7 States, 14 Days, 2 hangry girls, 1 car, and no food. Does this sound like a disaster in the making? Because it was. This summer, my friend and I set out to road trip every square inch of the western United States and Canada that we could. We planned for all possible weather types, had an extra jerry can full of gas, and instructions on how to change a tire — #strongindependentwomen — but for some reason that we will never know, we had awful planning for food.

When we first started talking about hitting the road, we were gonna go full send and not even book any accommodations; just let the road take us where it may, among other hippie ideas. So it isn't entirely surprising that we did absolutely zero planning ahead food-wise. Is this lack of food preparation grounds for being kicked off the Spoon writing team? Asking for a friend.

What Went Wrong?

Finding breakfast and lunch were fairly easy as we were really living off the land, and by land I mean we were sleeping in Walmart parking lots, which put us in close proximity to some food. However, after 3 nights in a row of pulling into a town only to find that everyone apparently goes to bed at 6 pm like 102-year-old grandmothers and that all of the restaurants we were hoping to hit were closed, my road mate broke down.

Tears were shed. Strong words were muttered under her breath. The hanger had fully set in, and I was scared. It was at this point that I decided that if this road trip would be successful and my friend and I weren't going to kill each other, we needed to change our food game plan.

Lesson #1: Always have snacks.

Learning this lesson meant that even if we were caught in the middle of nowhere, or in a food-less crazy town past 6 pm, we wouldn't have to resort to rock-paper-scissoring for who would be sacrificed and who would become the carnivore.

Or worse yet, eating the only food we had in the car — an uber healthy granola bar that consisted of pure wishful thinking of not tasting like sh*t and is along the same lines as oregano oil. If anyone else's mom is obsessed with this oil-from-hell, we should be friends so we can bond over how much the taste NEVER leaves your mouth.  

Our favourite snacks by the end of the trip were hummus and pita/veggies, extra crunchy potato chips, and roasted chickpeas. So, so many roasted chickpeas.

Lesson #2: Just Because Your Cooler Starts Out Cold, Doesn't Mean It Will Stay Cold

Now that we were snacking between meals, the roadtrip was going significantly better. The aux cord was whippin out fire tracks, and I no longer wanted to strangle my friend every time she beat me in "Cows on My Side". If you've never heard of this game, you should definitely look it up for your next road trip. It's like "I Spy", but not suitable for children. 

However, like the forward-thinking individuals that we clearly are, we were so wrapped up in cow-spotting that we didn't really think through the fact that a cooler in a hot car essentially just becomes an oven for your precious food. It was at this point that we learned that coolers need ice and that it needs to be replaced often.

#SideNote: We don't know why we didn't fill our cooler with food before setting out either, so don't bother asking.

Lesson #3: If They're Playing "Naked and Afraid" on ALL the TVs, the Food Probably Isn't That Good

Unless watching two naked-as-the-day-they-were-born strangers run around the woods while you chow on some pizza is your thing (no judgement here if it is), you'll probably be better off turning around and finding somewhere else to eat. The mental image of a soggy deluxe veggie pizza and a grown man crawling on all fours through a meadow —naked— still haunts me at night.

Lesson #5: If Given the Choice Between Somewhere You Know, And Somewhere You Don't, Take the Second Option

It should be said that if we had wanted to, we could have much more easily avoided being hangry by just stopping at every McDonald's we saw. But one of the things I really believe in is that travelling is about new experiences. One day we're all gonna be six feet deep in the ground, so why would I travel thousands of miles just to eat/see/do the same things I can always experience at home? 

Every single minute of being frustrated and tired and hungry was worth it when we found those hole-in-the-wall, family-run, locally owned gems that blew our mind and made us feel like we had found a home away from home. If you ever happen to be in Cannon Beach, Oregon, go to Pizza a'fetta  — I promise you won't regret it.

Lesson #6: Life Is An Adventure

bird, beer, water
Ellie Gilchrist

Sure, I spent a lot of this trip hungry, and I slept in my car with the sunroof cracked and it rained and all our stuff got wet, but I would not change a SINGLE SECOND of our trip. Firstly, because at the end of the day being "hangry", at least in our case, is honestly a first world problem. We have the money to feed ourselves, and places to come home to, and we're lucky enough to not be living in legitimate food scarcity. Secondly, because all of those hiccups were part of some of the most amazing, unforgettable, bat-shit-crazy times of my life. 

Being very damply woken up to it raining inside my car meant that I was awake to see this sunrise... I don't know about you but I wouldn't trade that for the world.