Camping makes you vulnerable. I don’t mean this in some sort of poetic way. It’s just a fact that when you’re stripped of all your amenities and are forced to poop outside, you can get a little anxious. Now that I’ve been camping for the past 8 years, I’m pretty comfortable getting back to basics. I’m not the most rugged or extreme. Yes, I’ve done some backcountry trips, but you know how absolutely luxurious car camping is? I could do it forever.
And I almost am.
Last summer, Ryan and I kicked ourselves hard for not camping to climb enough. We had talked all winter and spring about the camp-to-climb, only to fail to do it until the first weekend of August. That weekend, we drove up to Fort Collins to see friends, then drove further towards the Poudre River. We camped out above the CSU outdoor campus and woke up to a day of 9 glorious pitches and Pop Tarts heated over a camp stove. It was arguably the best weekend of summer. So good, in fact, that we proceeded to head out just three days later, on a Wednesday. We had to make up for lost time.
And we did, to the extent that we could. We did Buena Vista and Aspen and Phantom Canyon. We drove all the way to Vegas over my birthday and camped in 24 degrees at Red Rocks. But we were still hungry for more. So this year, we’re re-doubling our efforts. We’ve gone out virtually every weekend since Memorial Day, gearing up for what I’m deeming The Ultimate Road Trip.
It started off as a casual talk about visiting some National Parks. I have the National Parks Pass, so I proposed checking out Yellowstone and Glacier. Then we started talking about Banff and how beautiful it is, and we thought hey, maybe we get a Canada Parks Pass too. But if we’re in Canada, we should really check out Vancouver. And at that point, we’re so close to Seattle. What if we just drove down the west coast … ?
I’ve now created a Google Map that looks like a giant oval. We’re making moves north through National Parks, then west across Canada, south all the way down California, and our venture back east to Colorado still remains loose. On the map are icons for not only the NPs, but potential hikes, climbing areas, food and coffee shops to check out, cities to walk around, and heart icons where anyone we know lives. The goal is to be out from the end of July to late September, when I’ll have to peel off for a work trip. While we have the route mapped, the amount of time we spend each place will vary. New stops will be added, planned stops will be dropped. The point is to keep it flexible — life is about the journey, and we want to soak in all the precious moments with people and places.
Friends and family are divided when we talk about this trip. In one camp (a vast majority) is the folks who are beyond stoked for us. They ask us all about our stops and even provide suggestions to add to the map. The other camp is the skeptics. How are we going to work and accomplish all of these objectives?
To start, we are both blessed with highly flexible remote jobs. Ryan’s job requires more deadline-oriented work that forces him to crank at times; my job has more meetings that force me to be online at specific times of day. Regardless, we both have a strong work ethic and focus, and we respect and understand each other’s work commitments and obligations.
But work ethic aside, we couldn’t just rely on coffee shops and $7 lattes to make the remote work dream happen. So Ryan invested in Starlink Roam. In fact, so committed to this dream, Ryan traded in his Subaru Impreza for a Forester, bought a rooftop tent, generator, and gas tank, and has outfitted the car’s entire back seat and trunk to live the van life. We’ve now got a food box and a kitchen box and a clothes box and a toiletry box. We’ve got our climbing gear, rope, crash pad. Water jug, camp chairs, table. And we spent all this month testing it out — dialing in our systems, determining how we want to set up and tear down our sites, cut down space, and optimize the experience. It has been such an adventure, just planning the whole dang thing.
And the planning has been just a piece of a wild couple months. While I have helped and supported Ryan in ways that I can, he helped me move into a new home — MY home. I bought a house. And started a new job two months ago. And I ran my first 50K. It’s been some chaos, but mostly just joyful. I’d rather my life run at a wicked pace than sit around wondering what I could or should be doing. I’d rather set lofty goals and fail trying than wonder what I could’ve accomplished had I just taken the leap.
I cannot wait for the magic of this trip to unfold. We’re undoubtedly going to meet strangers that affect us in ways we can’t imagine, stumble upon holes in the wall that we never intended. See views that take our breath away. There will also be moments where the sun will be beating down, the bugs will be attacking, the rain will pour, etc. I’m ready for all of it — and I’m ready to document it all, too.