The new homeowners took possession of our former house on March 15, 2016. By the 14th we were out of our house and staying with some friends right outside of Edmonton for a few days to get the final loose ends tied up before we went out on the road. We set out for Kris's dads acreage outside of Water Valley, AB (where we were to spend the night and leave our camper) on March 18th and by March 19th we were headed south to Texas. Texas seems like an odd stop on our journey but my older sister Candice, her husband Matteo and their two amazing daughters have called Houston home for nearly a year. We are very close to them...apart from Candice being my sister, Matteo is Kris's best friend and we actually all lived together for about 10 months prior to their move to the states. Needless to say we were very anxious to get to Texas as quickly as possible.
After crossing the border into Sweetgrass, Montana we stopped in Kalispell to grab a small bag of groceries that could hopefully feed us at least a few meals so we could minimize our stops. When we went to pay, the lady in front of us paid for our groceries... welcome to America! I am still not quite sure if it was a very friendly gesture or if she saw the interior of our van in the parking lot and thought we were homeless haha... (oh wait, I guess we are eh?) but either way, such a sweet moment for us to have such a warm welcome to the country.
Montana was a beautiful state to drive through, and we stopped for the night to sleep in Billings. It was pretty cold outside... but we had a foam mattress, blankets, pillows, warm clothes and our dog (prince charles) in the back so we reckoned it would be ok to sleep in the rear of the van. This was night #1 and we were a bit amateur, so after about 20 minutes we were FREEZING cold. It didn't take us long to decide it was time to check into a budget motel - which thankfully was pretty easy to find.
Getting into Wyoming the next morning was like entering a different world. It was so visually beautiful in Wyoming - I had no idea! Rolling hills and greenery everywhere...every corner we turned looked like a post card. Stopping for gas near a small town was a memory that stayed with me as well... there was a small submarine sandwich shop in the back of the gas station, and seemingly the entire town population was inside this shop....eating subs and catching up on the town gossip. It was so cute and "small town America" feeling.
We decided to drive straight from Billings, Montana to Amarillo, Texas on that second day. The one thing that really stuck out to us along the entire route in America was just how many boarded up homes and businesses we passed in small town America. We were so shocked at how many there were - and I really am not sure of the cause... but it certainly leads one to speculate that the American economy can't be doing too well at the moment. We managed to make it to Springfield, Colorado without incident. Sadly, in Springfield... those blue and red lights that everyone dreads started to flash behind us. Yep... we were getting pulled over... awesome. Luckily the cop was more bored than anything (we were going 35 miles an hour in a 30 zone...) and was more looking for a conversation with a couple of Canadians (our Alberta plates gave us away). He joked around with us for a bit... made us say "about" and "eh", had a laugh, and then we drove away.
When we arrived in Amarillo... I (Courtney) had been long asleep already. We stopped to spend the night, but this time we had enough sense to leave the van running and sleeping in the back of van went much more successfully. To leave the van running for heat cost maybe $10 or $15 dollars per night at most... where a motel, even a budget motel, can cost $60-$70 per night. A foam mattress on the bottom of a van floor isn't necessarily the most comfortable set up - but none-the-less after a decent sleep we got up bright and early the next morning and bombed it down to Houston. We got to Houston around 2:00PM and it was HEAVEN to take a shower, hug our family, and have a home cooked meal. Super fun, and FAST road trip down, but we were just ready to enjoy the next two weeks with our favourite crew. More on our Houston adventures to come!!