Long Term Road Trip USA and Canada – Nomad Life Update

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First of all, sorry for being an absentee blogger! Driving around the USA and Canada is a dream come true for me. Exploring each stop along the way and experiencing the good and bad of road tripping. I missed writing and posting my travels! It took me a while to get used to the nomad lifestyle and finding a balance between working, exploring, and socializing.

I’m a bad travel blogger. I write posts in my head but they don’t make it onto the computer. Dozens of stories are swirling around in my brain, unedited, unposted. Perhaps a glass or three of wine will entice them to my keyboard one day soon…I’m willing to try : )

Traveling and working and blogging and exploring is a lot of responsibility.

Clear waters of Crescent Lake - tranquility in Washington State PNW bliss

Lake Crescent in Washington State – beauty! Picture yourself here!

Blue and cream - Hastings Building - Victorian era building constructed in Romanesque style architecture - Port Townsend WA

Victorian era architecture – upper floors of Hastings building in Port Townsend Washington

My last blog post (a funny story, read it here) was in April 2016 from Port Townsend Washington. I LOVED Port Townsend!

The Victorian architecture, surrounded by mountains and water, excellent restaurants, friendly people, and pleasant climate make Port Townsend a comfortable nomad location. Big plus is the generally laid back vibe and a definite hippy feel to the place.

READ now: 15+ Awesome and FUN things to do in Seattle in One Day

Lighthouse in Port Townsend WA

Point Wilson Lighthouse in Port Townsend Washington

On three separate occasions I met people who were “alternatively housed” as one man described the situation. He lived out of his car. Another fellow recently relocated from Wisconsin, he was living outdoors. I had a great discussion with a musician who goes by the name Crow, he plays a mean fiddle. He informed me that living in his vehicle was a choice, he was not homeless. Good point.

I actually have a lot in common with the alternatively housed people. We are nomads. Each of us have made a lifestyle choice that is confusing to some people. We own few possessions.

During my nomad journey I have begun to explore and imagine various unconventional homes. Yurt. Tent on a wooden deck. Teepee. Tiny homes. Papercrete homes. I used to think I needed at 600 to 700 square feet in order to be comfortable.

Now, back in Austin TX I’m visiting my fave places for a few weeks. I’m at an Airbnb rental and I am living in 400 square feet and it’s plenty for me. Outdoor living space is important to me. Walkable neighborhood is important to me. During my travels I am evaluating my wants and needs in more detail.

Twilight at Port Townsend Bay - Washington State

Twilight at Port Townsend Bay Washington state

I wouldn’t have even heard of Port Townsend, except for an artist friend, whom I finally met in person on my way to Port Townsend. Ruth relocated to Olympia temporarily and I met her for lunch at her new home.

I knew Ruth from an online artist website (I used to sell my handmade jewelry) and we had known each other for about 10 years – so cool to finally meet in person! Ruth gave me a tour of the house and told me about the renovation plans. It’s fun to follow along with the transformation as she posts photos on Facebook.

While planning my nomad life I wanted to mix it up a bit, small towns and big cities. After Port Townsend I drove to Vancouver BC and stayed for 5 weeks, in the trendy Yaletown neighborhood.

I’m not much of a trendy girl but I wanted to be central. It was a bit of shock after Port Townsend.

Fortunately, there is some good hiking around Vancouver and I made a couple of side trips to Squamish and Whistler for some outdoor fun – Joffre Lakes hike was amazing!

Beautiful BC - Squamish River

Squamish River – Squamish BC Canada

I met up with friends in Vancouver that I hadn’t seen in years. A big highlight of my nomad lifestyle is the people I meet along the way and catching up with old friends.

I feel fortunate to have this opportunity. My plan is to keep on living this lifestyle for as long as I am able. And I figure I can do this nomad thing at least until I am 70 years old, maybe 80, who knows?

Pristine glacial fed lakes at Joffre Lakes hike - Whistler BC Canada

Joffre Lakes gorgeous views while hiking – Whistler BC Canada

My nephew Nathan lives in Armstrong BC so I stopped there for a couple of nights on my way to Lake Louise. He has two adorable kids so we met up for dinner and enjoyed catching up.

The next morning, I stopped by to hang out with them. I bought some cheese curds and the kids liked munching on those tasty morsels. It was fun to watch them play, young kids embrace their imagination and simply live in the moment – sweet! We could take some lessons from the little ones I think.

Snow at Lake Louise Alberta Canada - most beautiful places

Snow at Lake Louise Alberta on June 15 2016

In Lake Louise my sister and her trusty sidekick met me for a couple of nights. They brought all the fixins to make Caesars – I love them – my sister and her friend I mean, and maybe love isn’t too strong of a word for my devotion to the beverage known as a Caesar.

To my non-Canadian friends a Caesar is similar to a Bloody Mary. BUT – a Caesar is made with Clamato juice not plain ol’ tomato juice! We played cribbage and Clue, and I kicked their asses! Really, I’m not making that up.

We took a short drive (30 minutes) from Lake Louise to Emerald Lake in BC and WOW! Emerald Lake is gorgeous!!!

We three hiked to the Lake Agnes Tea House and enjoyed a tasty but extraordinarily expensive lunch. The staff have to hike in all the supplies, so that is why it is so expensive, like $20 for a pot of tea.

But you’re worth it honey!

Just do the hike and either bring your own picnic lunch or plan to spend a few bucks and support the local economy. Everything was truly yummy.

Lake Agnes at the top of the Tea House Hike - Lake Louise Alberta

Lake Agnes Tea House Hike – gorgeous reward!

Another fun thing to do in Lake Louise is to rent a canoe and paddle around the lake – gorgeous! I think you have to do it at least once in your life, not necessarily at Lake Louise, but paddle yourself around in a canoe or kayak, on a glacier fed lake somewhere in the world. You will feel invigorated. You will feel the love of the mountains and glacial waters hugging you. Just do it!

June 18th I arrived in Calgary, my hometown and I did some of my fave urban hikes in Calgary.

In total I spent 3 whole months in Calgary, with one trip to Shuswap BC for a girlfriend weekend with 4 of my grade school buddies. Some of us had not seen each other for decades! So much fun!

I thought I was going to have several weekends away traveling around Alberta. But I settled in with my parents, working Monday to Thursday, swimming a few times a week, and enjoying dinner with my parents each night.

I helped out around the house, enjoyed talking with my mom and dad, and just hanging out with them. There was great success with my basement organizing project at my parent’s house.

Calgary Olympic Plaza with City Hall in background

Flowers at Calgary Alberta’s Olympic Plaza with City Hall in the background

Spending time with my parents was a big motivator for my nomad plan, and I will be working my way back up to Calgary for summer in 2017. I also have 3 siblings in Calgary so we were able to spend more time together.

In Calgary I also discovered The University of Calgary Outdoor Centre – they have great prices for outdoor equipment rentals, and a bunch of classes for very affordable rates. I took three kayaking classes with Outdoor Centre and I found out that I love kayaking!

I left Calgary on September 15th and took a month getting back to Austin Texas, with stops in Bozeman Montana, Fort Collins Colorado, Santa Fe New Mexico, and Alpine Texas.

And I was able to meet up with online friends Billie and Steve of Santa Fe Travelers blog. They invited me to dinner one night and we hit it off like old friends. Billie and Steve have lived in Santa Fe for many years, worked in the hospitality industry, so they know Santa Fe extremely well, check out their blog if you are planning a trip to Santa Fe New Mexico!

Alpine Texas was my first nomad location in 2015 and I love the place! I met up with friends Allyson, Nancy, Harry, and met some groovy new fiends as well.

Did you know Alpine TX is the perfect location to explore the wide open spaces of Far West Texas?

I took day trips to Balmorhea, Marathon, Terlingua, and Big Bend National Park – one of my favorite places on the planet! And it is one of the least visited National Parks in the USA.

Prickly pear cactus with three bright red fruit pods

Prickly pear cactus with bright red fruit – Big Bend National Park

Nomad life long-term road trip plans for year 2

Now I will spend another 5 weeks here in Austin Texas before heading east for more road trip adventures in the Southern USA and Midwest region. So far I am planning to stay in:

  • Lafayette Louisiana – December
  • (update: I LOVED Lafayette – read my post about all the things to do in Lafayette
  • Oxford Mississippi – January
  • someplace in Alabama…February? (Birmingham turned out to be my choice)
  • or maybe Chattanooga Tennessee instead? (nope, not yet…made it in 2019!)
  • Hot Springs Arkansas – March (nope, another must visit though….I chose Lexington KY)
  • Lawrence Kansas – April (didn’t happen due to family emergency, I drove to Canada instead)
  • Minneapolis Minnesota – May (also didn’t happen, I was already in Calgary to help my dad)

Nomad Life long-term road trip plans year 3

Year 3 of my long-term road trip began in October 2017 and completed September 2018.

Leaving Calgary in early September and driving to Des Moines Iowa was not my original plan. I looked for a place in Minneapolis but the prices seemed too expensive. I expanded the Google map and decided on Des Moines Iowa.

Returning to Lafayette from mid-October to mid-November in order to attend Festival Acadiens et Creoles.

Austin Texas for  3 short weeks in November 2017.

5 week break in my road trip to fly to Palm Springs California (check out my guide to Palm Springs) – Calgary Alberta – back to Austin Texas.

Lafayette Louisiana once again, from January to May for a long-term winter stay. Staying with my roommates from my October visit. We get along great, they are both musicians and now I am taking piano lessons!

As of March 2018 my total miles driven = 30,000 (48, 280 km)

May 23, 2018 I will leave Lafayette to drive to Yellowstone National Park – staying for a week or so and also visiting Glacier National Park. I want to got to drive a portion of the Going To The Sun Road in Montana, if it is open while I am in the area. And hiked Avalanche Lake trail and enjoyed the lovely Trail of Cedars.

I will make my way back up to Calgary Alberta for summer with family. Once again the plan is to drive east to Nova Scotia and to enjoy the fall colors in Maine, then back south before winter sets in.

(Updated in May 2019)

Nomad Life long-term road trip plans year 4

Year 4 of my long-term road trip began in October 2018 and will complete September 2019.

  • South to St Augustine Florida for some beaches and warmer weather from mid-October to mid-November 2018
  • Visit the manatees in Crystal River Florida for a week in mid-November 2018
  • Lafayette Louisiana for the last week of November
  • Austin Texas for December and early January
  • Fly to Calgary to visit family in January, then fly to Kitimat BC for 3 weeks, and back to Calgary for 1 more week of winter weather in February 2019
  • Austin Texas for some hiking, wildflowers, and great spring weather in February and March 2019.
  • Chattanooga Tennessee from mid-March through April – lots of good hiking around Chattanooga, and I met up with my Roller Derby friends – the fabulous Tragic City Rollers for their match up against the Chattanooga Roller Girls – super fun event and great to catch up with the derby girls!
  • Long road trip to Calgary from Chattanooga in May – it’s about 33 hours, not so bad!
  • Planning on doing lots of scenic drives and hiking in Banff, Jasper, and Kananaskis from May through July 2019
  • August and September – I stayed in Calgary until early September, then drove to Utah to explore the 5 national parks!

As of May 2019, I have driven over 50,000 miles during my 43 months on the road.

If you have any suggestions for things to do or places to see where I will be traveling, tell me! I am always looking for fun and fabulous places to visit, restaurant recommendations, or panoramic hikes to enjoy.

Explore other destinations for your next solo travel adventure

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About the Author

Susan Moore spent 7 months traveling solo around Southeast Asia back in the 90's. Returning to Canada she found a job working on rotation in Siberia Russia. She later moved to Austin Texas where she started a bookkeeping business, allowing her to work remotely. Currently Susan is in year 5 of a solo road trip around the USA and Canada, living a nomadic life, and writing about her experiences with a focus on hiking and cultural encounters. Read all about Susan » You can reach Susan Moore at Facebook or Twitter or Instagram

5 Replies

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  1. Carolyn Black says:

    HI, Susan, Carolyn Black, here, in Tubac, AZ. I am happy to hear from you again and enjoy your take on the places you have visited. Your next year plans look interesting. I have traveled to some of those places also. Since you have not made a specific plan for Georgia, may I suggest Oxford, Georgia. I haven’t been there recently, but did research years ago on the origin of a plant species that grows on granite outcroppings in that area. There is also the Oxford campus of Emory University which has a lot of history and pre-Civil War buildings. You might find it interesting and located in the rural area not far from Atlanta, another historical place to visit. Thanks for keeping me on your list.

  2. Sandy Behrman says:

    Glad to have you back in ATX. Just knowing you were gone made me miss you because I think you are a cool person. Want to have lunch or dessert together before you get back on the road?

  3. Agness of eTramping says:

    It seems like you had an amazing road trip! Thanks for sharing it with us!

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