• Bella Brown

Her Long Journey West

Lewiston, Niles, Illinois, Nebraska, and Colorado…. 7 days… 2,000 miles, one flaming marshmallow, one lost tail pipe, three loose curtain snaps, two hungry bus drivers, and too many gas station stops to count. It is safe to say that we are both exhausted and ravenous for more. Our first week in the bus took us to two very familiar destinations, Lewiston, Michigan (home of the gorgeous Lesniak Lake house) and Niles, MI (home of the Brown Family Headquarters). Here we relaxed and prepped the bus for her long journey West. We want to thank both of our families for helping us fix electrical issues (and cause them… cough cough), prepare bus snacks, pack emergency kits, and make our little blue bus into a home for the next two months. But the real journey began, much like a baby bird being flung from her comfortable nest, the moment we ventured out of our comfort zones into the great unknown. Our first stop? Just west of Lincoln, Nebraska. Of course, I should add, we had many stops to fix our exhaust system which failed us about an hour into the trip. Our tail pipe has been resting nicely underneath our bed since a desperate stop just near Des Moines. Oops? But, after what seemed like an eternity driving through hours of cornfields and cow farms, we made claim on a tiny piece of public campground down a few miles of winding dirt road. Here we braved our first thunderstorm to the sound score of Nebraskan cows mooing in the distance.

Our main goal was to push through Iowa and Nebraska to head to our first big stop, Rocky Mountain National Park so we ventured on with the peace of farm and field in our rearview mirrors. If I chronicled every bit of exciting shenanigans we got up to in the great state of Colorado this blog might be unbearably long so I will stick to the best of the best. Our first night in, my boyfriend surprised me with tickets to see DREAMERS and the Dirty Heads at Red Rock Amphitheater in Morrison, Colorado. As a music junky and concert going fiend, I was elated! The sweeping views of the city as foreground to the truly awesome natural red rock formations surrounding this outdoor stage was every nature inspired music goers dream. The acoustics, the views, the company, it was everything I could have ever wished for in an evening out on the town. From there we traveled to Meeker Park, had our first hike to Ouzel Falls, and moved across the tallest paved road in America, Trail Ridge (Sorry Mrs. Lesniak!!).

Our view from Trail Ridge Road!

Note: my boyfriend drove as I spent most of the time hyperventilating in the back on floor with some strange mixture of tears and laughter as the bus teetered the edge of ensured destruction.

After successfully climbing and descending 12,183 feet starting in Estes Park and landing just outside Rock Mountain National Park, we heartily thanked the bus and her newly replaced brake system and pressed on to our final hike in Colorado, a small trail wrapping around Grand Lake. Here we inhaled the sweetest pine filled air and took in spectacular views of Grand Lake and the surrounding Rockies. But alas, we must move forward.

Looking over Grand Lake.

To move us back onto our main route we took a zigzagging dirt road through the back half of the Rocky Mountain Range that weaved in and out of the Colorado River pass. This road less traveled navigated us through some of the most spectacular views, with the scenery changing every 5-10 minutes, we could not believe we were so lucky to have been given the chance to be witness to the majesty of the scenery. Words and photos cannot describe the view but I am really trying my hardest here.

Now, we move to our next short leg of the trip; Arches National Park, Bryce National Park, and Zion National Park. As the stickers on the back window of our well traveled home multiply so does our constant exclamations of “WOW!” and “Look at that!” and “OH MY GOSH THE VIEW!”. And I truly cannot wait for more of that.

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