– Jack Kerouac
I’m not going to lie. The deadline for me to discuss our entire trip, including edited photographs, less than one week after we returned home, was a very daunting one. However, as writers we have to continually push ourselves to discuss key events in our lives in great detail soon after they occur, whether we are ready to or not. That’s when the memories are the freshest. Being kept on our toes can only help us learn from and improve our passion.
I kept a travel journal during our American adventures, but translating it from diary format to a public platform will not and is not going to be easy. I will try to do my best at deciphering what is relevant versus what is not. Hopefully, you will be able to relate to at least some of the sites that we took in. If so, then please share your own experiences in the comment section!
We covered over 5000 km (3100 mi) on our trip, averaging 600 km (373 mi) each day. It was the perfect amount given that we would usually begin our day in one state, end it in another, all while stopping to see at least one major monument and explore smaller towns throughout the day. Our days were usually around 9 hours long. We survived on gas station edibles (which turns out is actually pretty convenient and more delicious than Canadian gas station food), and would order an amazing feast in the evening once we were settled in. We quickly fell into this pattern, and embraced it. It was perfect for us and our dogs.
After picking Geoffrey up from work, we drove through the evening and southern Saskatchewan to my hometown. It’s only a few hours north of the Canadian/American border, and we were excited to get a head start on our grand road trip.
On the way, we stopped at a little town called Val Marie, SK. It was very prairie, and really picturesque. After taking a few photographs, we continued for another 30 minutes until we hit the border. Just before crossing, I asked Geoffrey if he had signed his passport this time. Geoff received his new passport only a few weeks ago. The last time we drove to the States, he had forgotten to and the border agents almost didn’t let us through. It was unnerving, but it’s something that we still joke about. Sure enough, when I opened it this time, it wasn’t signed. It never fails. Geoffrey is incredibly forgetful. So with the border crossing clearly in our line of vision, he veers off the road, quickly signs it, and drives the remaining feet toward the towering structure. I thought that we would certainly get questioned as to our erratic driving, but thankfully, everything went off without a hitch. We’re in America!
On the way to Billings, we stopped at what became our favourite spot on day 2; the C.M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge. It was beautiful. We walked around for quite awhile, and took a ton of photographs. With the steep hills, greenery, and mountains in the distance, to me, this was the epitome of Montana.
Our third day’s destination was Douglas, WY. That morning, we went to our hotel’s bakery, drove around downtown taking pictures of antique stores and trading posts, then to Moss Mansion. Billings is very beautiful, and seems like a great city to live in.
On the way to Wyoming, we had two major stops planned. The first was Little Bighorn Battlefield in Montana. Although this was supposed to be a short visit to a site that I knew nothing about, it turned out to be my most cherished activity of day 3. Driving to the battlefield was quite nice, until we hit the more rundown areas along the interstate. At the last minute, we nearly changed our minds about visiting it because the turn off was so intimidating. Thank goodness we did go! Once we got out of that area and drove up to the monument, it was all worth it. From the cleanliness, to the gift shop, to the beautiful drive around the grounds (which includes scenic views and wild horses), to the importance of the site itself, Little Bighorn Battlefield is an understated must-see.
After finally leaving the battlefield, we drove 3.5 hours to Devil’s Tower National Monument, WY. If anyone has ever visited this monument, you may understand what I mean when I say that the drive from Moorcroft, WY to Devil’s Tower is not spectacular, by any means. It actually felt like a bit of a let down since I had high expectations for the actual site. Yet, Devil’s Tower itself was such an awe-inspiring experience. I found it quite unbelievable to be there, with the way that the tower loomed over its panoramic surroundings and commanded your attention from miles away to mere feet. It was quite stunning, and I am so glad that we went!
Following the tower was our final 3 hour drive to Douglas, WY. It quickly turned to prairie, and I instantly felt at home. Tired from the day we just had, Geoffrey and I became increasingly restless and giddy. By the time we made it into Douglas, it was dark. Yet, the beauty of the city was not lost on us. What a pleasant surprise! It instantly reminded me of Colorado, and given that our hotel was top-notch, I couldn’t wait to get settled, and begin the next day. I think my husband and our dogs felt the same. So far, day 3 was our favourite, albeit the most exhausting.
We woke up in Wyoming completely refreshed. We began the day with a long walk together with Holly and Truman, ate, packed up our belongings, and hit the road. Day 4’s destination was Glenwood Springs, CO. Colorado has always been our favourite state, so we were peeing our little britches in anticipation. The sky was also overcast that morning (our best kind of day).
We ended up stopping at the visitor centre just after the state border in Fort Collins, CO. This is where we stopped four years ago, and took pictures with the painted horse. I went inside to buy souvenirs while Geoffrey walked the dogs, and was immediately asked where I was from because “I talked funny.” Thanks, USA.
Leaving the visitor centre, we then drove to our all-time favourite city, Denver, CO! We headed straight to the Cherry Creek Shopping Center, given that I was in need of a Tiffany’s store. Forsaking GPS we initially relied purely on memory and maps. Then we got lost. Then we took some photos of impressive stately homes and Geoffrey was in heaven. Then we caved, turned on GPS, and made our way over to the mall. We were surprised at how much snow the city had! However, we were used to driving in it. Once we made it to the center, I got out, ran inside, went to Tiffany’s, and told them I wanted to pick out a new wedding ring for our forthcoming 5th wedding anniversary. I only had about 20 minutes. Honestly, this could easily be a blog post in itself, and I think that I will turn it into one.
Finding what I wanted, I ran back out of the mall, and after a few more stops, we left Denver. We were heading westward on I-70. Our first stop was, no word of a lie, a gorgeous little gas station in the picturesque town of Genesee, CO. I felt like they could’ve filmed movies there. We picked up some more souvenirs, and got more gas and some food. Then we began what should’ve been a 2.5 hour drive to Glenwood Springs, but felt much longer. Although our most stunning drive of the trip, it was also the most frightening. How do you guys do it?! I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.