Rooted in Richmond

Adventures in parenting, travel, and life

You guys, we bought a house!  I know I’m ahead of myself and I’m only on day five of the road trip chronicles, but we’re just so excited that I had to pause for this breaking news.  After ten days on the road, we are very happy and relieved to be in our new place.

First day in the new house

We closed this morning (Friday) and the movers won’t arrive until Wednesday so we’re still living with only the stuff we could carry in the car, and I’m writing this from the floor of the empty family room.  It feels so good to have a quiet space where everyone can spread out and get some alone time, though.  Laney is sound asleep on her new bed in our bedroom – I doubt we’ll see her for a week.  Zoe took her first bath in a jetted tub tonight and I’m pretty sure the entire neighborhood knows that it was the best 20 minutes of her life.  She went to bed easily for the first time since we left Seattle, and not a minute too soon.  And I’ve never been as excited about curling up on an air bed as I am tonight.

Our new house is in the Short Pump area of Richmond, only about ten minutes from our old house here.  Short Pump has changed immensely since 2010, though, and we’re in a different neighborhood that we didn’t explore much when we lived here before.  We’re excited to get out and explore the new area and all it has to offer, minus the sweltering heat.

The last 36 hours would have been utter disaster without the help of our parents.  My parents accepted delivery of our smaller car at their house in Roanoke about a week ago.  There were several unexpected turns of events with the shipping company, not least of which was when they confirmed delivery, yet no car had been delivered… We really appreciate my parents’ willingness to roll with the ambiguity and help us out.  Chris’ parents met us in Richmond to hotel babysit Zoe and Laney while Chris and I did the walk through and closing for the house.  I would almost rather continue living out of a car than take an exhausted Zoe to a document-signing session.  Their help allowed us to tackle the house stuff stress-free and with full attention.  A bonus to all of this is that we got to spend time with both families immediately upon getting to Virginia.  We’ve missed them and are so happy to be back in the same state!

This weekend will be dominated by shopping for furniture and all things domestic.  We’ve got one more week to get our act together before Chris starts work.  We are so thankful to be here and starting to get settled.  It feels like it’s been a long time in the making!

Next, the road trip saga continues…

Day 4 (Friday) had us driving from Billings, Montana to Dickinson, North Dakota.  It was mostly a driving day and we jumped off I-90 for the first time to I-94 and entered new territory.  We reluctantly left the mountains behind and drove into the Great Plains.  We crossed the border from Montana into North Dakota and were pelted with tumbleweeds as we plowed into strong winds.

North Dakota was a pleasant surprise – hillier and more lush than we expected.  I never thought I’d describe North Dakota as beautiful, but here we are!  The rolling landscape transitioned to badlands with vibrant colors that resembled Badlands National Park, which we visited in 2010, but with more vegetation.

We stopped in the Theodore Roosevelt National Park visitor center to collect information for our park visit the next day and then drove another 20 minutes to the hotel in Dickinson, North Dakota.  Because of the aforementioned bedtime shenanigans, we’ve been trying to get to hotels by dinnertime so that Zoe can get in bed earlier.  This was our earliest hotel arrival yet, which was fortunate for Zoe because it turned out the hotel had an indoor pool with water slides.  After some pool playtime, Chris picked up Mexican take-out for dinner, complete with bottled margaritas.  We hunkered down for the evening under a tornado watch but thankfully avoided severe weather.

Next, we explore Theodore Roosevelt National Park and trek across North Dakota from Dickinson to Fargo!

Highlights: Beautiful views along I-90, Butte downtown

Lowlights: Severe storms

On day 3 (Thursday), we drove from Missoula to Billings, Montana.  As predicted in our second blog post, we broke in the travel potty with “the inevitable emergency side-of-the-interstate-in-Montana pit stop” somewhere between Missoula and Butte.  I-90 through Montana gets pretty sparse after Missoula so we didn’t make many stops.

The Hummingbird Cafe in Butte, MT

We took a break in Butte for a delicious vegan lunch at The Hummingbird Cafe.  We planned to picnic at Chester Steele Park but they have a giant sign covering the entire side of the bathroom building notifying you that you’ll pretty much lose your life savings in fines if a dog so much as looks at the park.  To avoid going broke, Laney took a nap in the car while Chris, Zoe, and I had a quick lunch and played on the playground.  Dog-friendly amenities are becoming fewer and farther between as we’re making our way east – we’re certainly not in Seattle anymore!

Butte is an interesting town, with a history centered around its mining industry.  It still has a rough feel, but also has more hipsters than we expected, the greatest coffee shop we’ve discovered on our trip so far (Oro Fino), and beautiful old buildings.  After running around at the playground, we enjoyed cruising through the historic downtown and seeing the ornate Victorian and Queen Anne architecture.  The whole city is situated on a hill that offers great views from almost everywhere.

The drive from Butte to Billings is spectacular and we were fortunate to have beautiful blue skies for the first half of it.  We crossed the continental divide and cruised about 55 miles north of Yellowstone (bummer that we didn’t have time to stop!).  About an hour outside of Billings, we started to drive into some severe storms with dramatic thunder and lightning.  Being born in Seattle, Zoe and Laney aren’t very familiar with intense weather.  Around midnight, a storm considerably worse than anything we saw in seven years in Seattle rolled through Billings, with booming thunder and lightning strikes within a half mile of the hotel.  Fortunately, Zoe was exhausted and slept through the cacophony.  Laney, however, is terrified of all loud noises and tried to take shelter under the bed.  When she couldn’t fit, she tried to climb in the bathtub.  I ended up sitting on the floor of the bathroom with her for about 30 minutes, with the door closed and classical music blaring.  Needless to say, it wasn’t a restful night!

Next up, our first adventures in North Dakota!

Day 2 and I’m already behind on posting!  Day 2 was Wednesday and we woke up in Moses Lake, Washington.  The weather was gorgeous and we could see Mt. Rainier and either Mt. Adams or Mt. St. Helens from the hotel parking lot.  We stretched our legs with a little walk down the street to Starbucks and then hopped in the car for the 4.75 hour and 300 mile drive out I-90 to Missoula, Montana.

Riverfront Park in Spokane, WA

About 90 minutes into the drive, we made a stop in Spokane, Washington to explore their downtown riverfront area. I have to admit that I feel pretty bad for all the shade I’ve thrown Spokane’s way over the last seven years.  I’ve traveled through it a few times and always remembered it as… underwhelming at best.  But, I admit I was wrong!  I’d never been to their downtown before and Riverfront Park was beautiful and had so much fun stuff.  We spent a few hours there but could have stayed the rest of the afternoon.

Looff Carousel

The park is 100 acres and includes a pavilion, clock tower, carousel, IMAX theater, waterfall, bridges, and the Spokane River Centennial Trail.  We enjoyed walking around and taking in the beautiful views of the city and river.  The highlight for Zoe was definitely her ride on a tiger on the historic Looff Carousel. It was built in 1909 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Next, we drove about 40 minutes east through Coeur d’Alene, Idaho, where we stopped for more coffee and enjoyed the beautiful views of the mountains and Lake Coeur d’Alene.

The drive from Coeur d’Alene to Missoula is a road tripper’s dream.  It’s almost entirely through national forests (Coeur d’Alene National Forest and Lolo National Forest) and is one stunning view after another.  The skies really do look bigger in Montana and the 80 mph speed limit lets you bask in them while covering ground quickly.  We crossed from the Pacific Time Zone into the Mountain Time Zone at the Idaho/Montana border, which was an oversight in our planning and meant we got to Missoula about an hour later than expected.

Thankfully, we still had a few hours of daylight to explore Missoula, because it’s one of my favorite cities to visit.  It’s home to the University of Montana and is the perfect mix of college/western/hipster/cowboy.  Surrounded by mountains with a river running through it, the outdoor activities are endless.  While Zoe and Chris played at Dragon Hollow playground by the river, Laney and I walked upstream and found a viewing platform on the riverbank.

People gather on the platform to watch white water kayaking and river surfing, which is apparently a big thing in MissoulaBrennan’s Wave is a man-made whitewater feature that allows endless surfing just a short distance from shore.  Zoe literally shrieked with delight and we nearly had a scene dragging her away for dinner.  We grabbed the best dinner I’ve had in a long time at Tamarack Brewing Company and had a sunset picnic on a hill overlooking the river.

Dinner picnic in Missoula, MT

All in all, a pretty perfect day!  Oh, and maybe the best part – the sale of our Seattle house closed!  We are now officially without a home until June 8.

Highlights: Riverfront Park in Spokane, Missoula river surfing, Seattle house sale

Lowlights: Toddler bedtime in another strange place after advancing an hour in the Mountain Time Zone

Next up, the drive to Billings, Montana…

We’re on the road!  We were planning to leave Seattle May 30 but were ready to go and decided to hit the road a day early.  The movers took a lot longer than expected yesterday and we didn’t get on the road until close to 4:00pm.  We drove a little over three hours to Moses Lake, Washington.  We’re already glad we decided against making any reservations for this trip, as we originally thought we’d go to Spokane, then scaled it back to Ellensburg when we got on the road late, and ended up in the middle at Moses Lake.

It was surreal to say goodbye to our little house of four years and drive away from Seattle, knowing it was the last time we’d see it as “home”.  It started to sink in when we crossed Snoqualmie Pass and could see the Cascades in the rear view mirror.  It’s amazing how much the landscape changes in just three hours.  We’ve already left the lush forests and majestic mountains and are in the warm, sunny plains of eastern Washington, looking back at the snowy peaks of the Cascades in the distance.  We passed the first of many wind farms and crossed the beautiful Columbia River.

We got to Moses Lake around 7:00pm and quickly found a hotel and ran to a grocery store to pick up dinner.  We picnicked in McCosh Park and enjoyed some fresh air and exercise, until Zoe pushed a swing into her face and bust her bottom lip open.

Thankfully, one of our kids is really chill in hotels (hint: not Zoe) and we got a little sleep last night.


This morning, we’re hitting the road under blue skies and sunshine.  We’re planning to stop in Missoula, Montana tonight, with stops including Spokane, Washington and beautiful Coeur d’Alene, Idaho along the way.

If you’re interested, you can follow our Rooted in Richmond Instagram.  We’re posting lots of Insta Stories of our travels!

A lot of people ask us about our road trip route from Seattle to Richmond.  And it’s a great question – there are so many good options!  If we had more time or weren’t traveling with a human kid and a fur kid, I’d want to drive down the coast to Northern California and then head east, with lots of time spent further exploring Utah and Colorado.  Some of my favorite road trip and adventure memories are set in Zion National Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.  Time does matter on this trip, though, as does the toddler’s patience.  To travel the most efficient route while also exploring some new areas, we’ll head east on I-90 and jump up to I-94 around Billings, Montana.  We’ve spent a lot of time on I-90 in Washington, Idaho, and Montana, but I-94 will be new territory.  We’re excited to get to North Dakota, a state we’ve not yet visited, and check out Theodore Roosevelt National Park.  From there, we’ll drop down through Minneapolis, swing around Chicago, and head southeast toward Virginia.

The trip is 2,925 miles and 44 hours in total, including a stop in Roanoke, Virginia to pick up our smaller car, which is being shipped to my parents and will beat us there.  Check out our route on the map below.


We’re planning to make the drive in nine full days.  We’ll average about five hours of driving each day, interspersed with lots of stops for picnics, parks, and hikes.


Day Date Start Finish
1 5/30 Wednesday Seattle Coeur d’Alene, ID
2 5/31 Thursday Coeur d’Alene, ID Bozeman, MT
3 6/1 Friday Bozeman, MT Miles City, MT
4 6/2 Saturday Miles City, MT Bismarck, ND
5 6/3 Sunday Bismarck, ND St. Cloud, MN
6 6/4 Monday St. Cloud, MN Madison, WI
7 6/5 Tuesday Madison, WI Indianapolis, IN
8 6/6 Wednesday Indianapolis, IN Charleston, WV
9 6/7 Thursday Charleston, WV Richmond

There are no reservations and no specific plans.  Spontaneity is the name of the game!  I’ve started a Pinterest board to track ideas for places to stop each day and will keep adding to it through the trip.  Have travel tips or places you’ve always wanted to check out?  We’d love for you to comment and tell us what kid- and pet-friendly stuff we should explore along the way!

We have two weeks left in Washington, a few days of which will be spent on the coast, so the farewell tour has begun.  Upon learning we’re moving, a lot of people have asked me what things I wish we’d done or places I wish we’d visited while we lived here.  I wish we’d made it to Alaska and we’ll certainly have to vacation there in the future.  We’ve squeezed in recent visits to our favorite places, like the Olympic Peninsula and Cannon Beach, Oregon.  We find, though, that we’re leaving with no regrets or feelings of stones left unturned.  We spent a lot of our time here, including much of the early pre-kid years, adventuring around the region.  And wow, it’s hard to find a place more breathtaking than the Pacific Northwest!  The beautiful coast, lush rain forest, and majestic mountains… I could gush on and on.  A gallery of some of my favorite places is below and I highly recommend checking out any that you haven’t already visited.  You can click the images for captions with locations.  But as the move approaches, the Northwest bucket list consists more of people than places.  There is no place we’ll miss as much as the friends and colleagues that have made Seattle home.  We’re scheduling every coffee, lunch, dinner, and happy hour that we can between now and the end of the month, and we’re already looking forward to returning for many visits, vacations, and celebrations!

“True friendship is when two friends can walk in opposite directions, yet remain side by side.” ~Josh Grayson