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In July and August of 2003, my friend Jamie and I went on a month-long road trip through Western Canada and America. We slept out of her Saturn and my tent, which would be the case on the next North American trip as well. Our first stop was the biggest mall in the world, the Mall of America in Minneapolis. I am not much of a consumer, so it was a bit of a disappointment. Next, we drove to the Canadian Rockies - which still to this day is the most beautiful place I have ever seen. We camped out at different sites for a week and did miles and miles worth of hiking. Elk, bears and mountain goats were plentiful. Many of the glacial lakes were a surreal blue that I thought that only existed in paintings.

After this amazing week, we drove to Vancouver, a city bursting with many cultures. The next day, we took a car ferry to Vancouver Island. The island had many parts that were undeveloped and still in their natural state. We visited Victoria and enjoyed the old colonial British culture of the city. After car ferrying back to the states, we went to Olympic National Park in Washington. We stayed there for a while, because we found a few experimental forests that allow people to camp for free. After doing short day trips to Seattle and Portland, our next stop was to the Oregon Dunes, a breathtaking area on the Pacific Coast with huge, sprawling sand dunes filling the landscape. In our budget, we decided that we had enough money to do one big activity, so we made renting dune buggies it. I had fun, but Jamie spent most of her time flagging down the instructor to get her unstuck.

Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States, was our next destination and we camped there for a few days. Now our money situation was a bit precarious, so we had no choice but to head home with no stops - with one exception, Las Vegas. After gambling 3 dollars and eating a ridiculously cheap buffet, we got back on the road for the dreaded drive back across America.

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