How to Explore One of Washington’s Iconic Islands

Whidbey Island is one of the most underrated destinations in Washington, offering a number of activities for history buffs, hikers, and foodies alike. Whidbey Island may not be as well-known as Mount Rainier or downtown Seattle, but the island and surrounding areas provide a beautiful escape from the hustle of the mainland. If you only have one day to explore Whidbey Island, here’s exactly how to do it to get the most out of your trip. 

Begin your day by hopping on the Mukilteo/Clinton ferry which will take you directly to Whidbey Island. If you’re not a fan of ferries or don’t want to pay the fee, you’re more than welcome to drive via Deception Pass Bridge, but we’ll take that route on the way home. Mukilteo is another cool area to explore as well – check out my photo diary from a recent visit! 

Pro tip: swing by Southern Cross Espresso in Clinton for a quick cup of coffee. I highly recommend their London Fog as well!

From Clinton, begin the drive north to an area known as Ebey’s Landing. Ebey’s Landing is a historical preserve with beautiful hiking/walking trails that educate you on the island’s rich history and provide opportunities to spot wildlife. The historical preserve spans a few hundred acres, and my favorite area to explore is the Prairie Overlook Trail. For specific information on this hike, check out my adventure guide on Outdoor Project.

Pro tip: some areas in Ebey’s Landing require a Discover Pass, so come prepared!

You’ve probably worked up an appetite after exploring the bluffs at Ebey’s Landing, so it’s time for a quick lunch break. It’s a short drive over to Coupeville, a gorgeous coastal town with a number of restaurants and shops. If you’re craving fresh seafood, Front Street Grill is a great option located right on the water. There’s a pretty good chance you’ll see otters or seals, too! I also recommend Ciao Food and Wine for delicious pasta and desserts. 

After lunch, your next destination is Lavender Wind Farm. I had never been to a lavender farm before coming to Washington, and it has become one of my favorite summer activities. Lavender Wind Farm is u-pick, so you can stroll through rows of flowers and pick lavender as you go. Before leaving, stop by the on-site store for more lavender goodies like soap, bath salts, and lip balm.

Pro tip: the lavender u-pick season typically runs from May to September, so make sure to check the farm’s website before planning a visit. 

Now it’s time to make your way off the island, but the adventures aren’t over just yet. Instead of returning home on the ferry, I recommend making the drive over to Deception Pass State Park. This area is absolutely beautiful and a great place for families to visit, either for the day or a weekend. There are lots of walking trails through the forests or along the water, and plenty of opportunities for spotting wildlife like eagles and otters.

Pass over Deception Pass Bridge, another iconic landmark that is stunning in and of itself, and you’ll find yourself on Fidalgo Island which soon connects you back to the mainland. Before driving home, swing by Snow Goose Produce in Mt. Vernon. Snow Goose Produce is a large country market with awesome local products like fruits and vegetables, hot sauces, seafood, beer and wine, and some of the best ice cream I’ve ever had. There’s truly no better way to end the day! 

Pro tip: Snow Goose is another seasonal operation, so make sure they’re going to be open before making the drive over!

I hope you found this travel guide useful and incorporate some of these spots on your next visit to Whidbey Island! 

Must-Visit Spots on the Olympic Peninsula

Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is one of the most unique and ruggedly beautiful areas the state has to offer. From a dense rainforest to rocky beaches and quaint coastal towns, there’s truly something for everyone to enjoy. If you get the opportunity to explore the Olympic Peninsula for yourself, here are some must-visit spots to include on your itinerary!

Hole-in-the-Wall at Rialto Beach

Hole-in-the-Wall at Rialto Beach is an incredible rock feature that shows you firsthand just how uniquely beautiful Washington’s coast can be. Rialto Beach is located within Olympic National Park, so be sure to pack your national park pass, or you’ll have to pay $30 per car to enter. The Hole-in-the-Wall feature is roughly 1.5 miles from the Rialto Beach parking area (so just about 3 miles roundtrip).


Note: this trail becomes inaccessible at high tide, so checking the tide schedule is key!


From the parking area, head north along the rocky shoreline toward the towering rocks ahead. Soon, you’ll catch a glimpse of the incredible, naturally-formed arch known as Hole-in-the-Wall. If the tide is low enough, you may also see a number of tidal pools with sea creatures like starfish and barnacles. Overhead, keep an eye out for a variety of seabirds and the occasional eagle, and don’t forget to check the ocean for signs of otters or even whales.
Hole-in-the-Wall offers some stunning views for minimal effort, making it a great option for families and hikers of all experience levels.

Hoh Rainforest

I was shocked when I first learned that one of the largest temperate rainforests in the U.S. was located in Washington state, and seeing it for yourself is a truly amazing experience. The Hoh Rainforest is also located in Olympic National Park, and is easily accessible from the town of Forks, another popular destination. There are a number of hiking options to explore the Hoh Rainforest, though I would recommend the Hall of Mosses and the Hoh River Trail.
The Hall of Mosses Trail is an incredible hike considering it is less than one mile in length and will take you through towering trees and, you guessed it, thick blankets of moss. If you only have time to do one hike, or you want to get the most bang for your buck, the Hall of Mosses Trail should be your first choice.
If you have a little more time to explore, the Hoh River Trail is another great option. Though the trail is 18.5 miles one-way, ending at Blue Glacier, it only takes about one mile from the Visitor Center to reach the Hoh River itself. I recommend at least making the trek to the river because the water is crystal clear, flowing directly from the Hoh Glacier on Mount Olympus.

La Push

The village of La Push, located within the Quileute Reservation, is a gorgeous spot for views of forested coastal islands and dramatic sea stacks. The village itself is small, though it does offer some food and lodging options, and the area of First Beach in particular is worth a stop for views of the Pacific and a chance to see some wildlife (we saw a young eagle on our last visit). These beaches aren’t like the ones you may be used to seeing in California or Florida: they’re typically very rocky and often scattered with driftwood of all shapes and sizes. First Beach is also a popular destination for surfers, and though I’m not much of a surfer myself, it is fun to watch and admire from the shore.

Tree of Life

The Tree of Life is another fascinating natural feature located in Kalaloch, just south of La Push. The Tree of Life can be found just off the 101 Highway, near the Kalaloch Campground. Once at the campground, simply walk down the stairs and bear right along the beach. Soon, you will see the precariously perched tree for yourself. The roots of the tree actually form a cave, though I would caution visitors from spending too much time climbing under and around the tree, as erosion is clearly taking its toll. Though you may not spend an extended period of time at the Tree of Life, it’s a truly unique sight that is well worth a detour in my mind.

I’d also like to mention that while the town of Forks may be worth a stop for mega Twilight fans (hey, I don’t judge!), it is very small and quiet, and isn’t a must-visit in my opinion. The town does offer some easy access to fishing spots which may appeal to some, and it can serve as a good home base for visiting all of the spots I’ve listed above. When we first visited the Peninsula for a few nights in 2020, we camped at 3 Rivers Resort in Forks, which was a very comfortable and budget-friendly option!

I hope you found this guide helpful and use it as a source of inspiration when planning your visit to the Olympic Peninsula. Keep in mind, there are many other towns and areas worth visiting that I didn’t mention here, so make sure you do your research and visit as many spots as you can!

I’m Going Remote!

Hi friends! I’m coming at you with a super special post because I have some very exciting news: I’m going fully remote! I recently accepted a position working entirely remote as an Administrative Assistant for the company Clevertech. It was a bit of whirlwind going through the application and interview process, but I’m so excited to begin this new role in the coming weeks and transition into working fully remote.

For anyone else looking for remote work opportunities, I wanted to share some resources and tips for finding potential jobs and making yourself stand out as a strong candidate. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

Why remote?

Firstly, I think it’s important to note that working remote is not for everyone, and that’s completely okay! I began seeking out remote positions for a couple reasons, mostly centering around my lifestyle and family needs. My husband is in the military and often has to go out of town for multi-week trainings or deployments, so working remotely will give me the chance to travel and visit friends and family while he’s away.

Piggybacking off of this is the fact that all of our friends and family live in other states. In fact, being stationed in Colorado actually puts us right in between Washington, where my parents live, and Georgia, where his parents live! One of my biggest hopes for this position is that it will give me more opportunities to visit family without having to worry about taking time off or not making money if I’m not physically at work.

Another big reason I wanted to move into remote work was the fact that I wanted more opportunities for growth and to gain new experiences to bulk up my resume. I’ve been working in the outdoor retail industry for 5+ years and while I have absolutely loved it, I found myself working at jobs where there wasn’t much opportunity for upward mobility. I may not be working in this role forever, but I am looking forward to making the most of my time there and using it to build up skills that will open up more career opportunities down the road!

Where to look

Once I decided I wanted to seriously consider working fully remote, I began seeking out websites, forums, Facebook groups, and other resources that would help me find jobs I’m currently qualified for. Below are some of the places I would recommend checking out:

Female Digital Nomads on Facebook
This is an excellent Facebook group with thousands of members located all around the world and working in a wide variety of fields and industries. If you have questions about working remote or are looking to connect with other “digital nomads”, I would recommend joining this group, or finding others like it.

We Work Remotely
This is one of the best websites I’ve come across for remote job seekers, and this is where I found the posting for the position I got hired for. We Work Remotely is great because they post reputable job opportunities, the website is very easy to navigate, and job postings are updated frequently.

Fiverr
Fiverr is a great resource to check out if you’re interested in transitioning into remote or freelance work over time, without jumping into a full-time position right away. You essentially create “gigs” where you offer services, which can range from marketing to photo-editing to working as a virtual assistant, and so much more. While I don’t make enough on Fiverr to do it full-time, it is an easy way to earn some extra money and build up your freelancing portfolio.

Glassdoor
Glassdoor is a fantastic website to utilize as you can not only search for job postings, but you can also read reviews that current and former employees have left of companies to get a sense for how people like working there. I will say to take every review with a grain of salt, because I find most of the people who leave reviews either had amazing or horrible experiences, so it can be hard to find the middle ground. However, I frequently use Glassdoor to search for companies and jobs, and I’m more inclined to want to work for a business with higher ratings, because it generally reflects a good company culture and work environment.

Reach out to your own network
Another great way to find remote opportunities is to reach out to people you know personally who work remote, and see how they started doing it! Oftentimes they’ll know of some great places to look or can possibly get you in touch with someone at their own company to discuss open positions.

Application/interview tips

So, you found a remote job that sounds amazing and you’re ready to apply, or maybe you’ve already scored an interview! Here are a few things I would recommend doing to ensure you stand out as a strong candidate:

  1. Depending on how many jobs/professional experiences you’ve had over the years, create a few different versions of your resume that cater to specific fields/industries. This will help you narrow down which experiences are relevant to the job you’re applying for and avoid sending in a multi-page resume that overwhelms potential employers.
  2. If relevant, include any personal projects you have been involved with, even if they weren’t paid. For instance, I typically include a section about Wandering the Gap because even though it is a personal blog and not a paid job, it shows I am comfortable with technology, have a creative side, and am confident taking the initiative to start projects on my own!
  3. Know how to communicate your strengths and weaknesses. Talking about yourself can be uncomfortable during an interview, but it’s important you pinpoint specific strengths and examples where you demonstrated them. A potential employer simply isn’t going to have the time to dig through your resume and discover your strengths for themselves, so get comfortable hyping yourself up!
    On the other hand, it’s okay to acknowledge areas or skills that you may be lacking experience in, but instead of saying “I don’t know how to do that” or “I’ve never done that before,” spin it as: “That is a skill I would love the opportunity to develop more” and “While I don’t have extensive experience in that currently, I’m comfortable taking on the challenge and I’m always eager to learn new skills.” This shows a willingness to be coached and challenge yourself!
  4. Don’t just talk about who you are and what you’re passionate about, demonstrate it through relevant scenarios and experiences. One of the biggest pieces of advice my dad has given me about building my resume and acing interviews is that instead of just saying “I’m passionate about XYZ,” actually put your words to action and seek out experiences or situations that show employers who you are and what’s important to you.
    If you’re passionate about volunteer work, for instance, find opportunities for volunteering to put on your resume and bring up specific scenarios in your interview where you demonstrated a spirit of service and giving back. Anyone can talk the talk, but having tangible evidence of living out your values and priorities is so much more impactful!
  5. Do your due diligence to pick the best opportunity that will work for you, not just the first opportunity that you can find! There are so many things to consider when looking for a new job, from pay/benefits, to how much/when you’ll be working, and how it will accommodate or perhaps challenge your currently lifestyle. Don’t be afraid to go on a number of interviews, even if it means getting rejected or being the one to turn down a job offer. I almost always accept a job interview when one comes my way, because it’s great practice and a good opportunity to see what roles and positions are out there. Before accepting a job, however, I’ll make a short list of things that are top priority to me, such as a certain pay rate, work schedule, etc., and I try to stick to those as much as possible. Be your own advocate and stick up for what’s most important to you!

I hope you find this post helpful in some way, and for anyone on the hunt for a new job, I wish you the best of success! If you have any specific questions or other resources you’d like to share, be sure to leave a comment on this post. Thanks for reading and I’ll talk to you all soon!

A Moody Day in the PNW

I’m finally back in Washington for another visit and decided to take advantage of the cloudy, moody weather that greeted me the first day by doing some of my favorite PNW activities.

I started the day by visiting several different coffee stands and enjoying some specialty drinks. If you didn’t know, I run an Instagram called @pnw_coffeestands where I feature a new coffee stand around the Pacific Northwest every week. Since I’m not currently living in the PNW, I have to visit loads every time I visit so that I have plenty of content throughout the year!

Pro tip: make sure to do some basic research before you pop into a coffee stand or you may find yourself at a bikini coffee stand, which might not be your cup of tea! Oftentimes the stands will say “family-friendly” to let you know the baristas will be fully clothed!

After loading up on plenty of caffeine, I made my way over to Ivar’s Mukilteo Landing. Ivar’s is an old-school seafood chain with a variety of locations throughout Washington that vary from walk-up seafood bar to sit-down dining. The Mukilteo Landing location is one of my favorites because you get fantastic views of the Puget Sound. On a cloudy day, nothing is more comforting than enjoying a cup of warm clam chowder and watching the ferries go by.

After lunch, I strolled over to a nearby pier and watched some gentlemen fishing and crabbing. You should always keep your eyes peeled when you’re near the water because you may catch glimpses of sea life such as starfish or seals!

Pro tip: bring plenty of layers, and always carry a good rain jacket with you. Even though I was fine in a short sleeve shirt during lunch, I quickly had to layer on another jacket as I strolled by the water.

Next up, I walked over to the Mukilteo Lighthouse, a quaint little park featuring an over 100-year-old lighthouse that still works to this day. This park is a gorgeous little spot to stroll through and catch some amazing waterfront views.

From the lighthouse park you can easily make your way to the docks and continue your stroll along the shoreline. It’s not uncommon to see seagulls feasting on things like mussels and crabs, and I love watching the sailboats head out onto the Sound.

After a cozy and relaxing afternoon in Mukilteo I made my way up to Barclay Lake for a quick early evening hike, though you’ll have to stay tuned for that photo diary!

If you ever find yourself in Washington and want to experience some classic moody PNW vibes, I highly recommend enjoying some seafood along the Sound. Let me know your favorite ways to take advantage of cloudy PNW weather, and stay tuned for my next post!

Exploring Colorado’s Gold Belt Scenic Byway

Make sure to check out the vlog here!

This past weekend we wanted to get out of the house and do some exploring, but with all the smoke and insanely hot temperatures, we didn’t really feel like hiking. We decided to check out the Gold Belt Scenic Byway, and I’m so glad we took the time to explore it!

Image courtesy of GoldBeltByway.com

The byway covers over 100 miles and goes through a number of unique communities and areas with rich mining histories. We didn’t drive the full byway, but we did see some of the highlights along the route. We left from Colorado Springs and first made our way to Vindicator Valley Trail, a short detour from the town of Victor. This trail takes you through old mining buildings and ruins, and was the perfect way to kickstart our day.

From there, we made our way through Victor and Cripple Creek, and then we took Shelf Road all the way down to Cañon City. This portion of the byway was definitely a highlight, as it took us through some gorgeous scenery. We even ran into a family of sheep along the way!

Cañon City was another cool spot, and the perfect area to grab some lunch and enjoy a walk by the river. All in all, exploring the Gold Belt Scenic Byway was a great way to see some new areas of Colorado without having to sacrifice air conditioning or spend too much time in the smoke!

Five Ways to Spend Your Summer in Georgia

Hello friends! Can you believe it’s already mid-July? Summer will be over before you know it and while fall is my favorite season, I don’t want to let the summer slip away too fast! Without further ado, here are some of my favorite ways to enjoy the Georgia summer and escape some of the heat and humidity.

Tubing in Helen

If you didn’t grow up tubing through a small Bavarian-themed town in the middle of the mountains, did you really have a childhood? Sure, it may be kitschy and touristy, but tubing in Helen is one of my favorite memories from summers in Georgia. There’s nothing quite like floating on the river, getting nice and sunburnt, and then enjoying some overpriced German food in town. Better yet, grab some boiled peanuts for the drive home. Now, you’re a true Georgian.

Hiking Blood Mountain + Taking a Dip in Hemlock Falls

Blood Mountain is one of my favorite mountains of all time, and one I recommend to everyone who finds themselves in Georgia. The hike itself is pretty tough, but the views are a fantastic reward. Make sure to check out the trail log located in the shelter at the summit and read through notes left behind by all the hikers and backpackers who have passed through! After working up a sweat on your hike, drive the 10 minutes or so down the road to Hemlock Falls. The falls are stunning and the hike down is very short, but be warned, the water is freezing cold!

Kayaking/Swimming in Lake Blue Ridge

Lake Blue Ridge is a beautiful summer destination for swimming, kayaking, paddle-boarding, or boating. I personally prefer this lake to others that are closer to Atlanta because it seems cleaner and better maintained in general. Plus, there’s nothing like cooling off in a lake surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. After your adventures make sure to check out downtown Blue Ridge or downtown Ellijay for some delicious food and local brews.

Wading in Sweetwater Creek

If you’d like to explore somewhere closer to Atlanta, be sure to check out Sweetwater Creek. This state park offers lots of walking trails and hikes, and plenty of opportunities for swimming and wading. The area is beautiful and was actually used as a filming location in Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 1! The ruins of the mill are an awesome sight as well, so make sure to take a moment and learn about the history behind them.

Grabbing Peaches from a Local Farmer’s Market

Sure, farmer’s markets aren’t exclusive to Georgia, but they were always a staple summer activity when I lived there! There are a lot of fantastic farmer’s markets throughout the state ranging from small to pretty large, but my favorite was always the Marietta Farmer’s Market. The market is big enough that you have plenty of options to choose from, but not so big that you’re overwhelmed with crowds. Marietta is a cute town to explore as well, with lots of bistros and cafes for a quick breakfast or lunch. It’s also close to Kennesaw Mountain, another of my favorite hiking spots in Georgia.

I hope you’re enjoying your summer wherever you may be, and that you get to try out some of my favorite activities for yourself!

A Weekend in Breckenridge

Hi folks! Recently we’ve gotten to take several trips to Breckenridge and have absolutely fallen in love with this mountain town. We haven’t yet experienced it in the winter, but look forward to checking out the ski resort when the season starts! Today I’ll be sharing with you the perfect 2-day itinerary for exploring all that Breckenridge has to offer.

Day 1: The Great Outdoors

Breckenridge is nestled in between some amazing hiking areas and peaks, so on your way in I definitely recommend stopping for a hike. We loved exploring the Blue Lakes area (check out that blog here) because it was very accessible and offered different options depending on how long and challenging of a hike you are looking to do.
On the way to Blue Lakes, we also passed the parking lot for Quandary Peak, a well-known 14er. I haven’t hiked this mountain myself, but I hear it’s quite challenging, though you do get some rewarding views at the end.
If you have kiddos with you or are looking for something where you can pretty much drive up and explore, I would recommend the Breckenridge Troll, Dillon Reservoir, or Sapphire Point Overlook. All beautiful options with little to no hiking required for some awesome sights!

For lunch, there are tooooons of options available in Breckenridge depending on what you like. I would recommend Breckenridge Brewery & Pub for their delicious brews and small bites. We loved the cheese curds, soft pretzel with beer cheese, and wings! Another good option is Ollie’s Pub & Grub, a low-key spot with classic American fare. This restaurant is located on the river and they also sell fish food for you to throw right off the bridge!

From there, I would recommend resting up at your hotel or Airbnb before taking on Breckenridge at night. If you’re not feeling totally tired yet, it’s also fun to just drive through town and some of the surrounding neighborhoods. There are beautiful mountain views everywhere you go, and there are some pretty spectacular multi-million dollar homes in the area. Another fun option is the Breckenridge Gondola, a series of free gondola rides that offer a unique perspective of the town from above! Plus, it’s a great opportunity to rest your tired feet.

There are dinner options galore in Breckenridge, varying from barbecue to Italian, and everything in between. For a drink and some live music, check out the Gold Pan Saloon, a longtime establishment with a fun western theme. Both times we visited we happened to get Asian for dinner, so I’d recommend Pho on Main or Bangkok Happy Bowl. There are lots of other options though for pretty much any craving you could have! If you’re craving something sweet afterwards, check out Higgles Ice Cream for some deliciously unique flavors.

Day 2: Shop Til You Drop

Before beginning your day of adventuring through town, you of course have to enjoy some breakfast. Cool River Coffee House offers some delicious breakfast sandwiches and baked goods, as well as some fun and unique flavors to spice up your latte or iced coffee. If you don’t mind venturing a little further out, Frisco, a town about 15 minutes from Breckenridge, also has some great restaurants. We thoroughly enjoyed Bread + Salt, a breakfast spot that offered scrambles, hashes, and some delicious challah French toast. Frisco is another great town for walking around if you somehow manage to exhaust your options in Breckenridge!

There are so many shops throughout Breckenridge that you’re sure to find some you love. We always end up at Limber Grove, a spot that features local artists and brands. They have lots of cool stickers, hats, shirts, and other beautiful, high-quality souvenirs. We love just strolling up and down the streets and popping into any shops that catch our eye. Whether you’re in the mood to purchase a new bike or some fly-fishing gear, indulge in some handmade fudge, or pick up a fun souvenir for family back home, there are endless options for everything you could think of.

And there you have it folks! I hope you enjoyed this guide to Breckenridge and have the opportunity to explore this beautiful town for yourself.

How Much Does it Cost to Drive Across the Country?

Aloha and hello! Today we’re talking all about how much it actually costs to drive across the country. Before we dive in, make sure you check out my video on this topic as well! Summer 2020 my husband and I embarked on a road trip from Georgia to Washington. We were on the road for 10 days with several stops and detours along the way, and I want to break down exactly how much this trip cost.

The four main categories we’ll be talking about are lodging, gas, food, and activities. I will preface by saying that we drove our own car (a Subaru Outback) which saved us a good bit on rental car expenses and also got pretty good gas mileage.
If you haven’t checked out the first part of this road trip series which talks all about big picture planning, check out the blog here and the video here!

Lodging, food, and gas are definitely necessities and should be the first things you budget for. Activities are where you’ll have some flexibility in how much you want to spend. Thankfully, there are typically a lot of free activities to do no matter where you are, but it can be fun to plan ahead and schedule some outings as well. Our overall strategy for this trip was to have fun and enjoy ourselves without going overboard on the spending, and I think we definitely accomplished that!

Lodging

We stayed in a variety of Airbnbs, hostels, hotels, and with friends and family. TIP: if you find yourself in a town where friends and family live, don’t be afraid to reach out and see if you might be able to stay with them! Of course you never want to impose or expect them to have a place for you, but it also never hurts to ask.
We did a lot of research comparing lodging options to make sure we were going to be in a clean, safe area for a reasonable price. We wanted a private room since we had a lot of personal belongings with us, but outside of that, we weren’t too concerned with how luxurious the room was!

Night 1: Airbnb in St. Louis, MO$91
Night 2: Airbnb in Sioux Falls, SD$89
Night 3-5: Grandparents’ house – FREE
Night 6-7: Hostel in Teton Village, WY$200
Night 8: Hotel in West Yellowstone, MT$117
Night 9: Airbnb in Spokane, WA$62

LODGING TOTAL: $559

Food

Our strategy for food was to buy groceries that would be okay in a cooler or not need refrigeration at all so that we could eat breakfast and lunch on the road and just splurge on dinner. Some of our favorite snacks were apples, peanut butter, Clif bars, beef jerky, tuna packs, trail mix, and sandwich supplies!
We bought groceries once in Georgia right before we left and then again in South Dakota about halfway through our trip. As far as eating out, we tried to enjoy local spots and we also treated ourselves to coffee almost every day which is, in my opinion, a road trip necessity.

Groceries: $100
Eating out: $400

FOOD TOTAL: $500

Gas

This one was a bit of a challenge to calculate because it will depend a lot on the kind of vehicle you have, current gas prices, and which state or area you’re currently in, but I did my best to provide an accurate estimate!

GAS TOTAL: $250

Activities

Most of the activities we ended up doing, such as hiking, checking out local parks, skateboarding, or walking through town, were totally free. We did, however, budget for some planned activities that were really special and created some great memories. Additionally, we do have a free annual national parks pass thanks to my husband being in the military, and we definitely took advantage of it!

Electric scooters: $10-$15
Hiking/national parks: FREE
Horseback riding: $130

ACTIVITIES TOTAL: $150

GRAND TOTAL: $1,459

Now, I won’t sugarcoat it: this is a lot of money. I’m so thankful we had the opportunity to take this trip, and it was an experience I’ll never forget. We did do a lot of planning and budgeting to make this trip happen, and I think we struck a good balance between enjoying ourselves and still being conscious of how much we were comfortable spending. I’ll also point out this total is for me and my husband over the course of 10 days, which works out to be $72.95 per person each day. I would say this is a pretty fair amount considering it includes lodging, food, gas, AND activities, and I don’t regret a penny that we spent.

Thanks so much for reading and don’t forget to follow the blog and subscribe on YouTube to stay tuned for my next installment in this road trip series!

3 Towns in Washington (Other Than Seattle) You Have to Visit

Hello friends! Several years ago, my parents made the move from Georgia to Washington and since then we’ve had so much fun exploring all the different areas the state has to offer. While Seattle is probably the first town that comes to mind, there are so many other awesome towns that I think everyone should explore if they find themselves in Washington. Without further ado, let’s jump in!

Snoqualmie
In 2019 I had the opportunity to intern at a museum in the town of Snoqualmie, and it was one of my favorite jobs ever, largely because I fell in love with the town. Snoqualmie is located about 30 minutes east of Seattle, making it an incredibly easy and worthwhile day trip. The main feature of the town is Snoqualmie Falls, a roaring 268′ waterfall that now serves as a hydroelectric power plant. You can visit the park for free and walk through a series of trails that will give you views of the waterfall from above and at river level. Be warned, it does get extremely busy during the summer and weekends, but if you can go earlier in the day or during an off season, you’ll probably miss some of the madness. Don’t forget all the nearby hiking too – Mount Si is one of the most well-known in the area, and I suggest Franklin Falls if you’re in the mood to chase some waterfalls.

Leavenworth
Leavenworth is a bit of a haul to get to, but the drive there and the town itself make a visit well worth your time. Leavenworth is located about 2 hours east of Seattle in the Cascade Mountains. The drive there will take you through some beautiful mountain roads and the town itself is designed to look like a Bavarian village nestled in the mountains. One of the most popular times to visit Leavenworth is in the fall and winter when they host Oktoberfest and put up a massive display of Christmas decorations. There are tons of shops, restaurants, bakeries, coffee shops, and breweries to keep you occupied, and there’s also some paved trails that will walk you by the river (which you can tube in the summer!)

Coupeville
If you want to experience Washington’s version of “island life,” Coupeville is the way to do it. This small town is located on Whidbey Island, which is about 2 hours north of Seattle. To get to the island, you can either take a ferry or pass over Deception Pass Bridge, both of which are pretty cool in and of themselves. Coupeville is located right on the water, making it the perfect town to grab a cup of coffee and just wander around. There’s a dock area where you can try to spot some sea life (we saw a seal one time!) and plenty of little shops and restaurants to keep you occupied. I would also recommend visiting Lavender Wind, a pick-your-own farm that is a beautiful sight in the summertime.

Travel Guide: One Day in Yellowstone

In summer 2020 my husband and I found ourselves in Wyoming – we were driving from Georgia to Washington and were trying to see as many sights as we could without going too far off route. We decided to take a little detour and explore Yellowstone National Park, a spot we’d both been wanting to visit, but hadn’t yet gotten the opportunity to. The only catch was that we had a single day to explore the park which boasts a whopping 2.2 million acres of land. It took a good bit of planning and some clever scheduling to make it happen, but we managed to see almost all the major sights Yellowstone has to offer in just one day of exploring. If you find yourself in a similar situation and want to know exactly how to tackle the park, this travel guide is perfect for you!

Image courtesy of YellowstonePark.com

6:00am – breakfast offsite in Teton Village
We stayed outside of the park because most of the lodging options inside were either booked up or a bit more expensive than we were wanting to spend. Instead, we stayed in Teton Village, a town about an hour and a half south of Yellowstone. It definitely wasn’t ideal to be this far from the park, but it made the most sense for our particular situation. As a bonus, we got to explore Grand Teton National Park the day before as well (stay tuned for that travel guide)!

7:30-8:00am – arrive at Yellowstone
We tried to make it to the park fairly early in the morning to beat some of the crowds and ended up entering through the South Entrance a little before 8:00am. Starting early also meant we had cooler temperatures to walk around and explore, which made it a lot more enjoyable.

9:00am – Old Faithful
Our first stop was Old Faithful, probably one of the most iconic features in the park. We kept a close eye on the National Park Service website to see when the next predicted eruption would be, and in the meantime walked along the boardwalks of the Upper Geyser Basin. Seeing Old Faithful erupt was absolutely spectacular, and well worth the crowds. As soon as the show ended, we made our way back to the car to head on before there was a massive rush of people trying to leave.

10:30am – Grand Prismatic Spring
Another icon of Yellowstone, Grand Prismatic Spring is located just about 15 minutes up the road from Old Faithful. Unfortunately, we got a little lost while hiking around the area which meant there were some serious crowds once we actually made it to Grand Prismatic. Despite this, Grand Prismatic was absolutely worth the stop, and it was one of the most gorgeous sights we saw the whole day.

1:00pm – Mammoth Hot Springs
We were a little hesitant to visit Mammoth Hot Springs considering it is at the very northwestern point of the park, but we were so glad we ended up making the drive. I didn’t expect to be super wowed by this area considering how dramatic Old Faithful and Grand Prismatic were, but I was pleasantly impressed by how beautiful the Mammoth Hot Springs area was and how different it looked from the southern part of the park. The crowds were also a little better which made strolling through more enjoyable.

3:00pm – Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone
Unfortunately, the road connecting Mammoth Hot Springs to the Tower-Roosevelt portion of the park was closed, so we instead opted to head south and then east to explore the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. We checked out both Artist Point and Inspiration Point, and this was one of my favorite areas in the whole park. The Yellowstone River is absolutely stunning, and the waterfalls were some of the biggest I’ve ever seen.

4:30pm – Hayden Valley
We opted to take the long way out of the park by heading south from Canyon Village so we could drive through Hayden Valley and past Yellowstone Lake. Hayden Valley did not disappoint as we encountered a massive herd of buffalo. I’ve seen buffalo before in other states, but it never ceases to be an amazing experience. We pulled off the road and watched the herd for quite some time before continuing on past the lake. We didn’t make any stops in this area, but it was a beautiful drive as the sun slowly began to set. We passed by the South Entrance we originally came in, as well as Old Faithful, before exiting through the West Entrance and even seeing some elk on our way out.

7:00pm – dinner in West Yellowstone
Once exiting Yellowstone, we got some dinner and spent the night in West Yellowstone, a Montana town not far outside the park. This town is a great option if you want to be close to the park but not actually stay within park boundaries. It was the perfect spot to rest up and enjoy some bison chili after a full day of adventuring!
I would definitely recommend eating meals outside of the park if possible, because food inside Yellowstone tends to be overpriced and a bit limited – we snacked on PB&J sandwiches and other snacks which saved us both time and money!

And there you have it folks! Yellowstone has so much to offer that I would definitely recommend taking more than just one day to explore it, but it can be done if you’re willing to do a good bit of driving! I’m so glad we made the detour to check out the park and I can’t wait for our next visit.