7 Things You Learn on a Long-Term Road Trip (LTRT)

As much as you think physically training for hikes is important, it’s not. Your most valuable asset is your mind. Fine tune that like it’s your job. So, to help you better prepare for your own trip, here are a few things to note if you want to be mentally prepared for a sweet adventure.

 

You Need a Killer Playlist

You think you have enough music to keep you jamming for miles after miles? You’re probably wrong. The playlist will repeat itself, and you will be stuck skipping every song since you’ve long grown tired of them. Pull together absolutely everything for this playlist. Those songs you only have as novelties, the songs you love to hate (eh hem, let’s be honest, Justin Bieber’s whole new-ish album) and the oldies you can’t help but sway with. Pro tip: don’t fear singing along because that is definitely what will keep you awake at the wheel on hour 12.

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You’ll Stop Caring About Your Looks

I’m not one to primp much, but almost everyone feels the need to at least look somewhat presentable. On a LTRT? Nope. You will have fifth-day-without-a-shower greasy hair and a stench that you may slowly grow proud to marinate within. Feel no shame in going to fancy restaurants while looking like you just got slobbered on during a bear fight in the woods. Baby wipes only do so much, so own your look.

Scenic Byways are the Best

If you’re road tripping, you’re already desiring a more unique view of the world, but the byways are a fabulous find. They take you on some possibly overly bumpy roads, but you’ll catch empty, breathtaking views.

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Weekdays Mean Nothing for National Parks

Think you’re beating the crowd by going during the work week? Very funny. Throngs of families on vacations will stampede past with their littering children and screaming dogs (which, aren’t really allowed in the parks so please leave them at home). Crowds will ruin your dream Instagram post and mask the pretty views. Luckily, the National Parks are still amazing and you can find solace in some areas.

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You’ll Reach Breaking Points

If you’ve read any of the blog posts about my 2017 Sib Trip, you probably thought I was a little insane. Aside from partially being accurate, it’s really a product of constant driving, constant movement and constant interaction with the one person you took the trip with. I blame Evan, my brother, for my insanity. Moments come where you’ll question why you don’t just go home, throw on sweats and curl up with a good ol’ Netflix marathon. Trust me, I was there. In the end, though, it’s worth the occasional struggle because these trips are a rare treasure.

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You’ll be Surprised What the U.S. Looks Like

Sometimes you’ll really have to pee, and the only exit within the next 300 miles is some town with barely a hose in the ground to pump gas. Population 10 signs will shock you, and so will the vast gorgeousness of the country. You could see desert in one day and be up in snowy mountains the next. It’s an incredible country that I hadn’t truly appreciated until my Sib Trip.

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You Will Never Want to Stop

Sitting at work, you look out the windows and think I could be out there right now. It’s this insatiable desire to be on the move and have that peace that only nature and adventure can bring. Be happy that you’ve had that experience, and get excited to try and plan another.

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You will come out of your trip a changed person. I, personally, discovered an unashamed love for wearing socks with Chacos. Sue me. Go on the trip, and stop worrying about logistics. Just be sure to have baby wipes and great songs.

Meteorites and Mountains

Note from Cat: I’m a little behind on posts since the post trip relaxation has truly kicked in. Evan will claim it’s because I hate him that these posts are late, but that’s the way the cookie crumbles. 


Authored by Not Wanderlust’s head geologist: Evan Dismukes 


Quick Vocabulary:

Laccolith: when a pluton is created and makes the overlaying rock bulge upward
The remainder of our sojourn through Canada was spent visiting cities so this post is going to be short and sweet. It does involve engaging topics such as meteors, mountains and magma. 

We entered Sudbury. I’m not sure if the depressed vibe was a result of the rain or because the Timmy Ho’s we stopped at for breakfast was entirely comprised of homeless people. Either way, it had the classic post-economic collapse of blue collar towns, an environment we are familiar with being from Pittsburgh. Despite all of this, Sudbury is the “Nickel Capital of the World.” The city is in the middle of a giant crater that was created by an asteroid impact about 2 billion years ago. It is the second largest confirmed meteor impact on earth. For comparison, the third biggest impact is the one in Mexico that killed off the dinosaurs. The rocks in this area are mostly gneiss and fragmented granite. The gneiss was granite from the Canadian Shield that metamorphosed into gneiss as a result of the asteroid impact. The fractured granite are the pieces of the Canadian Shield that were broken up and thrown into the sky as a result of the meteor impact. With the Canadian Shield’s rich minerals and the meteor materials, Sudbury was primed to be a booming mining town. It’s title of “Nickel Capital of the World” after the Big Nickel Company was founded in the area and became the largest producer of nickel in the world. Regardless how it seems, Big Nickel is actually the name of the company and not just what conspiracy theorists call the nickel industry in the town.


We then visited Toronto, where we saw the most important 35 pounds of silver in the world that is currently claimed by the city of Pittsburgh (I.e.Lord Stanley). Then, we made our way to Ottawa where Cat tried to make out with Trudeau (editor’s note: that statement is a lie). Finally, we fumbled upon Parc National De Plaisance, which is listed as a Parks Canada park, but everything within the park lists it as a Quebec Provincial Park. I don’t know French so I don’t know what’s true and what isn’t. The park is on the Ottawa River which is a part of the failed rift valley that also created Lake Huron. This place also had a lot of sediment deposited upon it as the glaciers receded after the last Ice Age. This made it a great place for farming as seen by the multitude of farms that line the park. We were also surrounded by frogs, and whether you take that to be amphibians or Quebecoise, you would be correct.


We then hopped through Montreal and Quebec City to the Maine border. We had our first and only genuinely courteous Border Patrol agent before not summiting Katahdin due to storms. The tallest mountain in Maine is a laccolith that formed as a result of the mountain building event that formed the Appalachians. Like many other places in the northern latitudes, it was also shaped by glaciers which is how it got its steep sides. None of this we could see because we slept in our car in the torrential downpour.

Since most of Cat’s post is taken up by visiting cities my post is gonna be shorter with Acadia National Park being our last stop. The island is a part of the Coastal Maine Magmatic Province where plutons were being formed as a result of the processes that were forming the Appalachians as well. There are tons of really cool exposed granite in this park along the coast and at the top of the peaks, including Cadillac Mountain. Cadillac is the first place to experience sunrise on the whole east coast of the U.S. However, this view is completely ruined by seeing multiple large cruise ships moored off the coast providing an outpouring of Jerrys onto the quaint shipping island on the coast of Maine.


Upon leaving Acadia we will be continuing through New England. I will continue to eat seafood. We will visit more friends, and will slowly start to pronounce our “R’s” again as we head into the heart of the Appalachians.

Fin (Big Trip Days 45-56)

This is the “I had a case of the home-stretch lazies and didn’t write posts” post. So, here’s the truncated version of the last leg of our Big Trip. The gear review post will be coming soon, so stay updated if you’re interested in how things like our stove, tent and shoes worked out.

Day 43 and 44:

We popped into a family friend’s house in the ‘burbs of Toronto after I accidentally turned on the car alarm in the middle of the Canadian highway (you can’t win them all). From that base point, we took the train into the city for a day to catch the Hockey Hall of Fame and traipse around the lake shore. On our last evening in the ‘burbs, we got crafty and painted commemorative mugs (see below for the exclusive designs).

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A Mixture of Young and Old

Authored by Not Wanderlust’s head geologist: Evan Dismukes

Quick Vocabulary:



Lithified: the process of hardening into a rock

Canadian shield: billion year old rock in the northern part of America made up of mostly granite

Rift valley: place where the Continental Plate started separating
Traveling from the ranches and mountains of Wyoming and the trashy tourist towns in the Black Hills to the flat, buggy and forested emptiness of the Canadian Shield.

Everywhere we went on this leg provided a wide range of geology experiences as well as some other not so positive experiences.

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