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the epic cousin roady pt. 2...because any good saga has a sequel

Updated: Jan 30, 2023

Sequels.. Sometimes they are begged for and sometimes they are green beans at Thanksgiving supper...not asked for but deemed by someone to make it onto HBO, whoops I mean into the buffet line. Our sequel was far from a flop. It started shockingly similar to the last trip. DIA, slightly chilly, hushed morning, me an hour late...again. Lilly said I ask for one thing and one thing only. I got her a lot of other things quantity over quality, right?! Groceries packed, breakfast awaiting in the passenger seat, water bottle filled in the cup holder I mean come on. Me on time? Ya no sorry that shipping label must've gotten lost.

An ambitious first day to say the least. We braved snow, a looming 15 1/2 hours that taunted us on apple car play and some sleet. Passing where we had stopped on our first night on our November road trip, then passing where we had stopped on the second night of the road trip, and the third, oh and close to where we spent the fourth day...I70 I love you but we need a break. 5 states later and we are going delirious. We grubbed it out in Las Vegas, sadly not at a slot machine like I had hopped. California had a sub par road sign, then things got weirder, and roads became roller coasters.

These back roads had some kick. I was getting stomach drops and starting to sleep talk like a mad man. And then...we found Samantha. Samantha if you are reading this we owe you everything. From the 6 Flag-esque southern California roads to all nighters in South Dakota you went everywhere with us and we found comfort in your English draw. To preface: Samantha is a British lady who recorded herself reading every single Harry Potter novel on Spotify. At First Harry Potter was just a night time treat, only to be started if it was dark out and we were tired. Then it progressed into something we'd listen to when we were scared at night in the tent. Okay and maybe for sleepy mornings when we didn't feel like talking. While we cooked, even for short rides, during sunny days, as a ROLL UP...we were addicted. When we were hiking I would find myself narrating in Samantha's voice. Blimey I'd mutter under my breath when I was in a crowded hike I thought I should hex the whole lot of em! Yeah... We had a guessing game how many times we were going to stop for ice cream and how many Harry Potter books we would blow through. A shockingly low ice cream count of 5 and a surprisingly high count of 5 Harry Potter books. But look at me flying off my broomstick...back to night 1.

We arrive to a sandy road, oh BLM land you give me nightmares but my wallet kisses your feet. Go to set up the tent only to realize a pole had broken not the name names but it was probably the most important pole. You know the one that goes across the top and holds the whole thing together? Ya, that one. 3 weeks, broken tent? No big. Lilly the next day swears she heard a coyote outside our tent, We are very versatile girls but the desert is a language we don't even know how to say "hello" in.

Stop #1 Joshua Tree. Truly unlike no other. We walk through mysterious trees, stepping though the real life Dr. Seuss book.

Mid afternoon post crushing some apples, we had to keep it on brand, we headed off towards Sequoia National Park and ice cream stop #1. The first few days of our trip our whole family was gang gang in Louisiana together. So call one we called all, it would never be the one we dialed who we would talk to so that was hectic all around. Sorry bad service!....

Eventually we arrived at a beautiful site on a lake outside of the park, wrestling with the broken tent and discovering that if we tied this random thing to another random thing the tent could almost stand up kind of straight. Morning came, Sequoia time. Obviously I did not do my research I thought we were at the Red Wood Forrest and we were going to get to skrt through some trees. Sequoia is what we deemed an underdog National Park. Not one you would hear about on TMZ (I kid I'm sure TMZ has not covered any national parks) but a less "famous" one or one we did not have crazy high standards for besides our classic day to day high standards. Much like Bryce Canyon in November, Sequoia took us for an unexpected ride. We saw the General Sherman, the Congress, the Senate... No we did not time travel to DC, at Sequoia they have trees that have been around since the Civil War that are named with some extreme American pride. It was crazy to think how many generations of people came and shared the same awe standing in the exact same place we stood. I mean these trees were biiiig, crane your head hurt your neck looking type of huge. We did a hike to an abandoned summit, only the best kind and had a little yoga meditation moment. Laughs were had, sun was soaked, and apples were eaten. There we began our animal spotted list.

Next stop: Yosemite! Cue up Travis Scott! Can I have Travis to the mic?! As we approached we took Travis's and Lillys tiktok feeds warnings to the heart. Avoid the fearls of Yosemite. Is there actually a group of canniabals in Yosemite? Hey I am not ruling anything out...but I guess Lilly and I did not look quite mouth watering enough because we did in fact survive. We got to our sunset hike so as one would we plopped down on my surf blanket (it can really turn the most questionable sights into something trendy) lit up the stove and made that parking lot into a test kitchen. You know the kind that serves crunchy rice? Hiked up Sentiniel Dome and saw one of the most stunning sunsets, waterfall heaven we could even see the one we hiked up the next day.

Sprinting down in the dark we Mary and Joseph-ed our home aka parking lot for the night. All sights were full or closed and you wink wink aren't supposed to car camp in parks. We came upon Bethlehem of parking lots. A road with 19-23 some odd cars all car camping, and many bear boxes. It was like the park was urging us to stay there. So we joined the nameless/ faceless yet comforting squad of cars and settled into the 5 star subaru seat hotel (its a boutique one if you have not heard about it yet thats why) woke up for sunrise as we do being sun chasers, and mentally prepared for one of the many extreme rated hikes on All Trails I pushed for us to do. Upper Yosemite Falls hike I would recommend to all the friends. It lead us past a beautiful waterfall then up a god forsaken amount of switch backs until we were at the top of the waterfall with an amazing view of Half Dome # freesolo. Twas one of those awkwardly long hikes where you are constantly passing the same people then you take a break and they pass you...That hiking tango thats always slightly off beat...We heard all the groups on the trail bonding yet the only friend we made was an old man rocking a Zion cap. Game respects game. Feeling like on the way down the amount of switchbacks decided to triple as we were hanging out on the summit.

Cheesy bread was not wanted, it was needed.

Being go with the flow is all cute and quirky until its post day long hike and food coma and we realize there is no BLM or campsites open in Carmel or next destination. We adjust and send it straight to my dad's cousin's house out side of San Fran. Had ice cream 2 on the way in the town the cousins live in but we hid the bowls because we felt awkward and told them and ETA 10 minutes later well knowing we were stopping for a sweet treat. Not our last time being creepy.

Laundry and a bed?! Suddenly lack of campsites seemed all too lucky...and boy did we get luckier... two words, hot tub. For hours. Prune juiced up we slept like babies. Now that we had a free day we were supposed to be in the Big Sur for we shipped it up to wine country, casual I know. Even though we were showered we weren't sure smelly stuffed to the prime Betty (my beautiful white Subaru forester) fit in in Sanoma but hey. We biked the vineyards and ate truly delectable food. I cannot speak for the drinks because wine country was not big enough for two Lillian Lauck's.

Vroom to meet up with one of my moms best friends Ms. Lisa and her husband at a questionable choice of location Ms Lisa...a very dark sketchy gas station. As we followed them down dark and windy dirty paths (not roads) the questions flooded. "Hey have you seen Mr. Chris's break lights turn on once?" "No." "Ya, same..." "Do you think he feels like he is in Mario Kart?" We made it to their house boat alive, nestled in the vortex of Lake Shasta to find out that that was him driving "slow." Cue two amazing days of champagne and I am not talking Cooks champagne...laughs, home cooked or I guess boat cooked meals, waterslides and some intense games of spoons. We bid Cali and our road trip parents goodbye (Ms. Lisa decided she was responsible for us until we hit Idaho because then we were close enough to Colorado to become Evan's issue. Fair Ms. Lisa, fair.)

Oregon!!! My first new state of the trip! Cute sign too...

Oregon stop #1: Crater Lake. Lemme tell you it did not feel like a crater unless it was a crate of frozen milk. It was cold. We woke up for sunrise and danced ourselves to semi warmth among the snow.

Continued onward towards Bend. Adorable town that fueled our bakery obsession of the trip.

We really did favor a jam packed day. Ms Lisa admitted to tracking us and seeing us leave Bend so quickly and she was afraid we did not like it. Not the case but just as you cannot slow down a space rocket in Mario Kart you could not slow us down either. From Bend we went to Smith Rock State Park and we were suddenly transported to Arizona. We laughed and said Oregon= major swinter vibes. I mean I even saw lava rock there that state is wilding.

Intermission: At Smith Rock State Park I saw a horse that looked just like the horse I used to ride at horse camp, Laffy Taffy...a blonde beauty.

Intermission from the Intermission: The horse camp was a scam at best. We rode for 30 minutes of the day and mucked stalls the rest of the day. One time I swear we cleaned out the owners fridge, the most that had to do with a horse was probably some horse magnet on the fridge door. At the end of the week of camp we had a horse show where all the families came to watch. I was dressed up in my finest 5 below hot pink shirt and brains and You Belong With Me started blaring. Laffy Taffy bucked me off. I mean that horse really hated me. She did just fine with the girl who rode her after me. I stupidly kept trying to be an equestrian. Laffy Taffy yeeted me to the ground a second time this time at a competition in front of parents and judges. Both times awkward clapping ensued... Long story short when I went to pet Oregon Laffy Taffy look-a-like I got electrocuted by the electric fence. I really should have known better.

Bad animal luck in general that day as I went to go touch the beautiful babbling brook (aka a river in Smith Rock park) a water snake poof appeared out of no where, only my worst fear (foreshadow). That was also the day I heard a big old thump when I was driving, not sure what not sure how bad next subject please... Loved our Smith Rock hike.

Onward we marched to Sahalie Falls a stunning waterfall in the woods. Stupidly we drove to the hotel where some of The Shinning was filmed right before we settled in to camp for the night. Reminder we were balling on a budget and staying at free BLM land. The broken tent loved to do this super cute thing of rustling on the ground to the point where it sounded like footsteps walking towards us, Which even Samantha going on about who opened the Chamber of Secrets couldn't drone out. Cold night, colder morning. We did a "hike" (Stumbled down an icy path) to a lake with a gorgeous view of Mt. Hood

One of the prettiest driving sections was as we weaved through Oregon winery’s towards our first taste of Washington, Beacon Rock State Park whose views looked back at the Oregon roads we had just come from. Nothing but amazing things to say about Oregon/ Washington state parks they all blew my mind. We then drove over Bridge of the Gods (Excuse me geeking out Reese Witherspoon has been my absolute girl since she took Harvard by storm in Legally Blonde. mix her with one of my other favorite things, hiking and a great true story and you get "Wild") It is on that bridge where Cheryl Strayed decided to stray off the PCT (ha ha see what i did there) and end her solo journey. It is also a beautiful bridge that connects Oregon to Washington. Swung back through Oregon to check out Multnomah Falls.

Ice cream stop 3 in Portland, disposed of the ice cream evidence before we got to Ms. Lisa's in Vancouver Washington. (I told you we were not done being creepy). We caught up w/ trip mom about our past few days, did laundry, showered, watched little women...hello heaven. Next morning we took off towards the long awaited coast. Destination: Cannon Beach. The town was giving New England ocean town vibes which was exactly what we were craving, I mean I even mucked some New England clam chowder. Diff coast but gotta hand it to them... We walked the beach past Haystack rock and plopped down in the sand dreaming of the beach trips we decided we would take every summer to different destinations and this place constituted a future summer trip.

Popped into Ecola State Park (different than the disease do not fret) and back into Washington we headed. Somewhere along that day we heard a sadly familiar BANG! This time it was Lilly who hit a furry friend. I begged Lilly to pull over, she's in med school she could save the patient if you will. Lilly shakes her head, gaze stays forward, "I saw in the mirror...flat." Oh did I laugh until I cried.

First full day in Washington started with a chilly walk on Ruby Beach where the craziest thing happened... some dude ran up to us and said, "Where the hell you been locas?!" No I am kidding but major New Moon vibes which prompted Lilly and I to urgently ask everyone we knew if they were team Edward or team Jacob. We then took it a step further and dove into a psych analysis on why people would choose who they did. Us both being team Jacob we decided we like more of a boy next door, funny type while team Edward was more of a hopeless romantic.

We went into Olympic National Park to the Hoh Rainforest and was transported to the Amazon really quick. When we returned back our next stop was Forks, where we obviously twerked in front of the town sign and crumped at the "Vampire Werewolf Treaty line." Then to a true gem Rialoto beach. Saw a rock with a path up it at the end of the beach and frolicked up it. The greatest views on a grassy patch above the sprawling beach with massive rocks, picture Shawn Mendes in the Wonder music video. Stopped in Port Angles cute town for some even cuter dinner supplies. PB and fluff and frosted animal crackers what dreams are made of. Frosted not iced, this was not autocorrect trust me. The next morning we went back into Olympic Natty Park and did one of our favorite hikes Mt. Storm King. There was a short ropes section but we were tough Angels Landing gals at this point, built diff. There was someone at the summit eating a glizzy, thanks random stranger number 9 I've wanted a glizzy ever since.

No need to dwell but Ga developed a weird foot fetish and asked for daily feet pics, We then carried on to a ferry. Drove our car onto it and headed off towards Seattle. We decided Derek Sheppard is a liar. No way could Derek live a ferry boat away and be on call at the hospital. I mean please Derek I enjoyed the ferry boat too but there are lives to save!

We could not find camping that night so we pulled into a trusty ole Walmart parking lot. Cue mother instincts...I got a call from my mom, "where are y'all?" Washington... "where are y'all staying tonight?" Washington... Bish well knew we were at Walmart and said get your booties to a Holiday Inn. Before she had even finished her sentence Lilly had the car on and ready thank god she said.

Next morning we did a kayak tour in the San Juan islands and made all sorts of seal and otter friends and all sorts of twerp enemies, These kids. were out for blood tryna race us but thankfully we were a united well oiled machine. Visited a dead tulip farm (not emo we thought they would be alive) and went into Seattle. Pikes market, the interns house, din din and icecream 4. Made it that night to Mount Rainer to camp. Mount Rainer was something else. We hiked up snow past people skiing down, and made our own little Olaf snowman friend.

Even though it was snowing the sun was shinning and the views were the definition of exquisite.

(we are also the views of course). Mt. Rainer to Leavenworth this random town in Washington that was made to look just like Germany. We continued to lean into our homeless but cute look and made mac and cheese and cold smores on a park bench on the out skirts of town.

We then pulled up to our old priests house. I love calling him that because it makes it sound weirder than it is. Randy the priest and his wife are also my grandparents best friends which made it funny when I would receive the body of christ from Randy and a few hours later I would see him receiving a beer from my fridge and a spot on my couch to watch the Pats. They moved from NH to Washington a year prior and we up and ready to kick it with Lilly and me. They gave us wine and quiche and not to mention a whole spread of bakery delights in the morning (I told you we had a bakery obsession). It was so fun staying with people and getting to know their lives deeper. Everyone has a story if you are willing to listen. I would like to say though everyone we stayed with was family friends we have had for years. When we were driving through Montana Ga and Sir wanted us to camp at a mans ranch who Sir plays online bridge with and has never met before. Please tell me how in any way that sounds like an okay place to send your two granddaughters... An online friends ranch in the middle of no where...

Anyways from the priests house towards Glacier National Park we went! Hello Idaho, hello Montana! Hello bear spray...We did a hike around a lake on the West Side then made our way to the East and drove Going to the Sun road. Hello Forrest Gump! Thankful Forrest Gump stayed safe because a grizzly ran in front of our car and that thing had junk in its trunk if you know what I mean...major dump truck.

Woah almost typed glizzy instead of I said the cravings have continued. Hiking post seeing the bear was defiantly a mental challenge but we made it to a gorgeous waterfall.

Trucked our way further across the country and did a nice drive by of Mount Rushmore. We were starting to go a little crazy camping. I mean a few nights before we set up when it was still light out and when the tent brushed the grass we were sure it was someone who saw it was just two girls outchere who was coming to get us. The only answer was to sleep in the car blocking the windows with sweatshirts but keeping the tent up to fake them out. Later when I was trying to lady and tramp my spork with Lilly she goes "next time we need to come with more people..."

Sunrise at Badlands was buff buff city bish!

Bad lands was super cool until it turned bad dun dun dun. We took off on a short hike it was narrow only room for one foot in front of the other. Speaking of feet my foot was horrifyingly close to a rattle snake and to becoming that snakes breakfast. I could hear rattles everywhere like I was stuck at some cheesy Mexican restaurant and a mariachi band was singing to me on repeat. I was crying, saw two more snakes, trying to convince myself I could speak parsiltongue (too much Samantha) and Lilly was my fearless leader. Made it out alive no idea why. Stopped at Wall drug a cute western town and a DQ ice cream... ice cream 5. Headed sadly towards the end.

Made it to Minneapolis, which was sneaky nice, walked around a lake grabbed lunch and our final ice cream. We checked into the airport hotel for some well deserved Harry Potter movie watchin. Lilly promised me for the last night we would get a room with one bed and snuggle. My mouth had nearly dropped to the floor when she asked for a room with two beds in the hotel in Washington.

Sad boy hours as I dropped Lilly off at the Minneapolis airport the next day an airport I can honestly say I never expected to be at. Life's least expected year turned another amazing road trip. 12 states, 9 national parks, 3 state parks, 18 days, two best friends.

Ya I'm crying too...

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