You might say this to the super annoying guy at your local coffee shop who keeps asking you for a date. Can’t he see you’re just there for the java? Buzz off, bud! Don’t you know I’m a zombie without my cuppa joe?!? Perhaps you’d yell this out the window at the impatient driver who cut you off three times in one block. Seriously?!? Are you kidding me right now? I’ll see you at the next red, pal! Piss off!!
I can tell you that I’m a little more compassionate than that. I’d probably politely turn down the guy at the coffee shop and maybe even buy his drink and I’d most certainly let that driver be. They might be having the worst day of their life. I mean ‘get lost’ in a different way.
Every time I step outside my apartment or get in the car with no set destination or time frame to be somewhere, it is my intention to go out and get lost.
This is not as easy as it might sound. I have an innate ability to either know which direction I’m going or find my way without much struggle.
The same cannot be said for Devon. She is the first person to concede that she has a horrible sense of direction and she cannot read a map. There have been a handful of disagreements over which street to turn on or whether we were going in the right direction. These are the rare times that I am not only right, but Devon admits it.
What Devon lacks in a natural compass she makes up for in her ability to get completely lost. When this happens, she always exclaims “it’s an adventure!” and nine times out of ten, it is!
There was that time our “Canadian” showed and we picked up a stranded elder Navajo lady who was waiting for her son to pick her up at church. What was explained to us as “a little bit down the road” turned out to be a four hour drive into another state (AZ) in the opposite direction of our destination, deep into Navajo country. If we hadn’t dropped Jessie off near her home, we would have never heard her stories about Shiprock (NM) and its importance to the local Navajo people. Not only does the rock formation stand guard over the town but it also takes a decent selfie.
The same can be said for our unscheduled detour to Anthony Lakes Park (OR). Not only did we pull over and hang out with cows on the way up to the park but once there, we were blown away by the beauty and serenity of the lake we camped at. We’ve driven past this detour several times over the years, never knowing what we were missing. We shared many moments of perfect stillness coupled with wonderfully deafening silence sitting lakeside. If I’m being totally honest, it felt like I had walked into a postcard. The scene before us looked far too picturesque to be real.
Then there was the time we drove down the Oregon coast, letting our car pick our destinations. This led us up the side of a mountain which felt like we were off-roading. This old logging road literally went nowhere but the ride up and down was pretty fun. We also ended up at Long Beach which had some very smooth white sand. We ended up in Florence on one of the whitest beaches I’ve ever seen during a dune buggy race. As we walked through the sand to the shoreline, dune buggies and ATVs zipped by all around us. Had we been better prepared, we would have rented one and bombed around with the rest of the overgrown kids.
I’m not a jealous person at all but Devon’s ability to randomly find adventure and awesome at every “wrong” turn has me a little green with envy.
Sometimes the best laid plan is to rip up the blueprint and go in the opposite direction. Sometimes the stress of a timetable zaps the fun and random out of your trip altogether. When was the last time you ended up somewhere unintentionally? On your next road trip, vacation or holiday, do yourself a kindness and plan absolutely nothing. Throw caution to the wind, think outside the box and let the open road lead you to anywhere you’ve never been before. You’ll be a better person for it and you’ll thank me later.
I wish I could get lost. I can’t even do that in my hometown. I always find my way to somewhere I’ve been before and, eventually, back home.
What’s the worst that could happen? Give it a try. The next time you step outside your front door, go ahead… *GET LOST.
For as long as I can remember, I have been an Elvis fan. When I was a child, my mum used to tell me stories about her & her sisters staying up past their bedtime to watch Elvis on the Ed Sullivan Show. In my teens, people started buying me Elvis collectibles for my birthday & Christmas. My mum gave me an Elvis calendar every year. I know what you’re thinking and the answer is no, I do not live in an Elvis shrine. Devon would kill me! I haven’t been travelling long, I only started vacationing six years ago. A dream trip of mine has always been to go to Memphis, to visit Graceland.
About a year ago, Devon started dropping hints about finally knowing where to take me & that I’d never guess where. She told everybody about it, constantly teasing me by withholding all clues as to the destination. Even my mum told her it was impossible to give me any hints without giving it away. When she finally told me that it was a trip to Memphis to go Graceland, it took all of my energy to not lose it & jump up and down with excitement.
With minimal planning, the only thing that was set in stone were our Graceland tour tickets, everything else was up in the air. Once we made the drive down to Memphis, we were a few days early so we took one day to rest and another to explore the city itself. Then, it was finally time to see the one place I’ve always dreamt of visiting… Graceland. While at dinner the night before, Devon was talking to her friend Lisa and they were trying to figure out why it was called Graceland and not “Lisa-land” seeing how Elvis LOVED his daughter. These two crack me up, but I prayed to the baby jesus Devon would not ask this the day of the tour.
Waking up early, we drove over to the parking lot & walked the pathway to the ticket office. Standing in front of the window, the very nice ladies behind the counter could not locate our reservations. Devon’s name was locked in the system. We had stopped by the ticket booth the day before and changed our tour time from 12:30pm to 9:00am. Devon understood the technical issue & the three ladies assisting her assured her that all would end well. Unable to listen to the conversation, I’ll admit, I panicked a bit. There was a small part of me that thought, “Amazing, we’re here & our tickets are lost. Crap.” If it weren’t for the televisions on the wall playing Elvis concert footage & Devon staying calm and knowing what was happening, I just might have pitched a fit.
Finally, the issue was resolved and we were handed our tickets & VIP passes. The well oiled machine that is Elvis Presley Enterprises was impressive to see in action. We get ushered into groups, then off to a green screen where an employee takes our picture. Back to the group, we’re then led out to another line where they do bag checks. Not having any bags, we once again returned to the group & were then handed our headsets for the audio tour. It was hard not to feel a little bit like cattle with the way the employees move you about. Devon insisted on mooing like a cow while this took place, at least she got a few laughs from others in our group. (Blue hairs LOVE Devon, she must be a Golden Girl at heart.)
We boarded a shuttle, drove across Elvis Presley Boulevard, through the famous music gates & up the long driveway to Graceland. Before the tour, years before, I had already known that Graceland itself is modest in size. Several people on the shuttle remarked that it was smaller than they thought.
Arriving behind the mansion, just before the groundskeepers garage, we unloaded and walked back around to the front. Taking a few photos of the famous facade, the tour guide started with some information about the property & the house itself. Then she opens the door and says “Welcome to Graceland” & Devon starts humming the Jurassic Park theme behind me and again has people in stitches. Whatever keeps her occupied I guess. You’re left to start a self guided tour with the headset providing you with facts & curios along the way. I must admit, I was a bit nervous that Devon would do or say something to embarrass me but the tour had just started, anything was possible.
The tour itself is pretty cool. You have access to the main entryway & are able to walk through the hallways freely. Each room is lush in colour & very distinct in individual design. Every room is roped off & you have no access to the second floor at all. This was the same when Elvis was alive. It was off limits then to all but a few and out of respect they honour Elvis’ privacy by keeping it that way. On the way down to Memphis, Devon kept telling me how she was going to try and go up to the second floor. Now standing at the foot of the stairs, I was beyond relieved when Devon realized that it was impossible for her to attempt ascending the stairs with all of the tour guides & guards around.
There’s no use of flash photography in Graceland & they use such low, yellow hued lighting that it’s actually quite hard to get good photos. That didn’t stop everyone from furiously clicking away though. I noticed a few minutes into the tour that my headset wasn’t working properly. Devon offered hers to me, she didn’t seem like she was paying much attention to it anyways. She was more interested in people watching and laughing at the tourists. (That’s love.) We stopped at every room, every hallway, every framed picture hung on the walls, taking photos each time. We got to see every cool room available to the public. The living room, the music room, the dining room, the kitchen & the jungle room. Then there’s downstairs. The tv room & the pool room. While standing in the pool room, we marveled at an older southern woman who was very serious when she remarked that Elvis had such style and flare and that she would love to do a room in the same fashion. The pool room’s walls and ceiling are covered in over 300 feet of fabric. The look on Devon’s face said it all. I had to bite my cheek to keep myself from laughing out loud. Devon was egging the lady on saying she SHOULD do it and she was in the design business, she’s seen it done before. That lady quipped to her husband that they would be doing this when they got home. I wonder if she really did it?… Once you’re done inside the mansion the tour moves outside to the back yard.
You get to see Elvis’ car port & Vernon’s office in the garage. There’s the smokehouse that Elvis converted into a firing range & then you walk along a path way to the corrals with his horses (one is an off-spring from Elvis’ original horses and the others are all rescues). From there you go to the trophy room, which is exactly what it sounds like. A large building displaying a massive amount of gold records & many more of Elvis’ numerous awards, including his three Grammy awards. Part of the building also houses some of his more famous outfits, like his wedding suit & several movie suits too. Once done there, you walk down another short path to the racket ball court. Built for $300,000 in the 70s when Elvis took up the sport, it houses a pinball machine & other parlour games. Then there’s a lounge area, where Elvis played two songs on the piano the morning he died. Inside the court itself, it’s been converted into more space for even more awards & recognition as well as some of his famous jumpsuits.
Walking out of the racket ball court, you get to stop & take more photos of the the horses in the paddock before making the final walk around the grounds, to the meditation garden & Elvis’ final resting place.
The meditation garden is beautiful. The air is tranquil, there with the marble statue of Jesus & the Italian themed marble fountain. This is the part of the tour that everyone seems to take the longest time getting through. Everybody wants a few minutes of quiet reflection with The King. There is a solemn marker in place for his stillborn twin brother, Jesse Garon. He is actually buried in Tupelo, MS, Elvis’ birth place. Next is the grave of his mother, Gladys, whom he adored. Then his dad, Vernon. Then Elvis himself. Finally, his paternal grandmother Minnie Mae, whom he lovingly referred to as Dodger. After spending some time in the meditation garden, we slowly made our way around the side of the house past the swimming pool & down the driveway toward the front of the house again. Along the way, there are memorials & fan art to view. Once done with the tour, you’re then told to go back to where the shuttle let you off so you can be led into a bonus room in the basement.
A tour guide opens the door to the bonus basement room and you’re immediately taken back in time to the late 60s/early 70s. This is a special exhibit designed by Lisa Marie, essentially, her father through her eyes. The dated yellow & white wall paper once adorned the walls of her nursery. Her crib & several other mementos from her birth & childhood are set up around the room along with some of Lisa’s favourite items of her Dad’s. She had his personal office brought down into the room and reassembled, as well as his wardrobe. Normally you wouldn’t have access to these things as they’re from the second floor and very much off limits. Walking around the rest of the mansion, you do get the feeling that a presence is around. You can feel an energy in the air. Looking through each display & room, you can see his taste in decor & style. And while the jumpsuits are beautiful, you also understand that they are costumes (Devon tried in vein to buy me one to walk the dog in, I was not amused). However, walking through the bonus room you feel something different. You’re viewing his wardrobe, things he wore every day. You’re looking at his personal tote that never left his side when traveling. You get to take pictures of his personal books that he took everywhere. This is definitely the most personal room. One could even argue that it’s as close to viewing his bedroom as you can get. I’m glad that they leave this bonus room for last.
It’s a good note to leave Graceland on.
Walking back out of the room you’re left in the covered carport where there is water, fans & chairs set up for you to wait in while a shuttle comes up to get you. Once on the shuttle, they take a quick tour of the back forty of the property. Explaining along the way the groundskeeping, some of the equipment, the horses, stables, the extra out buildings & a gate that Elvis used to use as a means of leaving the property in a big black panel van so as to go unnoticed.
The shuttle turns around and starts its way back down the long driveway toward the music gate. After crossing Elvis Presley Boulevard, the tour concludes. From there you continue onto six other exhibits on your own speed.
I am still incredibly shocked that Devon didn’t do or say anything to embarrass me or herself too much. I don’t know how she managed to make it through without a peep. One could argue that she even enjoyed herself. Right before we left for Memphis I had a friend, who we will call “Blanche”, dare me to wear a princess tiara made of Duct Tape outside the gates of Graceland… Challenge accepted!!
I could continue on with the remainder of awesomeness, but I really feel like I should keep this to myself in the hope that you’ll be intrigued enough to make the trek out to Tennessee and take the tour yourself. Whether you are an Elvis fan or not, Graceland is one of the most fascinating homes in the world. Everybody should see it up close at least once in their life.
With Antelope Island quickly fading in our rearview, we were fast on our way to Salt Lake City, Utah and on to one of Devon’s must see spots, Buds. For months & months I’ve had to listen to Devon and our friend Lisa drone on & on about a vegan buffalo sandwich from Buds in SLC. So much so, that I feared the anticipation of this sandwich would be greater than the actual product. Devon drove will excitement while I read the map with fingers crossed that we wouldn’t be disappointed.
The highways in and around Salt Lake City are both massive & intimidating. They are not for the weak of heart. Moving quickly through the mid morning traffic we searched for this eatery. Buds is actually quite small, with no indoor seating. If you didn’t know where it was, you’d never know it was there or exactly what kind of establishment it is. Buds blends in well with the surrounding buildings, inhabiting one of the beautiful refurbished red brick store fronts. The place isn’t hidden but it’s also not advertising itself with a sandwich board on the sidewalk. It seems to be one of those underground, word of mouth vegan eateries, hiding in plain sight amongst the Mormon schools & book stores. Finally, we see it on the corner of a side street & we start looking for parking. Oddly enough, we find a spot not 10 feet down the road & snap it up before anyone else can.
Walking with purpose toward Buds, there’s a familiar glow around Devon… the kind she gets when she’s near red rock, Moab or really awesome vegan food. Struggling to keep up with her, we finally make it to the door. She pulls the door open with the biggest grin across her face. She doesn’t need to look at the menu, she knows exactly what she wants even before we left for this road trip. The lady at the counter is very bubbly, with a polite demeanour. I never know if people can tell if we’re travelling, Canadian or both. She asks us how our morning is going & we both say good. Devon places our order of two buffalo sandwiches to go & I grab a Hansen’s Natural Grape Soda and start our way back outside to wait for our food.
There were a few people enjoying their food in the outdoor seating, but we chose to stand on the sidewalk & wait. I can actually see Devon vibrating with excitement over this sandwich. After a quick check in with home, via email, we were greeted by the same cheerful woman with our food all wrapped up and ready to go. I think it took all the will power in Devon to not jump up & down and do a happy dance when she was handed her sandwich. Deciding it best to go back to our car and eat while sitting on the grass, we made our way back around the corner and plopped down with our substantial sustenance wrapped smartly in tinfoil.
Seated side by side, we both sniff the package of awesome held in our hands. The savoury spices permeate our nostrils with such invitation to chomp down that I was surprised we both found the time to unwrap the sandwich first. It looks like a decent sandwich, one which we’ve attempted to replicate at home. Since I’ve never actually tasted this sandwich, each attempt made in our kitchen tasted amazing to me. I watched Devon as she opened her sandwich slowly and inspected its perfection. Taking photos of both the sandwich & her diving into it, I was amused to see her enjoyment when she announced (through food) that it did, in fact, taste the same. Now it was my turn. Taking my first bite, I was met with amazing flavour packed in a crispy baguette. We spent the next few minutes quietly enjoying our sandwiches while trying to figure out what exactly the contents of it were. I can tell you that it contains fresh house made coleslaw mixed with Ranch dressing & Frank’s Red Hot Sauce as a base for its buffalo sauce. After that, your guess is as good as mine.
I can also tell you that it is every bit as awesome as Devon & Lisa swore. Should you find yourself in Salt Lake City, vegan & hungry… look up Buds and enjoy! Even if you’re not vegan, you should still do yourself a kindness and try it.
The first day of our crazy road trip started off like any other. Everything packed up & off we went. The first day of our trips are always about distance. Putting distance between us & our lives back home. Washington state is beautiful. The lush green backdrop is a constant reminder of how lucky we are to live in such a vibrant environment. The Pacific Northwest is amazing, hands down. However, if we don’t make it out of Washington on the first day of a road trip, it simply feels like we’re cross border shopping. So we moved like bandits on the run from the law. Making it all the way down into Oregon that first night.
The first hiccup of our trip has to be the moment our “new” GPS decided it would be awesome to crap out on us. It was back to reading a map for me & navigating old school. Having searched the map for a worthy camping site close to the Idaho state line, we saw a state park sign for Anthony Lakes in between La Grande & Baker City OR. Enjoying the 20 mile drive up to the park, we came upon fields of cows who were more than willing to pose for photos & seemed to enjoy the attention. Once we were on the drive up the mountain into the park, we both remarked how similar this felt to Yosemite, but on a smaller scale. The mountain tops were blanketed in mist making the whole drive up there both beautiful & mystical. After arriving atop the mountain we were surprised to see it was a popular destination. We managed to snag a spot away from the groups of families. We then went for a quick walk around the area & found ourselves surrounded by crisp air & vibrant colours. The peak itself, Mount Ireland, was stunning. After a while, what I thought was a campsite we did not want to intrude upon turned out to be one of the lakes, we hiked down to the water to take in the living postcard before us. Every angle was an amazing photograph. There were a few people quietly enjoying the lake, fishing & taking their own photos. Devon picked up some discarded fishing line so it wouldn’t become a hazard to the wildlife. Then, we heard the distinct sound of a base being tuned up. Apparently, there was a wedding reception starting up. With that, it was back to the camp site.
Devon set up the site while I walked down to the camp site host for a bundle of firewood. We enjoyed a quiet dinner with the crackling of the fire pits seemingly in unison. A rather nice lady from the site across ours came over to introduce herself. She saw that we were Canadian and wanted to say hello. A fellow Canadian, we ended up having a lovely chat with her & quickly fell for her beautiful rescue German Shepard. The next morning, I walked over & gave them the remaining firewood we were unable to use up or take with us. Their dog was super sweet & quiet playful. Just seeing her made us miss our Jacke Boy that much more. We said our goodbyes, gave them some advice on travelling back home up to Victoria & started out for the day. A quick stop in historic Baker City OR for coffee & then it was on to Boise ID.
I’ve never been to an REI but I can tell you this, after stopping at the one in Boise, I really want to go back! The employees are so nice, and the product selection is varied & far more cost effective than the items back home. We also stopped in at Whole Foods for some much needed food supplies for our cooler. From there it was on to Salt Lake City, Utah. The drive through Idaho went faster than it has in prior trips. I wish I could tell you that the scenery on the drive through Idaho is unreal but the reality is far more bland. We spent more time watching the roadside for deer than the landscape itself.
After high fiving having crossed into Utah, a state of calm washed over us. It truly feels like a vacation when we hit Utah. The drive through this section is breathtaking as you see the land change colours before your eyes. After consulting the map again for the exit to Antelope Island, Devon saw a sign for it & we started in on our next adventure. Making our way through the small town of Syracuse we found ourselves at the entrance for the Great Salt Lake State Park on Antelope Island. Paying for our entry & campsite, Devon almost drove off in a mad rush to just relax after having driven for 10 hours straight. The park ranger handed us our booklet & our campsite pass then we drove into the park. Devon remarked that the drive in seemed eerily reminiscent of Tsawassen and the drive to the ferries. The first thing we read about Antelope Island is, of course, the antelope that inhabit it, as well as the bison. There are roughly 500-700 head of bison that call the island home. The road ahead forked and we picked the left hand road because Devon read that the bison like to hang out near the water. Not 5 minutes into the drive down this road were we met with 5 bison chilling by the roadside, grazing. The biggest smile took over Devon’s face & it looked like she would cry. These creatures are so massive & gentle. They meander with not a care in the world. We stopped the car, put on the hazards & took as many photos as the bison would let us. There were three to the left of the road on the lakeside & two more to the right of the road. A giant bison lumbered slowly across the street not 5 feet from our car. Both of us slack jawed & awestruck while furiously clicking away on our cameras, the bison had no worries about our presence and took his time crossing the road. I looked over & I felt as though Devon would burst into tears, her eyes reddening, her voice shaky with excitement. We waved at these beautiful creatures, said our thank you’s & made our way down the road a bit more before turning around and heading back down toward the turn off for the campsite. We were assigned campsite #18 and as we drove up into the Bridger Bay campground Devon saw a bison in the distance and quipped, “I’ll bet you he’s at our spot.” Truer words never spoken. As we circled around the site, looking for #18, we slowly pulled up & there he was, sitting there, like an official welcomer to Antelope Island. There he was, this gorgeous animal enjoying a dust bath not 15 feet from our site. We stopped the car, grabbed our cameras and took a handful of pictures of him as he lay there, enjoying the weather. We took a few shots of the sun setting as it tangoed with the low hanging clouds creating this crazy halo above us. Looking back at the bison, he would stay there all night, as if to say, “I get it, we’re cool.” These mammals made peace with mankind long ago & now they live in harmony with the land while we get to share in their beauty. I think that he hung around all night because he knew that we needed him to be there. We appreciated his presence and will continue to be grateful that we got to share his energy all night long.
We set up camp, made a fire & ate beans as our meal while quietly enjoying the bison laying within 20 feet of us. Laying down for the evening, I could not wipe the grin off of my face & I wondered why I was so happy. The moment we set foot on the ground there a calm energy washed over me & stayed the whole time we were on Antelope Island. I kept sitting up, looking for the bison as darkness fell all around. Though hot all night it was a peaceful sleep. We arose the next morning, our new bison friend had moved on. Devon was awoken by a magpie sitting on the post next to our car. He cheerily chirped & sang her awake. Once up for the day, we made a BioLite breakfast of coffee & peanut butter & banana sandwiches. There were several pheasants visiting the surrounding sites. Curious little birds, they walked about looking for food. After packing up, we decided on exploring the island a bit before leaving. We ventured down the roadway & back down the road that first took us to the bison. Sure enough, they were there again. We waited as they marched on past us. This time they galloped past, then settled down & calmly walked across the road. We grabbed a few more photos then carried on our way down the island to the Fielding Garr Ranch. A working ranch for over 100 years before stopping operation in 1981, in modern times, the ranch house is still the oldest building on its original foundation in Utah. We took the self guided tour around the ranch. I enjoyed the simplicity of the 100 year old blacksmithing equipment, while Devon wasn’t much impressed with it having being raised on a farm. Her grandfather had a dairy farm & understood the inner workings of it all while I had to stop & read about everything. She humoured me & let me read each display while she tried to say hello to the horses in the corral. Once we were finished with the tour, it was back into the car & back on the road into Salt Lake City for the most amazing vegan buffalo sandwich I have ever tasted.