Greatest Hits

It’ll take a while for this trip to truly sink in. It was everything you could expect from a journey like this and more: joyful, heartbreaking, rewarding, frustrating, challenging, inspiring, spontaneous … the list goes on.

In an effort to process the adventure, Ryan and I sat down on our last day and tried to hone in on our “greatest hits.” These are the people, places, and things we’ll treasure the most, but really. The whole trip was spectacular.

To start, some trip stats: read more

All’s Well that Ends Well

Our second day in Lacey was similarly mellow. We went for a 10K run, then made lunch with as many of our remaining ingredients as possible. By late afternoon, we had finished working, packed up all our things, cleaned up the house, and gotten the dogs squared away. On to our final night of camping!

We had picked out our campsite on Snoqualmie Pass, an hour and 45 minutes away. There were lots of options to stop between Lacey and there, but we ultimately landed on North Bend — only 30 minutes from camp. We pulled into town and it was actually rather busy. All the parking spots on Main Street were full. We hopped out and strolled around a bit. I forced Ryan to take a picture as “a beautiful butterfly,” and a woman walking by paused. “My friend painted that. She used to own this place on the corner, and she painted the black and white section. Then when she sold it, the new owners had another artist add the colorful section.” The more you know. read more

Going with the Flow

Before we even left for this trip, Ryan and I were adamant about one thing: our plans would always be flexible. So much so, that at the time we set out, there was only one time constraint: our backpacking campsite reservations in Banff, August 25th-27th. Outside of those dates, nothing was set in stone. And even those dates weren’t rigid; I had paid only $45 for those sites. If we didn’t make it in time, it was no huge financial loss.

We sketched a rough itinerary, estimating about a week per National Park (Grand Teton Yellowstone, Glacier, Banff), then had intentions to move west toward Vancouver, then down into Seattle, Portland, and so on. The beauty of this trip has been the looseness. It was a few weeks in that we realized: there was no way we could dedicate the proper time to the Pacific Northwest if we hauled all the way through California to Ryan’s cousin in Newport Beach. Therefore, we committed to sticking to Washington and Oregon for the second half of the trip and book flights out of one of the two states. read more

A $14 Pumpkin Spice Latte (and other food exploits in Seattle)

It’s hard to believe the trip as we know it ends in just a few days! My mom put it best, though, when she said that it has to end. If it doesn’t end, it wouldn’t feel special; it would feel like work.

We had an excellent weekend in West Seattle. Ryan’s friends, Jake and Jenna, live close to where we were cat sitting, so he was somewhat familiar with the area. We had a leisurely Saturday morning, then headed to Bakery Noveau / California Avenue to explore around noon. We walked up and down the strip, checking out a couple shops including a record store. From there, we drove to Momentum, a bouldering gym. read more

Lucky Number 7

Sisters Coffee left us both buzzing, but not necessarily in a bad way. We departed town around 2:30, having made lunch and strolled a little. The drive to Eugene was very cheerful, as Ryan blasted songs and sang every last lyric, and the pine trees towered over either side of the road. We did drive through some pretty smoky conditions as a result of the Lookout Fire, but thankfully, no roads were closed. We made it to Eugene in two hours, but the time passed in minutes.

I was ecstatic to see Tara, who is one of my best friends from boarding school. I had the opportunity to visit her in Eugene in April of 2022 and vowed I would come back. She welcomed us in and we caught up, her showing us around her new space. Her partner, Colin, just moved to Santa Fe recently for work, so she moved to an apartment to finish up her PhD work for the next year before she also relocates. She’s been working in a chemistry lab at the University of Oregon, currently writing a grant and also assisting an undergrad with her research. Tara is incredibly brilliant and such a paradox — at one time, doing hardcore chemistry, the next, doing various forms of art: drawing and painting, ceramics, poetry, and more. Her apartment is full of plants and whimsical books and she has a closet with all sorts of herbs and spices to brew her own teas. She’s a witch, in the best, most magical way. read more

All About Audio

With many hours on the road over the last month and a half, we’ve had plenty of time on our hands to listen to music and podcasts. The genre varies a great deal.

When Ryan and I met at the climbing gym, our first point of connection was music. Our music taste is similar; we both really enjoy any artist or band that’s got an alternative/pop/indie edge, like Remi Wolf, Dayglow, Still Woozy, and Ruel. Ryan has gotten me more interested in artists that have a bit of hip-hop, rap, and reggae to them, like Connor Price, Russ, and The Holdup. Meanwhile, I’ve introduced Ryan to indie groups like Hippo Campus, Clairo, and Bad Suns. There are countless singles that we’ve shared with each other and many artists and bands that we discovered together and started following relentlessly, like Alt Bloom and Johnny Stimson. I have attempted to compile all of these into one massive playlist. It’s now nearly 19 hours long. Ryan deejays for the most part, but when I take over, I just put this playlist on shuffle. read more

You work there, but you’re here?

As much as our hearts wanted to climb on Sunday, our fingertips said no. There are worse places than Bend to be, though, on a sunny Sunday. I went for a run along the Deschutes River Trail. Though it was getting hot at that point, the tree coverage on both sides of the river was decent, and the trail itself was excellent. It wasn’t just a flat, paved path as most river trails are—it had rolling hills and even some technical terrain.

We used the free time to run errands, first stopping at Trader Joe’s to get the luxury snacks, then Fred Meyer to get the essentials. In between, we went into World Market, which I had seen before but never entered. A curious place. It’s full of home décor, but also different food sections from around the world. We bought discount “Hawaiian Maui Onion” potato chips [not a product of Hawaii] and porcini and truffle gnocchi for dinner later. At less than $5, we’ll take it. read more

French Toast and Toasted Toes

Oregon is … lovely. Our first full day in Mosier, we did all of the things. We worked throughout the morning, then did a run along the Historic Columbia River Highway State Trail. We had gotten some really nice cinnamon swirl bread at the market in Coeur d’Alene, so I made French toast for all. My uncle Carey noted that he probably hadn’t had French toast since he last spent time at the Laicos’—I probably hadn’t, either. We Laicos are big breakfast people.

Morning view

After the work day, we drove back across the river (and therefore back into Washington) to check out an area called Empire Boulders. While we were mostly only sending V3s, we got to attempt a lot of cool movement on V6s and V7s. The boulders were all named after empires, naturally. We tackled some problems on the Persian (Trojan Horse, V3; Achilles’ Heel V7), Greek (Zeus, V4), British (Mini Cooper, V3; Notre Dame, V7), Viking (Ulfbehrt, V3; Downtown Funky Stuff Malone, V4), and Ursa Minor (Big for Your Boots, V6; Bearly There, V3) boulders, all solid quality. read more

Seamless Set-up

While it would be a stretch to say that we’ve followed a set routine on this trip, we have certain systems dialed really well. I’d like to speak to some of those.  

Whenever we arrive at a new campsite that we’ll be setting up fully in – meaning we’ll be using the generator for Starlink and cooking – we have a specific process. As soon as we’ve parked, we both hop out and unclip the cover on the rooftop tent on either side. Once the cover is off, Ryan sets up the tent, while I handle the hitch. To protect the generator from the elements and theft, we have it placed snug with the gas can on the hitch. Ryan then ties it down with multiple NRS straps, followed by a cable and lock. We place two tarps over the gear, then secure the tarps with two pieces of paracord. My job, upon arrival, is to undo all of this. Depending on how elaborately Ryan tied the generator and gas can down, he may even finish with the tent before I’ve de-rigged everything.   read more

You wouldn’t happen to have any peanut butter and jellies, would you?

Ryan and I never really had to deal with the rain before this trip. There was maybe one weekend, early June, where we camped with Zach and had some rain in the afternoon / evening. It wasn’t a big deal; it was an overnight, and we had our tents.

Now that we’re in the Pacific Northwest, the rain has been chasing us. We’ve gotten accustomed to rain all night long and hastily packing up the tent in the morning. However, we still struggle with what to do with ourselves on days where the rain doesn’t fade. read more

Trader Joe’s is a Parking Sanctuary

Our return to the United States has been mixed. After our Tim Horton’s visit, we went into the neighboring town of Trail, to walk around and stretch our legs. Trail had lovely views of the water, but the town was somewhat run down. For some odd reason, there were no empty parking spaces to be found, though we didn’t see a whole lot of people. Where was everyone?

We popped into a grocery store to get a few provisions, including the best Oreos I have ever eaten: cinnamon bun. Afterwards, we checked out their record store, library, and a thrift store before heading to the water to fix some lunch. We then drove the 20 minutes or so to the border, where we quickly gained entrance back into the States, despite the glare from the border patrol agent. read more

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