U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Eighteen (Niagara Falls to Washington D.C.)

North to South U.S. road trip recap week eighteen

I can’t even express what a good time we had riding the Maid of the Mist around Niagara Falls! Who knew you could have so much fun being soaking wet?

Niagara Falls has been on my Must See list forever, so when we left the Adirondacks, we headed west to experience the cool mist on a hot day. It was perfect. And after that it was back to the East Coast to finish off the week in our nation’s capital.

Note: I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers September 6-12.  Continue reading

Escape Campervans Review: Los Angeles to Death Valley (and why we don’t recommend Escape Campervans)

Escape Campervans Review and Our Trip to Death Valley

Let’s visit a popular U.S. National Park in peak season at the last minute! Yeah, that sounds like our travel style. And that’s how our conversation started two weeks back when we decided we had to see the Death Valley Superbloom.

All advance reservations for park accommodations were full. We could try our luck at a first-come first-served campsite, but we didn’t really feel up to tent camping this trip. So we decided to try something new: the rental campervan.

Despite paying more than we should have (no thanks to Escape), we had a good time on our trip. Want to know what the campervan life is like? Keep reading to find out! (More on why we don’t recommend Escape Campervans, too.) Continue reading

The Superbloom of Death Valley National Park: A Photo Journal (California, USA)

Death Valley Superbloom Spring 2016 on North to South: a Photo Journal

After receiving substantially more rain than typical in the 2015-2016 winter season, Death Valley National Park is experiencing a rare “superbloom” of wildflowers. The last superbloom event was 11 years ago, in 2005.  Since missing this year’s superbloom could mean waiting another decade or more before it happens again, we knew we had to go see this rare event.
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U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Thirteen (Chicago to Pittsburgh)

North to South U.S. road trip recap week thirteen

After our much needed road trip break in Chicago, we set our sights on exploring the Northeast. Indiana, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania were all checked off this week of our road trip, as we made our way to New England. And we saw a good amount of ultra-green midwestern farmland along our route. Take a look at our journey from Chicago to Pittsburgh on week thirteen of our trip!

Note: I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers August 2-8.  Continue reading

U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Weeks Nine, Ten, Eleven & Twelve (Chicago & Oshkosh)

North to South U.S. road trip recap weeks nine, ten, eleven and twelve

Two months of nearly non-stop road-tripping exhausted us, so we decided to take a break.

We wanted some time to relax, regroup, and work on our blogs, and to do that, we needed to stay still. Luckily, we were traveling around the midwest at the time, and my twin brother had a room available for rent in his Chicago apartment. So we settled down for a full month and used the time to explore Chicago more, set new goals for our projects, dabble in some artistic hobbies, and even launch a new business. See what else we accomplished during our month-long road trip break in Chicago below!

Note: I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers July 5 – August 1.  Continue reading

The Magical Landscape of White Sands National Monument: A Photo Journal (New Mexico, USA)

The Magical Landscape of White Sands National Monument, New Mexico, USA

This year Ian and I checked a HUGE item off our bucket list. We can both now officially say we’ve visited all 50 U.S. states. (Hooray!)

We’ve explored a LOT of the U.S. this year — even amplifying our goals to include visiting all 50 states in one year’s time — and every time I tell people about our epic quest, I always get asked some version of the same question: Which place was your favorite?

Well, if you limit me to a certain number, I’ll have trouble answering, but White Sands National Monument is absolutely 100% somewhere on my list of favorites. (Funny, because our visit there was completely unplanned.) And while I could go on and on about how amazingly surreal and magical the scenery is there, I think the photos will give you a better idea. So I’ll let the scenic photos do most of the talking… Continue reading

Things to Do Year-Round in and Around Anchorage (Alaska, USA)

Things to Do Year-Round in Anchorage, Alaska on NorthToSouth.us

Alaska is a BEAUTIFUL state. In fact, it’s one of my absolute favorite states from our entire 2015 50-state quest. And there are a lot of things to do, even if you’re visiting outside of the summer “tourist” season.

The most popular tourist season in Alaska is summer, with a secondary season in winter, but the time in between — the “shoulder” seasons — can seem pretty dead. That 28-glacier cruise only runs May through September. Dog-sledding tours near Anchorage don’t run in fall or spring. And even the expensive polar bear excursions up north shut down post-summer. There’s a lack of demand, so yes, the big tour companies that rely on big numbers shut down when the crowd thins, but there is still PLENTY to do in this awesome state outside the major tour company offerings.

We’re currently in the midst of a two-week “offseason” trip to Anchorage — the last week of October and first of November — and we haven’t run out of things to do yet. Here’s a list of our favorites so far:  Continue reading

U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Week Seven (Wyoming to Alberta)

North to South U.S. road trip recap week seven

Week seven was by far one of the most memorable weeks on our road trip. I can’t believe how much we saw in one week! Oodles of wildlife, gorgeous sunrises, and even the Northern Lights — all the way down in Yellowstone National Park (they’re not usually visible so far south).

Somehow we managed to visit FOUR national parks all in one week. And despite late night Milky Way photo sessions, we managed to wake up before dawn TWICE to witness the gorgeous sunrises Yellowstone has to offer. If you’ve never seen Yellowstone yourself, add it to your bucket list NOW. And in the meantime, you can drool a bit over these photos!

Note: I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers June 20-27.

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U.S. Road Trip Re-Cap: Weeks Four, Five & Six (Illinois to South Dakota)

North to South U.S. road trip recap weeks four, five and six

After completing our third week on the road in the U.S. this summer, we decided it was time for a little breather. We departed St. Louis at the beginning of week four and then pressed the pause button when we reached Chicago. And there we stayed, visiting my twin brother, for the first two and a half weeks of June.

Despite growing up in St. Louis, I’d never visited the nearby Windy City ’til now. And what an awesome place it turned out to be! So much so that we decided we’d return to Chicago for an even longer break after our upcoming national park loop. We finished off this three-week period in Badlands National Park, where we found unique erosion-formed landscapes, plentiful prairie dogs, and the craziest (and unexpected) storm we’ve ever experienced! (You don’t want to miss that video.)

Note: Since we paused for so long in Chicago, this recap covers weeks four through six of our U.S. road trip. And I’m still catching up on our weekly road trip re-caps! This one covers May 30 – June 19.

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Shot of the Week: North to South Sees the Northern Lights (Yellowstone, Wyoming, USA)

Shot of the Week: The Northern Lights (Aurora Borealis) in Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, USA

I was half asleep. Only half because of the awkward angle at which my head was tilted when I’d closed my eyes. Sleeping in the car has never been my forte. I quickly snapped out of my sleepy state, however, when my brain finally registered the three words that had just exited Ian’s mouth: “the Northern Lights.”

It was an unexpected sight, in Yellowstone National Park, but having severely sub-par cell service the past two days couldn’t even stop us from seeing them. There was no visible green glow or anything, but the eery gray streaks sweeping across the northern sky were visible to the naked eye. I quickly pulled my RX100 out of the glove compartment and clambered over the middle console of our Yaris and into the driver’s seat. Ian was already out of the car with the a7 mounted to his tripod. I opted for the meager warmth our Yaris could offer with its front window rolled down all the way.

My first shots were crap, from a photographer’s perspective, but the colors were absolutely amazing. To start, I’d quickly flipped my dial to ‘M’ and prepped for a 6-second exposure. No tripod. Just handheld. Propped atop the open window frame of the driver’s side door. With some expected star streaking from my unsteady hand in my first few exposures, I made some minor adjustments — adding a 2-second timer, using the tilt screen to more steadily prop my camera up on the window ledge — and was rewarded with better results. My final improvement to my set-up was turning the car’s engine off and setting the e-brake (Ian never does) to keep car movements to an absolute minimum. And I was quite impressed with my results!

This photo was taken on June 22nd with the Sony RX-100 III. Continue to view full photo.  Continue reading