Bru & Jane Roadtrip the NorthWest during COVID
After the lockdown started, I was serious about quarantine.
For a solid three months we hardly left the house or saw anyone. By June I felt comfortable enough to go camping in Green River with a few close friends. In July I went camping in the Uintahs with just Bru. But by August, we were feeling a little desperate to just GET OUT OF HERE!
Bruna had an open invitation to stay in a gorgeous countryside home in the forests of Spokane, Washington. Our hosts were both doctors and they were not concerned about our foreign bodies visiting them. So of course, Bruna decided to make a road trip out of it. We haven't really taken any big road trips together before. She was already pretty curious about visiting Yellowstone so she did some research and crafted our entire itinerary. Can you say DREAM WIFE?
DRIVING TO YELLOWSTONE
So, on a Wednesday morning we got in the car and started out drive towards Yellowstone, Montana. I think our most genius idea for this road trip was that we brought our cooler with drinks, snacks and ice in the trunk. We drained it and freshened it up along the way. Hunger and thirst can be such a buzz kill while adventuring. This remedied that issue completely.
We also kept our Cotopaxi masks with us for every stop. It's important to show the towns in which you stop that you respect their community and don't intend to bring any harm. We stopped as little as possible and wore our masks whenever we did stop.
The drive into Yellowstone brought us through Idaho and into the the West Entrance of Yellowstone National park. What looked like a serious border entrance was actually a quick and breezy welcome into the most beautiful park I've ever seen. I would say that it's worth the $35 to get in even if you are just driving through it to get to somewhere else. The scenery is out of this world! There are stops and pull-offs all along the road and plenty of places to park and walk around to see the main sites.
Here's the catch: the main sites are PACKED. I was so surprised at how many people were swarming around the first pull off near a bridge of gorgeous waterfalls. There was no social distancing happening. There were people from all over the world. Everyone in masks, crowding to see the waterfalls. If we weren't in COVID times, I really wouldn't have even mentioned that it was busy - it would have been obvious that a national park is busy. But for these times, it was busy enough to give me some some undesired discomfort here and there.
Then again, the best part of Yellowstone is indeed the vast expanses that you are free to explore. It's really not that hard to find solitude with nature in this park, you just need to avoid the main "sites" and find your own magical places. Trust me - there's plenty.
Bruna reserved us a cabin in Mammoth Hot Springs, which apparently is quite difficult to do - but not during COVID! We pulled into our cute little white cabin in a village of what felt like all vacant cabins. Our little house had a cute grey front porch with two matching chairs and a window looking in on two beds that had a pretty simple hotel vibe. I quickly got my blanket and my journal and sat on the porch in front of a few rather large elk that were also relaxing just on the lawn in front of us.
I pulled out my phone to update my mom that we arrived safely and was pleasantly surprised to see that there was absolutely no service. (So instead, used my telepathic powers to tell her we arrived safely). And I felt relief. I just felt so relieved that I got to put my phone away and be truly unplugged.
Within just a few moments of being here, I felt so relaxed. So grounded. I laid on the lawn and let my body sink into the magnetic earth. The sun was warm on my face and there was a gentle rain beginning to roll in, which felt like a huge welcome to this Aries girl. I didn't even try to meditate, and as I laid there I felt my body begin to wind down to a very slowww pace. Everything was so quiet. And I still hadn't spotted one other person residing in this tiny village!
However, just about two "blocks" away from our little cabin was the visitor center for Mammoth Hot Springs which is a surprisingly large hub of Yellowstone. There's a gas station, restaurant, souvenir shop, a hotel and well, actually a lot of other buildings in which I did not visit. We walked over to the "restaurant" and ordered a black bean burger and fries to share. I brought us dinners from home which was another genius idea on my part because the "veggie burger" was a sad reflection of American cuisine.
I recommend bringing all of your own food to Yellowstone! I assumed our "cabin" would have at least a microwave or perhaps a stove. It did not. So we ate on site and ate what we could from what we brought. And that hurt my belly. I wished we had brought our camping stove so that we could have prepared a few meals for ourselves! Take note.
I gotta say, that first night at Yellowstone, I truly had one of the best, deepest, most relaxed and restful sleeps of my adult life. There were so many factors that could have gone into that deep sense of restfulness. First of all, it was quiet unlike SLC. I was in a beloved National Park. I had been traveling all day in the car. AND given that I didn't have any service, I would believe that there was dramatically less EMF's, 3G, wifis and other loud wavelengths we can't see. Alls I know is once again I felt my whole system, slowwwww wayyyyy dowwwwwn.
Thanks to the blackout windows in our room, we both slept in so late. It was like someone just unplugged us both from our lives and just allowed us to REST and SLEEP in the quiet, vacant cabins of Yellowstone. I woke up feeling so rejuvenated and excited to explore this new land. But first, coffee!
We walked right into Mammoth Hot Springs, coffees in hand along with the crowds of people walking up the big scaffolding and stairs the surround the structure. I was very surprised by how many people were there and it felt a little like we were a pack of cattle wandering through these narrow raised walkways. The hot springs were really beautiful and active. Nothing for humans to enjoy and bathe in but just a site to see. It reminded me so much of the hot springs and the cool sand formations they create at Mystic Hotsprings in Monroe, Utah. Not to the same scale at all but very very similar. I thought to myself, I'm grateful that Mystic Hotsprings isn't as popular as this place! Eventually, COVID or not, it was just too many people around and we decided to hop in the car and explore through the main road.
Like I said, I was so pleased to realize that all you gotta do is drive through the main roads of Yellowstone and you will see SO MUCH. It was just so beautiful to turn on music and drive through the pristine scenery, windows down with my beautiful woman smiling in the passenger seat. We made the agreement to pull off and park any time we wanted to. Pretty soon, we came upon a gorgeous open field with a wild pack of Bison grazing - and an equally large pack of humans observing them. Luckily, Bruna brought binoculars so that we could get a close up view and damn, seeing one of those big bison faces up close was dope! They are such massive beings! There were many little baby bison playing too. Pretty soon a park ranger showed up to move everyone out saying that a herd of elk was about to move through that field and that it would be best if humans weren't around.
Our drive took us to so many gorgeous pristine lakes, creeks, rivers, clear blue steaming pools and massive gorgeous waterfalls. I think my favorite moment was when we pulled off near this giant lake the was covered in what looked like lily pads and tall grasses right under a wise hill of trees. There absolutely not another soul around. We took off our shoes and enjoyed the silence, the sunshine, the stillness of the moment. Just another perfect moment with Bruna and Momma Gaia. Luckily, since we had our cooler in the trunk, we sat in the hatchback on the side of the road eating our pasta salad and grapes, filling up on ice cold water and kombucha before we continued our adventure.
Then we returned back to the cabin and ducked into the Yellowstone gift shop to try the huckleberry ice cream that everyone was screaming over. We laid in the park and ate our ice cream sandwiches as elk and other creatures wandered around us. I laid in the grass I again and felt as if I were a magnet being pulled right into the earth, activating a grounded energy within me. It felt like the earth of this land just wanted to hold me. She whispered in my ear, shhh just relax, you are held, you are safe, you are loved. The earth was catalyzing a deeply healing experience in my body in every moment. Even the moments when I was getting ice cream all over my clothes, I was still feeling her love. I didn't want to get up from the grassy field. I felt like I could lay there, receiving the blessings all day.
While we had every intention to go on lots of hikes, we did not! We relaxed HARD. I think my favorite part of this trip (aside from the breathtaking views and cuddles from Momma Gaia) was simply sitting in our little front porch under a blanket together, reading quietly in the light of our flickering citronella candle. While giant elk would wander in to visit us, there were not a lot of humans around and I liked that.
DRIVING TO WASHINGTON
We exited through the north end of Yellowstone park which led to a tiny town that seemed somewhat run down and crumbling but also cute and uppity at the same time. It was a gorgeous drive out of Montana and back into the tip of Idaho. We stopped for brunch in Butte, Montana at a well-reviewed diner called Hanging Five. And to give an honest review from two girls that love a good greasy spoon, we were pretty disappointed. I don't need to go into detail but I would not recommend this spot for your break in the drive!
One of my very favorite parts of this road trip was when we stopped in Coeur D'Alene. The sweetest little town surrounded by this gorgeous giant blue lake. We got there and went into the downtown area. It was a Friday evening and we were pretty surprised at how lively the town was. We walked into this dope brewery called Crafted, wearing our masks of course, and as soon as we got to the host stand we realized we felt a little silly being the only people with masks on in site.
Because we had our little Nina, we were sat near the sidewalk, which I loved because then we could see more of the scene! I ordered a giant salad and couldn't have been more happy to be eating fresh, well made food. Locals were walking up and down the streets in their swimsuits with their big hats and floaties to and from the lake. A small band started to set up on the sidewalk next to us and I noticed a lot of shopkeepers putting signs and tables outside their doors. I soon realized there was a little art walk going on! How fun!
There was an eery-ness to the absence of a pandemic in this place. It felt like we were in a different reality, where no one was affected by coronavirus. Perhaps they've got really low cases, we both hoped. We would later learn that the Couer D'Alene Hospital's ICU was at capacity with COVID patients. Ignorance really is bliss right??
The town felt like one of those nautical communities where it's summertime all year long, people wander the streets with their wine glasses in hand, kids are piling off the docks and into boats. The scenery took my breathe away. I immediately felt this yearning to spend more time in this little town. Immediately, I started to thoughtfully manifest a connection with someone who's been in this community for generations. As you can tell, this is one of those little towns where everyone knows everyone, and everyone's been here for decades if not centuries. I cannot wait to visit again. We walked to the marina and back, taking our sweet time before we got into the car again for our last hour of the drive into Spokane, Washington.
It wasn't long until we arrived in the simple northwestern city of Spokane. We weren't landing downtown, we drove about twenty minutes into the forested countryside, arriving at the top of some big hills and into the driveway of the gorgeous home owned by the doctors. Two amazing women who are married (to each other) and indeed heroes in oncology and pediatrics. To make them even more likable, they are two of Bruna's best and oldest clients for personal training. They clearly have amazing taste, so when they invited us up to stay with them in their home, we really couldn't say no.
I was so ready for a little getaway!
Pulling into this house truly felt like I was arriving into a dream of my future. These happily married women, deep into their successful professional careers doing amazing work, building this magnificent home for themselves in the woods. This house was an assortment of sitting rooms and guest bedrooms. Decks on every level and 10 acres of forrest to enjoy through the entire backyard. Highlights of this land was the gorgeous garden we ate from daily, the giant porcelain bathtub in our guest bathroom and most importantly the three dogs, Oxford, Mocha and Dobby.
By the time we arrived, we hadn't used our phones at all. And we decided to leave it that way. The next few days were spent sleeping in, practicing yoga on the back deck, reading for hours, meditating, eating amazing foods and having incredible conversations with our brilliant hosts. There was a small trail to hike in the backyard and turns out, Bruna's dream is to ride a tractor so many deep desires were fulfilled on this trip.
Each day, I felt my nervous system slow down a little bit more, and then a little bit more. Until I was feeling an incredibly new and profound sense of peacefulness, quiet, steadiness and tranquility with myself. I felt like I had so much space to just be. I got to zoom out on my life and spend a few days not really doing but just being. I actually started to feel afraid of what would happen if I looked at my phone or even turned on music! I see how easy it can be to let the outside world hurt my zen on a day to day basis! Because, with zero media, zero sound pollution, zero connection with the outside world and complete inundation with nature - my whole body system started to slow. wayyyyy. down. I felt like from the moment I woke up and as I moved organically through out the day without any concern for time or obligations, my emotional state was just, steady.... I would meditate and notice the strong increase in my vibration. I would read and feel the deep sense of presence. I would journal about my wildest thoughts and dreams as if I had more space to claim my desires. The doctors hoped that we would experience some sort of retreat for ourselves, and from the bottom of my heart, through my entire being, we experienced retreat on a whole new new level together.
A timeless, empty, forested retreat.
On our last day, we decided to drive into Spokane for brunch and a little exploration of the city. For a Monday, it was quiet and there weren't a lot of people around. I guess they're a little more serious about COVID here. My favorite part of course was brunch at Frank's, and old diner literally inside a cable car (not built around one like Ruth's Diner in Emigration - but actually inside a cable car). This greasy spoon took the cake! While I could have foregone the eggy french toast, my hash browns with grilled onions on gravy on top were literally life-changing. I am drooling as I think about them now...
Of course, we walked along the trail to see Spokane falls which was so beautiful that it pained me to know I could not dive into the waters myself to escape the surprisingly humid heat of downtown. We also visited Auntie's Bookstore where we spent a pretty good chuck of time. We left with a new journals, a post card for my grandma and two books: The Feminine Mystique and Women of the Way. (Shocking that we both pulled feminist books). I would also be a big fat liar if I said we did not stop into a dispensary while in Washington! Duh! We went to a tiny little shop called Smokane where a big sweet man showed us the insane amount of products he had available. Our Utah minds were blown! We left with a few goodies. :D
Eventually, sadly it was time to begin the trek back to SLC. Part of me felt excited to get back to my life after such deep rest and regeneration. But no, we had one more stop.
UNDER CANVAS, YELLOWSTONE
This is where I'm the luckiest girl in the world. You see, my birthday was in April during serious quarantine time and I guess Bruna still felt like she needed to make up for it. So, she booked us a special night in a resort called Under Canvas. It's pretty much the complete concept of 5-Star Glamping. We checked in under this giant tent where the front desk staff feels like camp counselors who tell you the rules of the tents, how to make a fire in an iron stove and what activities are coming up like s'mores night and lakeside yoga.
Check-in for this epic tent was 3pm so we drove straight through they day to get there and enjoy every minute of it. We stopped through Starbucks on the way there because I'm a sucker for a Frappuccino. Of course, we re-stocked our cooler and snacks with some goods from Trader Joe's to get us through the first leg. However, by the time we were at check-in, I was so starving! Just as you'd expect, there is a big lodge restaurant near the entrance to the resort. Take-out was recommended over dine-in, and of course we preferred to enjoy our ratatouille and yellow curry alone in our gorgeous Star-Gazer tent.
The tent really was massive! We were blessed with the most out-ward facing spot so we had absolutely no one blocking our gorgeous view of the Montana country (or were we in Idaho?). A few big steps took us up onto a smooth wooden porch with two chairs, a table and a good stack of fire logs. Un-zip the front door, roll back the canvas and step into your master suite. Two trendy leather chairs, a giant king-size bed with crisp white sheets and hella pillows. A small iron stove to heat the place, as promised. And even a gas-heated shower, toilet and sink tucked behind the little walls. We unzipped the windows on each wall and laid on the giant bed to gaze up at the best part: the clear plastic cut out over the bed (giving the tent it's name, Star-Gazer). It was made that way so that as we fall asleep at night, we can watch the stars.
I do not think I have ever had a more romantic night in my life.
Not to mention, I saw the most amazing shooting stars I'll probably ever get to see in this life.
In the morning, we reveled in waking up to such a scene. I've never wanted to make a moment last so long! Eventually, I ordered us some fresh coffees to be delivered and practiced yoga on the porch while Bruna read her book. Again, I was sad to leave but also feeling over the top blissed out to be getting back to my life in Utah.
If you've got a little extra cash to spend and you want a seriously luxurious experience in nature, you've got to look at Under Canvas.
This is not a sponsored deal haha I WISH!
The drive home, luckily was only about four hours. We decided to stop for breakfast in Idaho Falls at a place called Abracadabra. Definitely a place with character (and woman-owned). I was pained at how long it took to get out food (perhaps I was hangry and entitled from my prior 5-star experience), but damn, once that breakfast arrived I was pleased! It was so delicious. I cannot tell you why, but this greasy spoon had the magic touch we're all looking for so I left there with a happy belly ready to breeze through the last leg of our great road trip of 2020!
It's been so fun to share this experience with you. Thank you for reading.
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Sending you so much love,