Road Trip: Western Washington to Mt Rushmore ….. Missoula, Montana

I’ve always wanted to visit Mt Rushmore and recently thought why not visit now? I planned to travel prior to Memorial Weekend (as both road trip travel and Mt Rushmore will be very crowded in the summer months) and waited until the snow season was over (or almost over) in South Dakota and Wyoming.

My route from western Washington was very direct, via the I-90 interstate. First stop: Missoula, Montana. Very glad I decided to break up my trip here. It’s a beautiful area, the weather was sunny, nice parks, and two super book stores to explore (a future post). There is a fabulous coffee stand (Copper Mountain Coffee) and a great restaurant (The Stone of Accord) near the hotel (a future post). Yes, I would definitely return to further explore this gorgeous “Big Sky” area.

Savor your journeys.

Tips: Traveling Cross County Solo with a Cat

Take a deep breath — you can do this! Make a to-do list and be flexible.

Plan your route. The USA has a terrific interstate highway system with rest stops and information kiosks with very easy access to hotels, gas stations and food.

Reserve your room the day prior, considering weather and how far you think you will drive the next day. Reserve a ground floor room as you will be bringing not only your stuff into the room, but also your cat and food and toys and litter pan. Flexibility is key. Pick a hotel chain where most of the chain accepts pets. I used Choice Hotels and would recommend them.

  • Visit your vet
  • A sedative may not be the answer, especially if a small cat
  • Buy disposable cat litter trays (supermarket or pet store) for each night plus several extra
  • Pack your trunk and keep everything you need in the back seat and your cat (in carrying case) in the seat next to you
  • Always keep your pet in a carrying case while driving
  • Have food or water handy in case your cat wants something (at a rest stop)
  • Have a towel in your car to shield your cat (in her carrying case) from the sun
  • When you arrive at your motel, bring everything into the room, put out your cat’s food, toys & litter pan (put a towel under litter so litter does not get on floor/rug, have garbage bags for disposal) and then open the cat carrying case and let your cat explore
  • Pack a dust pan, brush and pet cleaner in case of any accidents
  • Have flexible travel plans
  • Enjoy your journey, think of it as an adventure.

Here is a link about my cross country trip from western Washington to South Carolina. I have many great memories of the trip with my cat, Shadow. She was the best navigator and I am so glad that I was fortunate to make such a memorable trip.

Cross Country with Shadow ~ A Cat Tale










Road Trip: Pacifica, California to Northern Oregon Coast

I recently posted about my trip from Western Washington to LA, with links to photos of the spectacular coast from San Francisco to LA Road Trip ~ Western Washington to Los Angles

My initial plan was to take the Interstate (I-5) to Washington. Instead, as I love the coast, I returned to Pacifica from Los Angeles via highway 1 and from there took highway 101 north.

If you have the time, take highway 1 north thru California and explore the many small towns. The scenery is spectacular and it is a not to be missed trip.

As I have already made that incredible drive, I opted to try a new route: north on highway 101. I had read about the incredible redwood trees and decided to drive via the Avenue of the Giants in Humboldt Redwood State Park, on old highway 101.

Avenue of the Giants

Take the 31 mile detour which parallels highway 101. There are numerous places to stop, have a picnic, go hiking and explore this magical area. Walk among these majestic trees and feel their beauty. Sense the quietness of the forest.  Ave of the Giants, Northern CA ~ Photos

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Road Trip ~ Western Washington to Los Angles

I’ve driven several times between Los Angeles and western Washington, sometimes taking the coastal route the entire trip. This trip I drove to San Francisco via the interstates, breaking up the trip in Ashland, Oregon (check out their Shakespeare Festival), continuing on to San Francisco and Pacifica, California.


I stayed in Pacifica as it’s right on the ocean, nice restaurant at the Best Western and only a short drive to San Francisco. Pacifica, California ~ Photos

I used Pacifica as a base to explore the area, including Sausalito (take the ferry), Tiburon, Muir Woods, The Presidio, Ghirardelli Square, the cable cars and driving on Lombard Street (the crooked street with eight hair pin curves). Have fun exploring and dining.

San Francisco ~ Photos

Drive South

From Pacifica start your drive south on Highway 1. Stop at Half Moon Bay for lunch (there are several terrific seafood places), walk about the Marina area. Explore the many state beaches along the highway.

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Road Trip ~ Western Washington to Boise and Coeur d’Alene


The easiest way to Boise from western Washington is via Interstates: Highway 18 to I-90 to I-82 to I-84. Boise is a very walkable city, so get set to explore. Stroll along 8th street to check out the many restaurants; you will not be disappointed.

My favorites include Bitter Creek Alehouse (fabulous salmon croquettes, good wine and beer selection), Prost! (enjoy your delicious German food and beer, sitting outside), Ruth’s Chris Steak House and try Goldy’s for breakfast. Meander along the Basque block, checking out restaurants and the museum.

Browse the Rediscovered Bookshop, a favorite place when I visit Boise. Two Favorite Bookstores ~ Idaho

Leave time to explore the impressive Capitol Building where you discover the history of Idaho, displayed on the lower level. While there are tours, I opted to walk about on my own. Afterward, walk about the pretty exterior garden area.

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Fall in the Smoky’s

The Great Smoky Mountain National Park is the most visited of the National Parks and there is no better time to go than fall to witness the changing colors of the foliage. You can easily spend a week in the surrounding area including Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge, TN and Asheville, NC.

My drive from Charleston to Gatlinburg, mostly via I-40, took about 6 hours. In addition to being the gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains, Gatlinburg is the home to over 100 artists and craftsman on an eight mile loop located three miles from downtown. Shops range from an old-fashioned soda fountain to art galleries to candles to a year-round Christmas shop plus shops with marvelous delicacies and music of the area. Stop for lunch at The Wild Plum Tea Room (on the loop and more of a restaurant than a tea room), leaving room for a fabulous dessert (try the bread pudding).

For an exciting overview, take the aerial tramway at Ober Gatlinburg and enjoy browsing the shops, having lunch or dinner at the German Restaurant or continuing further up the mountain on a chairlift. Read more

Cross Country with Shadow ~ A Cat Tale

After ending the job-offer phone call, I enthusiastically screamed, “Hurrah” to Shadow. “I have a new job and we are moving.” Shadow looked at me as if she understood that our lives were about to drastically change. After a year of looking for work, we were about to move from the Pacific Northwest to Charleston, SC.

I immediately started “to do” lists with ”SHADOW” at the top. My intention was to drive, taking Shadow with me. When I brought Shadow to the vet and asked her what she thought, she immediately said “Shadow has to go with you!” She explained that Shadow would adjust to the car travel and spending nights in different hotels as she would be with me. However, if I left her with a neighbor, she would feel rejected and abandoned, especially since she was an older cat.

After I told my family and friends what the vet said, there was no more mention from them of Shadow not accompanying me. With my #1 priority worked out (more or less), I went about making plans for the move, finding an apartment on-line, working with a moving company and mapping out the trip.

Boxes began piling up and Shadow was an integral part of the adventure. She climbed on the boxes and seemed at times to be supervising the packing. Thanks to great neighbors, Shadow & I were able to leave the day prior to the moving company coming which made our departure less chaotic.  Read more