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Travelogue

The Wholesome Handbook - Seven States

Travelogue // Seven States

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The Wholesome Handbook - Seven States
Roadside America is weird and wonderful. The interstates are lined with billboards, some with ominous, sun-faded Bible verses, some with breasty neon silhouettes promising an audience with the Best Girls in the West. Gore flung across the highway lines, porcupines and whitetail deer and fat little raccoons with their human hands. Teenage hitchhikers with big dogs and hulking backpacks, farmboys rumbling along in tractors, grizzled truckers hanging suntanned forearms out of the driver’s side window. All-night diners and gas stations with burned, weak coffee. Every little settlement has a dubious claim to fame – the world’s largest cabbage, a 1973 mothman sighting, a defunct nuclear research site. And every place has a distinct set of unspoken rules, it seems, rules that only the locals know.

We only had seven days. Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Utah, Idaho, Montana. We didn’t mind. The Road, of course, is at the heart of the concept of a Road Trip, and there’s no better way to see a country, I think, than to explore the places between the places.

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Travelogue // Abbotsford, British Columbia

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Travelogue - Abbotsford - The Wholesome Handbook

Driving from Alberta to B.C. for a weekend visit with Andrew’s grandparents was like leaping forward in time. As we weaved around and over the Rockies on Highway 1 and the Coquihalla, the world shifted from a humble, budding brown to a raucous, lush eruption of green.

B.C. is a land of plenty. It’s crowded with dense hills and heavy clouds, and you can smell the ocean salt in the air. After 10 car-bound hours of podcasts, coffee, and rain, the eldest Reists welcomed us with their legendary Strawberry Birthday Cake, studded with saran-wrapped loonies, and we chatted long into the night.

Our first morning, we breakfasted on homemade raisin bread and blackberry preserves picked from the cemetery bushes across the street – does anyone feed us better than our grandparents? Afterwards, I managed to drag the boys out to the gloriously muddy Bloom Tulip Festival, and had to fight every one of my instincts to just lay down in the muck and roll around like a happy piglet. Spring makes me a little wild, but then again, I suppose it does that to all of us – Beltane has its reputation for a reason, after all.

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Travelogue // Banff, Alberta

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Travelogue - Banff, Alberta - The Wholesome Handbook

Banff is a tourist town. There’s no way around it. The streets are sardined with over-bundled crowds toting cameras and rented skis, several different languages echo haphazardly off the pavement, and most of the shops will cheerfully command 10 bucks for a fridge magnet. Still, though, I can’t really be bitter about it. Every time we round that familiar curve on the Trans-Canada and the road opens up into the first blue valley of the Rockies, I think to myself – oh, of course. Of course people flock from all corners of the planet to see this place. Of course.

I never tire of the mountains. When I was younger, I’d imagine the white-capped ridges were the spines of great sleeping dragons, or visualize the thousands of wolves and bears and moose hidden in their dense, forested skirts. As I got older, mountains taught me of my own smallness. They taught me reverence. To this day, every time I visit them, I feel like I’m coming home. The dramatic slope of Mount Rundle, the rippled bulk of Cascade Mountain, the almost comical peaks of the Three Sisters – these are the faces of old friends. Heading to the mountains felt like a good way to start 2017.

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Travelogue – Dinosaur Provincial Park, Alberta

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The Wholesome Handbook - Dinosaur Provincial Park

The Alberta prairies, to the uninitiated, might seem like a land ruled by oil barons and cattle ranchers. Everything east of our legendary mountains might be a land of country conservatism and small-town simplicity, utterly devoid of anything enigmatic.

But my Alberta is intensely mystical. It is powerful, strange, brutal, and beautiful. The wind-battered gray barns, the howling coyotes, the harvest moon hung low in the sky… there’s an energy here that’s unexplainable. There are ancient voices carried on the prairie winds, ghosts in the grasses, and bones in the coulees. 75 million year old bones, actually, in one of the richest fossil deposits in the world.

We recently spent a few days in Dinosaur Provincial Park, an astonishing valley cut deep into the grasslands and stretching endlessly to the horizon. I’ve never seen anything like it. A landscape that exists outside of time, esoteric and arcane.

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Travelogue // Bali

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Travelogue Bali - The Wholesome Handbook

Bali is smoke and chaos and colour, ancient and dark and so beautifully alive.

Our wedding went by in a blur, and I don’t truly think I will be able to reflect on it properly until we see it captured in photographs. I remember the good omen of heavy rain, feeling like a warrior-queen in beads and furs and precious stones, my husband taking my hand from my father at the willow altar. But that, of course, is a story best saved for another time.

We arrived at Nandini after 30 hours of travel, a clutch of ylang-ylang roofed villas nestled in the middle of the jungle. We’ve never stayed in a resort before, and likely never will again, so this was a rare treat and a true luxury. The head of staff, Mr. Iwan, reminded me distinctly of M. Gustave of the Grand Budapest Hotel, an almost startlingly warm, eccentric, resourceful individual running an extremely tight ship.

We indulged in punishing massages, candlelit dinners, and a private river at the bottom of 200 precarious stone steps. And when we craved something less luxurious, we weaved our way through the mayhem of traffic into the nearest town, Ubud.

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