We hit the 2,500 milestone in Helena, MT. Coincidentally, it was there we decided to rest, recover, and reminisce on the first leg of our trip. It was the perfect place for it since there wasn’t shit to tempt us into leaving the hotel besides coffee and bdubs. So we ate some leftover silly candy from Colorado and shacked up at a Holiday Inn in Montana’s capital. We used those two days to catch up on uploading pictures, writing our blog, and just generally pulling our lives together. Doing so gave us the chance to reflect on the trip so far, here’s what we found…
By The Numbers
13 number of days on the road
52 number of hours driving
148 dollars spent on gas
600 dollars spent in total (including gas but not including individual bills or items bought for the trip beforehand)
10 number of nights camped
3 number of nights in hotel (1 in Sioux Falls, 2 in Helena)
4 number of states (MN, SD, WY, MT)
2 number of capital cities (St. Paul, MN, Helena, MT)
3 numbers of bears seen
3 number of showers taken each (2 in hotels, 1 paid for at a rec center in Casper, WY for $4/person)
∞ hours Kylie spent weeping for her dog S00ber Pants
∞ times we bought gas station coffee because were too lazy to make coffee with the coffee maker we paid for. “Nomads”
∞ Chris flatulations endured by Kyle
∞ number of times Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir’s names were seen or mentioned
Best Money Managing Tool: Splitwise
Splitwise is an app that keeps track of payments between a number a group of people, in this case just us two. It allows one person to pay for something like gas or food without us having to keep track of who owes who what by keeping a running balance.
Best Money Saving Tool: America the Beautiful Pass
The ‘America the Beautiful’ National Parks Pass costs $80 for one year of entry into any and every national park, as well as national monuments like Devil’s Tower and Mt. Rushmore. The price of admission at these places usually ranges from $10-$30. Knowing we’d be taking this trip in the fall, we purchased the pass this summer at Mt. Evans in Colorado. Without the pass, we would’ve paid…
$10 for Mt. Evans
$15 for Badlands National Park
$11 for Mt. Rushmore National Monument
$10 for Devil’s Tower National Monument
$30 for Grand Teton National Park
$30 for Yellowstone National Park
So, we’ve already saved $26, with mucho parks left to visit.
Places We’ve Camped
- Sage Creek – Badlands National Park (free)
- Hanna – Black Hills National Forest (free)
- Casper Mountain –Casper, WY ($10)
- Ocean Lake WHMA – Riverton, WY (free)
- Colter Bay – Grand Teton National Park ($25)
- Shadow Mountain – Bridger-Teton National Forest (free)
- Rainbow Point – West Yellowstone, MT ($10)
- Eagle Creek – Gardiner, MT ($10)
What We Forgot To Pack
Chris: Gloves. We didn’t realize how cold it would get at night even in the late summer when the days were hot. Handling tentpoles at 7 am in 35 degree weather is dumb.
Boots: Bear spray. ALWAYS BRING BEAR SPRAY!!
Coolest Roadside Roadtrip Thing Seen From the Car
Chris: Real life human cowboy man
Boots: The enormous car-murdered dead moose on the way into the Tetons. We didn’t get a picture, but it’s an image I won’t forget. (RIP)
Favorite Car Activity For Preventing Insanity
Chris: Freestyle rapping.
Boots: Loud music, picture taking, picture editing.
Camping Item We’re Most Thankful For (excluding tent and sleeping bags)
Chris: Therm-a-Rest NeoAir Trekker. Would probably be crippled without it.
Boots: Jetboil. Light and easy to pack, boils water pretty heckin’ quick.
Non-Camping Item We’re Most Thankful For
Chris: Pretty much my Coloradicals.
Boots: Face wipes from Walmart. It’s hard ouchea for a woman on the road. Tried other, pricier brands and this is definitely my favorite shower substitute.
Chris: Ky’s photo of Delta Lake. That place was unreal and we took probably 50 pictures, 49 of which didn’t come close to capturing what we were experienced. Her shot blew the others away.
Boots: Either the sunset raging over the Tetons or the tent shot waking up across from the Tetons at Shadow Mountain. Basically everything from the Tetons.
Best Happy Accident
Chris: Spearfish Canyon. Woke up in the Black Hills, headed to Devil’s Tower, and this was the route Google Maps commanded us to take. Thank God.
Boots: Hanna Campground. The night before Spearfish Canyon, we were eating dinner and a storm was rolling in. We booked it to the nearest campground. Somehow it was this.
Favorite Road Trip App (excluding Splitwise)
Chris: REI National Parks Guide. In-depth detail on all the parks, what to see, best hikes. We rely pretty heavily on it.
Boots: Spotify. Do dee dum bum da bum.
Most Dogshit Moment
Chris: Beating the hell out of my car trying and failing to find Cherry Creek Campground in West Yellowstone.
What We Were Least Prepared For
Chris: Being around someone 24 hours a day for an extended period of time in a very confined space. Especially in a constant situation of needing to figure shit out, plan, and make decisions. It’s an incredibly challenging lifestyle you can’t prepare for. She’s unbelievably patient with me and I love her like crazy for it.
Boots: Scrambling around at night to find campsites and setting up in the dark. I imagined sitting at the campsite around the fire, or in the tent, and watching the sunset somewhere awesome every night. That hasn’t been the case, but it makes it that much sweeter when it is.
Chris: When we were at Casper Mountain and were told about campers’ recent encounters with mountain lions in the area, and Kylie was so terrified she insisted on joining me in the biffy whilst I did my bidness. That was a big step forward in our relationship.
Boots: When we were in the Tetons and a bunch of cars pulled off the road to scope some elk, and this shirtless guy on a bike comes rippin’ past, screaming at all these people, “Do you care about the vegetation? Do you? Obviously not! There’s a pullout right up the road. Get off the vegetation!” Real heroes don’t wear masks.
Most Unforgettable Moment
Chris: Waking up in the Badlands after our first night camping and realizing our dream was finally here. Also, how tiny I felt looking out over Garnet Canyon at the miles and miles of landscape below and beyond. You realize how everything you see has been there long before you and will be well after you’re gone. So you just take in how lucky you are, and it’s something to tap back into whenever I lose sight of that.
Boots: I agree, the feeling of vertigo from the top of the Tetons will stick with me forever. On top of that, our first run-in with bison in the Badlands, getting that close to these massive, ancient beasts was unforgettable.