So let me begin this post by saying I've never liked cooking. Never really been good at it, never really tried at it very hard. Never had the interest. My palate has never been very refined. So to me, if it filled me up it did its purpose, regardless of quality or even taste.
As I've gotten older, my viewpoint has changed a bit. I really do believe you are what you put into your body. If you put in crap, that's what you're going to feel like. Over the last few years, my husband and I have made little changes that are more health-conscious, but I still don't really cook much. And we still buy a fair share of processed foods, mixed in with the "organic" and "all-natural" choices. (Not to mention that a lot of the "organic" and "all-natural" items on the shelf are still very processed.)
My nutrition convictions have increased over the last few months, and especially since we've been on this trip. I've had less distractions and more time to focus on my family, set some goals, evaluate things around me, etc... Just more intentional living all around (one of my favorite things about RV-living). And cooking healthy meals for my family has been one of the things that has hit me in the face. I must learn how to cook. And not only cook, but cook nutrition-filled meals that will over time make us healthier individuals.
My main motivation is my husband. We think he has food allergies of sorts, but have yet to get an official allergy test. Doctors can't seem to pinpoint his symptoms.
So here goes this cooking thing. Succeed or fail, I must try. Here's to good health - for ourselves and our loved ones. Cheers.
Wedding week for my brother Evan and his bride Lindsey!
We parked Harvey in the driveway of Lindsey's grandparents' house, where the rest of my family was staying.
We pulled up to our friends' tiny cabin in the hills of Montana in Columbia Falls that evening and greeted them with smiles. We met Mandy and Lyam when we lived in Maui (when they also lived in Maui), and hadn't seen them in over a year. They have two amazing kiddos Lolah and Xander - Lolah is just over two years old and Xander is one month younger than Ember. Last time we had hung out with them, Mandy and I were both pregnant with Xander and Ember, so this was the first time we got to meet our littlest ones. Ember was in heaven playing with both of them.
After hiking and exploring the last of Yellowstone on Monday, we headed to Bozeman, MT.
The three of us took an evening walk and the Bozeman sunset was beautiful as it lit up the mountains across from it.
After work was finished, we went to Bozeman's cute downtown area to walk around a bit and get a vibe of the town.
Shortly thereafter, we checked in at Sunrise Campground. We were so tired and worn out from our Yellowstone/Teton excursions that we decided to lay low and get some laundry and camper cleaning done. Sunrise was a simple campground, but it had all the basic amenities that we cared about like full hook-up, electricity, water, and on-site laundry. I barely finished mopping the camper floor when the rain rolled in and we had a nice summer thunderstorm. So I folded the clothes inside on the bed while Ember played next to me, Brannon helped me by washing some dishes, and we put a little bit of Office on in the background (fully appreciating the fact that we had fully charged electronics and internet - a rare thing on this trip).
The next morning, I got up and enjoyed a nice read, some good coffee and some great music while Brannon and Ember had daddy/daughter time inside the camper.
Then we drove to Missoula, MT - a bit closer to Columbia Falls, MT, our next destination where our friends Mandy and Lyam live with their two kiddos Lolah and Xander. Brannon had to work a bit, and our electronics were once again not charged from dry camping the night before. So we followed Google Maps' directions to a local ice cream shop (sounded good on a warm day) while I made us some deli sandwiches in the back (love having a house on wheels). The ice cream shop ended up being outside, which was no help with our dire need for outlets. So we just parked for a bit while we ate our bagel sandwiches and fed Ember some baby food puree for the first time. The carrot/broccoli concoction was all over her - definitely called for a bath afterwards.
After our failed attempt for free outlets failed, we drove to our faithful Starbucks and split a nice Vanilla Rooibos tea while we worked for a bit.
We dry camped at the Missoula Walmart, and the next morning, found another local coffee shop, Black Coffee Roasting Company, to work. It's really a crapshoot when you try random coffee shops in different cities - sometimes, you get real baristas that are using quality beans and ingredients, and hand you a superb drink that tastes a little bit like heaven. And other times, their "local" brew tastes a lot like they scooped it from a stale Folgers can. But this, this coffee shop knew what they were doing. I had high hopes when I read that they were also a roasting company, and their brew didn't disappoint. SO yummy, and a good kickstart to the day. The place also had a neat vibe - we probably stood out like a sore thumb as it was a small place crawling with regulars, but they welcomed us all the same. It was the day that the US soccer team played in the World Cup against Germany, so they hooked up their big iMac on one of the bars and a small group gathered to watch.
After we worked, drank, chilled, and watched for awhile, we got back on the road to head to Columbia Falls, MT...
This marks two weeks of living on the road, when before this, we hadn't been out longer than two days. It was a big mystery really - there's only so much research that can be done for not only a trip, but a different way of living. You all of the sudden have a whole different set of things to think about and plan for, a whole new list of challenges to conquer. Fulltiming it in a 21-foot RV that is 30 years old across the Western United States. We're making memories and hopefully writing a better story for our lives...
“And once you live a good story, you get a taste for a kind of meaning in life, and you can't go back to being normal; you can't go back to meaningless scenes stitched together by the forgettable thread of wasted time.” - Donald Miller, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years
We woke up to crisp beautiful weather and distant snow-capped mountains in Sheridan, WY.
We've been on the road for a week now, and so far we are loving every minute. We spent the first part of the day in a Starbucks so Brannon could work, and I blogged a little and researched our next stops (Yellowstone and Grand Tetons) in between playing with Ember. I called Yellowstone and made reservations with them for the next two days, one campground on the south side of the park (Grant Village) so we could see the Tetons and Old Faithful, then the next campground on the north side of the park (Canyon), where we would stay on our way up to Glacier National Park.
From there we started to work our way to the Yellowstone/Grand Teton area through the Bighorn National Forest.
We ran a few errands when we woke up in the morning, then drove from Rapid City to Spokane Creek Cabins & Campground in Keystone, SD, and I helped Brannon work on the way.
We composed a bucket list on RoadTrippers of places to visit on our way, and our efforts thus far have been...interesting. There are several guides on Roadtrippers.com that list restaurants from food tv shows like Man vs. Food, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, etc... (among several other things), so I added some of the ones that were along our route. I figured it would be fun to visit some new places to eat - we don't watch those shows, but if they were featured on television, they had to be good, right?? We first tried to go a place in Kansas City, which had actually been closed down (so we went to our staple, Harpo's, which didn't disappoint). Then when we went through Omaha, NE on Sunday, we thought we'd pick one of the restaurants on our bucket list to have a little Father's Day dinner. Amato's had been featured on Man vs. Food, and after getting attached to the menu, discovered it was only open for breakfast and lunch. Next choice was California Tacos, which was also featured on Man vs. Food...the only day they were closed was Sunday. The last choice was Starsky's Bar & Grill, which was open, but we changed our minds after driving by and discovering it didn't look very baby-friendly, but more of a "dive" bar. Exhausted after failure after failure, we decided to get trail mix at the Dollar Tree and just eat a real meal later.
We arrived in Sioux Falls, SD late Sunday night, and stayed in a Walmart Supercenter parking lot. We were in good company with several other RVers that had also parked there overnight.
So this is it. The official "send-off" on Friday. Living on the road for the next bit. Giving this "full-timing" a real go.
This trip planning thing is a BEAST. So many things to think through, and so time consuming. And I used to have to scroll on my calendar view to get to the date we're leaving - now it's right there in front of me, 11 days away... (AAAHHHH!) I just freaked out inside a little. It will be AWESOME when it's finished (it better be...hopefully my first-born perfectionism will pay-off). But it's really annoying right now...
We received 3 nights of free camping to Compton Ridge Campground in Branson, MO through Camping World. I knew they'd try to sell us something (and they did), but we didn't buy and still got 3 nights of free camping plus a $50 gift certificate to Camping World (score!). We needed to take a second "trial trip" anyway, continuing to make our lists of things forgotten. The campground is right in the middle of thick woods in Branson, although it's only about a mile from Silver Dollar City, and minutes from Branson West. So it was only about 45 minutes from where we live on the south side of Springfield. This was another spontaneous trip (we made reservations the day before). Each site is heavily surrounded by woods, so it feels very private - like you could be the only ones there. A great time for reflection and rejuvenation.
Here's a little glimpse of the last couple days...
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