Thursday, July 5, 2012

June Recap

Another month has passed! Time is going by way too fast - slow down!!  As with the May update  this will be a lengthy summary of the month, for us to have to look back on.  We understand if you just look at the pictures and move along!


all photos from our Instagram feed:

Stats: Driven 5,374 miles for the month, 8,530 total trip miles. Visited 10 new states: Wisconsin, Missouri, Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Idaho, and Montana. Total trip count is 19 states and 1 Canadian province.

General feeling of living on the road: We're having such an amazing time!  Getting out west and seeing different scenery really hit a spot with both of us. We definitely feel like we're seeing America. We've had spells of no showers, lived in the same outfit for days at a time, and had some interesting camping experiences - it feels like a genuine road trip, for sure!

Notable Moments: Seeing all the Mid West farmland - truly a stunning part of America to experience. Watching the almost full moon late at night at a campsite in Door County, WI - everything was so peaceful, still, and beautifully lit.  Hanging out at Madison Memorial Union Terrace on a perfectly sunny day, sharing a pitcher of beer and watching all the University of Wisconsin students soak up the sun (we were both in kind of a blah mood that day, and this helped us both snap out of it). Walking through the Lincoln Museum in Spingfield, IL - inspiring, to say the least. Seeing old/new friends in St. Louis and meeting up with Taras's brother in Minneapolis. Coming upon Hannibal, MO (Mark Twain's hometown) by happenstance - we were both giddy to see the scenery of which his Huck Finn and Tom Sawyer books were based. Driving alongside the Mississippi River (and I couldn't help but always sing the Mississippi song every time we passed a river sign). Driving into the west and all the change in scenery. Sleeping in shepherds wagon in North Dakota. Going into our first national park and being awestruck by nature. Our whole time in Wyoming was unbelievable and we fell in love with the little town of Dubois, where Taras's old collegue let us stay in his family's vacation cabin and where Taras saw his first rodeo! Having a buffalo come into our campsite on Antelope Island near Salt Lake City, Utah. Sleeping in a fire tower in Montana.

Favorite Discoveries: Beer - a lot of regional breweries with all around good stuff: Beaver Creek Brewery, Grand Tetons Brewing Co., Glacier Brewing Co., Lewis & Clark Brewing Co. (a lot of these we discovered by making our own variety 6-pack at a Yellowstone general store). Wisconsin we just loved - this was our first experience of getting so caught up in enjoying the state that we got off schedule and had to sacrifice doing things that were on our list. The drive from WI to Springfield, IL is crazy beautiful - nothing but green farms, picturesque stand-alone barns in giant fields, and exit after exit with "no services" for at least 100 miles. Ha Ha Tonka, a band out of Missouri that opened for Langhorne Slim in Milwaukee. Nostalgia Bistro in Dubois, WY. Communal in Provo, UT.

Togetherness: We started off June needing a couple time outs from each other - after a small spat or two and some separate time exploring, we were good as new.  It really is crazy to think that we're together 24 hours a day every day!

Thoughts, ramblings, etc.:
  • A random thing we caught ourselves doing is saying, "bye, 'wherever!' " Whether we're leaving a park, a city, a campsite - we always tell it goodbye. 
  • Taras has a tendency to get very warm (read: "It's so hot!!") regardless of the temperature. He's found reprieve when the wind blows, and now he'll say, "thank goodness for the (insert state here) breeze!" So if the state has any breeze at all, he's happy. [editor's note: As I am reviewing this post at our campsite's picnic table, it's barely 50 degrees in Montana and I don't like the Montana breeze! -T]
  • On June 4th it finally happened: neither of us knew what day of the month or week it was. That hasn't happened since.
  • We've become confused by "sea"gulls. Why are they also at lakes? Are they called "lake"gulls there? Mysteries of the world.
  • I've added rest stops and visitor centers to our list of great places to stop - clean bathrooms and wifi, yay!
  • The first time one of us ran out of clean underwear: it was me! It happened at the end of June, the result of more camping time and less accessibility to laundry. One day of wearing bathing suit bottoms and then a trip to Walmart helped out the situation. We're doing laundry as I type this - hallelujah!
  • Taras really pushed the limits with shaving this month - another casualty of more camping. He started resembling a grizzly bear, and eventually shaved.
  • Radio stations are often sparse. We've taken to listening to old NPR podcasts of "Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me" - a good way to pass time on a long drive.
  • If you want your car to smell amazing, buy some ground coffee and let it hang out inside the car. Just wait, you'll want an espresso every time you hop in.
  • Bank of America is not, in fact, all across America. We obviously knew this before our trip, but we've been surprised at how difficult it can be to find a BoA.
  • For all the negativity given to cell phone companies, we have to give it to AT&T. No, we haven't had service everywhere - especially in National Parks and particularly desolate areas - but all in all, good reception (and super great customer service when we were having a little problem with my phone).
  • Brick and mortar video rental stores still exist. I had no idea - our local video store and Blockbuster in Cambridge closed a couple years ago and I hadn't seen any since then. But Family Video is alive and kicking across America.
  • June saw longer drives for us. As we entered the west and places are further away, we've been doing a lot of 4 - 8 hour drives rather than the 2 hour drives we did in May. This has taken some adjusting to (it's hard to be in a car that long!), and has caused a shift in our daily budget allocation - more to gas and less on lodging and eating out.
  • Camping is good for the soul - so relaxing and at the same time we're so much more active when we camp. I love that we have to clean up as we go along (be bear aware!) so everything is always in order (type A, anyone?!). And it's nice to slow down and take your time getting dinner ready, setting up the tent, building the fire - camping takes time and we're totally digging it.  
  • Biking in a new city is a little unnerving - not knowing the roads and flow of traffic definitely gets your adrenaline up. And on that note, we're not biking nearly as much as we had hoped to - we need to rectify that!  We keep seeing cross-country cyclists and we're so inspired by them... this might be making its way on our bucket list.
  • Lake people, particularly those on the Great Lakes, really know how to do sunsets.  Everyone shows up at the beaches or parks to watch the sun go down.
  • Getting out west completely changed the feel of our trip.  There was new scenery and it was exciting - a realization that we had come a long way and a feeling that we were really seeing America. We slowed down a lot, camped more, spent more time outdoors. A welcome change of pace. Suddenly there were vehicles with cargo boxes filling the highways and there was almost a feeling of comradery as you see people with similar interests driving alongside you. At National Parks and popular points of interest you can find probably every state's license plate in the parking lots.
  • National Parks are pretty amazing.  Of course, the nature and landscapes are awe-inspiring, and you come into the parks expecting that. What surprised us was the setup inside the parks: shuttle services, lodges, church services, gift shops, gas stations, ranger-led programs, general stores - you really don't have to be outdoorsy at all to enjoy a national park!
  • We were vastly unprepared for the National Parks - how popular they were (Yellowstone campgrounds were completely full, and the night temp was too cold for our supplies, anyway).
  • Because we're so captivated by the views in the west, we're doing a lot more drive-by photography... a bit discouraging when we look at photos later to find them wrongly framed and exposed.
Food: We've come a long way in terms of figuring out how to eat decently on the road and still enjoy local offerings (maybe it helps that in the west there aren't as many drool-worthy restaurants?).  One thing we've started doing is sharing a beer if we want one with a meal - so much better! And, as far as sharing goes, I have learned to share!  I've always struggled with this, only with Taras, because he always seems to want what's on my plate just as I've arranged my perfect last bite - but now I think we've worked out this little issue! We've been camping a lot more, which is so great for eating well.  A lot of our campsite meals are vegetarian/vegan, and it's allowing us the balance we need. We keep a supply of oatmeal in the car so we always have a decent breakfast option when hotel continental breakfasts miss the mark.

Struggles: We've had to sacrifice trip "wants" a few times, and it's tough.  We get somewhere and love it so we choose to stay a bit longer, but the flip side of that is giving up something else. We missed a couple things in Wisconsin, had to shift an entire leg of our trip (we hope to catch part of what we missed when we head back east), and have sacrificed a handful of camping/swimming/eating spots that were on the map. A funny joke we have going is, "when we have six months to travel the US, we'll definitely do that" - because it is just hilarious to realize that we don't have time to do everything, even though six months is a long time. But we are seeing so much and we are so blessed that we can't complain! I finished my continuing education requirements for my CPA license in the middle of June and that really turned the trip around for me - it's nice to not always require wifi and to just really enjoy the trip. We're still working on balance, as I'm sure we will for the rest of the trip: camping is great but we sacrifice working on photos and the blog; exercise still isn't happening every day the way we want it to; our sleep schedule is still out of whack - I guess we're night owls and don't want to admit it; and we're still not getting in as much reading/devotional time as we want. I do think it gets better each day, though.

So, in summary, June was good. Very good.

For travel updates as they happen, follow us on facebook, twitter, and Instagram (@amandabouzakine).

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