Heading West | Visiting Roswell, Carlsbad Caverns and My New Home

Just like that, My Great American Road Trip is headed back west. If you read my post when I started traveling back east, you’re probably very confused — honestly, so am I. Over the course of 4.5 months, I crossed the entire United States from coast-to-coast THREE times. It’s a really long and complicated story, but basically I got to Tennessee and then decided to turn around and go all the way back to Oregon to stay for good. After all these months of traveling, I’m finally calling Oregon my new home, and that feels so, so, so good. Here are my photos from my trip heading west, where I visited Roswell, the Carlsbad Caverns, and experienced all the changing autumn leaves 🍂

missouri highway sunset

When I left Oregon a month ago, I headed straight for Missouri where I stayed for a week. Then, continued on to Tennessee. This sunset in Missouri knocked me off my feet, but it was also a turning point. While I was in Missouri, I started to miss Oregon more and more. My heart was being pulled into 100 different directions, but at the end of every scenario I played out in my head, I was led back to Oregon. Of course, I didn’t know I’d actually go all the way back west, but that’s exactly what ended up happening. Crazy how life works itself out, isn’t it?

nashville honky tonk central

whiskey row nashville

johnny cash museum nashville

mcfaddens nashville

Nashville was every dream I’ve ever had. This city is bustling with people, music and culture and it made me so happy. It was as if a country radio station came to life. Every corner had something fun going on, and I could have spent a full week there and still wouldn’t have seen everything Nashville had to offer. I can’t wait to go back one day!

knoxville tennessee

greetings from knoxville tennessee

After staying in Nashville, we made our way to Knoxville to visit some friends! It was so much fun meeting new people and hanging out in a hip little city. If you’re ever in Knoxville, look up Da Hula Bowl! It’s a Hawaiian food truck and they’re really good friends! The food is awesome, but the couple who run it are even better. ❤️

While in Knoxville is when we decided Oregon is home. So after spending a few nights in Knoxville, I made my way back across the country toward Oregon. Toward HOME.

ruby falls chattanooga tennessee

ruby falls chattanooga tennessee

After leaving Knoxville, I was in Chattanooga. Driving through, there were tons of signs for Ruby Falls, which is 1,000 foot underground waterfall — yes, really. It was incredible!

rainy day in knoxville tennessee

The next few days were a blur, and then I found myself in New Mexico!

carlbad caverns

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While in New Mexico, I went to Carlsbad Caverns! This was on my list for a long time, so I’m really happy I was able to go! It was AMAZING. If you ever have the chance to visit the caverns, I can’t recommend it enough!

Tip: Go early in the morning when they first open, and you’ll have the place to yourself!

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Then I did another Bucket List item: Roswell. If you aren’t familiar with Roswell, it’s basically Alien Town, U.S.A. There were aliens everywhere, and it was awesome! 👽

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Driving through Arizona for the third time this year was amazing. The first time I was in Arizona this year, I experienced some major healing, and being back there again a few weeks ago felt so great!

nevada lake

Nevada was beautiful. It was a long and tiring drive through the desert from Las Vegas to Reno, but it was beautiful nonetheless. Some say the desert is boring with its 100 shades of brown, but there’s something so unique about it, it makes me really happy.

california state sign

Crossing the border into California felt special. I was born here in California, and being in the state always feels good ❤️

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When I woke up at 4am and left California, Mount Shasta came out to say hello. This was the most beautiful, golden autumn morning!

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And finally, I made it to Oregon. I made it HOME.

The last week has been full of applying for jobs here in Oregon, house hunting, car shopping, and stocking up on warmer clothes. It’s been busy, stressful, overwhelming and full of unknowns — but the best things in life are that way. I know life will slow down, and everything will figure itself out. But until then, I’ll keep working hard and praying harder. Nothing new there 😉

I hope life has been treating you well. I hope you’ve been embracing this autumn with your loved ones. And I hope any stressful situations you’ve been facing dwindle and make you stronger. ❤️

Heading West | Visiting Roswell, Carlsbad Caverns and My New Home

Heading East | Snow in September, Dinosaurs and John Mayer’s House

My Great American Road Trip is heading east! In a little less than a week’s time, I made it from Oregon, to Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Iowa, to Missouri where I’ll be for a week! It was a crazy few days. I saw snow in September, a man walking a dinosaur, and drove through John Mayer’s home in Paradise Valley (which was a DREAM come true).

Here’s some bits and pieces of what I saw on my journey back east! Check out the rest of my Travel posts to catch up! 🚙

portland highway portland oregon skyline

Leaving Portland was a wild ride. When I first crossed into Oregon, I felt in my heart that I was going to make it my home right then and there. But as time went on, I flew to Nashville for business, I had some conversations with the Big Guy upstairs, and had many heart-to-hearts with myself in the shower, and then felt that maybe it’s not time to settle down yet. So onward and upward. A traveler’s life for me (for now, anyway).

idaho in fall idaho wilderness idaho in fall idaho in fall

“Autumn… the year’s last, loveliest smile.”

– William Cullen Bryant

hot chocolate in mug

campfire in the woods road trip in van

Scenes from a campsite. Have you ever seen anything more “campy” than hot chocolate, a campfire, and bumper stickers on a van? 🌲

jasmine eclipse jasmine eclipse

Feeling like sunshine lately. I’ve been drinking tea instead of coffee, because it’s so much better for my heart, anxiety, and stomach! Letting myself sit in the sun and just be still. I have been reading and writing—two things I could never live without. Keeping a great balance on my work. Working enough to stay busy and make a “living,” but saying “no” when it gets to be too much. And I’ve been increasing my patience and decreasing my worry-wart syndrome.

I’m just a ray of sunshine these days, and I’m proud of my progress. Only love and light in this heart of mine! 🌼

road trip reading

You’re lovely, you’re lovely, you’re lovely. Don’t let yourself forget it.

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This night, the sky was gorgeous. It was a gloomy day, and then out of nowhere the skies lit up with the most beautiful orange, pink and purple hues. After the sun exploded the sky, the world became a dim violet and then quietly turned into night.

Then, a deer jumped in front of the truck, wrecking the front bumper and trailer. Luckily, that was the only damage, but it was an eye-opener for sure!

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Spent time daydreaming here on the shores of the Yellowstone River in Montana. I was very happy on this day 😊

Also, I have to mention that I drove through Paradise Valley, which is where John Mayer got his inspiration for his titled album (and he also has a home there!). Before you ask: Yes, all I listened to while driving through Montana was John Mayer. It was a pretty magical moment for this super fan 🤷🏼‍♀️

south dakota border sign idaho autumn sunset badlands montana south dakota dinosaur

This view will always make me weak in the knees. I love the pale blue sky, the rocks, the desert-scape, the browns that never seem to blend together. I could live in the desert.

When South Dakota comes to mind, what do you think of? For me, I always thought I’d never go there. But once I was there, I realized how much I would’ve missed out on if I hadn’t driven through. There’s actually so much to see! If you love quirky roadside attractions, this is the place, let me tell ya.

Also, I’m pretty sure South Dakota is home to 98% of America’s sunflowers. There were fields for miles and miles!

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Then… it snowed. In September! I literally went from 70 degrees and sunny to 30 degrees and freezing in an hour. It’s amazing how the world works like that. I loved it and I had a blast in the snow (which I hadn’t felt since I was back in Canada! 😳), but I’m not ready for winter quite yet. I want autumn forever!

What’s the weather like where you are? Is it getting cold yet? Are you excited for fall and the holidays? 😊

Heading East | Snow in September, Dinosaurs and John Mayer’s House

Washington | Exploring Downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier

There’s something special about Seattle, and I can’t quite place it. I just love the feel of the city, the gloomy skies, the UFOs everywhere. Seattle is just different—and I like that. My recent trip to Washington was great! I spent my time exploring Downtown Seattle, camping in the woods, and meeting family I’d never met before!

Have you seen the rest of my Great American Road Trip posts? 🌼

washington campground

washington puppy

Have you ever seen a cuter face?! Look at this happy puppy! 😍

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I am one happy camper 🌞

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There’s nothing better than being above the tree-line and seeing nothing but green for miles and miles. The Pacific Northwest is so gorgeous.

john muir mount rainier

Fun fact: John Muir is my favorite person in the world. Did you know it’s because of him that we even have National Parks and green, open spaces that are protected? When I was younger, I was so interested in him, his books were all I would read. I even made my dad take me to Muir’s home in California, we did the Muir Trail, and I have all his books (one of them I have in three different versions!) Anyway, I’m a big fan of Mr. Muir. 😂

chehalis washington washington state fair chehalis antiques ivars seattle

Visiting this little town in Chehalis was like stepping back in time. Everything was vintage, it was SO amazing! If it weren’t for the gloom and cold winters, I’d totally live there.

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This was my second time visiting Seattle and Pike’s, and it was as though nothing had changed from the last time I was there. The only difference was that I changed, which made the city feel even better. Have you ever felt that way visiting a place?

washington skies washington skies

Oh, these Washington sunsets. The skies were an orange/purple/pink because of the wildfires, but they were so pretty. Beauty in the madness, I guess! 💜

Washington | Exploring Downtown Seattle and Mount Rainier

Oregon (Part 4) | Exploring Bend & Crater Lake After the Wildfires

I first went to Eastern Oregon four years ago to visit friends, so going back this time around was great! I was reminded what a beautiful little city it is, and I was so happy to be spending time in the wilderness. For the week I was there, I spent time exploring Bend and Crater Lake after the wildfires ripped through. Luckily, there wasn’t too much damage and it was still as beautiful as ever.

*Have you seen Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 of my Oregon trip? 😎

bend oregon camp bend oregon camp

How adorable is this camp? I loved this little log cabin in the woods.

bend oregon forest

I grew up with the Redwoods in California, but I will never get over the beauty of these giants. They’re so amazing!

bend oregon river bend oregon river

I’ve been making dog friends everywhere I go, and it’s awesome. I need a dog asap!

bend oregon vintage donuts

Bend has so many thrift stores, vintage shops and garage sales. It was fun hitting up all these places (and getting free food!)

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How beautiful is the moon? I love seeing her during the day time. I wrote a little bit about the moon recently, if you’re a fellow moon nerd, you should check it out! 🌙

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Before you ask, these are the shorts I’m wearing!

bend oregon

Okay, but how incredible is that water?! These photos don’t even do it justice—it was so BLUE and bright and beautiful!

I’m so happy I was finally able to see Crater Lake, and it turned out to be the most beautiful, clear day! Did you know this was a volcano, but it exploded and collapsed on itself, and that’s why it’s a lake now! Nature is so amazing.

*Some links may be affiliate links for my Dalmatian and coffee fund 👍🏼. Visit my Disclaimer page for more info.

Oregon (Part 4) | Exploring Bend & Crater Lake After the Wildfires

Oregon (Part 3) | Staying on the Oregon Coast and Sand Dunes

When I was going to college, one thing my roommates would look forward to was the weekend. Not because of the parties or sleeping in, but because sometimes we’d visit the Oregon Coast and Sand Dunes! I loved that two-hour road trip with my best friends, it was so special. So when I visited again after all these years, all those great memories came rushing back.

*Before you read on, have you checked out Part 1 and Part 2 of my Oregon trip? 😊

oregon coast oregon coast

My “Great American Road Trip” began on the Atlantic Ocean, and I made it all the way to the Pacific Ocean. It felt incredible standing here, staring out at the Pacific—an ocean that I grew up with in Hawaii. The ocean has a way of making you feel small, doesn’t it?

pacific northwest map oregon lighthouse

Fun fact: Lighthouses are one of my favorite things in the world. There’s just something about being that light. Their job is to shine and guide ships to shore. I want to be like a lighthouse—shine and help people. (Cheesy? Too bad 😛)

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I turned 26! 🎉

oregon fog oregon coast fog

I’ll never get tired of morning fog. It’s so cozy.

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While on the coast, I got to play with puppies! This was one of the best days ever. It reminded me how much I love animals, and can’t wait to adopt again!

oregon forests oregon lake

Oh, Oregon. You’re too beautiful for words. I love you.

*Some links may be affiliate links for my coffee habit 👍🏼. Visit my Disclaimer page for more info.

Oregon (Part 3) | Staying on the Oregon Coast and Sand Dunes

Oregon (Part 2) | Visiting my College Town in Eugene

I graduated from the University of Oregon close to five years ago now (yikes), and visiting my college town in Eugene was so surreal. When I graduated, I didn’t think I’d be back. Don’t get me wrong, it was amazing and I have nothing but love for the school and the place, I just thought that chapter was over. When I went back this summer, it felt so strange! Everything had changed, yet it had all simultaneously stayed the same.

Here are photos from my second leg of my Oregon trip. If you haven’t yet, check out Part 1! And catch up on my other posts from my Great American Road Trip 😎

johnson hall university of oregon Lundquist College of Business

I’m totally biased, but the University of Oregon is the most beautiful campus I’ve ever seen. The buildings are gorgeous, they’re the birthplace of Animal House, there’s over 400 species of trees, and everyone’s smiling all the time. It felt so good walking across campus again. This was probably one of my happiest days. So many great memories are rooted here, I can’t wait to bring my children here one day!

king estate winery king estate winery king estate winery king estate winery king estate winery

If you’re ever in Eugene, one thing you have to do is visit a winery. They’re everywhere! I stumbled on King Estate while driving around aimlessly in the countryside, and it was beautiful! The most amazing thing was the owners started the winery without knowing anything about wine! They just started growing grapes because it was something they were passionate about—how cool is that? While I was there, I got a free tour and samples, and spent the rest of the day in the sunshine.

register guard eugene eugene oregon camping

Mornings look like this lately. I’ve been having one of my favorite breakfasts, and made the switch to tea. I’ve been ignoring my phone and computer until about 10am, and I’ve been reading the news or books instead! If you can, I recommend doing this. I’ve been so much happier!

eugene oregon farm stand

A good reminder for peaches and people 👍🏼

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Blackberry bushes are everywhere. I’ve been snacking on these nonstop, they’re so, so good! Best part? They’re free!

eugene oregon

In August, I celebrated my second month on the road here in Oregon (and spoiler: I also spent my third month on the road in Oregon. I’m that behind on posting haha). I’m grateful for this season in my life, because learning so much, seeing so many places, meeting so many people, and seeing who I am becoming and realizing who I want to continue to grow into.

If you have the opportunity to take a break from life and road trip, DO IT.

*Some links may be affiliate links because student loans don’t pay themselves 👍🏼. Visit my Disclaimer page for more info.

Oregon (Part 2) | Visiting my College Town in Eugene

Oregon (Part 1) | Eastern Oregon & Mt. Hood in the Summer

If you follow me on my Twitter or Instagram, you know I’ve been in Oregon since July. JULY. I’ve been sitting on this Oregon content for a while because at first, I wasn’t quite sure how to put it all together. So, I’ll be rolling it out in parts (four, to be exact!). As soon as I crossed over the border into Eastern Oregon, I relished in the sweet Oregonian summertime. Here are photos from my stay at Mt. Hood in the summer!

welcome to oregon oregon road trip

Crossing the border into Oregon felt like a warm, overdue embrace. The last time I was here, I was graduating from University (which was over four years ago now!). Coming back here felt like coming home, and after months of traveling to new and foreign places, that was a great feeling!

historic oregon historic oregon historic oregon historic oregon

I don’t know about you, but I have a thing for abandoned places. I love visiting run down places and towns that time forgot about.

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In the four years I lived in Oregon, I never once visited Mt. Hood. Ever. So I was really excited to finally visit this time. And it was BEAUTIFUL. I can only imagine how gorgeous it is in the winter!

mirror lake oregon mirror lake oregon

At Mount Hood, I visited a place called Mirror Lake. After hiking to the lake and eating breakfast here on this log, I sat and let the beautiful silence envelope me. I sat and thought about how I got to this point—not here at the base of this mountain, but here at this point in my life.

Remembering that just a year ago, I was living in another country with an entirely different life, struggling with my own mind. And when I was sitting there watching the world wake up before my eyes, watching the mountain, birds, and wind reflected in the lake, I knew I’d made it. I felt content. I felt joy burning through my cheeks.

My life has made a total 180 from where I was last year, and I’m so unbelievably happy with the person I’m becoming. I’m glad to have left the person I once was behind, because this new me is so, so, so much better—and it’ll only go up from here. Thankful, so thankful.

snake river oregon

On that hike, I also found this poem in the forest. I took it as a gentle gift from the universe. I hoped to meet the author out there in the woods. Maybe next time.

“Delving into muted expressions, like a record stuck on repeat,
the rest of the album waiting to be sung.
The song that was never heard, beckons a melody of truth
more poignant than the last drop of aged brandy.
Tongue trembling,
jaws clenched,
your eyes shed a mirage.”

Thank you, mysterious writer. You’ve inspired me to write again.

snake river oregon snake river oregon snake river oregon snake river oregon mt hood camp

I was very, very happy here in the woods, walking up the riverbed, wading through the water, drinking in the sunshine. It felt so great to be back in Oregon, and my stay at Mt. Hood was a wonderful welcome!

*Some links may be affiliate links for my Dalmatian and coffee fund 👍🏼. Visit my Disclaimer page for more info.

Oregon (Part 1) | Eastern Oregon & Mt. Hood in the Summer

Wyoming | Rock Springs & the National Rodeo Competition

I’ve been to Wyoming a few times, mostly when I was really young. So when I went this last time, it was really different and special. I was there for a rodeo competition, which was a whole new world in itself. I also started a new job while I was there. I explored Rock Springs, which is home to most of the dinosaur fossils in the U.S.! Overall, the two weeks spent in Wyoming was relaxing, it was different, and it was new – exactly what this trip is all about. Here are some photos from my trip!

rock springs wyoming sweetwater events, rodeo competition

The more I see mountain ranges like these, the more I fall in love with them. When I was young, my great grandmother had a painting similar to this photo. When I visited her in the summers, I drank my hot cocoa at the dining room table and stared at that painting – wanting to be in it. I think maybe that’s why the desert has such a pull on my heart.

rock springs

Two words: Dream. Car.

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Half of me will always long for an apartment with a fire escape. The other half wants a house with a huge yard and tons of animals. I’ll have to find a happy medium.

laundromat rock springs

If this doesn’t make you feel like running off to have tea in Hobbiton, I don’t know what will!

rock springs wyoming rock springs wyoming rock springs wyoming

My stay in Wyoming was hot, dusty, and long. But it was sweet. And I’m happy I was able to visit and experience it in all its warm, July glory.

Wyoming | Rock Springs & the National Rodeo Competition

Utah | Touching REAL fossils and bones at Dinosaur National Monument

Are you caught up with my travel posts? Check out my full Travel Across America trip! 😊

I’ve been to tons and tons of National Parks, but this was by far one of my top 5 favorites. Dinosaur National monument was the most incredible place and I’ll forever remember this as one of the best days of this trip! Here, I was able to touch REAL dinosaur fossils, rocks that were billions of years old, and hike up a side of the mountain to see REAL dinosaur bones in the mountainside. I had a major fangirl moment for the few hours that I was there and I already want to go back. But until then, I’ll relive my trip with these photos. 🦖

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utah

I’m a huge, huge, huge fan of rocks. When I was little, I looked forward to driving down into the canyon because of all the changing rock colors and formations. And an embarrassing tidbit: I used to collect “egg-shaped” rocks because I thought they looked like dinosaur eggs (and I named them all Courtney). Yes, I know I was a weird child. And I’m still a weird human, but hey that’s okay. 👽

welcome to utah welcome to utah

How awesome is this sign?! I’ve seen tons and tons of state signs on this trip, but none that were on this level of cool. Seriously, I want one of these to hang on a wall in my house.

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A REAL dinosaur fossil. It’s REAL!!! How cool is this?!

dinosaur national monument

Honestly. How. AWESOME.

This quarry wall was full of dinosaur fossils because millions and millions of years ago there was a terrible drought and they all died. Then there was a monstrous flood, which brought mud and tar and all kinds of things into the area and then they formed this wall of fossils into the side of the mountain. It was amazing standing here looking at this. I almost cried haha.

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I was obviously very happy (and embarrassing). But how often do you get to touch REAL dinosaur bones?! Total nerd moment.

utah road trip

Nothing better than an open road ahead of you, right? 😊

Utah | Touching REAL fossils and bones at Dinosaur National Monument

Colorado (Part 2) | Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge & soaking up the sunshine

Have you seen Part 1 of my Colorado trip? 😊

If you’ve never been to Colorado, you need to add it to your list. I only spent about two weeks there, and easily fell in love. During the second half of my trip, I stayed in Steamboat Springs and Breckenridge – both are huge ski and snowboard towns, but were surprisingly busy during the summertime as well!

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How magical are butterflies? I love seeing them!

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Fun fact: I have a friend who actually hiked up to the Mt. Everest base camp and brought back prayer flags like these that were blessed! Super awesome guy. 👍🏼

colorado

I need real hiking boots, if you have any suggestions please leave them below! (Under $200 please!)

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Warming a cinnamon roll on the dash is the best way to heat a cinnamon roll 👍🏼

breckenridge camp vintage rv

How amazing is this RV?! I saw it in a thrift store parking lot and I wanted to take it with me! I wish the owner was around so I could take a peak inside, but this photo will have to do.

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johnsons corner colorado

Yes, yes I do. Always 😎

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I absolutely LOVED my stay in Colorado. It’s one of the most beautiful states there is, and I can’t wait to go back and explore some more!

Colorado (Part 2) | Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge & soaking up the sunshine