Jackson+ Grand Teton + Yellowstone

May 11, 2017

Yellowstone National Park, United States

Jackson is a town inside of Jackson Hole Valley in Teton County. However most people referred to the town itself as Jackson Hole. If you haven't been, I highly recommend making the effort to see this quaint /chaotic mountain town, depending on the time of the year. We had the pleasure of visiting during the off season (spring) where tourism is at a low and the wildlife is vibrant. So I considered it as a quaint town at this time because everyone walking the trails and the side walks of the town are locals. However if you plan on visiting during the peak season, I imagine that your experience would be filled with long lines and traffic. So in my opinion we were in the right place at the right time! 

During our stay in Jackson, we spent the morning hiking the Elk Refuge. The trailhead of this hike is located on the outskirts of town and contours right along the Grand Teton National Park. The reason we choose this trail was that it was unfortunately one of the only dog friendly trails in the area. But with the options being so limited we weren't upset because the scenery was open to the surrounding lakes and mountain ranges. Once the dogs had their exercise for the first half of the day, we buzzed 20 minutes north into Grand Teton National Park. The two lane road to get into the park consisted of herds of Elk that casually grazed on the freshly uncovered terrain. Upon our arrival at the visitor center, we were actually a little disappointed because the entire iconic mountain range was covered with fluffy white clouds. But we were optimistic about the rest of the day in hopes that the visibility would improve. 

Touring the 50+ miles of the national park was done with three different forms of transportation; 
1. RV (The majority of the park was covered with cruising in the RV and stopping at the pull offs in order to gander at the majestic mountains. )
2. Foot (On a couple of occasions we let the dogs out to play and stretch out our legs a little)
3. Long Boarding (I couldn't help myself, so I cruised around lake Jenny as Britney drove behind me to serve as a barrier)

As expected, the weather cleared up and a large percentage of the mountain range was visible. This made for some wonderful site seeing and excellent photo opportunities. After getting our fill of the scenic park we slowly made our way out. Although we were stopped by a pack of Bison that insisted on taking their sweet time crossing the road, no complaints. We marveled over their beauty and enjoyed coexisting within 25' of these beasts before getting situated back in Jackson.

Once we got back into town we cruised up and down main street in search for the right place to eat. Landing on a little local Mexican joint called Hatch. This place served up elk quesadillas and kurobuta pork tenderloin which paired nicely with with margaritas and tequila. Can't go wrong.  It was surely a place that did not disappoint. 

With our next point of interest being Yellowstone, we were only 55 miles away. However the connection road between Grand Teton and Yellowstone was still covered with snow. So we had to drive around the park which took almost four hours. Bummer. But it was a drive that was perfect for the windows to be down, the tunes to be way up and some serious rubber necking.


As of right now, sitting in a coffee shop in Banff, Canada, I would say that the best way to describe Yellowstone can be done through the photos that we captured. It was truly an experience that we will never forget and the best way to appreciate it would be to go and experience for yourself. 

Next stop, Glacier National Park. 

Back to Colorado + A 1700 Mile Detour

Colorado Springs, CO, USA

If you follow along with our social media at all then you might know already that we had to come back to Colorado. We got a call while we were in Virginia telling us that if we headed back home we would have some options regarding our broken van. At that point we were pretty fed up with all of the issues we had run into and Blake was on the verge of pushing it off a cliff. 

We were conflicted because we were so close to Washington D.C. and it was one of the places we were most excited about. I have a friend that I have only seen once or twice since high school and I was really looking forward to visiting with her and getting some insider tips about what to do and see in DC. Oh well though, such is life... we packed up and started the VERY long trek back to Colorado. The GPS said that we had about a 26 hour drive in front of us, but a snow storm on the Virginia Turnpike and the need for a few little naps and dog stops pushed it to more like 36 hours. We finally got to my parents house around 7am two days later. We decided that it would be best to show up at TransWest to get the van looked at on Monday so we had a few days to clean out the vehicle (what a nightmare) and just chill out. The dogs had both had a whole host of problems at the time so being back in Colorado was really good their skin and probably their little minds. Huckleberry gets a little bit of special treatment from my dad and so he has zero complaints about being at their house. His super dog hearing earns him several pieces of candy each  night - I know it's not the best for them but #YOLO.   I will say, I think one of my favorite things about being back in Colorado is driving my car! It's so nice to zip around in something that only takes up one parking spot. 

Monday came and went without great news unfortunately. We had hopes of trading for something that hopefully wouldn't break constantly, but no luck, so instead we left the van with them expecting to hear something in a week or so. We made the best of our little break by spending as much time as we could with family and friends. We happened to be there over Easter weekend so we were lucky that we got to spend a holiday with everyone. We went to an Easter Party at Blake's brothers house and had brunch with the family the next day followed by an Easter dinner at my parents house. We got to do a few little hikes while we were home including the Manitou Incline and Garden of the Gods. If you haven't ever done the Incline in Manitou and you feel up for a little physical challenge its so cool. It's definitely tough but worth it when you look back down and see the view of the whole city and Garden of the Gods. It's pretty awesome. We also got to see our friends Ben and Allie that came to visit us in Florida and our friends Jessica and Justin that we hadn't seen since we left! We have had so much fun on this trip so far but the little hiccups have taken a tiny toll on us, and this break was really rejuvenating. 

Once we got the van back - almost three weeks later! - we packed up and planned a few more weeks of travel. We were pretty bummed that we missed so much of the East Coast but decided that our time would be better spent staying on the west coast doing the parks we were excited for on this side of the country. We tried to take off towards Wyoming to hit Yellowstone but were derailed by a few more snow storms so we posted up in Fort Collins for a few days. Its a good thing we love it there so much! We had a really great few days and got to see one of our friends while we were there which made it even better. We did some hiking and running and then spent the evenings eating our favorite pizza and drinking our favorite beer! I know I've said it before but New Belgium is such a great place to go if you're ever in Fort Collins. It's just so fun and such an awesome environment. Blake even played some games at the bar and won a six pack! Which we probably didn't need on top of the other beers we had already purchased...  It was a fun close to our unexpected time in Colorado and we are so excited to be back on the road for a while longer! 

See you in Jackson, Wyoming!

Pine Bluff + Raleigh + Williamsburg

April 12, 2017

North Carolina, USA

 Transitioning from a fun filled friendship weekend in Charleston to a Camping World lounge area for two days is certainly a harsh way to get back into "van-life". But when our refrigerator broke down, cooking range was malfunctioning and our ceiling was leaking cups of water, it was something that we felt needed to be taken care of. Despite the minor hiccup, we were back on the road and ready for the next adventure... or should I say, "that next problem".

After leaving Camping World we had a newly sealed roof, a replacement cooking range and a fresh refrigerator control panel installed. Plus it was all covered under warranty, so it was all free! What a wonderful feeling right?! Well we thought it was pretty special but maybe it's just the little things that get us going these days. So we cruised straight to the nearest market to stock the frosty fridge with goodies. I don't think that we had ever put more food in such a small space. In fact, I didn't even think that we could fit food into some of the nooks and crannies that were available. So after happily stocking the refrigerator, cooking a delightful dinner on the new range and sleeping in a dry bed, we woke up to such a pleasant surprise. The refrigerator was shut off once again!  

At some point in the night the refrigerator had shut off completely and the majority of the fresh food was starting to go bad. WTF? So we went to the closest Camping World on the way to the Pine Bluff, North Carolina. They apologized for the inconvenience and told us that we need a new cooling unit after a three hour diagnoses. Sweet! Just pull it off the shelf and install it right? No, not that simple. They told us that it needed to be ordered and it would take 3-4 weeks to get in. Well unfortunately we do not have 3-4 weeks for a refrigerator component to show up due to traveling the U.S. on an epic road trip. So we basically told them thanks but no thanks, we will take our business elsewhere. 

Without resolving the fridge issue, we cheerfully went down the road to Pine Bluff to visit a family friend for the next 4-5 days. This was a real treat! Pine Bluff is a heavily forested area on the outskirts of the iconic Pine Hurst Country Club. Here we caught up on each others lives and enjoyed the great outdoors. We made a cozy fire every evening while enjoying great company, bourbon and cigars. As some would simply put it in the South, "we felt rich as hell." The mornings were spent hiking Fort Bragg and letting the pups swim in the lake. This was typically followed by a drive to the local hospital to visit our friends 85 year old former P.OW. friend. Who had been temporarily hospitalized. 

The daily visits were short and simple but at the same time so incredibly powerful. It gave me a new appreciation for life and what we were doing. Also made me wonder who would come and visit me when I'm 85 and sick. So it was a quick reminder to be the best person that I could be and appreciate everyday for what it's worth. But anyways, I don't want to get too philosophical, so damn you Camping World! On a serious note, Pine Bluff was a refreshing visit and we were happy to spend quality time with our family friend. 

The next destination was just an hour away in Raleigh, North Carolina. Here we actually visited another wonderful family that showed us a great time. The first night of the visit was spent grilling steaks, conversing on the patio and jamming to some funky tunes. It was nice to catch up with an old friend and have some good deep belly laughs. The following day Brit and I went for a day trip to Duke University while our friends, like normal people, went to work. During the walk about around Duke, we came across serveral breathe taking things. The first was the Sarah P. Duke Gardens. This was the perfect time of year to feast our eyes on this beautiful area. Everything was in bloom! The birds were chirping, the smell of pollen was in the air and it was a Friday on campus, so everyone was in high spirits. The garden is 55 acres and we spent two hours putzing around and enjoying the atmosphere. 

The Second highlight of the campus was the main focal point, Duke Chapel. Wow, what an impressive structure from the 1930's! As we walked up to the Chapel, we looked at each other like somehow time had turned into a Disney Movie and we were suddenly in Beauty and The Beast. The Chapel included incredible mason/wood work, magnificent stained glass art and gigantic organ pipes that filled the room with sound. After countless hours of mezmorizing architecture and flower gardens, it was time to get back to the party.

Upon our arrival, we were greeted at the front door with smiles, icy cold beverages and dinner plans at Neomonde. Neomunde is a local mediterranean restaurant where we enjoyed fresh cilantro jalapeƱo hummus, lamb kabob platters and man’ousheh (Lebanese Flatbread). It was nothing short of delicious and we loved every last bite of it. Shortly after filling our bellies, the night was capped with a few tall ones from Raleigh Brewing Company that just so happened to be right down the street. 

Waking up the next morning, it seemed as if everyone was on the same page; happy that it was Saturday and hungry for Mexican food. So we all loaded up in the truck and went to Gringo A Go Go in order to satisfy our souls. Shrimp tacos, pollo asada burritos and frosty Sol's were savored as we sat back in the sun and let the good times roll. Somehow a couple of hours had pasted and we were ready to keep the party going. Next stop was Crank Arm Brewery where we supported the Lukemiea Foundation by purchasing local brews (classic example of killing two birds with one stone). The atmosphere was vibrant and the energy was positive. We spent the majority of the time playing gigantic Connect Four and sinking each others Battleships. A perfect Saturday spent in North Carolina. 

Sadly it was already the end of the weekend and time to hit the road. The next destination was a recommendation from our friends and it turned out to be a great one! Three hours north-east to a town full of history and charm- Williamsburg, Virginia. Williamsburg played a significant roll in the American Revolution and formed the "Historic Triangle" (Williamsburg, Jamestown + Yorktown). A large portion of our time was spent in Colonial Williamsburg where we strolled upon the "living-history museum". Here we found actors recreating colonial life in the streets. It was an interactive and fun experience to see the actors as pedestrians, shop workers and store owners. 

Among the actors in town we coincidentally ran into Britney's best friends' parents. What a unexpected surprise! After finally calming down with excitement, a plan was formulated for the night. We ended up going to Williamsburg's favorite seafood joint; Barrett's. Mouthwatering crab was devoured and mugs of beers were gracefully cheered. The conversation lasted all night until we were the last ones left in the joint. A great ending to a location that we didn't even have on our map!

Next stop, D.C. 

Happy Easter!


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