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The Stylus

Dotting i’s and crossing state lines: meet your new Editor-in-Chief


Hi everyone –

I’m elated to be this year’s Editor-in-Chief of The Stylus. My name is Sarah Killip and I’m a graduate student finishing my master’s degree in English. I transferred to SUNY Brockport in 2019 and have been with The Stylus since. Narrative journalism has always been my passion– there’s just something about telling the stories of others that captivates me.

To finish my master’s degree, I’ll need to produce a thesis, a large collection of creative work. Aligning with my hopes to someday write for an outdoor magazine publication and produce photojournalistic pieces, I decided to (what I would call) “full send” and travel across the country for a month in a four-door Jeep Wrangler with a friend, my summer savings and a notebook. Oh, and a few rolls of 35mm film, of course.

Since I’ll be away from the office for a month, the strong team of journalists at The Stylus will be holding down the fort, producing quality local web stories for you all. However, I’d also like to use this platform to follow my travels, and I hope my thoughts and experiences can spark some inspiration and wonder for anyone who stumbles across them.

Day 1 – August 30, 2022

Odometer: 91,450

Destination: Indiana Dunes State Park

Waiting for the internet to work through my phone hotspot is like being constipated. We have about a 9.5-hour drive for this first stretch– sponsored by pumpkin spice lattes, thank you Starbucks! Indiana Dunes State Park was just a random location to try and get us further west, but what a gem it was. Lake Michigan’s new biggest fan right here. Watching the waves burry my toes further down into the pebbly bottom while my footprints wash away from the caramel shore, I’m loving every moment spent running away from the setting sun.

Day 2 – August 31, 2022

Destination: Big Sioux Recreation Area, South Dakota

You would think that after 23 years of camping I would have figured out not to leave garbage of any sort outside of the car. Well apparently, large racoons standing on their hind legs two feet away from a Jeep door like three a.m. mischief and plastic bags, even if there’s only plastic in them.

On your right we have corn, and on your left, we have corn! The roads are starting to turn red and the landscape is dry. It looks like someone applied the “vivid warm” iPhone filter to the Earth. Nothing remarkable here, but I love the tones.

Day 3 – September 1, 2022

Destination: Badlands National Park

The corn has turned to hay, I think. What struck me the most along this stretch through South Dakota were the billboards. Here are some of my favorites. Note: these are the words being sold to people who pass by, and I’m not sure how I feel about it.

“Exercise makes you look better naked

So does tequila

Your choice”

“Beef, it’s what’s for dinner.”

“Feed me tacos and tell me I’m pretty”

“Come ride with McNasty!”

“Do lunch or be lunch”

“Mexican food is so good, Donald Trump would build a wall around it”

“We’re like a cult with better Kool-aide”

“Live a little, feed the prairie dogs”

P.S. Badlands were absolutely amazing– I could say so many things about them. Walking on Mars was something special.

Day 4 – September 2, 2022

Destination: Somewhere in Wyoming?

Sleeping in a tent for the night was a nice break from the car, and we woke up to a pink hovering sunrise– does it get better? Bobby Weir’s look alike greeted us with a Starbucks cup in one hand and phone in the other; who are we to deny a stranger hoping to take a picture of that beauty?

Cody Wyoming– this little town on our way to Yellowstone was right up my alley. If I say the vibes were the same as Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” music video maybe that’ll help paint the picture. Very small town, good ole boy feels. I have this dream of owning a house with land and a barn on the water, and we drove by mountain side mansions in Cody which were just that. We didn’t have a set sleeping spot for the night and ended up pulling off into a first come first serve campground by the water. Beautiful.

Day 5 – September 3, 2022

Destination: Yellowstone National Park

The wildin’ Wyoming wind blew one of Grace’s two good contacts across a grassy field, and I watched a car strike a squirrel, which triggered a little bit of brake slamming and the flight and splatter of our organic trail mix against the dash.

Grace realized there was some defect with her remaining contact packs, leaving her glasses bound, and I had to pull over to first cry, and then collect a variety of nuts, (which are still stuck in places I simply cannot reach).

Every seven hours, for 20 minutes, Fountain geyser erupts. Somehow, without plan, we showed up at just the right time to watch the miracle. Funny how that works. We could have used a few days in Yellowstone, but the sights we saw were unmatched. You know you’re out west when the fluffy cows start popping up everywhere.

Day 6 – September 4, 2022

Destination: Grand Teton National Park

The Colter Bay campground showers are where it’s at. Best five dollars I’ve ever spent. No time limit, amazing pressure and they were clean. Chef kiss to you, Colter Bay.

I’m falling in love with living out of a duffel, and I’m falling in love with Wyoming. Days are so minimalistic, and the Tetons don’t get old. We hiked an eight-mile loop around Jenny Lake– took about four hours due to stops for photos and snacks. My only wish is that I could drop everything and go off grid. It’s harder to manage schoolwork than I thought it would be, especially with signal being spotty.

But, we were blessed again with a fantastic campsite, in perfect view of the sunset. I’m excited to finally have two nights in one spot. Days feel so long, and I love that, but things are moving so fast at the same time.

Entrance to Grand Teton National Park.

Day 7 – September 5, 2022

Destination: Grand Teton National Park

WE SAW A BEAR! Highlight of the day right there. He was so fluffy. I’m just going to assume he was a veggie kind of guy since he scurried off trail at the sight of us. I bet we’d be friends; people bother me too.

I was surprised to see him though, as we hiked an easy three-mile, moderately trafficked trail to the crystal-clear blue-green Taggart Lake. But there he was, right in the middle of the path. I think I enjoyed this lake even more than Jenny. And besides the bear, swimming among the Tetons at Taggart will be pretty hard to top.

Taggart Lake.

Day 8 – September 6, 2022

Destination: Garden Valley, Idaho – Pine Flatts campground

Scratch the hot tub in the yard, I think I’ll add natural hot spring to the list instead. I didn’t expect much from Idaho, for some reason I thought it’d be rather flat, however, it was quite the opposite. The two-lane roads wrapped around jagged hillside cliffs while a river scattered with fly fishers raced us the majority of the drive. When we got to Kirkham Hot Springs, I simply couldn’t control myself. Huge thanks to my friend and former Editor-in-Chief, Ellen Berreyesa (Paddock), for the stellar suggestion. We spent around two hours soaking in the hot pools taking in the beauty of the open land and setting sun. The fact that it was 103 degrees out didn’t even matter. This might be gross, but of course I had to drink some of the water; I mean, it was crystal clear and coming from Earth, how could I not? It was flavorful, in a good way.

The campsite was charming. We ran into our first New Yorker, only they had recently moved to Idaho…so I don’t know if they really count. We also picked up some local huckleberry flavored ciders and they were 10/10. On to Oregon tomorrow. Idaho, you were a pleasure.

Me in a hot spring 🙂

Day 9 – September 7, 2022

Destination: Government Camp, Oregon – Trillium Lake campground

Apparently, they pump your gas for you in Oregon. I wish I knew this before I almost took the attendee out with pepper spray. The air feels so fresh here, very different from the smoky fire smudge we drove through in Idaho. The pine trees… the pine trees.

Our campsite was supposed to be another “cheapy,” but we lucked out, once again. Every site we’ve stayed at on this trip has been fantastic, and we keep getting the best spots at the campgrounds. Trillium Lake campground in Government Camp, Oregon, didn’t break this streak. Mt. Hood, you are stunning. One of my top three campsites so far. Wish we could stay another night.

Day 10 – September 8, 2022

Destination: Portland, Oregon

What a weird city. It wasn’t dirty, but it was grungy; a purposeful grunge. Grace referred to Portland as the city for misfits, and I think that sums it up pretty well.

We ate breakfast at an unstable patio table outside red framed doors and swivel stools. I’m a big fan of local diners, and Fuller’s Coffee Shop hit the spot. I never expect to rate a cup of jo from a diner that well on the coffee scale, but Fuller’s was a pleasant surprise. One of the best cups I’ve had in a while. 

We got to our campsite on the coast later that evening– this was my first time walking the shore of the Pacific Ocean. 

At Fuller’s Coffee Shop.

Day 11 – September 9, 2022

Destination: Driving the 101 to Redwoods

Coasties Roasties serves the best coffee I’ve ever had. I’d travel back to the small town of Newport, Oregon, just to buy 12 more ounces. 

A little bit of metal grinding led us to a Les Schwab in Coos Bay, Oregon. $750, two hours and new brakes later, we were on the road again. This little delay obviously interrupted our schedule, but what a nice interruption it was. We stumbled into a small visitor’s center and perused some local writers’ works. Grabbed a bite at Fisherman’s Seafood Market and had the whole floating restaurant to ourselves. New brakes, fish and chips? Sounds like a good day to me. 

Bandon Beach and Haystack Rock were next on the list of stops, followed by a spontaneous pull off to make some sandwiches for dinner. Crossed the state line into California and arrived at our campsite in Redwoods for the night. 

Grace at Coasties Roasties.

Day 12 – September 10, 2022

Destination: …

Big driving day down the 101. Made a pit stop in Eureka, California, to grab some coffees and found ourselves amid a classic car show. We later pulled off in the quaint coastal town of Mendocino and cooked up some mac & cheese. The tiny park tucked between sidewalks had swings, long chain swings– the best kind. We watched many adults stop to use them. These are the things that make my heart smile.  

I feel like a cheater. Like a big cheater. But we had nowhere to go and didn’t have great signal. Booked a hotel room for the night in West Rohnert Park, California, which provided us hot showers, free breakfast and decent coffee. It also meant we didn’t have to sleep on the side of the road, which might make up for the numerous “feet dangling off a cliff” pictures mom will be seeing when I get home. 

Day 13 – September 11, 2022

Destination: Our deserted “island” campsite!

Scooted over to Marshall, California, and rented the tandem kayak we’d be piling up with a tent, sleeping bag, bear canister, firewood and a couple dry bags later in the day. Chicken Beach Ranch was the departure site, Marshall Beach, on Tomales Bay, the destination. Set off a little later than expected (who’s surprised?) and paddled through some pretty big waves for two hours.

I like the way the salt splashes my forehead. I like how it gets caught in the strands of my hair; how it dries– leaving a crusted residue on my scalp. I like the taste of the droplets that fall to my lips. It’s a taste I want more of. 

Made it to Marshall Beach.

Day 14 – September 12, 2022 

Destination: Another coast post 

Good morning, jellyfish! Had a relaxing paddle back to Chicken Ranch and saw some little friends along the way. The rest of the day was rather lowkey. Grabbed coffee at Toby’s Coffee Bar in Marshall and snacked on bagels at a picnic table in San Anselmo. Planned out tomorrow’s activities over overpriced gelato we purchased from a rather grumpy man. Paid $35 to sleep in the parking lot at China Camp State Park.

Morning paddle.

Day 15 – September 13, 2022

Destination: San Francisco

Oh, San Fran, I’m a fan! What a day, honestly. Took the ferry over to the Golden City and soon realized we were the only two wearing shorts… people had winter coats on… winter coats. 

So, it was a little chilly. But we racewalked the streets of the financial district and grabbed drip coffees that rank pretty high on the coffee scale solely because we were freezing. Ate my veggie breakfast burrito at a bus stop and shuttled over to Haight. 

What impressed me most about this city was the public transportation. We took buses everywhere and didn’t have to pay for anything. There were water bottle fill up stations on street corners and compost and recycle bins between shops. 

I will admit, I did buy a pair of sweatpants from Target. But they’re from San Francisco so that makes them cool, right? Wandered through pages of Jack Kerouac at City Lights Bookstore and ended the day with a fancy seafood dinner in my smoke soaked Ymca hoodie and new sweatpants while I watched the lady behind Grace adjust her makeup, embellishing her forest green gown. Wore sunglasses the whole time because my eye started getting puffy, real cute.

At the Wharf in San Francisco.

Day 16 – September 14, 2022

Destination: Santa Cruz, Carmel by the Sea

Instead of reflections from the west, it’s infections from the west. Woke up with my eye swollen and itchy… gross, I know. Not sure what the deal is. But hey, we got to shower this morning. We had eight quarters. The showers were a quarter per minute. The showers ate two of our quarters. So, three minutes each, woohoo! It’s the little things.

Went through Santa Cruz and hung out with some sea lions by the boardwalk. I’m working on my impersonations.

Next was MoGo Urgent Care. The doc looked at my eye for maybe two seconds and told me it was bacterial. I didn’t agree, but I nodded and took the antibiotics. 

Carmel might be the cutest town I’ve seen. Picture Spanish cobblestone paved streets (but not actually Spanish or cobblestone) lined with classic cars and little book libraries. Explored a few shops and talked to some locals. Hiked around Point Lobos before snagging the last spot at a first come first serve campground and called it a day.

Sea lions in Santa Cruz.

Day 17 – September 15, 2022

Destination: The ER



Woke up looking like someone bashed my face in and drove to the ER. Everyone was nice to me, probably because I looked not okay whatsoever. Spent a few hours there but got epinephrine, steroids, antibiotics and a doctor who actually knew what he was talking about. They’re calling it a fluke allergic reaction that somehow only affects my eyes, specifically the right eye. I was prescribed a bunch of drugs, a couple epi-pens and sent on my way. The only issue was we were supposed to surf today, and that’s not happening anymore. But I suppose everything happens for a reason. Maybe I would’ve been the rising star of “Soul Surfer II.” 

Our campsite at Pfeiffer Big Sur State Park is great. Hoping I can see when I wake up 🙂

Quick pit stop.

Day 18 – September 16, 2022

Destination: Monterey Bay

The showers this morning were much needed and thoroughly enjoyed. One dollar for one token, one token for five minutes. That’s what I’m talking about. Really, really, really want to go surfing, but I still can’t see that well. So, our plans fell by the wayside a little bit– but we went and saw McWay Falls and explored the town of Monterey. The atmosphere makes me feel like I’m in “Teen Beach Movie” on Disney Channel.

There were hundreds of sea lions on the shore of Monterey Bay and a local told us she had never seen anything like it. It was special. Decided to get another seafood dinner (not as fancy this time) because I really wanted to try oysters. I love them. So, so good. Next birthday dinner, maybe?? 

At McWay Falls.

Day 19 – September 17, 2022

Destination: Inyo National Forest 

We’re back in the sun toasts your sandwich bread when you leave it sitting for one minute, kind of heat. And I slept in sweatpants just last night. It hasn’t been this warm since Wyoming, but it’s a nice change. It was a big driving day making our way east from the coast. 

Day 20 – September 18, 2022

Destination: Big Pine North Fork, oh wait. 

We got to the trailhead for our overnight backpacking trip an hour or so before noon. Day hikes at Big Pine don’t require permits, but overnight excursions do. We had to snag ours exactly two weeks ago and managed to get one of the ten available. Camping at second lake is supposed to be beautiful. It’s pretty high elevation, but a hike that’s well worth the view. 

Packed extra shorts and a little shampoo so I could rinse off in the lake when we got there, but wait– it started snowing. Yup.

Halfway up the trail, it was hailing. And being in shorts, we were a little concerned. We ran into some other hikers who informed us of a totally out of pocket snowstorm that was rolling in and supposed to drop at least a foot of snow and bring temperatures below freezing. Huge bummer, but we weren’t prepared to camp in a storm like that. Even if we were, at that elevation and severity, it’s just not safe. Back down we went. 

Now, instead of camping by a beautiful lake in the Sierras, I’m in a hotel room in Las Vegas eating three bags of Willie’s Kettle Corn and Pop Secret Movie Theater Butter while watching an episode of Wife Swap Australia from the early 2000s. 

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