There’s something about the idea of spending 2 days in the car with your best friends to travel across the country, when you could have just flown in only 3 hours.
All though it wasn’t really a choice and it was more of a necessity, due to the fact that my friend actually needed her car in Alberta for the summer, going on a road trip with my two best friends from elementary school was an experience of a lifetime. If I could tell you to pack your bags and do just the same right now, I would, and I am!
We left town around 6am, knowing we would arrive at our first stop in Chicago at 12pm, the perfect time for some classic deep-dish pizza. And boy was it worth it. We pre booked parking, one of the smarter things we did, paying a flat rate of $18 instead of the insane $38 we would have paid.
We got the main things done, visiting Millennium Park, seeing the “bean”, and of course indulging in the best pizza I’ve ever had. And after our short little visit, we started on our longest stretch of driving letting the adventures really begin.
24 hours. That’s how long we were planning to be in the car until our first hotel. There was 3 of us, meaning with 4 hour shifts each we would each get 2 with two of us staying awake in the front seats, and the third sleeping in the back.
While it seemed like an easy plan, it got a bit more complicated when the weather wouldn’t exactly cooperate with us. Mid night shift, driving through South Dakota (ironically the most southern part of our trip) we encountered a horrible snowstorm!
They were calling for over 24cm of snow that night, and the snowflakes were absolutely huge! We literally couldn’t believe our eyes but we made the conscious decision to keep driving just at a very slow speed so we wouldn’t be behind schedule. Considering it was so unexpected, and the driver having to be so careful not to hit the snow drift in the middle of the lane (causing the car to loose track), none of us could really sleep making the night seem really, really long.
I’ve never been happier then I was that day to wake up to complete sun, and 0 snow. After my night shift, my friend Chloe took over for the morning part leaving me to pass out in the back seat.
We continued driving making a quick stop at the Badlands National park in South Dakota. With a fee of $20, I would say it is 100% worth it, but we did luck out a lot as we literally had the whole park to ourselves. I’m not sure how busy it usually gets but regardless the intricate hills and complete peacefulness surrounding this place was amazing.
After about an hour of enjoying the calm after the storm, we kept driving until we finally reached our first hotel in Montana where we all had a very amazing and much needed sleep (and shower).
Lussier hot springs
We left early that morning crossing the boarder back into Canada and making it to one of the more exciting parts of our trip, Lussier hot springs. Located in British Columbia are these natural hot springs at a steaming 40 degrees celsius. Not only that, but they are literally mini natural hot tubs made from rocks.
After all our driving we couldn’t be more thrilled to relax and enjoy the surroundings as you are completely wedged between two incredibly big mountains. There’s no fee to enter, and the experience you have is completely worth the scary side of the rocky mountain drive to get there.
Canmore was our first real stop in Alberta and we were so excited because this was where our first summit was going to be. Me and my friends aren’t really “big” on hiking, I mean we like it and all but we have zero mountains or anything even close to one where we live. So to say the least, the east end of Mount Rundle is something I don’t suggest for beginners.
The hike started out steep with a small path. We had a beautiful view of the blue/green waters, which almost kept us distracted enough for the completely insane scramble we had coming up next (emphasis on the almost). A scramble, for those who don’t know, because I certainly didn’t, is by definition: to move or climb over something quickly especially while also using your hands.
So imagine that, but our path being a bunch of tiny rocks and dirt that have no grip to them what so ever. To make things worse, two of us were wearing our Nike runners which are not exactly the best for hiking.
So yes, we tried, and spent about 45 min getting only 25 meters high, and then aborting our plan to summit this mountain very quickly. While it would have been such an accomplishment, it definitely wasn’t up our alley, and I don’t suggest it for beginners.
We Hiked Sulphur Mountain instead , located in Banff Alberta, and it took us about 2 hours and 45 minutes to complete. While we indulged in many breaks and had many people pass us, we completed it and were left with an incredible view of dozens of mountains.
To top it off, we didn’t even have to hike down! Since this spot is so well known it offers gondola rides up and down the mountain. Yes this does mean that you don’t have to put yourself through complete hell and drench yourself in sweat to see the stunning view, but i’m telling you, its much more rewarding to summit the mountain yourself!
The rest of our days were filled with small hikes and adventures through the town of Jasper. Visiting the Fairmont, canoeing on the iconic blue/green waters, and visiting places such as Johnston’s canyon, and Athabasca Falls.
Our final day came quick and me and my friend Maryemma were sad to leave our friend Chloe In Alberta where she was living for the summer. Our flight left early morning and as our hearts broke a little saying our goodbyes, we knew we would still be left with a mind full of incredible adventurous memories.
After a week full of laughter, smiles, and getting a small glimpse of how beautiful our world can truly be, I don’t think it will be long until you see us 3 in a car again headed on our next road trip adventure