Canned chicken, sleeping in a car and a road trip in national parks

Hike in the shade of the Teton Mountain Range, visit hidden independent mountain bookstores and long days of driving through open beaches singing at the top of their lungs to Fleetwood Mac with the windows down, all with your best friend, sounds like a dream. I lived it all, and it was a dream but I promise it was real.

My best friend Trenity and I lived in her Chevy Equinox for three weeks and took a 5,000 mile trip across the United States. it’s time to go home ”. Yet we wouldn’t trade it for the world. We’ve had some uncomfortable nights for you, so here are some examples of rookie mistakes to avoid while living your dream life on a budget, all based on 100% real events.

Worst Chicken Salad Sandwich Recipe Ever:

  • One can of Costco brand canned chicken
  • Three Packs of Chick-Fil-A Mayonnaise (easily collectable, no refrigeration required and they’re free! Just request more than 10 packs every time you order in the months leading up to your trip … you’re sure to get disapproving looks, but you gotta do what you gotta do when you have a student budget)
  • A healthy squirt of Siracha (the more the better; let the spice cover the tangy taste of canned chicken)
  • Stale whole grain bread

Let the sun warm the sandwich in your backpack as you hike. For maximum effect, wedge the sandwich in your backpack where it wedges between your first aid kit and extra water bottles. That way, when you’re hungry halfway through your 14 mile hike, you can have a nice, warm, chewy sandwich with Siracha-mayo chicken oozing out on your hands. You’ll leave your snack feeling like you’re filling up for the next seven miles, so bring plenty of your favorite beef jerky to make up for it. Repeat daily for three weeks.

Recipe for getting the best sleep while living in the car or camping in bear country:

  • Make cardboard window coverings to give yourself some privacy. If you realize the first night that you forgot to cover the back window, don’t worry: sticking a beach towel on the back of the window each night works just as well.
  • Drown in bug spray before bed to deter mosquitoes sneaking through cracked windows from biting you while you are subconsciously left helpless.
  • Drink electrolytes before going to sleep – but don’t make the mistake of using mixtures that contain caffeine or you’ll be sweaty and awake. Nighttime summer temperatures can reach 80 degrees … prepare ahead so you don’t get dehydrated in the hot car.
  • While driving to and from national parks, don’t listen to podcasts about the bloody ways that previous visitors to the parks have died as a result of bear attacks and serial killers. Rest assured; you will hear the voices of the hosts in your head recounting your own death as you over-analyze every sound you hear outside your car or tent.
  • Do not google recent bear attacks in the area where you are staying. Do not do it.
  • Driving conditions are not ideal for people prone to night terrors. It’s hot, it’s unfamiliar, you fall asleep feeling unsafe; this is the perfect opportunity for your sleep paralysis demon to haunt you. Remember to take your anxiety medication before you start.
  • Bring a friend who isn’t sleeping, talk, lest you wake up at 2 a.m. to have the following interaction:

“The creatures of the woods are coming to take our keys!”

“Why would the creatures of the woods come and take our keys?” “

“You know… we’re in a bind.” “

“Trenity, you are asleep.”

“… Am I Trenity?”

Recipe to make the most of your experience despite the chicken salad and sleepless nights:

  • On the particularly good parts, like sitting at the foot of the mystical Osprey Falls (the best waterfall in Yellowstone, according to rangers) after hiking steep switchbacks for four hours, take a moment to be grateful. It’s an experience a lot of people don’t get the chance to have, so take your chance and say thank you.
  • Take your time. The good thing about living in the car is that there are no hotel reservations to get you from place to place, so don’t rush to the places you like the most. . What if some places don’t quite meet your expectations (looking at you, South Dakota. But not you the Badlands; you weren’t that bad.) You, even if that means straying from there initial schedule.
  • Laugh at yourself. Not everything will go as planned, and sometimes it will be your fault, like going to Glacier National Park before the ranger posts open and driving 18 miles without a map and ending up very far from your car. It happens. All you can do is go on and hitchhike with strangers, and hopefully you get in a car with people who could give you job recommendations.

Despite the abominable chicken salad and the restless nights, the trip was the best three weeks of my life. We hiked unforgettable trails, met unforgettable people, and made unforgettable memories (did I mention our first parachute jump over Bozeman from a plane held together by macaroni and cheese printed tape?), I will tell stories until the day I die.

If you want something, go get it. Get creative to make your dreams come true, even if that means eating disgusting canned chicken salad sandwiches for three weeks in a row and sleeping in a sultry Chevy Equinox. In the end, it will all be worth it, and hey, even the worst parts make the stories all the more real and memorable. But you’ll never see me near a box of chicken again.

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