The Fulfillment Series

The Fulfillment Series

Monday, July 30, 2018

Rhew The Nation -- Days 1 and 2

Deek and I had been planning and saving for another cross-country trip for a while. We planned and replanned our route, plotted our hotels (dog-friendly, of course, since Guster would be with us), and organized our car and keto eating for the big trip. Finally, the time came to head out.

First leg of the trip was from the South to the Pacific Northwest via the northern route. Now, we've been the northern route *several* times already, by train and car. So, we wanted to see something we hadn't gotten to see before. In the past, we've missed Mount Rushmore due to snow (in May and June--what?), so we were excited to be going in July sans snow!

Also, on year for my birthday, Deek got me a Shakespeare bobblehead for my dash, which I adore. We call him Shakey because he bops up and down to car movements. Since we love him so much, we decided to do Shakey across America!

First Day (North Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia)

Virginia is for lovers. Perfect that I went there with Deek then! <3

West Virginia has some of the coolest bridges!

But also some of the *slowest* "fast food establishments we've ever encountered.
This is our second or third time in WV, and we always get super slow service.
Keto eating: 2 Jr. Bacon cheeseburgers with no bun or condiments

I got you, babe!
There's no one I'd rather adventure with than Deek! <3

Apparently some hotels have a hotel bird.

Second Day (Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Missouri)

Shakey, looking impressed as always. LOL!

Gus, looking car terrified as always.

Long hours in the car call for read alouds and fun things like a chat pack.
Y'all know I had to bring Percy Jackson because...Percy!! <3

St. Louis Arch--been there (on another trip), done that, got pictures. ;)

We altered our travel plans a little, specifically so we could stay at the Stoney Creek Hotel and Conference Center in Independence, MO. On one of our cross-country northern route trips, we stumbled upon this place, just weeks after it had opened. It was one of the nicest places we'd ever stayed, and the rates were really reasonable. We assumed the low rates had to do with it's recent opening, so we didn't expect to be able to stay there again. 

But...good news! The rates are slightly higher now but still completely reasonable considering what you get here. The place is SO, SO nice. I can't even stress it. And it's pet-friendly, but you'd never know pets stay there. It's that quiet and clean! If you're ever in Independence, MO, definitely check it out!

We got in to the hotel in time for dinner, so we researched some keto-friendly places and discovered The Salty Iguana. Through some inside joke, Deek and iguanas have become forever associated in our family, so when we saw the restaurant was iguana themed, we *had* to go.

YAS!! They took the iguana theme and ran with it!

Awesome, keto-friendly food! YAY!

Y'all, we had this thing called a Hot Pot (sans the shrimp because we don't like seafood and sans rice because keto), and it was simply amazing! I mean, I would drive back to Independence, MO just to stay at Stoney Creek and eat that Hot Pot meal again. Holy crow!

Stay tuned! On my next post, I'll tell you about the surprise amazingness that is South Dakota and how we finally met a member of our critique partner group, Meradeth Houston, *in person* after years of working with her! 

If you missed it: Here's my blog on ketoing across the nation and about how to organize your car for a long road trip

Monday, July 23, 2018

Rhew The Nation -- Organizing Cross-Country Travel

Deek and I have been across the country many times now, in many different ways--car, train, and plane. On our car trips, I've noticed Deek has to do a lot of work to arrange and rearrange all the stuff in the back of the car when we stop at hotels. So, I decided I'd do what I do best--research--and find ways to make this trip easier for him.

I found this website that talked about breaking your clothes up into daily bags so you don't have to haul in a whole suitcase. Brilliant! Upon researching, I found these bags, which hold a lot and have handles.

It worked perfectly! In addition to these, we had a "go" bag--which we filled with items we might need (ie: tennis shoes, an extra set of workout clothes), basically anything we *could* need but didn't want to pack in the every day bags--and a toiletries bag. Three small bags. That's it. SO MUCH EASIER!

If you're not looking to spend money on Ziploc bags, grocery bags work just fine. We had more days on the road than bags, so we used grocery bags for two days. Those did great too. 

To hold these little magical no-suitcase-required bags, I found this item.

It has two compartments, one for used clothing bags and one for unused. Plus, it has a ton of little pockets.

Deek and I packed all of our non-road clothes (since we were spending a week with his family) in a suitcase. The suitcase got put in the very back of the truck and never moved from that spot. We placed this little beauty in the very front of the trunk for easiest access. We'd pull a clothes bag out at night, and put it in the used clothes compartment the next day. Easy peasy.

I also used this awesome diagram from Stuffed Suitcase to lay out the car. It helped me put things in logical places, which made the trip that much easier.  For example, when I opened an FBomb (keto fat bomb) and it splashed on my light blue shirt, I grabbed some baby wipes from the armrest compartment and wiped it right up. There was never any evidence it was even there! 

Our little man, Gus Rhew, came with us across the country. He is not a huge fan of the car, so we got him a little bucket seat to make him feel more comfortable. Despite the terrified look on his face, this is Gus *more* calm than he normally is in the car. LOL!

We also got him collapsible bowls which we could easily carry around. Since we spent half the trip in the southwest, we wanted him to have access to water constantly. Thankfully many of the places we went were very dog friendly, especially Tombstone.

Gus likes to sleep in a crate. They trained him that way at the shelter, and he's a small dog. The world is very big to him, so he likes to feel like he's safe and secure when he sleeps. The only problem is...his at home crate takes up a lot of space. So, we decided to get him a travel crate. I cannot rave about this thing enough. It folds up *really* small and is easy to put together. Gus loved it!

While he wasn't a fan of the car, Gus really enjoyed the trip. He liked visiting with family in the PNW, and he liked exploring all the new places and hotel rooms. And we liked having him with us. He's truly the sweetest, calmest, most gentle pup, and he's an integral part of our family. 

Gus in Roswell, ready to see some aliens!!

For those of you who are considering car travel for long or short distances, I hope this blog will help you organize your trip! I was so glad I put the time in on the research because it made things so easy. We were in and out of hotels in a jiffy, which is what you want if you're exploring or spending a long day traveling.

Stay tuned for my next blog where I talk about the first leg of our trip--the South to the PNW via the northern route!

Thursday, July 19, 2018

Rhew The Nation -- Keto Trip Planning

Y'all, Deek and I just got back from the most amazing cross-country trip ever!! Be prepared for posts on cool things to do and things to skip if you're planning a trip across the nation! Oh, and pictures...lots and lots of pictures! ;)

South Dakota -- a surprising "must see" place

Despite some financial randomness that has sprung up over the past year, Deek and I were able to squirrel away money specifically for this trip. It's very important to us that all vacations be paid for upfront and never be put on credit (we adhere to Dave Ramsey's Financial Freedom method). After spending years (before me) with a credit card addicted person who nearly drove him into the financial ground, Deek can only enjoy vacations knowing they're not being put on credit. And I'm an uber budgeter, so it's another way we're a perfect match!
We keep getting the question, how did you stay keto and LOSE weight on vacation? So, I thought I'd start this blog series by answering that burning question. First, it required a lot of food planning. Second, we packed exercise clothes and made reservations at hotels with fitness centers. Though no one enjoys exercising on vacation, we made a point to do it on days when we weren't walking/hiking to explore things. But I'll go into more detail on the food part since that's the element most people have asked us about.
Before we went on the trip, we did a ton of planning. As I mentioned before, Deek and I are doing keto, and we're having *major* success. I just did a side-by-side comparison of myself before starting and now, and WHOA! I can't even post it because the before is just too embarrassing. Anyhoo, we knew we didn't want to get off this keto train, not even for an epic vacation. So, we planned and planned.

Our daily snack packs

Here are some of our helpful "staying on keto" tips for traveling cross-country:

1) Get a cargo rack for your food storage. I'm short, so we needed something on the back of the car instead of on the top. We got one like this (used the "trip prep" part of our budget for it)...

2) Get a great storage bin to put on the storage rack. I got this fabulous one at Walmart for only $12, and this sucker kept our food in good condition despite dust and rain storms.

3) Think about where you will be going. For the first leg of the trip, we took a northern route, so we decided to pack cold items in a cooler. On the way back, we took the southern route. We'd been warned of temperatures potentially in the 110-115 range (though it actually never got above 90), so we elected to do shelf stable food only for that leg of the trip.

4) Pre-pack as much food as you can. It saves you money, and you have snacks right at your fingertips. I broke everything up by day. We had breakfast, lunch, and snack bags for each day (we budgeted to eat dinners out). In the morning, we'd pull out that day's worth of food. We'd put the cold stuff in the inside cooler and the shelf stable stuff in the door for easy access.

If you can tear your eyes from the incredibly sexy man in the picture, note his shelf stable collection of food in the door.

5) Measure, measure, measure. We packed a lot of macadamia nuts and pecans since they're high in fat and low in carbs. But we measured out each portion. That made tracking our macros (in My Fitness Pal) super easy. 

6) Stay hydrated! We personally love electrolyte water (Whole Food's 365 and Life Water are our favorites) and Bai drinks.

Strawberry Lemonade is my favorite, but Deek likes the blueberry.

7) Research shelf stable foods because they're so much easier than dealing with a cooler. You might not think there are a lot of options for keto, but there are! Here are some we found:

--F Bombs (love the name, and the flavor is exceptional!)

--Duke's Smokies. We found these at New Seasons in the PNW, but we were pleased to find out you can order them online too!

--Heart Healthy Nuts by Planters

--Pistachios by Wonderful (my favorite is the salt and pepper) 

--Epic -- There aren't a lot of Epic products I like, but I *did* like this one!

-- Premier Protein Shakes -- I'm allergic to the proteins in milk, but Deek loves these!

7) Know what you can eat if you decide to eat out. Deek and I had pre-planned places we could eat and what we could eat at those place. But we did leave room for spontaneity. For example, in Independence, MO, we ate at a charming little place called The Salty Iguana. Deek is semi-obsessed with iguanas, so we know it was the perfect place to eat! For the record, Iggy's Hot Pot is all that and then some. Mmmmm!! I would consider a trip back to Independence just to stay at the awesome Stoney Creek Hotel and eat at The Salty Iguana again! 

Examples of food you can pre-plan to eat out:

--Wendy's -- 2 Jr. Bacon cheeseburgers without the bun and condiments

--Subway-- Italian Hero (meat and cheese only), Italian BMT (meat and cheese only), Subway Philly cheesesteak (meat and cheese only)

--Mexican -- Fajitas without the wrap

8) Have fun. Now, please know, I'm not saying you can't have fun on vacation too! Like I said, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal at The Salty Iguana, and it stayed within our keto guidelines. But as I mentioned in another post, I am hypothyroid. Because of that, I have to be careful with keto and have a high carb day once a week to keep my T4s and T3s doing what they're supposed to be doing. Our vacation allotted us two high carb days, so we strategically planned them for the PNW (at Deek's favorite restaurant) and Vegas. We ended up eating at Pinup Pizza in Vegas and getting the largest slices on the strip!

Deek's back home and eating with his family at his favorite place!

Pinup Pizza--biggest slices on the strip!

If you're thinking of traveling while on a specific eating plan, it CAN be done. Deek and I both LOST weight on this trip, and we came home feeling great. Keto gives us tons of energy, so we were able to fully enjoy this vacation. We didn't come back with that vacation bloat and fatigue that so often happens from too much indulgence. 

Even on a long, cross-country trip, you can stay keto, make room for some special treats, and return home with a great sense of accomplishment!

Stay tuned for more about our epic trip!