Best Laid Plans.

It’s an often repeated partial quote from a famous poem. I’m betting most people who use it have no idea of its origins or that it’s been adapted to suit modern english which lends to its applicability.

“The best laid plans of mice an’ men often go awry.” – Robert Burns

Translation: Even the most carefully prepared plans may go wrong.

We all know how much I love planning things… I’d rather have someone ram bamboo chutes up my fingernail beds. I have struggled for years to understand people’s need to have everything planned out to the millisecond in their day. The only people who thrive on that are military personnel and prisoners (and maybe Devon). I find the process both painful and completely unnecessary.

I’m quite random. I’m known for spouting off random tidbits of knowledge at any moment for no apparent reason known to mankind. I like random. Random keeps people on their toes.

Some people are fixated on needing to know absolutely everything at all times. It’s just in their DNA. I’m so very thankful that I do not have this affliction.

I have an aversion to instructions that the common man blindly follow without question. Why can’t we buck the system? Everybody has a schedule. We all have daily obligations; be it work, school or other. You’ve got to get your kids up for school, feed, clothe them, walk the dog, clean the litter box… did you remember to shower? Too late, time for dropping the tiny humans off at school. You have a huge meeting at work that you might be prepared for, if you brought the right flash stick with the powerpoint presentation on it. After work, it’s grabbing the kids, dropping them off to their after school programs then off to your hot yoga class. Damn, you forgot your yoga mat, you’ll have to borrow one from the instructor. Then it’s back across town to pick up the offspring, make dinner, bath time for the kidlets followed by bedtime… you might have an hour of “me” time to finally start reading that book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand for six months. You pick up the book, open it and… your eyes are far too heavy to read through… and you have to do a similar routine the next day. This sounds like my personal hell. We’re already stuck in a structured timetable weekly. The system is oppressive enough. Why then, would you do the same to yourself on vacation?

Road trips were invented as a means to get out and see the country. They came about during the late 1800s, early 1900s just as the birth of the automobile came to fruition. Think Jack Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson. Ultimately, there shouldn’t really be a destination, it’s about the journey. Your goal should be to relax, see something you’ve never seen. We should guffaw schedules. Ball up blueprints and light a campfire with them, toast some marshmallows over crumpled up, outdated maps.

To quote Bob Ross, some of our best road trips came about due in part to “happy little accidents”. We didn’t mean to turn left off of the highway three miles back but what’s this cool little town we’ve stumbled upon? We were just helping a little old Navajo lady get back to her tiny town after church… didn’t mean for it to become a six hour detour through a huge chunk of South Eastern Arizona which culminated into a huge traffic jam because of the annual Navajo Winter Fair (true story, that was our first road trip). We would have never experienced some of the greatest gifts the road has given us if we had stayed the course and followed the plan.

Devon used to get lost in the minutia. She NEEDED to sit in front of her laptop for hours on end, staring at her calendar with several websites open. She needed to call tons of places and email reams more about availability and cost. She had to scribble down copious amounts of shorthand notes that only made sense to her. This brought her a mix of great joy and grief. Grief for the workload she had dumped on herself in preparation for her vacation and joy upon completion of all the planning. She could relax knowing that everything was taken care of. All we had left was to make it to her checkpoints on schedule. I would watch her get agitated if she didn’t drive as far as she had wanted to. She would get tense if these micro milestones weren’t met and only found relief when she was “ahead” or “on time”. If she could “make up time”, even better.

Then, something changed for her. Maybe it was my influence. Perhaps my random is contagious. Mayhaps my relaxed and easy going nature rubbed off on her. Don’t get me wrong, she’s very laid-back, just never in the planning or executing stages of road trips.

Now, she’s less structured about it all. If we make it to a certain state or city on the way, sweet. If not, that’s okay too because maybe we can find some cool little place to chill for the evening until we start fresh the following day.

As we prepare ourselves for this next adventure, our only goal is to enjoy ourselves.

We’re heading down to Mexico… you read that right, Devon & Jade are going to Mexico! This was a last minute, three weeks out, thrown together trip. We want to kick back by the pool, read a book or two, maybe grab some massages at the spa.

This trip came about through a series of back & forth texts between my father-in-law’s girlfriend and Devon. The only message I got during the whole “planning” stage was: “Pack your bikini, grab my sunblock, we’re going to Mexico… are our passports still valid?” *Editor’s note: I do not wear bikinis… please give your head a shake to rid your mind of that image.

Doesn’t really matter to me, the only thing I’m planning on is doing some exploring… and plenty of relaxing.

I’m thinking the best laid plans belong on the bottom of a fire pit, under some kindling.

Adios.

– Jade

Advertisements

Why I Vacation.

Vacation is today’s big bad wolf.

That’s right. Millions of people are frightened of taking time off from work. Why? They dread the pile of work awaiting them when they return and no one else can do what they do at the office. This is, essentially, a ‘martyr’ complex, believing that they’re the only ones who can do their jobs.

This is my definition of insanity. There is a certain amount of ego in this thought process. The world does not stop revolving because you’re not at work. Yes, someone else does know how to do your job. That’s called cross-training. Of course they don’t do it “your way” but the job still gets done.

There are many companies with a “use it or lose it” policy in place when it comes to vacation time. Many would prefer you to take time off while others buckle when pushed to pay out that time. Your employers want you to take some personal time. It’s healthy.

Benefits of vacation:
– Better physical health
– More productivity
– Closer family relationships
– Newer perspectives
– Increased mental power
– Lower chance of burn out
– Improved mental health

Now that you know the science behind it, here’s my reasoning. Up until eight years ago I had never taken a vacation. I had also become stagnant. I gained weight, became complacent and was no longer satisfied by activities I once enjoyed. I had all the signs of depression and burn out. It was for these reasons that I finally took my first vacation. I was already in my thirties. I have only one regret… I wish I had taken a vacation sooner. It would have spared me a lot of mental anguish.

After the constant communication, collaboration & negotiation, finally the timing was perfect. Schedules were cleared and the stars aligned. That first vacation was the breath of fresh air my soul so desperately needed.

I’m not one for the details and I certainly don’t need to know everything. The planning part I can completely do without. But everything else is pure joy. Whether you’re flying or road tripping, the process gets smoother each time. We’re like a well oiled machine now. I enjoy watching the scenery change as we make our way to our destination.

Everything is fresh and new when you’re on vacation. Even the people are nicer. It just occurred to me that they’re nicer because maybe they’re on vacation too. The process of de stressing and recharging your battery is as simple as showing up. Maybe all you need is a good hike in a national park. Perhaps a massage is in order. Lounging poolside is the key for some individuals. Some people find searching for knick knacks in gift shops a thrill. I honestly don’t care what it is that you do, just so long as you do it.

In fact, you don’t even have to go anywhere to enjoy a vacation. I’m a big fan of the “Staycation”. It does the soul wonders to turn off all of your electronics, unplug and relax in the comfort of “Porta My Yarda”. It can be as easy as not having to answer to the alarm clock in the morning and waking up on your own, naturally. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to feel re-energized.

I don’t know why North Americans find excuses for why they shouldn’t go on vacation or why they don’t deserve one. The daily grind can really chew you up. Some european countries have a mandatory thirty days off. You’re not allowed to work for thirty consecutive days. We could learn a lot from their laid back lifestyle.

Why do we, as a society, feel the need to punish ourselves for all our hard work? Shouldn’t we reward ourselves with time off? Why do some of us feel undeserving while others overindulge?

I vacation because I owe it to myself to live a happy, stress free life. I owe it to myself to get out there and see new things. I like the adventure. Each trip is filled with spontaneity. We’re not meant to stay in one place. We’re drawn to new surroundings. I can’t imagine living my life any other way.

Life is meant to be experienced.

– Jade

Bison, Bison, BISON!!!

Bison Traffic Jam

Leaving Crazy Horse we finally made our way to Wind Cave National Park where we would be camping out for the next 3 days. This place is easily up there on my top 5 places to visit. This was the only thing left on our list before we started the drive home. We decided to stay away from Custer State Park. Instead we drove along the outside of Custer Park into Wind Cave. The energy there… it’s something else. So calm, so peaceful. This was the perfect place to spend the next few days. We quickly raced to the visitor centre to ask a few questions before camping out. The rangers are SO nice at Wind Cave, answering all our stupid questions. The park is small and a small highway runs through the park. The park campground was near empty, only 3 other campers the first night. We quickly made a fire and settled in for the night knowing when we got up the next morning we would be seeing the famous bison 🙂 I was like a kid on Christmas, so excited I could barely sleep. Having the owls hoot me to sleep helped.

Bison

The next morning it was go time. I rushed J awake even before the sun fully rose, coffee and toast, check. Now, let’s go hiking. We drove down past the visitor centre not knowing where we would be going. We go up a hill, turn the corner, hang a right at the stop sign and BOOM there they are… The bison. Making their way across the green hills and up across the road to their daily mud baths, then into the Black Hills forest surrounding Wind Cave. Hundreds of them… everywhere!! It was like Antelope Island all over again. I was speechless and near tears. The bison just sauntered around like we weren’t even there, no other cars around us, just Jade and I along with HUNDREDS of these animals. They stopped in front of our car, two came right up to the window. I admit I panicked a bit and rolled up the window while J laughed at me. Once there was a break in the road we drove down a few miles until we accidentally left the park, turning around and re-entering the park we round the corner and BOOM again we are in grid lock with the bison. Can’t say either of us were upset by this. We pulled into a look out and turned off the car and just sat with them, for what seemed like an hour. Mothers and their babies walked past us. The leaders of the group, the big, huge males sniffed our car, they knew we were there to just sit with them, not causing any harm. We watched as they bellowed at other cars and jumped out of the way of some assholes who refused to slow down for them. We just sat with them and gave them our time, and respect.

Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park

I can easily spend all day talking about the bison we encountered on this trip. It was exactly what I needed for my soul. Sitting here, going through all the pictures, I feel a sense of calm wash over me, everything is going to be ok. Weird, those lyrics JUST played in my headphones. I guess it will be ok.

J and I went to Wind Cave just for the bison. We were greeted by more prairie dogs, deer, antelope, coyotes etc. all at once. We watched as a coyote stalked the prairie dogs, J telling me we need to let him know he will be eaten but no, this is nature doing it’s thing. The bison walked up and scared the coyote away all while ruining the prairie dog’s home by peeing in it and then rolling around. Prairie dogs have it rough guys. 🙂

View from Camp @ Wind Cave
View from Camp @ Wind Cave

We sat by our campfire just taking in the sights and sounds of Wind Cave. The owls in the forest behind us, the deer roaming the hills while the sun goes down, the crackling fire, the PERFECT rolling clouds and landscape. This was my favourite part of the trip, just sitting at camp with all of nature around us. We often get so side-tracked by life, we don’t get to experience or enjoy this. 3 days in Wind Cave I will remember forever, the bison everyday, greeting us with such delight, the final day we went to go say thank you and goodbye to them. They were doing their morning walk to the forest across the road. Today was a little different, we pulled off to the side of the road and just watched as the mothers and their babies walked up to the car. The babies playing right beside us, jumping and kicking in the air having the time of their lives while we watched. The mothers let this happen, they know, we knew. It was a peaceful moment we will both remember forever.

Mama/Baby

I drove out of Wind Cave extremely relaxed, ready to take on the world. I was commenting to Jade as we made the last uphill decent towards the gates that this trip really changed how I look at things. I then slowed the car through the prairie dog maze and stopped, yelling that there were TWO bison at the top of the hill just standing there. We both looked over and Jade said, “Oh yeah! There they are!”, then got out her camera for when we got to the top of the hill. When we got there, there were no bison to be found… I swear up and down they were there, in a park full of rolling hills and far away forests it’s hard to miss TWO 1500 lb creatures. Were they there?? Or was it another “Jessie” instance?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Maybe it was some of that “Canada Magic” we’ve been told we have. 🙂

– Devon

Memphis Part Uno.

Quick drive through Texas I’ve always wanted to go to Memphis. It’s a hotbed of sights & sounds. The blues were born there & a lot of the major fashions seen in early rock & roll came from Lansky’s on Beale. Everything from zoot suits to the jive cats of the 70’s, they all came from a little shop at the end of Beale. A lot of major events took place in Memphis as well. Most notably the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at the Lorraine Motel in downtown Memphis on April 4th, 1968. The Lorraine Motel has since been converted into the National Civil Rights Museum. And of course, the home of their most famous citizen, Elvis Presley.

The drive down to Memphis from home went well. We found several really cool places to stay along the way. One of which was Red Rock Canyon State Park in Hinton, OK. Neither of us had been to Oklahoma before, but it’s a beautiful state. One thing stands out in my mind about Oklahoma. They love their highways manicured. I have never seen such clean highways, and it seems as though they mow their lawns every single day. I never saw one unkempt lawn. Impressive to say the least. The bugs are something else in OK. I’ve only seen bugs that big in one other place in New Mexico. Once, when I went to the washroom, I got smacked in the face with a huge locust bug. It shocked me so much to be hit in the face which such a bug. I stood there in the doorway and watched as the locust hopped out the door and into the night. Devon was SO creeped out by the bugs that she refused to use the washroom alone. I don’t blame her. Red Rock Canyon State Park is a really beautiful park. You drive down a tricky, winding road into the park. You’re surrounded by red rock walls and the canyon itself is alive with vivid colours, trees, grass, everything jumps out at you. The park has several walks and hikes to enjoy. The canyon was used as a winter stop over for the plains indians where they’d bunker down and wait out the snow. It was also a landmark and camping area on the California Road. Settlers going west used this sandstone canyon for collection of fresh water and wagon repairs. On the west side of the canyon, along the California Road Trail, you still can see the wagon ruts. People even come down into the canyon to fish in the river. Though Devon & I were off put by the thick green sludge covering the river. Across from the river up on the hill side was a beautiful patch of St. John’s wort. Devon, being a plant nut, was eager to climb up the hill to pick some but the grade on the hill (cliff) was far too steep even for her. *Note to self: remember climbing gear when out on a nature walk.* This park is also pretty rare in that it offers campers the use of showers. Much needed when on the road. I know we appreciated it. After one night we were back on the road to Memphis. We would make it there in one day’s time. Camping just outside OKC

Once we arrived in Memphis, we ended up camping at Graceland RV & Campsite located conveniently on Elvis Presley Boulevard across the street from Graceland itself. The trip down went a little faster than we thought, with us arriving two days early. We enjoyed camping out the first night after a long day in the car. The next day we went into downtown Memphis & checked out Beale Street. The first place we checked out was A. Schwab’s, the oldest establishment there, opened in 1876. With two floors full of oddities & trinkets, I quickly saw why this store has been popular for over a hundred years. Between the first and second floors is a balcony housing the Beale Street Museum. A mercantile shop, this was a fun place indeed. There’s a little bit of everything here. From clothes, to records, to all sorts of knick knacks. A family owned store for 136 years, their motto is “If you can’t find it at A. Schwab, you’re probably better off without it!” The floor boards were amazing. In fact, the whole building was beautiful. I still remember Devon walking out of the bathroom commenting on just how beautiful even the washroom was. The 100 year old wood was in brilliant shape. Beale is quite funky & truly the birth place of the blues. We walked along Beale for a while and checked out the store fronts. There’s a feeling on Beale that’s hard to describe. It feels like you’re surrounded by soul. Walking down Beale we stopped at Church Park on 4th, checked out the statute of W.C. Handy, then walked down to W.C. Handy’s house on 6th. The house is little more than a tiny shack, no bigger than a shed. It’s surprising to know that this is where the blues were born.

Sun StudiosAfter Beale, it was on to Union Avenue where we went looking for Sun Studio. The record store is just as cool as I thought it would be. Sam Phillips brought the best out of local artists here. It was here in 1953 that Elvis came in to record two songs for his mother, “My Happiness” & “That’s When Your Heartaches Begin” for $3.25. Sam Phillips assistant Marion Keisker discovered the young King and pushed Phillips to record with him. There was an exciting buzz inside, as if the energy of all the great music created there still lingered. We decided to forego the tour there, but I’m kind of kicking myself now. When you go inside the recording studio itself, you get to stand in the very spot where Elvis changed the face of music. After Sun Studio, it was down to the mighty Mississippi River to check out the size of it all. An incredible sight to behold. The backdrop of several books & movies, made famous by Mark Twain, the Mississippi is massive. Once an important cog in the cotton trade route, the Mississippi was used as stopping points for restocking troops during the Civil War. Remnants of some forts along the shore still exist. I’m glad we stopped to check out the river. It was truly a marvel.

Pulled "Pork" Sandwich After a long day of checking out the city, we found ourselves completely famished. With help from a friend who emailed us directions, we managed to find some vegan food at this cute hole in the wall called Imagine Cafe. Pulling up to the “restaurant”, the place looked more like a private home than an eatery. Once inside, it became clear that we were inside a restaurant. Waiting for our food, the smells coming from the kitchen were insane. I got mac ‘n’ cheese and a buffalo chick’n sandwich and Devon had a pulled “pork” sandwich.With our food in hand, it was back to our site for the evening. We were serenaded by Elvis as we ate dinner poolside. Turning in for the night, I struggled to sleep.

The next day, it would be Graceland.

– Jade

This Buds for you. :)

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.

Do I have any on my face?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.Vegan Buffalo Sandwich

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.Devon stuffing her face

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.

– Jade

Magical Lakes & Bison Sightings.

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.Anthony Lake Oregon 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.
Lake Anthony

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.Camp Dinner

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.

Antelope Island 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.Bison

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.Antelope island 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.

– Jade

Tattoos Heal?

I noticed something today; I seem to get tattooed when something big is happening in my life. Either positive or negative. I never really saw that until I was talking to a friend.

On my last Vegas road trip, I learned about giving up control and forgiveness in myself and others. My friend and I got tattoos during this trip as well! I fought with placement of that tattoo; I already have a bunch of meaningless tattoos so I didn’t really know where I would put this one… It was one of many topics on the trip. My friend suggested on my solar plexus! One of the most sensitive places on your body and some also refer to it as the core/center of your being. It was perfect! Made total sense for what we were experiencing on the trip. Now, what tattoo to put there? I had an idea from the start of the trip as to what to get. But it wasn’t until hours before the appointment that I finally decided. Jade had given both my friend and I presents of Buffalo Sage for the trip (to keep us safe). She had given me some before I left and placed some in the car for my friend. The theme of buffalo from the start was everywhere, from the sage to stories in the car, food, everywhere!

Then my road trip friend was telling me stories of the buffalo on our drive. I didn’t know much of the history of them so I listened with open ears.

When the white man came over from Europe they nearly eradicated the buffalo/bison population. It went from in the millions to just a few thousand!! Even though this mass slaughter and harvesting of fur and meat happened, the buffalo always carried on. In the animal kingdom animals don’t hold onto grudges, they hash out the problems and move on. Why can’t we? Why can’t I? My friend also told me of her encounters with the buffalo. She spoke of seeing captured buffalo as opposed to a free/wild one. The hurt and sorrow and soullessness of the captured ones compared to the calm, peaceful ones of the wild. My heart aches for the captured!

This species has almost been wiped out by the greed and disrespect of mankind and yet it forgives. It lives in harmony with the people of the earth and holds no grudges. I haven’t seen a wild buffalo yet but I WILL on this upcoming trip. This is my mission.

I’ve needed to hear these stories for a while. I’ve learned to heal and forgive myself. Just be in the moment and appreciate it all.

The buffalo tattoo was EXACTLY what I needed and so fitting ON THIS TRIP as well! It’s my favourite of all the tattoos I have and holds the most meaning. Maybe because I got it in Vegas on a killer road trip, maybe because I was with one of my closest friends and there was a reason these stories came up. Maybe it was all meant to be… It really was all meant to be!

Getting the work done was as though I was purging out everything negative in me while the artist was plunging ink into my body and soul.

A tattoo is, in itself, a healing process even before it begins to heal physically.

– Devon