every day or every other day for six hours and enjoy the rest of the time exploring.
Columbus is a very cute place, it was my first time here. But since our visit happened while the country was still protesting and some still hiding from the virus, the whole place was empty. But in a way that it made it look like something out of a movie, where the whole population disappears. Most of the buildings and stores had the windows and doors covered, most of the houses had the blinds down because of the protests so it really made me feel like I was in a Zombie Apocalypse movie.
Even if I thought Columbus was a very cute place, there was not much to do so we just spent a day there and left the following one to our new destination hoping for a little more action.
Chicago – one of my soul places
I Could not take a road trip without stopping in one of my dearest places on Earth – Chicago. If you know a little about me, you’ll know I lived there for a couple years and I try to visit my friends as often as I can.
As Columbus, Chicago was very empty too. It was weird to see it this empty since I know it so full of life. But this time, I enjoyed it. I enjoyed seeing it not crowded for once. To be able to stop and snap a picture without causing traffic. To stop and admire it’s classic architecture.
We were lucky to be there in time for the Navy Pier re-opening, and to catch it empty. We enjoyed the majestic Chicago skyline from the top of Navy Pier while having some soft serve ice-cream. Best thing? most of the parking was free or extremely cheap (where normally you pay between $30-$50 for a 2 hour parking in downtown Chicago).
As always, Chicago was a treat, and even if we spent almost three days there, as always, it’s never enough.
From Chicago we headed towards South Dakota. Our initial plan was to stop in Minneapolis, Minnesota. But due to the active protests we felt that it’s better to avoid it at this time. So we drove and just stopped at a random place when we were tired of driving. And since it was nothing special to visit, we decided to get a special room and make that day memorable like that. So we got a hotel suite with jacuzzi in the bedroom, ordered some wine and sushi and enjoyed our stay.
The next day, we headed towards Mount Rushmore. This was on my bucket list since I was a child and saw the place in a cartoon (“Life with Louie” I think). I remember I was so impressed and since then, I always wanted to go, and now I finally did. Again, it just opened to public, so it was pretty empty. It wasn’t open all the way, because of some construction they’re doing on the site.
As a lot of the famous places I’ve seen, like Niagara Falls, Statue of Liberty, Grand Canyon, Eiffel Tower, the Colosseum etc, the president heads in Mount Rushmore seemed less impressive in real life, smaller somehow. Do you have the same feeling when you visit something you had in your bucket list for quiet sometime? A little disappointment? feeling like “oh, this is it?” Don’t get me wrong, I loved them all, and the memories I carry with me afterwards, but right at that moment, I’m feeling a little disappointed for not being more amazed, yet very amazed and proud of yet another treasure discovered. AAArrrggghhh!
Yellowstone National Park
Our next stop was as much of a desired destination as Mount Rushmore. Yellowstone National Park is famous for it’s beautifully colored geysers (it has half of the world geysers) and hot springs. The park spreads into Wyoming, Montana and Idaho states and we explored parts of each. This destination, even more than the other ones is known to be extremely busy which was awesome to avoid traffic (besides when a bison decides to slowly cross the road).
The only downside was that it was colder than we expected. I didn’t check the weather in advance (this was a very last minute trip, we planned every detail and route two days before leaving), and we only had summer clothes. Being also June, it was extremely hard to find a store selling winter clothes but we finally found a winter sports store and got what we needed. We were still a little cold so we had to keep limiting our time out and jump back in the car to warm up and drive around before exploring a new spot.
The cold weather also made it hard to admire the geysers colors since it was a lot of steam created by the heat of the boiling geyser meeting the cold air. When we stopped at the famous “Old Faithful” we waited a very long time, over an hour and a half.
And again, I wasn’t that impressed, after living in Hawaii and seeing natural blowholes formed in rocks (pretty similar even if they’re two different things). I would have probably been more impressed if I didn’t have to wait so long in cold. I just couldn’t wait to return to our cute warm cabin.
The next day we took a ride along to see the wild life and stop and take photos and to just enjoy the wildness. I really wanted to spot a moose, but we only saw bisons, lots and lots of bisons, deer, bears and my husband spotted a white wolf.
Red Fish Lake, Idaho
This was a last minute addition to our road trip, since we skipped Minneapolis and had extra time. We were on a schedule (10 day trip) to make it in time to our new home in Seattle for when our furniture and stuff arrives. And oh boy! am I glad I did! It ended up being my favorite place I had a chance to visit this trip. The weather wasn’t as cold and the views were spectacular. Also all the cabins around were so cute, it made me want to move there.
We stayed at Mountain Village Resort and besides having a great mountain view from our bedroom, the restaurant had amazing food, the staff was very friendly, on top of everything, they had this natural hot spring cabin that you could book for a whole hour a day. This definitely was the highlight of my trip.
Glacier National Park, Montana
Been living by the ocean for so long I forgot how beautiful life in the mountains can be. Montana is definitely one of my favorite places and I cannot wait to go back. We were scared we would be very cold and we expected snow there but the weather was just great. The only complaint I have is that not a lot of places were open so we were limited when looking to order food.
We stayed at a cabin next to Lake McDonald, which was very beautiful. Wish it wasn’t so overcast while we were there so I could have taken better pictures for you to see how beautiful this lake is. It was the only reason we added this to our trip. The bottom has all this multi-colored rocks which makes it look out of this world. Also, just driving around Montana is just breathtaking. We were only there for just two days because at this time, we were ready to be in our new home.
Seattle – Washington
Our new home! Washington State is so beautiful. I know a lot of people were telling us that we will miss the warm weather and the ocean, and even if we do a little, we needed this change. We needed this new adventure!
I will write later a post about all the wonderful things this state has to offer, once we get to explore more. Until then, I hope you go and safely explore as much as you can!
I want to end this article reminding you that even if a lot of restrictions have been lifted, and we feel more free, don’t forget that this virus has not disappeared. Try to plan your visits to avoid crowds, keep the distance when you can’t avoid the other people and wear a mask!
Until next time,