Great American Roadtrip 2014: Top Twenty Moments

This fall, Tyler and I took three weeks off and headed out west. I had carefully planned the details of our adventure for almost a year, researching restaurants, campsites, and hikes. I think travel is one of the most rewarding luxuries we afford ourselves. It opens our eyes to the world around us and broadens our horizons. I'm a hopeless wanderer, I yearn for mountains I haven't seen, and I would gladly live out of a suitcase if it meant that I could see the world. I can honestly say this trip was one of the coolest things I have ever done. So without further ado, here are my Top Twenty Moments from Our Great American Roadtrip 2014 (in no particular order):

1. Watching Orcas migrating off the coast of San Juan Island, Washington. (No Orcas below)


2. Sharing s'mores with our Asian camping neighbors in Yellowstone National Park who had never had s'mores before.

3. Watching the sun rise on the Teton Mountains.


4. Sitting in the hot springs of the Salmon River just outside of Stanley, Idaho, drinking local beer.

5. My dad surprising Tyler and me by showing up in Springdale, Utah and joining us for dinner, hiking, and relaxing.


6. Attempting to hike Angel's Landing in Zion National Park. This made the list ONLY because Tyler and my dad were with me every step of the way. It was singlehandedly the hardest physical and mental challenge I've ever tried in my life. I cried and had to hold my dad's hand. However, I didn't make it to the end. Maybe next time...


7. Cooking a live crab over a campfire.


8. Seeing Glacier National Park for the first time and walking along the Going-to-the-Sun Road.


9. Snuggling in a two-person tent on a blow up mattress every night. Seriously, some of the best sleep I've ever gotten--a warm, comforting body next to me, nestled under sleeping bags and blankets, the cool night air surrounding us, and (usually) soft sounds of nature lulling us to sleep. Perfection.

10. The glorious colors of Utah and Colorado in fall.


11. Seeing how truly beautiful Idaho is. My previous perception of Idaho was so wrong.


12. Our whole San Juan Island experience--the ferry ride, camping on the edge of the ocean, exploring the tidal pools, visiting Pelendaba Lavender farm, our neighbors sharing huckleberry pancakes with us, and again, watching the Orcas migrate south.


13. Walking through the Portland Japanese Gardens and the International Rose Test Gardens.


14. Getting to stay at The Pines in Beaver Creek, Colorado in our generously upgraded room.

15. Cooking over the fire almost every single night. You'd be surprised the delicacies you can prepare over open flame! We also had some amazing restaurant experiences on this trip, I can't pick just one.


16. Exploring Pike's Place Market with the little time we had. The dried pasta and produce we picked was amazing, as was our lunch at Lowell's.


17. Getting to try so many craft beers we can't get in Wisconsin!


18. Getting to photograph almost every single moment and Tyler being so patient when I either pulled over to take a picture, or made him pull over so I could take a picture, or taking pictures with Tyler.


19. Realizing that no matter how carefully the major details may be planned, there will always be something to throw you off like a two-hour detour, or a closed road, or an injured knee or back. Roll with the punches.


20. All of the "little" moments with Tyler that were the real meat-and-potatoes of this trip; moments of laughter, frustration, serenity, excitement, and appreciation. Moments spent talking or silently learning about each other. We definitely drove each other crazy at times. But that's not what stands out to me. I remember making each other laugh until we cried, and looking at each other in wonder when we came across something breath-taking or interesting or new. I'll remember how important it is to spend the rest of your life with someone who will take adventures with you, say "screw it" and go into the unknown, help you put up the tent, and still call you beautiful when you haven't showered for four days.


This wasn't just an amazing road trip, it was a test of our relationship. Before, I would only remember what I saw, what I ate, and the experiences that went along with that, because I was almost always with my parents (thank you, Mom and Dad). But as I reflect upon this trip and make this list, it's clear to me just how important it is who was beside me through the whole thing. My parents gave me the gift of travel, and I will be forever grateful for that and the trips we shared. They've given me a wealth of knowledge of travel tips, ideas, and planning. I'm so relieved that I've found someone who understands this wanderlust soul of mine. Stay curious, my friends. It's the only way we really experience life.

Until next time,

TravelLauren Grier