An Ideal Cross Country Road Trip

Old Faithful

Matt celebrating Old Faithful as we drove across the country from Ohio to Seattle.

Holy smokes! This is way overdue but the whirlwind that has been the past two weeks has lead to the longest drought of Urbyville postings ever! I’ll sum up the highlights and tell why this moving trip across the USA may well have been the most ideal of all the trips I’ve taken thus far.

The trip started from my parents’ home in Findlay, OH after fun, power-packed visits with them as well as friends and family both in Findlay and Cincinnati. The Findlay time also was topped off with our second presentation regarding our adventures, this time at the Findlay Public Library. We had somewhere in the range of 40 people for the talk followed by a book signing. We felt like it went well and we enjoyed ourselves, despite it being a bit of a challenge to put it all together.

From there we left the next morning for Chicago where the visiting of good people and consuming of good food kicked off for the road trip.

First stop was Karyn’s Cooked in Chicago, a vegetarian specialty restaurant with our new friends that we met while studying in Guatemala, Tim and Akeelah. They recently returned from a year-long round the world adventure with stops in all sorts of adventurous places (they’ve made our last year+ look tame) with one of their last stops being San Pedro for language school. We swapped stories, talked about adapting to the regular routines after travel life, and what is next for each of us. Really cool people and really good food.

It was then over to our equally adventurous cousin Sean’s for the evening. Sean’s dad, Tim (aka Curmudgeon) hiked the AT last year and it wasn’t until talking about his story, that we learned how much travel his son Sean does. He is planning mountain climbing trips for the seven highest peaks on all seven continents, already having knocked out Kilimanjaro in Africa. He’s ventured into unique places in China as well as many other fun parts of the world. He also took us to a vegetarian place for dinner and then we topped it off with a run and some beach volleyball along Lake Michigan before calling it a day. Thanks Sean for being such a great host.

It was then on to Minneapolis to meet up with my brother Jeff and his girlfriend Erin. They both recently moved to MN for the summer for internships so we got to check out their awesome luxury apartment in a trendy part of the city. We got a good run around one of the 10,000 lakes of Minnesota, and enjoyed some excellent Thai food. It was also our first time meeting Erin. They both seem really happy and as big brother, it’s really cool to see.

We then got going on the big driving with a 14 hour day from Minneapolis to Livingston, MT to meet up with an old AT friend, Zippers. She cooked some excellent food and then taught us how to use a dehydrator for the leftovers (helpful for our upcoming hiking trips). The next morning it was off to Yellowstone National Park for a day of hiking and sightseeing. We felt like we had the inside track as Zippers used to work at the park and knew all the places to hit. We spent a good 10 hours in and around the park looking at geysers, bubbling mud and water, and all sorts of other weird geothermal features. We also got the Yellowstone bison welcome as there were at least 100 to 200 bison roaming the nearby field and road. We also got to talk trail and share trail memories with someone that lived the same hiking life as us, including all the highs and the lows.

From MT it was on to Seattle. We had 11 hours and made it in for some dinner and visiting with an old PCT and AT friend Rocket Cop and his lovely wife Jessica. We have so much to talk about with them due to our many shared interests that it seemed like we could talk for days. So we stayed for four days! Plus, we were trying to find an apartment and they graciously let us use their home as the staging point for Operation Apartment Hunt. We played Settlers of Catan, ate good food, and had lots of visiting before finally finding our new home a few days ago. We moved in and were quickly off on another adventure down to Vancouver, WA for a marathon and more visiting of good friends with more good food.

Two fabulous surprises on the trip: North Dakota is really pretty! We drove I-94 all the way across North Dakota and were really impressed. I normally think of rolling wheat fields and not much else. There were some really unique land features, especially towards the end of the state in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park area (we didn’t even know this park existed and now we think we’ll have to go back).

Also, our cousin Sean provided us with possibly the best ever travel food. Upon our arrival in Chicago, he presented us with a huge bag of Garrett’s popcorn, a mix of caramel corn and a cheddar-flavored popcorn from Garrett’s, a local specialty. I don’t often eat popcorn and I certainly don’t think to mix two flavors, but wow! They were so good and the bag lasted all the way until we were 90 miles from Seattle. Thanks Sean and thanks Garrett’s, you made the drive all the more pleasant.

So the moral of this story: for an ideal road trip across the USA from Ohio to Seattle, visit lots of amazing people, eat lots of awesome food, have good weather and daylight so you can see all the amazing scenery, and eat Garrett’s popcorn from Chicago.

Thank you everyone from Ohio to Washington that helped us on our way and thanks to all that help us in so many other ways as well. We’ll keep doing our best to spread the love everywhere we go.

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