On to Alaska … Or Not.

Banff National Park - Canada

As I mentioned in my last post, I left Calgary to head to Alaska for my birthday. I loaded up the car. I checked everything you’re supposed to check – the fluid levels and the tire pressure, even though my Mini Cooper alerts me if any of those are out of whack. I check them because it is always good to double check. I made sure I had enough of a great dispensary of food and water and warm clothes with me. Stephanie & I had brunch and said goodbye, and I headed off on the first leg of my journey – in to Banff, past Lake Louise, and on to Jasper.

I kept feeling a hesitation about leaving for Alaska. I talked with friends that live along the route and in Alaska. Charlaine told me how this is her favorite time of year there, how amazing the fall is and how gorgeous the Aurora Borealis is right now. Alisha pointed out that the Al-Can is a trucker route, and while there are stretches with no gas stations, I wouldn’t be alone on the road by any means.

Banff National Park

Even when I left, something still felt off. I was excited to be heading to Alaska though, and decided that maybe it was just because I hadn’t been on the road for awhile. Mike would be meeting me on the other end of the drive there, and I couldn’t wait.

I stopped at Moraine Lake to see it one more time. Something about that lake is just magical for me. It seemed to be sad to see me go – it was overcast and raining. Still magical, but completely different than before.

Moraine Lake - Banff National Park

As I headed back to my car, I spotted something a bit odd about my rear tire. What was that on the side? A line of some sort? A mark? Or what?

I did not have a good feeling about this. All of that hesitation came flooding back to me.

I’ve said for years that I have “The Vibe”. I get that ominous feeling whenever I’m going to be involved in an accident or when I’m going to get pulled over by the cops. I’ve had The Vibe every time an accident has happened. I’ve had it a few times when an accident hasn’t happened, but I always credit it with being more cautious or sometimes even changing my route. Yesterday, I had The Vibe. The hesitation in leaving and getting on the road. My nerves were high. As soon as I saw the tire, I knew.

I was not going to be driving to Alaska.

My Tire - Ruining my Travel PlansI drove the 4km to Lake Louise because I knew there would be better light there, plus WiFi signal at the hotel. I could get ahold of Mike and talk this through. Sometimes, you just need to talk it out – and this was one of those moments. When I got to Lake Louise and parked, the line on my tire happened to be at the top. Then I could see it all.

UGH.

Thanks to the lovely people at the Fairmont, I got my Fairmont number and got on the WiFi network and started talking with Mike & Stephanie. I considered camping at Lake Louise, but it was getting late to set up camp. In the end, I decided to drive back to Calgary.

I took some time to regroup because I was rather angry about it all. I won’t deny it. The beauty of nature has power to help calm me down. Water plus mountains? Yes, please.

Banff - Lake Louise

Lake Louise - Canoe

As I left Lake Louise, I stopped to see if I could see the Milky Way. It was directly overhead. I didn’t want to unpack my tripod, so I opened my sunroof and put my camera on top of my car. Timer set, this was my view.

Banff Lake Louise Milky Way

I stopped once more as I drove back to Calgary to admire the moon rising over the mountains. Just after I took this photograph, I drove to where the mountain ended, and it appeared from the side – I gasped. Literally.

When Mike & I were making the Alaska plans he asked me if I was getting burned out on the amazing views I have seen. No, I definitely am not. The mountains still fill me with such awe and wonder. They amaze me.

All the tire stores in Calgary are closed on Sunday, so I have to wait until Monday to get a new one. We have decided that Alaska just feels forced right now. I could make it there by my birthday, but something still feels off about it all. Instead we are looking at other places and saving Alaska for next year. (Who knows, maybe once I get to Vancouver I’ll still drive up to the Southern border so I can say I made it there on this trip? We’ll see.)

Speaking of my recent post, I’m trying to raise money for Charity:Water and our Camp Mighty Team. Would you be a dear and go and make a donation? Every little bit helps! Visit the Camp Mighty Charity:Water donation page. Make a donation. Be sure to note that your donation to add a note that the funds are being donated in my name – Christine Tremoulet. That way they know to credit me & Team 4 at Camp Mighty.THANK YOU!

A Journey of 10,000 Miles – a Roadtrip in my Mini Cooper…

Mini Cooper Road Trip

I left Houston on June 30th for this roadtrip adventure with the mileage count on my Mini Cooper at 4272 miles. Beyond the set dates of events that were planned — World Domination Summit, BlogHer and Team-X Fight Club — I didn’t have a specific route set since my gallbladder surgery messed up my original plan.

Yesterday, near Butte, Montana, I hit 14,272 miles on my Mini Cooper. 10,000 miles since I’ve left home. The photo above is from when I pulled over as soon as it rolled to that number, so I could photograph exactly where I was at the time. I had spent so much time with myself I was now quizzing myself on the 5 Most Famous Celebrities Who Have Had Tummy Tuck Surgery. Too much time on my hands!

Going through photos from the past 7 weeks, it is incredible to think of all of the things that I have seen so far. I’ve been so fortunate to visit family, friends, previous clients that are now friends, and new people that I’ve met. To see the prairie, the mountain ranges, the canyons, the ocean, the grasslands, rainbows, waterfalls, and sunsets.

I could not possibly be more grateful for it all.

When will I be returning home? I don’t know yet. I’m heading to Glacier National Park today in northern Montana, and then up in to Canada. I’ll be meeting up with Mike again in Calgary. From there, I still have to map it out. I’ve got inquiries for some photo shoots, so I hope to do those as I make my way back south. Beyond that? I don’t know. My answer when anyone asks is, “Eventually.”

No matter what happens, or where I go – I know it is going to be nothing short of amazing.

States seen so far: Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, Colorado, Utah, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, (flew over to Illinois), Colorado, Wyoming, Montana. Plus Canada – British Columbia, and soon Alberta.

Trail Ridge Road - Rocky Mountain National Park

The Mini Cooper view on Trail Ridge Road, Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Mini Cooper at Colorado National Monument

The Mini Cooper at Colorado National Monument

Camping at Crater Lake, Oregon

Our first car camping campground at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon

Camping at Mount Rainier with a Mini Cooper

My first “solo” campground at Mount Rainier National Park, Washington

Mini Cooper Under the Milky Way at Yellowstone

My Mini Cooper under the Milky Way at Yellowstone National Park

Beartooth Pass in a Mini Cooper

The Mini Cooper at Beartooth Pass Highway, near the Wyoming & Montana border

There is a New Mini in Houston!

Mini Cooper of the Woodlands - My New Mini!

Meet my new Mini Cooper! I bought it last month at Mini of the Woodlands (my FAVORITE Houston-area Mini dealer!) from Keith Sutch, and I could not possibly be happier with it! A 2013 White Silver Mini Cooper – *swoon!*

This was not a car I originally expected to buy. It all started with me taking my original Mini Cooper in to be serviced. Mini Coopers have the most awesome warranty – bumper to bumper, and service on everything but the tires. Yes, even oil changes are included! It is nice when you go in for those big huge maintenance checks that you should be doing on your vehicle to not even have to pay a dime.

While I was there, I needed to find out how to get a new key for that Mini because Mike had lost mine. Somewhere in the conversation, I brought up how I really wish I had Mini Connect, the cool stereo system that allows you to connect your iPhone easily to your Mini and run a special Mini app on the iPhone. It wasn’t available when my first Mini was made.

Keith, who sold me my first Mini after THREE people told me to talk to him about buying one, asked me if I wanted to check out the Mini Connect. Being the geek that I am, how could I resist?

Mini Cooper of the Woodlands - Houston - Texas

But it wasn’t just the Mini Connect that got me. The interior has been reworked, changing out a lot of the light gray accents for black ones. And while Keith swears that they haven’t made changes to how the Mini handles other than a bit of an increase in horsepower, it is smoother than my old Mini. I like how it handles even more.

Keith Sutch - Mini Salesman - HoustonI debated for three days. After all, my sweet Horizon Blue Mini had been so good to me. Everyone knew it was me in that car, a more unique color, with a white top and white bonnet stripes. But I couldn’t stop thinking about this new Mini. I wanted it. And after a few phone calls to Mike (who was in Holland for work at the time) and Keith patiently walking me through features and financing – including a special rate since I am a repeat Mini of the Woodlands owner – I handed over the keys for my old Mini and took this baby home.

I can’t deny it – I have moments where I miss the old Mini. I guess it is true what they say that you never quite forget your first love. *grin* But this one is just as special, and I love how it handles, and that I have all the cool geek technology inside too!

Now I’m just patiently (hahahahaha) waiting for my license tags to arrive so I can put my old plates on my new car, and be driving a WHEEEE Mini around Houston again!

Houston Mini Dealership - Mini of the Woodlands

Considering buying a Mini Cooper and you live in the Houston area? I can whole-heartedly recommend Keith as the man you want to talk to! (Be sure to tell him I sent you!) He is patient, not pushy, will tell you everything there is to know about the Mini with 110% honesty. He isn’t the type to call you the next day and pester you about buying the car, or chase you around the parking lot. He is the exact opposite of every horror story you have ever heard of a car salesman. Everyone I know told me to go see Keith, probably because he has been at Mini of the Woodlands for 9 years! I have now bought 2 cars from him, and I’m sure my next one will be from him as well, I use motor trade insurance to fully covered my cars, their service simply makes me feel very secured and it was easy to find with the Insurance Partnership service, and I also make sure to use the best car cleaning tips all the time!

October 20, 2012 is the perfect day to go check out the new Minis! They are having their “Not Normal Sales Event” – they promise, no gimmicks, no dancing man things up in the sky, no giant gorillas over the dealership – just great deals. If you go, tell Keith I said hello!

This is not a sponsored post. I just love Mini of the Woodlands and working with Keith so much I had to share!

Mini Cooper Houston Sales Event

Let’s Motor! Thank you, Keith and Mini of the Woodlands for ANOTHER wonderful Mini Cooper purchasing experience!