My first road trip. Chicago land to the PNW


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After being a long-time lurker I’ve been inspired to share my own travels from last year. While not as impressive or full of off-roading it was my first legitimate road trip. It ended up being a very last minute trip, I decided to go maybe a month before departing. For a guy like me who loves to plan this is very short notice lol.

A little background information. I’m located in Northwest Indiana just 45 min south of Chicago (on a light traffic day). A good friend of mine whose name is Mike went to college in the area. I met Mike through another good friend who roomed with him during college. He fit right in with our group and attempted to find a job in the region in order stay by us. He’s originally from Washington state (well Asia but was adopted in Washington). Unable to find a job, he was forced to move back home. Not wanting to travel back alone I graciously volunteered to accompany him. The deal was I planned the trip and booked the hotels, he paid for the fuel. Not a bad deal at all! The plan was to leave Sunday after I did a photoshoot at a horse show travel to Cody WY, followed by a trip through Yellowstone and down to Jackson Hole, sometime in the Tetons and shoot up to Lynden WA (his hometown) spend some of the weekend exploring the PNW and then fly home the following Sunday.

We started off around 1pm the first day. We had a lot of driving ahead and storms were rolling through the entire route. Ill spare the boring stuff. We drove in shifts through the night and my shift was ending around 3am. Somehow I perfectly timed this with going through South Dakota and the breath-taking Badlands. DSC_0020 by Matt
This was not on the list of things to do but the sun was about to come up, the storms had passed and we were going right past it. We didn’t stay long and there was not a soul out there. We stopped at a couple parking areas and took some photos.
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I spotted a deer off in the distance and hopped out to take a photo with the sun coming over the ridge
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As I was standing on the trail I heard a rustling in the grass. I looked down and saw a skunk! Not looking to be sprayed I quickly exited his territory. Back in the truck we traveled down a couple dirt roads. Realizing they didn’t lead anywhere special we went back to the main road and continued on. I spotted this guy hanging out on top of another ridge.
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more random shots
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The rig
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a couple of goats grazing at the exit gate.
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We continued on the way to Cody. It was my turn for rest. About 10 minutes on the highway and my eyes starting to close, I see a flash of orange and a loud bang! Mike was so engrossed in the scenery he failed to see the construction pilons on the right side of the highway…. I’ve never seen something fly so far… thankfully there was no damage (and no one behind us). It was a bit hard to fall asleep after that one.

Just before entering Cody we hit another light rain storm which quickly turned to sleet as we made our way up through the Bighorn national forest.
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We stopped at a little camping area to walk through the woods a bit.
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I managed to snap a cool shot of 2 people fly fishing at the bottom of a creek. Not sure if there were fish there but hey it looked like a fun time.
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We made one last stop at a waterfall in the middle of the range and continued on our journey.
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We finally arrived in Cody as the sun was making its escape from behind the clouds. We checked in the hotel, took showers and naps and went out to explore the town.
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We found a small trail that wound its way through a neighborhood and into some farm land. Worried that we would anger some property owners I convinced Mike to head back.
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We crossed under the mountains through the Buffalo Bill Dam and did a little backroad exploring and stumbled across this abandoned house at the edge of the river. It was starting to get dark so we decided to head back for dinner and sleep. The next day was a long one and we had a lot of ground to cover.
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We awoke the next day to amazing weather and set off for Yellowstone. I really wish we had more time to actually explore the vast park but we had a deadline and had to be in Jackson Hole that night to get in the hotel. Even with our time constraint this day could not have gone any better.

You know those brochures they give you at the entrance at every park saying don’t feed the wildlife? Well Yellowstone has one saying don’t take selfies with the wildlife. What does Mike do the moment we get to the first bison? Takes a selfie… That thing dipped his head and charged hard. I yelled at him just in time and he jumped out of the way and the bison went right on grazing. I laid into him for that one…
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I navigated us through the park hitting all of the major sites. I’ll let the photos do the talking.
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We made the whole loop and arrived at the main attraction. Old Faithful. Well, not so faithful anymore. We sat on the viewing deck and waited. And waited. And waited. Finally, some movement! And then nothing. Then movement! Then nothing. After what seemed like an eternity it went off! Actually, it was only like 20 minutes but we had arrived “on time”. We asked some people that worked at the park and they said the accuracy of predicting the geysers has become more difficult over the years. Who knows, it may just stop sometime in the future.

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With Yellowstone in the rearview, we headed down to Jackson Hole to the accommodations at Super 8. Checked in, showered, and off to dinner. That is one amazing town. I recommend anyone stay there if you pass through. We got dinner at Sidewinders Tavern. Cool place, good food and some good craft beer from the area
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The next day we back tracked a bit to the Tetons, not sure what was going on that day but it was free! We walked around a bit and traveled up the main road. We pulled off the main road toward the end and parked to look around.
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Met a really cool couple from Australia who were spending their holiday traveling across the US in a small RV from Cali to New York. I bet that was an amazing trip! They informed us of a recent bear siting on the trail. We didn’t stay long.
From there we went up to the top of signal mountain and back down to the lodge for lunch. We left lunch and found the off-road trail that runs along the snake river. A very mild trail but rough if you don’t have the ability to air down. We did not. It took a while to travel the whole trail and we were pretty beat.
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We exited the park and hopped back on the highway for the final part of the road trip to Washington.

We arrived at Mikes house early in the morning. We spent the rest of the time exploring Puget Sound and the cascades as well as some of the forest.
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Quite possibly my favorite part of this portion of the trip was driving the old logging roads to the top of the beginning of the Cascades and doing some trap shooting from the peak.

Sunday was my last day before flying home out of Seattle so we spent the day seeing the sites in the city. I won’t go into detail here but here are some photos from the city.
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This was my first real trip and I had such an amazing time. It jump-started my love for traveling and overlanding. I learned a lot from this trip and plan to make traveling the country a yearly experience. In a couple of months my girlfriend and I plan to fly back to Washington for a road trip down to Redwood and back hitting as many national parks as possible.


You did well for a first road trip. They can get to be addictive so carry on to see more places and keep on with the pictures.


New member
You did well for a first road trip. They can get to be addictive so carry on to see more places and keep on with the pictures.
Thank you! this is true. I just spent a couple days watching all of the Expedition overland videos and planning/day dreaming of more adventures.


Awesome trip man. I am from Wyoming and now live in Colorado. The mountains in Wyo feel much more "Wild" to me and I miss them soo much.

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Awesome trip man.. You bet traveling can be addictive. It is always nice to get away from our busy lives and take time to explore the world or our surroundings.

Great pictures!!!

I hope you go on your next trip soon.

What camera are you using?


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Thanks guys! I would agree Wyoming does feel more wild. Ive done some snowboarding in CO. love it there too.

I use a Nikon D5500. i actually bought it a month before this trip lol post processing is all lightroom.