If I weren't to take the Bike Friday, it would mean purchasing a new bike. My dad always talks about getting a "real bike", however he is referring to a road bike, and I'd be shopping for a touring bike. We only have so much money and so much room in our shed, so for me to buy a pure touring bike for my trip would be a stretch. More practically, the touring bike I purchased could also double as something my dad and I could take out on rides for fun/exercise.
I'd appreciate any feedback on my situation! Should I stick with the Bike Friday? Should I investigate a new bike?
I would seriously consider to make the Cannondale fit for travel. It doesn't involve a great deal, because I saw in the specs that the suspension fork has a lockout, which is important in climbs because it is hard to suppress rocking movements in climbing and each compression of the fork eats a lot of your power.
The main points for adapting the MTB are tires and ways for carrying your gear.
You should replace the knobby tires with tires that have a smooth surface and possibly smaller width. Schwalbe Big Apple 50 mm is an excellent choice. In laboratory tests they easily beat most 28 mm tires in low rolling resistance. Don't let yourself fool into buying 'unpuncturable' tires like Schwalbe Marathon Plus. They are heavy going. Punctures, if any, are a small price for a nimble ride.
Regarding carrying gear you mentioned a saddle bag. You could add a frame bag. However, the volume of saddle bag and frame bag combined is small compared to the usual rear panniers, so you have to be a minimalist in selecting your gear. If you cannot reduce the volume sufficiently, you need at least a rear rack. Your frame probably has screw eyelets on the saddle tube for mounting a rack. Try if an Old Man Mountain rack which is supported at the bottom by the skewer, doesn't conflict with the disc brake mounts. Or get a Thule rear rack, which fits on all hard tail MTB's. I wouldn't trust it on bumpy dirt roads, but for paved roads it should be fine. You can always fixate it additionally to the screw eyelets in the saddle tube.http://www.thule.com/en-us/us/products/luggage-and-bags/bike-bags-and-racks/racks/thule-pack-n-pedal-tour-rack-_-pp_100016