One Thousand, Nine Hundred and Three.
How do you measure a road trip? Well, it's not in daylights (4), not in sunsets (4), not in midnights (5), and not in cups of coffee (~14). You measure a road trip in the miles you travel, and all the experiences along the way.
This past week/weekend, I crossed another very important goal off of my list. I completed a road trip of more than 1,000 miles. 1,903 (plus or minus a few because of Amelia going the wrong direction a few times).
This journey was made possible because of my good friend Amelia. She's currently on a 'round the country road trip, and allowed me to tag along for part of it. A few months back, we talked about me flying out to meet her and riding back into Chicago. Originally, that was supposed to happen in mid-August. A few weeks ago, she called me a told me that she was going to be doing that drive much sooner than anticipated. It actually made me freak out a bit because I was working on a lot of stuff and wasn't sure if I'd be able to take the time away. But, I decided to go anyway. I took my laptop along with me, and worked on client work late at night in the tent, inside of McDonald's, and in the passenger seat along the way!
After arriving in Bozeman, MT, Amelia and I set off for our first leg of the trip... The Beartooth Highway. This was quite possibly the most scenic drive ever! A serious climb up to a 10,000 ft elevation that lasted almost 70 miles. It was incredible. It was also hell on Amelia's '97 Toyota Corolla. We had some car troubles that set us back a little bit, but damn, it was worth it. This is also where we met Ron, a cool biker-dude traveling through on his Harley. We actually camped with him that night.
Next, it was on through Yellowstone. We stopped at a few of the main attractions, and stopping to take a lot of photos along the way (and for me to step into a few freezing cold lakes). We checked out the Grand Prismatic Springs, Artist Point, and even got to share the road with a few buffalo. It was a gorgeous place. We decided to bypass Yellowstone's greatest attraction, Old Faithful, because we couldn't stand be around those kind of tourists!
The Journey continued a few hundred miles eastward, towards Bighorn National Forest. Here, again, we ran into some car troubles... Another 30 mile stretch up to approximately 9,500 ft in elevation almost made us rethink our decision to drive through it, and instead, drive around the forest completely. After a short break (for the car, and for us), we decided to proceed, and I'm damn sure glad we did. It was a short drive through, but it provided some great scenery!
Our last, and most yearned for, destination before we headed back to Chicago were the Badlands of South Dakota. We had been in the car all day and when we arrived, just before sunset, all of our exhaustion/angst turned into glee! We were like little kids running to get photos of animals, and chasing the sunset over the hills. There was a point in which I told Amelia that my eyes couldn't take anymore. It was just that beautiful! Oh, and we also saw Mount Rushmore and the Crazy Horse Memorial, but that was totally overshadowed by what you see in the photo above.
After seeing so many beautiful sites, we began our journey back to Chicago. This was by far the worst part of the trip. Not only were we leaving the Badlands and Yellowstone behind, but we were preparing to spend 15+ hours in the car. Through South Dakota. Through Minnesota. And through Wisconsin. Nothing but fields, farms, and the smell of cows. This photo was the best thing I saw along that part of the journey, so I am going to stop talking about it.
Needless to say, this road trip was pretty incredible. I was so glad that I was able to not only accomplish my road trip goal, but that I was able to do it with a good friend and see parts of the country that I hadn't before.
If you want to see more photos from my trip, you can check them out on my VSCO gallery. And seriously, follow Amelia as she finishes up her wonderful trip!