"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." – Mark Twain
As we were riding in the car one summer afternoon a year before we were to be married; the windows down and the sunshine shining on our faces, we looked at each other and we made a promise, a promise we would not soon forget and a promise that has now been fulfilled. It was a promise to commemorate our wedding in an adventurous way, to seize and prolong the celebration with a trip that would stay with us for our entire lives. As two young professionals who had recently entered the corporate world, we felt trapped by our jobs; we were not able to spend as much time pursuing the wanderlust that we had developed during our college days. Our promise to each other was that no matter where we were in our lives we would spend the two months following our wedding traveling across this great country and visiting many of the National Parks we had previously seen only on TV.
Once we made that promise, we were dedicated; we did not care if it meant eating ramen noodles every night and sleeping in the back of our SUV, we would make it happen. Shortly after our engagement on New Year’s Eve in 2007, we jumped into the planning of our wedding and our trip. It was exceptionally exciting for us, not only were we going to get married but we were going to spend our summer traveling the country and enjoying our two months of freedom.
Having lived together since college, we had accumulated enough things to clutter our lives; the last thing we needed was more pots and pans. Friends of ours had used a Traveler's Joy registry for a honeymoon trip to Italy. We decided to follow their idea and use Traveler's Joy for our wedding road trip.
My husband was mostly responsible for the planning of the road trip and I was mostly responsible for the planning of the wedding, it was a win-win situation. We worked together, consulted with each other on big decisions and enjoyed every little step of the process. The plan was to drive from Maine through America's Heartland all the way to the Pacific Northwest, a trip that would encompass highlights such as Yellowstone, the Redwoods, and Vancouver Island.
We spent some time looking at other couples' registries for inspiration and decided we were really going to go all out on our registry. Every item on the registry would have a snappy description, a custom picture, and a link to the website for more information. We wanted to be able to use the registry not only to ask for gifts but also to share our journey with our family members. My husband spent many hours getting the registry together before a notification was finally sent out to our friends and family.
After months of preparing for our adventure and continuously and obsessively checking our Traveler’s Joy honeymoon registry to see which of our activities, lodging, and entertainment options had been purchased, the wedding and trip finally came. We tied the knot on the 27th of June, 2009. We departed for our road-trip two days later on June 29th, 2009, not to return until the middle-end of September. We had no specific return date, we did not want anything to confine or hold us back.
All of the planning paid off; we were able to see the highlights as well as the places off the beaten path that in the end became the highlights. We are travelers who enjoy visiting places without the crowds, the unnecessary amenities and the over-hyped and often over priced attractions. The main focus of this trip was to be a part of nature and enjoy our time outdoors and with each other.
We split our lodging about equally between campsites and hotels with a few splurges here and there. The splurges were the Old Faithful Inn, the Inns of Glacier National Park, a B&B on the pacific coast, and a lodge in Tofino on Vancouver Island. Our favorite campsite was on a lake high up in the Sawtooth Mountains of Idaho where it felt like we had the world to ourselves.
After two and a half months on the road we were able to visit some incredibly beautiful places. It was the trip of a lifetime but to touch upon all of our favorite stops would take hours. We fed bear cubs near Yellowstone, fished for cutthroats in Idaho, swam in the crystal clear water of Crater Lake, saw the sun set on the Pacific, and saw more flora and fauna than we could have ever imagined.
A few the most memorable moments were walking into the immense lobby of the Old Faithful Inn to marvel at this wonderful man-made treasure, feeling so small while hiking amongst the giant Redwoods, and watching a geyser erupt at dawn, having the whole otherworldly scene to ourselves. But nothing can compare to the feeling of being free, being on the open road, and not knowing what is coming up around the next corner. That is how we hope to live our lives, always exploring, always wondering, and always together.
All tolled we drove more than 12,000 miles, took more than 11,000 pictures and spent less than $8,000; a great deal for such a memorable time. We could not recommend this exact trip for anyone else, this was an extension of our personalities and it was reflected by all of the things we did and the places we went. We would however encourage any couple with a desire to travel to make a promise to each other that they too will commemorate their big day with the trip of a lifetime no matter the cost, because the cost of doing nothing is much greater.