Exercising our right to errantry.
As I settle back into my life in Colorado Springs, it feels as though I’ve never left. All of my routines and rhythms are unchanged. I’m running my trails and climbing at my gym and cooking my staple meals in my kitchen. Life is peaceful, and though I am not racing out on an adventure for the foreseeable future, I am so grateful that I did. Being back has shown me that you’ve got to get out there; home will always be waiting for you when you’ve had enough. Below are some sporadic thoughts I had on the trip — perhaps not full posts unto themselves, but things I noted to write about.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
At the risk of sounding supremely cheesy, we are stoked on Revelstoke.
We woke up on Monday morning a little disoriented, as we had crossed into Pacific Time. It was luxurious to have a full kitchen to fix coffee and a dining room table to work at. After a few hours of productivity, we made our way into town. We had spied a bakery when we arrived the night before, and being the absolute pastry fiends that we are, really wanted to see it.
This bakery was called La Baguette, which raised the stakes. We have a La Baguette in Colorado Springs that we patronize regularly, on what we’ve affectionately dubbed “croissant Fridays.” This La Baguette definitely gives ours a run for its money. We got a blueberry matcha croissant, a pecan sticky bun, and a maple latte, and all were perfection — especially the sticky bun. The cafe had lots of great food and energy. You could get breakfast sandwiches throughout the day and beers in the afternoon. And the bread looked phenomenal. We’d be
When I studied in Cuba during college, I documented my time there on this same blog. However, rather than report on day-to-day life, I wrote topical posts – food, clothing, holidays, etc. I’ve been wanting to do the same for this trip, since there are many aspects I’ve yet to touch upon but could add more color and dimension to the weekly updates. The first I’d really like to write about it our car set-up.
As mentioned previously, Ryan and I spent pretty much all of July perfecting how the car was arranged to make it optimally organized. There is really only one way to fit everything as nicely as we have it, and we both have this memorized.
Fridays are for fun. The thing is, most days feel like Fridays when you add adventure to them, the way we have. This Friday was no different.
After what was truly a magical sunrise in the clouds, we packed up and headed to Banff. We couldn’t believe the mountains towering around us, so jagged and raw — like the Tetons. My grandfather put it best when he texted me: “I think that Banff is the most daunting country I’ve ever personally experienced. The massiveness just says to you, ‘Climb on me, I dare you. I’ll overwhelm you.’”
They call it Stormy Mondays. Sunday night, we checked the weather forecast and saw rain at 1 p.m. the following day — ideal for the smoky conditions. However, within hours of going to sleep, we heard rain falling on the tent. And it continued. And continued. By 8 a.m., the rain showed no signs of stopping, so we hastily packed up the car and the soaked tent, driving to West Glacier. There, we posted up in Freda’s, a burger-french fry-shake type restaurant that had WiFi.
We worked steadily throughout the day, the rain falling relentlessly. While customers around us ate their chicken tenders and huckleberry parfaits, we were snacking on our veggie wraps and jalapeño chips, unwilling to pay an exorbitant amount for mediocre food. When we finally wrapped up the work day, it was the perfect time to enter the park — 3:00 p.m., meaning no reservation required.
Bidding goodbye to Bozeman, we made moves toward Missoula, the biggest town closest to Greenough. We stopped in Butte to get gas and eat lunch, and we learned some fun facts about the place. First, there’s a massive statue of Our Lady of the Rockies looking down over the town from a ridgeline, supposedly the 4th largest statue in the U.S. Butte is also home to the oldest running Chinese restaurant in the U.S., established in 1911. It has the one of our country’s largest national historic districts, due to all the mining sites it has preserved — it used to supply over 25% of the world’s copper.
We’ve loved Bozeman. It is admittedly much hotter here than either of us expected, likely because our first night of camping was pretty brisk. However, the hot weather hasn’t deterred us from some excellent explorations.
We started on Monday at Treeline Coffee, which appears to be a local hot spot. The coffee, pastries, vibe, and branding of the place were strong, making it an ideal workspace. We went for a short lunch run, jumping back into Glen Lake to cool off and eating sandwiches by the water. It was idyllic.
On Friday, we awoke at 4 a.m. in the hope of seeing wolves. Ryan whipped up some coffee and drove us to Slough Creek in Lamar Valley, a supposed wolf destination.
We got there around 5:30 and weren’t seeing much. It was quite calm and serene, watching the sun slowly rise over the valley. Just when we thought we were out of luck, we spotted a bison wandering along the ridge. “Aren’t bison herd animals?” Ryan asked. I wasn’t sure. I was just happy that we hadn’t gotten up so early for nothing.
Tuesday was an excellent day for wildlife. Up at 6:30, we worked from a quiet workspace above the resort’s coffee shop. The coffee shop was closed and we didn’t know if we were even supposed to be up there, but it was so free of distraction that we stayed. The skies were still grey and stormy looking, making us skeptical we’d have any better luck at climbing.
We debated what to do over lunch. At 2:30, the weather was shaping up to improve on the other side of Teton Pass, so I proposed we head back to the National Park to re-attempt Delta Lake. Ryan was game.
Prior to departing Green River, we went for a short run along the dirt road we camped on. We thought we saw animals in the distance, and sure enough, there was a group of wild horses up the way. They galloped off when we got close, but running alongside them, albeit briefly, was absolutely magical. Upon return to the car, we did a short lift workout, using our crash pads and backpacks to do split squats, push-ups, and core exercises.
After a week of being derailed over and over, it was so nice to be back into our normal routine. I genuinely believe that it was so hard for me to concentrate all week because of the lack of consistency. Typically it’s easy for us to get exercise before and/or after work, whether it’s a run, climb, yoga, bike ride, or just walk. Those activities were few and far between this last week, much to the detriment of my mental and emotional health.
Wednesday was a productive work day. It was a cool, misty morning in the Poudre that turned to sun by midday. Ryan received word that his watch was un-fixable, so we returned to town at the end of the day to retrieve it. It would just be a couple months watch-less — not a big deal, in the grand scheme of things. Before returning to the Poudre, we went for a short jog around Fort Collins and visited one of our favorite spots — the shipping container eateries in Old Town. We had a healthy meal of a burger, beer, and ice cream, and had thoughtful discussions about work and life.
You can’t have high highs without some low lows. What started as an auspicious trip kick-off turned into a nightmarish situation Monday afternoon. The dust has settled, though — we’re not out of the woods, but we’re at least back on track.
Waking up in the comfort of a Vail hotel with family, we were able to work as normal and even enjoy some homemade waffles cooked up by Ryan’s cousin, Jason.
Ryan took the opportunity to fly fish during his lunch hour, during which he fell into Gore Creek (no injuries, a mostly comical scene that no one had the fortune to witness).
I had a sort of butterflies-in-the-stomach feeling all of Thursday, knowing it was the unofficial start to the trip. We weren’t leaving for Wyoming until Sunday or Monday, but we were heading towards Twin Lakes for the weekend and would not be turning back. Goodbye to Colorado Springs for two months! It was simultaneously exciting and daunting.
I spent the morning working and putting the final touches on my house, which I’m renting out for the duration of the trip, while Ryan spent the morning working ad putting the final touches on his car, our home for the duration of the trip. At lunch time, he arrived at my house, which had a couple sprawling piles of stuff to add to the already packed car – one solely consisting of food, the other being all my individual and group gear to contribute. Pancake mix and bear spray and camp slippers and passports, Canadian dollars and parks passes and Band-Aids and a bottle of white wine. All of it would be loaded into the Forester strategically, with us agreeing on their individual locations.
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.