Posts in Road Trip
The Loneliest Road - Durango, CO to Nevada City, CA

After much preparation (and anticipation), we made it back on the road! We are feeling as good as ever and have settled in to our new van, Loaf, nicely. We quickly slipped back into the selves we remembered so well from being on the road for a year, and it feels familiar and like home. We are looking forward to this new chapter together and to get back to the core of what we miss most - quality family time, limited distractions, meeting old and new friends, simplified living, and of course, exploring corners of the world with eyes wide open. With a week under our belt, we have already blazed a solid trail starting at our home in Durango, Colorado then onto 600+ miles of the loneliest road in America through Utah, Nevada, and California. While this road was in fact fairly quiet (still in the off season), we ended up finding plenty of fun things to keep us busy! We think Loaf is having an equally good time during his first overseas trip. Just keep reading to see all the beautiful places he has taken us already!

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Bars, Beers, & Books: 48 Hours In Dublin

We did it! We made a complete lap around Ireland in under two weeks and lived to tell the tales of our mother-daughter trip! I only had doubts because well, a rental car plus narrow roads plus driving on the opposite side plus foreign country (not to mention I had not driven at all in 10 months!) all could have equaled a number of different outcomes. But besides the minor bumps in the road, we came out victorious! The final two days we got to stow our car away and use public transpo in Dublin, the vibrant capital city of Ireland. We had a lot to squeeze in and as the title implies, a fair bit of it revolved around bars, beers, and books with visits to the famous Temple Bar, the Guinness Storehouse and Brewery, and Trinity College’s Book of Kells Exhibition & Old Library.But first, check out the ground we covered in the map below...

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Onward to Sedona: Getting Closer To The End Of Our Pause

We were reunited in Phoenix with Spud after five incredible weeks gallivanting around Ohio to see family (not to mention a side trip to Ireland to fulfill me and my mom’s mother-daughter bucket list). The feeling of jumping back into Spud after an extended lapse of time is a feeling we can never quite describe. We are always extra elated when we first turn the key and the engine fires up. The moments after pulling out onto the open road, unaware of what exactly we will experience next, is especially satisfying for us. We can’t help ourselves…we are addicted to new places, new people, new sights, and new places to camp! So upward and onward…we were off to Sedona!

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5 Southern New Mexico Places You Must Visit

New Mexico is the 16th state we've been fortunate to further explore this year and it's easily one of our favorites! We've had the opportunity to experience the northern parts of the state in the recent past but had big bucket list dreams in the southern region that we were looking forward to. If you haven't been to some of these, hopefully this post will entice you to scoot them up higher on your must-see list (and maybe you'll add a new one to it also). Buckle up as we road trip through 6 of the best parts of southern New Mexico.

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Big Bend Nat'l Park: Birthdays, Canyons, & River Crossings To A Foreign Land

I'll be honest with you. Big Bend National Park in Texas was never on our radar. In fact, I'm ashamed to admit that I didn't even recall that it was a national park or know what the place had to offer in terms of things to do for families. It feels crazy saying that now after having been there and loving the diverse experiences this park allowed us to discover. Perhaps we never went because of its remote location, or maybe because it was a lesser known national park. All I know is I have a long-lost hometown friend to thank for urging us to go (you know who you are, girl!). We are so glad you shared your stories, photos, and tips with us because Big Bend has so much to offer people of all ages. Hopefully this post will give you a little glimpse into the fun things to do in this huge national park. Here, we'll explore a free natural hot springs on the US/Mexico border, walk across the Rio for an epic day in Mexico, and take in the wonders of the Santa Elena Canyon. Also, the boys turn FOUR!

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A Photo Journey Through White Sands Nat'l Monument

We were standing atop the crest of a giant mound of sand and for as far as my eyes would reach were white, wavy rolling hills sprawled out in front of us. With a view as magnificent as this, I fantasized that we had accomplished something grand. It gave me the sense of domination. My hair whipping in the wind, my ankles tickled by the granules that were blowing across them, and us perfectly placed in the middle of it all with 360 degree views of amazing! No trails to hike, nothing to see or do, no hidden attractions. Just here to witness the sand, and only the sand. We were beyond thrilled to finally be experiencing the glory of White Sands National Monument!

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Baja Camping Heaven: Orange Groves, Turquoise Bays, & "Pueblos MÁgicos"

We welcome you back to our best of the best in Baja! This is hands down my favorite section of the peninsula and you'll see why in a moment. To lure you in further highlights included freshly squeezed orange juice at our fingertips, a crescent-shaped bay where we slept (and played) at the ocean's edge, Mexican towns that left us begging to come back, and the most divine and flavorful fish tacos - oh heck, I'll just sum it up by saying the most divine and flavorful Mexican food we've ever consumed. Period. If your mouth isn't watering yet, I'll bet money it will be at some point during this post.

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Our Unforgettable Day With Baja's Gray Whales

Many memorable experiences have happened because of this year-long trip. I often wonder if it weren’t for this "pause" that we're on, would we have even seen or experienced this much in our entire lifetime? There are definitely times that have reinforced the precise reasons for why we are taking this year together as a family. One moment that stands out is our remarkable boat trip through Ojo De Liebre, a lagoon that embraces thousands of gray whales each winter. I've reserved this post for them. This was undoubtedly a once-in-a-lifetime, holy-crap-did-that-just-happen moment. Without further ado, here is our up close and personal day with the gray whales in Guerrero Negro, Baja California Sur!

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Baja California, Mexico: Our Entrance into the Baja Peninsula

"Have you ever been? Have you seen the recent news? Read the latest travel warnings? You’re bringing the boys? Be careful. I used to go to Baja back when it was safe, but now, I’ll never go again." These are just a few things people were saying to us before we left for Baja, Mexico. As I'm sure you can imagine, we were not totally psyched given all the "glowing" reviews. In fact, we were so nervous we almost threw our plans to visit out the window. Ultimately, we made the decision to go and are so thankful we didn't cave in to the fear.

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Halfway Between Here & There: Stat Edition!

The second half of our trip is upon us, which I can hardly even believe. We are taking it up and over the 6th month hump by ditching Spud for 6 weeks(ish) and hopping on a plane. Where to, you ask? To the palm tree laiden, shave ice devouring, bikini clad state of HAWAII, of course! Cue joke about taking a vacation from the vacation now.

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Road Tripping: Central Sierra Nevada

This section of California is hands down the best part of inland California. Perhaps the WHOLE state (of what we've seen, anyway). That's a tall order, I know. But since Oregon already won best coastline, we were seeking some new scenery that might win us over in the heartland of CA. And this area did just that!

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Our Final Section of Oregon: Can It Get Any More Beautiful?!

Our part three of Oregon will have to be in form of pictures. But pretty ones, so hopefully that makes up for lack of story. As we meandered along the southern and remaining section of Oregon we managed to hit even more stunning spots. We can't get over this state (and the luck we are having with weather). September and October turned out to be exceptional months to visit. Our highlights in this section include an insane mountain climb to one of our most favorite campsites of our whole year (HIGH above Detroit, Oregon), a 400+ van gathering in Bend Oregon called Descend on Bend, amazing sunsets and camping along Floras Lake, and our last day in Oregon at Harris Beach State Park. This state blew us away!

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Oregon Part 2: Creepy Campsites, Giant Pancakes, & Puddle Jumping!

If you read part one, you've likely gathered that Oregon has captured our hearts. We have more to share as we wander inland to Portland before being drawn back to the coast. We continue that pattern a few times, experiencing the national/state forests then snaking back out for sun, sand, and sea. In this section of our trip we encountered the rain Oregon is notorious for. Surprisingly though, we made the most of it and at times actually enjoyed it. Or, perhaps that's what sentimental memories do to a person - forget the annoyances and remember the pleasures. Either way, I'm diving in to Central Oregon and just like the northern half, it did not disappoint. 

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Washington Was...

To our faithful readers (eh um, that's you friends & family!!)  :-) ,

For those of you that know me, then you know how much I enjoy blogging about life, adventures, people, and places. I pour my heart and time into a blog post. And anyone who has done something similar knows the time and energy it takes to keep up with it. I'm afraid with Washington though, I am unable to devote much time (for now). You see, the sun, sand, and sea have been calling my name ever since we hit the beautiful West coast last month. I'm finding it harder and harder to pull myself away from time with family and am doing my best to soak it all up, so to speak.

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Musings From Spud: 10 things We've Learned on the Road

Well, here we are. I can hardly believe what I'm about to write, but we have officially spent a third of the year on the road. Crazy to think we drove away from Durango on June 15th with knots in our stomachs but excitement in our hearts. All in a short amount of time has been everything we hoped it would be, and sometimes more. Sure, we have rocky moments with kids in tow but at the end of the day we wouldn't want to be anywhere else. With the constant change we've surely had many opportunities for growth over the last few months. So we compiled a list. You know I love me a good list! Behold the list of: 10 Things We've Learned on the Road...

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Gratitude

We are coming off a huge high after spending time in the midwest. When we first got serious about taking this trip, we excitedly spoke about seeing family and friends we hadn't seen in awhile, about making it a goal to reconnect with family and friends who were once part of our everyday lives. And, boy, were we ever surprised by the amount of you that offered up a driveway or home to sleep in. Leaving our home, friends, and neighborhood in Durango was difficult. But having welcoming hugs and familiar faces greet us along the way has been so refreshing and made the transition to life on the road much easier. We are humbled and grateful for the generosity that you all have shown us.

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"Water Wonderland" Michigan

Michigan snuck up on us like a cool summer breeze. One minute we were seeing family and friends in Ohio and the next we were relaxing poolside at a vacation rental in Mirror Lake with Chip's family. We spent six lazy days here going on bike rides, hunting for mulberries with grandpa, swimming in the pool, fishing, and plumping ourselves up with a lot of wonderful food. But, as always, all good things must come to an end and after a week we had to say goodbye to the comforts of a big, cozy home and help from family. We hopped back in Spud and ugly-cried out of the vacation rental driveway. It is always hard leaving family but after giving my cheek a swift slap of the hand, I snapped out of it and immediately grew eager to explore the rest of Michigan. 

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The Number$

Since we decided to take this journey a year and a half ago, we've had the good fortune to talk with a massive amount of people.  We get a lot of questions, but, far and away, people want to know about money.  Some will disguise it a bit and ask us what we "do". Others are more forthright and just ask how we can afford to take what they perceive to be a perpetual vacation. Most are just honestly curious about how we'll make ends meet. Good questions, everyone. They're ones we worried ourselves with at the beginning.

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Stuff

As you can imagine, living in 80 square feet presents some challenges in terms of space. At 20 square feet per person, we've necessarily streamlined our lives getting rid of both our cars, furniture items, clothing we didn't wear, and junk that had no meaning or regular use (goodbye, food dehydrator). What didn't come with us needed to be stored in a ~6x12ft space. But, perhaps unsurprisingly, three weeks into our trip we've found that the less we have, the better we feel. A couple outfits each, cooking basics, a little toy box filled with books and artsy activities, one dump truck, two bikes, and a beach bag filled with cars, collapsible buckets, and shovels is about all we need to keep us going. Luckily, every place we have parked Spud so far has offered us an incredible backyard with lakes for swimming, dirt for digging, ducks for feeding, fireflies (aka "lightning flies") for catching, and paths for biking.

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Embark

I'm sitting in the passenger seat of our '86 Westy staring out the window at the endless wheat fields, towering windmills, and straight, flat roads of Kansas. It is dead silent in Spud (well, as silent as he gets at 65 mph), which is rare with jabbering twin boys. But it's naptime. Hallelujah! I unbuckle my seatbelt and like a flight attendant head to the back and sneak out two M&M ice cream bars from our mini freezer. I deliver one to Chip, then we cackle while waving them in the air at the boys' sleeping faces and scarf them down in celebration of quiet time. If only they knew what we did when they were asleep. I digress...

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