leg three of our epic summer road trip: California to Denver


We were really lucky my mom was able to join us for the third leg of our road trip. Yay, another adult to drive!

We decided to take the scenic 101 up the coast to Oregon. My mom has done that trip many times in her life, but I had never been further than Laytonville. Finally getting to see the north coast of my beloved California (and driving through the big redwoods) was indeed glorious. 

After the first night, we realized that having my mom around meant changing our routine a little. R and I had been quite content driving as far as we could go and then stopping somewhere, finding WiFi and booking a last minute hotel (there were only a few times we didn't do that on our first two legs). 


With my mom, though, we had two new issues: the first being that we had to book slightly bigger rooms and the second being that she wasn't used to our fly-by-the-cuff way of traveling. 

She definitely got more used to it as we went on, but I ended up booking hotels the night before instead of the day of. That's still much more on the fly than she's used to, but it was a good compromise. 

The next day we drove further up the 101 and then inland into Oregon, where we both had friends to visit! 


(I stayed with Sh, who was one of my favorite people in high school and my mom stayed with her friend that she had known since elementary school. We had great visits but were all eager to get back to the road, so we didn't stay quite as long as I'd originally planned.)

We weren't sure, leaving central Oregon, whether we would hang around Portland for awhile (visiting more friends), go up to Seattle/ Vancouver (where we both had yet more friends) or whether we would want to spend more time going inland. In the interest of actually being on the road (as opposed to visiting, which is a different thing), we opted to head inland after driving up to Astoria (so I could pay homage to my beloved Goonies). 


(We had a time range for about when my mom would need to get back to Northern CA, but we didn't have a firm date, so we didn't know exactly where we would be when she flew home - she ended up coming all the way to Denver with us, which worked out great.) 

We did a flyby of Portland (yay, gluten free lunch) and headed inland. Damn, Oregon is bigger than it seems!

My mom's favorite part of our road trip was our unexpected visit to the fishing hatchery in Eastern Oregon. (Someone needed to use the restroom and that's just where we ended up.) 


The rest of this leg flew by in a haze of driving: Eastern Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and then the long, long stretch of Montana. 

My mom's family is from Montana, so she showed off the state to me and R and told me many family stories during the drive. 

Unfortunately, by this point, I was starting to get cranky. Missing M* and not having had a proper stop for awhile. 

(Road trips are all about the push-me/pull-me of going and stopping.) 


So instead of going to Yellowstone, we booked two nights in Billings, at a hotel that had a few watersides attached to their pool. 

(And then we somehow stumbled upon a Tribal Bellydance Hafla! Small world, indeed.) 

Rested, we figured out the rest of our route and I booked my mom a ticket home. 

We spent a lot of time marveling at the scenery. 


Wow, Big Sky Country. Gorgeous, you are. 

And you, Wyoming. 

Just gorgeous. 



So much sky. 



* The downside to having had M around for almost two weeks in California - I missed him that much more after he flew home. Especially since we were going by our own time schedule (and not rushing to meet him by a certain date). That missing just got worse and worse the closer we got to home. It made the second half of the road trip much less easy, in many ways.