My summer of donuts started in earnest. A maple dip here. An apple fritter there. But then my travels took me to places with some famous gourmet shops—including the original, Voodoo Donuts in Portland, Oregon—and I decided to make an event of it. After all, I’m not a Kardashian and my common law doesn’t care if I occasionally test the stretchiness on the waist of my pants. While in Vancouver in May, Cartems (billed as the city’s best) was on the route to my conference every morning so I checked it out. Twice. It was definitely better than our nation’s standby, Tim Hortons, but nowhere near the best I’ve ever had. You may think my judgement is steeped in bias because it’s located in my hometown, but after this deep-fried odyssey I still feel that Oh Doughnuts in Winnipeg is by-far the best donut I’ve ever had (the lemon meringue is one of the best desserts, period). Recently, they released a savoury pickle donut with buttermilk ranch topping and I so can’t wait to try it.
After spending some time in the Peg this summer eating donuts, catching up with loved ones and reminiscing on a life once lived, my partner and I embarked on our annual summer road trip. This year, our adventure would take us down the scenic Pacific Coast Highway into northern California for some hiking amongst the largest trees in the world. The stress-free bliss I envisioned was tested a bit as we crossed the border into the United States—this always seems deliberately unwelcoming and almost hostile compared to entering by flight—but the scenic vistas of Montana quickly made up for it. This state is absolutely stunning … and sparse. As I noted during last year’s excursion, you really get to appreciate the landscape while you drive as there aren’t many other vehicles on the road, even during the height of travel season. I’m particularly fond of Helena which, at a population of just over 31,000, is one of the smallest state capitals I’ve visited.
We again stayed overnight at the Great Falls, MT, KOA picking up groceries at the nearby Walmart and making an evening of hotdogs, toasted marshmallows and “cheap but good and good but cheap” Manischewitz wine, which never seems to produce a hangover no matter the volume consumed. In between this roasting and toasting, I’d steal glances of the mountain range in the distance and try to catch the transition of light as the pastel tones of the dusk sky turned to amethyst then starry black. This is storied land; the archetype of the Wild West that still elicits dreams and inspiration. Once the great frontier that the Cree, Salish and Sioux called home, and that Lewis and Clarke later crossed in search of colonial discovery, the trails have since evolved from dirt paths to the interstate but Montana remains a nod to the past.
Pausing one’s world to do nothing but appreciate the clouds is highly recommended and a much greater use of time than allowing the false reality of scrolling through social media to make you feel bad about yourself. With all of its rustic charm and seeming aversion to following the herd, Montana is a great place for this type of introspection and respite from the modern world. Just take in the view and breathe.