Exactly one year ago today, we drove Echo down I-70 and crossed into Colorado on her maiden voyage. I can remember the second her tires rolled over the state line, Matt and I high-fiving each other and breathing a sigh of relief. We had spent the last 7 months building, tweaking, belly aching, and making Echo what she was so that we could take her across the country.
A lot has changed since this day last year. There has been career moves, trips, lifestyle changes, lots of joy and some heart ache too. And as of last Thursday at 7 pm, Echo found her new home. It was an incredibly bittersweet thing. Driving away from Wright Patt Credit Union and leaving her in the parking lot to roam the open roads with someone new. Matt and I put so much into that van, and now she’s gone. We both knew that it was best to pass her along to someone else, so that we could then start the whole process over. I don’t know which is more enjoyable to us. The hunt for the perfect van and all the building and planning that goes into an adventure van, or the outcome of all our hard work and being able to have a mobile home away from home. One thing is for sure. Echo isn’t our last van.
There is something so inviting and familiar about a warm day in the middle of winter. Those days that get up into the 60’s and allow you to open the windows in your house and feel the cool breeze sweep from room to room. Those days are my favorite days of the year. I can close my eyes and put myself in every house or apartment I’ve ever lived in and know exactly what smells and sounds are accompanied with that house on days like yesterday. The sounds of blinds gently moving and hitting the windowpane, the smell of laundry and lavender vanilla candles and a faint sound of baseball coming through a radio. Yesterday I sat in my favorite room in our home and let that breeze sweep over me. I reflected a lot about these last few months and dreamed about these next few months. I think yesterday’s weather was something that my soul so desperatly needed.
It’s been a while since I last posted on here. I wish I could say I’ve been too busy climbing mountains or vanning it across the country to sit down and write. In reality I’ve just been stuck in a strange place. Not a bad place, just… strange. I guess I had forgotten just how easy it is for me to become emotionless until recently. I’m not sure if that is normal for everyone or if that’s just a thing I can fade in and out of from time to time, like a bad magic trick. “And for my next trick I will feel absolutely nothing for the next 87 days!” I guess everyone has their own ways of describing it. Winter time blues, seasonal depression, or just general discontent with this time of year. Oddly enough this winter hasn’t even been the worst for me, yet I’m still left feeling strange. But yesterday.. Yesterday was different. Yesterday I stood barefoot in the grass and let the sun warm my skin and everything was different. It’s like the magician said the magic words and I was back.
When I sat down at my computer I wasn’t even sure what or why I was writing. I know this isn’t the usual outdoorsy type post, but I suppose it was just something that needed to come out. I guess if you’re still reading this and find yourself feeling strange or stuck, look for those little moments that bring you warmth not only on the surface, but deep down in your soul. Close your eyes and put yourself in that old house that smelled of clean cotton and scented candles. Dig deep inside and find what brings you hope and joy. Know that the strangeness that you feel can and will disappear just as quickly as it came on.
Matt and I were standing in the middle of a hotel parking lot in what seemed to be a semi-sketchy part of San Jose. We had just come out of the Sierras the night before and stopped there to sleep in a real bed and use indoor plumbing. We were tired, mostly broke and had no real plans in front of us other than the plane we were catching out of San Francisco a few days later. We left that parking lot and headed north up the California coast with the few dollars we had left as I triumphantly declared we were on to the next adventure (even though we had no idea what that adventure was) and it just sort of became our mantra.
Yesterday Matt left his job of 5 years to take a job that is going to help feed hungry people in the Dayton area. He took a job that required a pretty hefty pay cut. He took a job with very little vacation time. But he took a job that will make him feel like he’s helping people in need. He took a job that will make him feel good at the end of every day. And while I could sit and freak out about money or the changes that I’m sure will come over the following weeks, I keep repeating “on to the next adventure” over and over in my head. It was my mantra 4 years ago and it’s my mantra right now.
I think it’s so easy to get wrapped up in social norms and what people think the next step in life should be. Get a good job. Buy a house. Climb the corporate ladder until you’re old. Buy bigger and better things that you don’t have time to enjoy. Retire. But sometimes you have to take a step backwards in order to move forward in life. You have to shed some layers in order to grow new ones. I truly think this is the best thing that has happened to us in a long time. We are able to re-prioritize the things we feel are important and the things we feel we “have” to have. We can live a little more simply and feel a little more free. We can lessen our load and travel a little lighter. I don’t know if this path will be a short jaunt or a long journey, but I’m looking forward to our future and the adventure that awaits.
I recently had a client say something to me that I keep dwelling on, so much in fact that I decided to write about it. They said “once you and your husband are done acting like kids maybe you’ll settle down and have some of you own.” I don’t think they meant it in a negative way, but it irked me. It made me go through the catalog of thoughts I keep boxed up in my brain of all the things Matt and I do in our lives. Are we really just two almost 30 year olds acting like children? And if so, is that really the worst thing someone could say about us?
I’m sure this client has seen a video or two I’ve posted of Matt riding a way too tiny mini bike on one wheel through our neighborhood. Or a video of him falling off his skateboard. Or a picture of me building a small ramp in the backyard to ride my dirt bike off of. Or us building out the inside of a van in the way that some kids may build a tree house or fort to “live in.” (However I don’t know a single child that could dump that much money into a fort/tree house without their parents getting a little suspicious of the random Home Depot charges on their credit card.)
Either way it got under my skin. But the more that I think about it, the more I’m realizing we actually do act like two kids on summer break the majority of the time. And so often the things that we do, we do with child like wonder. We walk up to a rock face and instead of just seeing a blank rock we think of the best way to get to the top of it. We stare up at a 14,000 ft. mountain peak and envision us standing on top in all our glory and then bust our butts to do so. We gaze across meadows and stare in amazement at the family of elk eating foliage like we’ve never seen anything cooler in our lives even if we’ve passed 100 elk that day in the car. We ride our bicycles to our friends house instead of driving our car. We try not to sweat the small stuff. We suck the marrow out of life Every. Single. Day.
Maybe acting like a kid isn’t such a bad thing. Maybe more people should remember what it’s like to be that always exploring kid looking for the next adventure to take on without any hesitation. Maybe we should all go out this weekend and look at the world through childlike eyes and see what kind of awesome adventures there are just waiting outside your front door. You might be surprised at how much fun you can have without even trying.
I just finished eating Chinese food on my couch while watching climbing documentaries on Netflix trying to process the last week and a half. There are a few things I know to be true right now.
- I feel very strange not being inside of Echo right now.
- Being a good 1,000+ miles away from The Rockies has me feeling sad in a way that I’ve never felt before.
- I’m so happy to be home with my animals.
- Chicago Diner has the most delicious vegan food I’ve ever had. Period.
If you have never spent time in western Wyoming, you are missing out. I honestly never gave the state much thought when planning trips other than going to Yellowstone. The people are great, the landscape is spectacular, and the wildlife is abundant. Seeing bison walking down the side of highways is something I don’t think I would ever get tired of seeing. Driving out of Dubois, Wyoming and seeing the Teton Mountain Range come into view is one of the most breathtaking views I’ve ever seen. While we had hoped to get permits to hike the Teton Crest Trail, the fires in and outside of the park put that to rest pretty quickly. Instead we spent our days hiking up to some spectacular vista points, sitting by the lake, and eating delicious food. As sad as it is to see wildfires completely wreck an area, there was something so surreal about sitting at our campsite having a campfire and watching wildfires come over a ridge and burn through an area right across the lake from our campsite.
Since our thru-hike was a no go, we headed into Yellowstone after the roads opened back up and spent a day sight seeing in our car. While I am glad to have crossed that park off the list, I would be fine making that a one and done park. There is definitely really cool things to see and do there, it just lacks the type of hiking and exploring we typically enjoy (as well as what seemed like 100,000 tourists everywhere you looked.) We left the park on the eastern side and headed down to Cody, Wyoming for a night before starting the trek back home. The further away we got from western Wyoming, the more I wished I didn’t have to go back to Ohio. Don’t get me wrong. I love Ohio. I love my family, my friends, my career. There is just something about waking up to the sun cresting the peak of a mountain, or taking in a deep breath or crisp mountain air that makes me feel whole.
I had worried that I would be sick of sitting inside of a van for days on end, and there were stretches of time that I wanted to be out of Echo, but overall it was amazing. The feeling of crossing state line after state line in a van that we spent the last few months building into our home on wheels is indescribable. There may come a time in the future that we make van living a permanent lifestyle. But first, we’d need a bigger van…
Now it’s time to start saving and planning for our next adventure. Who knows where we will end up!
Before I sat down to start writing I had to check and see what day it actually was. To say the last week has been a blur is the understatement of the year. From working on Echo up until the day we left for Colorado, to moving and shaking since we pulled out of our driveway Wednesday night, we’ve done a lot of stuff in such a short amount of time. I’m currently sprawled out in my good friends guest bedroom in Colorado Springs recapping the last few days before we start making our way north to Wyoming.
I don’t think I relaxed once on the drive out to Colorado. Between not knowing if Echo actually had it in her to make it the 1,100 some miles trip, having a random man walk directly in front of us on I-70 (coming inches from hitting him) and the gnarly storms we continued to drive through it was hard to take a full breathe until her tires rolled over the Colorado state line. I do need to take a moment and say how absolutely amazing our friends Andrea and Geoff are for letting us crash in their beautiful home for the first night in town (and then again last night). It honestly made that 18 hour drive not seem so rough when you can look out of any window on the front side of their house and look at Pike’s Peak towering in the background.
After a good nights rest Matt and I, along with our friend Eric headed down to Buena Vista to meet up with Eric’s sister and set up camp before our Saturday trek up to Mt. Harvard. When we had originally planned this trip, we were going to turn the hike into an overnight trip, knocking out Mt. Harvard and Mt. Columbia. However, mother nature isn’t always on your side and when we saw we only had about a 10 hour window from 4 am to 2 pm to get the hike done without any thunderstorms, we quickly changed our plans. We left camp at 4 am and started walking with our headlamps on towards the 14,421 ft. peak. I spent the first bit of the trail scanning the trail sides with my head lamp for bears and mountain lions since I was convinced one was going to pop up and eat me. However the only wildlife we saw were some deer and some incredibly humorous marmots we saw playing on the rock scramble at about 14,000 ft. To say that it was one of the most awe inspiring hikes I’ve ever done would be true. To say that the last 1,000 ft. of elevation was the hardest thing I’ve ever done would also be true. We passed someone who told us there is no such thing as an easy 14’er and he was not lying. I am so happy that I was able to experience my first 14,000 ft. trek with some friends. It is definitely a memory I will hold forever.
I need to get up and get moving so we can start making our way towards Wyoming. We have a long drive ahead of us, but we have all the time in the world, so who knows where we will end up stopping?
Sometimes even quite literally. I would be lying if I said that I expected everything to go smoothly up until we leave next week for our maiden voyage. However what I wasn’t expecting was to open the door to the van today and see my beautiful tapestry ceiling bowed and full of water, dripping onto our new bed. I’m not sure if anyone in the Miami Valley noticed or not, but it’s been a constant downpour all day. We quickly knew we needed to cover the top of the van and get to work. Matt hopped in the van to move her closer to the garage only to hear a single “click.” Dead battery. Leaking ceiling. Downpour. The perfect trifecta for a real Sunday Funday! After jumping Echo we got to work making a make shift shelter to keep the rain mostly off of us and totally off the van since we had to pull the fan out of the ceiling. As of now everything is re-caulked and drying. Fingers crossed once its dry we can salvage our tapestry ceiling.
As much as it sucks, I am just incredibly thankful it happened in our driveway where we have the means to fix it and not somewhere in the middle of nowhere. I always find it humorous whenever things don’t go as planned that one of us becomes this uber positive/everything will be fine person while the other turns into a not so fun/stressball of a human. We’re good at taking turns being these people and luckily we don’t typically both become the latter at the same time or we’d never get anything accomplished. But I suppose that’s what being a team is all about.
Only 10 more days til we hit the road. A short stop in Colorado for a quick over night backpacking trip and some hangs with some great friends and then we will be off to Wyoming. I am putting every bit of positive thought into obtaining a walk up permit once we get to Grand Teton National Park so that we can knock out the 40-ish mile Teton Crest Trail while we are there. If we end up getting a permit it’ll be my first time backpacking in an area with grizzly bears and that is weirdly exciting to me! (Sorry mom) But if luck isn’t on our side, we will still have an amazing time taking in the Tetons with some awesome day hikes.
Now it’s back to getting Echo stitched back up.
I cannot believe we are leaving in less than a month for Echo’s maiden voyage out west. The past month we have slacked off tremendously with getting all the little things finished on the van and it’s definitely coming back to bite us. We don’t have a lot left to do, but we also don’t have many days off before we leave to get everything finished. Hopefully we can knock everything out on our 3 days off this coming weekend.
If anyone has taken a look at the page in the last week, you probably have seen our “Store” link on our menu. Anyone that knows Matt and I know we are always scheming on new side hustles (how else do you think we can travel as much as we do) and our new endeavor is On To The Next Adventure merch! We are starting small with just a single t-shirt design and sticker and seeing where that takes us. We are hoping to have these in the store and ready sell within the next few weeks, so keep an eye out! A huge thanks is in order to my awesome sister for hooking us up with some cool branding and designs and Insignia print shop in Dayton for helping take our ideas and make them a reality!
For anyone wanting a sneak peak at one of our upcoming t-shirt designs, here it is!
Be sure to follow us on Instagram to see how you can win some free merch in the coming weeks!
First off, Happy 4th of July everyone!
We wanted to take this long weekend and spend it camping and climbing, but the weather had different plans. We did get to take Echo out on our first overnight Saturday, and it was great! (minus a few hiccups) Even though the van isn’t totally done, we wanted to do this overnight to get an idea of what we needed to change/add/fix before we got all the way complete. And thank god we did.
I don’t know if you’ve ever heard a dog make a high-pitched whistle/cry for 6 hours straight because they can see another dog laying outside of its owners tent all night, but if haven’t let me go on record and say I love my dog more than anything, but I wasn’t thinking very nice things about him that night. We now know we need to find a way to completely block off the front of the van so Jango can’t sit in the passenger window and sing the song of his people all night long.
And speaking of Jango, I’m pretty much convinced we need to rig up a water tank and portable shower just for him. Rewind to the beginning of last week. Jango rolled in skunk poop not once, not twice, but three times in our backyard over the course of three days. Let me also add that he HATES getting bathed. It’s everything Matt and I can do to keep him inside the tub. While we were climbing on Saturday evening, Jango was behind me in the brush wandering around like normal. When I turn around I see him rolling in what I assume was more skunk/raccoon/animal poop. No. Even better. Human feces. Real life human sh*t. His collar, harness, leash all covered. After the mile and a half walk back to the parking lot with people looking at us like the smell is coming from one of us, we were so stoked when we remembered there is a water spigot at the trail head and we just happened to have our camp soap in our climbing bag. Cleaning animal poop off your dog is one thing, but cleaning off human poop is a whole other level of disgusting, rancid, gag worthiness that I hope no one ever has to take part in. And to really top it off, we get to our campsite and someone decided to use a red solo cup as a toliet and leave it in our fire ring. There was not enough beer in our cooler that night…. Moral of the story, we need a shower.
Other than that, everything was great during our first night out in Echo. We are just 7 weeks away from our two week trip out west. The only things we have left to do is minor repairs under the hood, new tires, and building a cabinent for more storage/cook space. Oh and finding a place for a water tank. And finding a way to block Jango from the front of the van….
New photos are up of Echo’s progress under the Adventure Van page, so be sure to check it out. And don’t forget to subscribe! 🙂