October Journal: A Summary of Month #2 on the Road
Jackson, WY > Grand Tetons > Yellowstone > Montana (technically but we were only passing through) > Couer d’Alene, ID > the homestead, WA > Seattle, WA (Matt flys to SF) > Portland, OR > Pacific City, OR > Florence, OR > The Redwoods National Park > San Francisco, CA > Half Moon Bay, CA > Kingsburg, CA > Oakhurst, CA > Yosemite (drive-through) > Mono Lake, CA > Travertine Hot Springs > Mammoth, CA > Alabama Hills, CA > Death Valley National Park (drive-through) > Las Vegas, NV (Matt flys to NYC) > Lake Mead, NV > Las Vegas, NV. Did you catch all that?
Lets talk geography. Where should plan your next trip!!?! I have a few new favorite places for you:
- Redwoods National and State Parks: How has this place been in northern California my entire life and I’ve never been there until now? We only had about 24 hours to pass through the Redwoods but many different factors came together to make this one of my favorite 24 hours of the trip so far. We stayed at Gold Bluff Beach and Campground in Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. We arrived in the evening as the sun was setting and played on the beach until our toes were cold and our tummies were growling. We cooked up a delicious meal on the campfire and relaxed with wine in hand. This campsite actually had wifi (I didn’t know campsites had wifi?) so I was able to get some work done in the morning before we headed to Fern Canyon. This is one of the few campsites we paid for ($35/night) but felt it was totally worth it. I wish we could have stayed here for a few days! The beach and campsite is also only 1 mile from Fern Canyon trailhead (which is like real like FernGully!). I would go back here in a heartbeat.
- Eastern Sierras: The entire area between Mono Lake and Alabama Hills in the Eastern Sierras is rather incredible. It also has so much to offer that it was hard only having a few days to explore (after our time got cut short as we sprinted to Las Vegas so Matt could catch a last minute flight). Here’s what we were able to cover: Mono Lake > Travertine Hot Springs > Mammoth & Devil’s Postpile > Crab Cooker Hot Springs > Bishop Mahogony Smoked Meats (Jerky & bacon for days!) > Alabama Hills (the first place on our ‘we must come back here’ list).
- Pacific City to Florence Oregon: The Pacific Coast Scenic Byway down the coast of Oregon was beautiful! Probably my favorite drive so far. I wish we had more time to stop in all the little tiny beach towns and explore. We probably could have spent a week doing this drive and camping along the coast. We had a beautiful sunny day on the Pacific City beach and caught a few epic sunsets to make us want to come back soon.
A highlight of October has been to still spend so much time with friends and family. We spent time with both our parents, Matt got to see his CreativeLive crew for a week in Seattle during Photo Week, I got to spend time with my cousins Chrissy & Jeff as well as have a mini high school reunion having dinner with 3 old high school friends in Portland (Justin, Tyler, Jayson), we had dinner with some of our best friends as we passed through San Francisco (Annie, Robbie, Alissa, AJ, Todd), we attended my good friends’ wedding (Alexa & Mike) and got to see more friends there (Lauren, Jeff, Julie, DJ, Christine, Sean), we got to play on the beach with Matt’s cousin Todd and friend Patricia in Half Moon Bay, I got to meet TWO different best friend’s new babies that have been born since we left (River Ladra & Makena Stucky). We even met our first vanlife couple (and made new friends) @wildbythemile in Yellowstone. We enjoyed dinner cozied up in their van with the Mr Buddy heater keeping us all warm and sharing lots of stories.
So between all that, fitting in work and exploring a new place almost every day – we’re still feeling like we don’t have much time for ourselves on this journey. But we’re getting there.
Swinging back through the bay area and seeing friends led to a lot of “how is it going so far?” questions. These questions caused us to reflect on our time on the road so far, which is more difficult than I expected to communicate. I think a lot of friends caught the blank stare on our faces before we were able to come up with a way to summarize 60 short days on the road and a roller coaster of emotions into a few sentences. Matt said it best, “The highs are high and the lows are low.” I think we’re expected to be having ‘the best time of our lives’. I get short messages from friends that say “It looks like you’re having the best time”. And partially, that is true. I think I also put a lot of pressure on us to make the decision of leaving comfortable jobs, rent controlled apartments in San Francisco and a group of really wonderful friends worth it to be on the road. We are, of course, having a really great time, but it’s also been hard. We threw ourselves into a lot of change all at once and I think I’m still treading water trying to figure out how to swim. We have really amazing days exploring forests, soaking in hot springs and climbing mountains. But we also have days where I feel anxious and I’m not sure why and neither of really know what we’re supposed to be ‘doing’?
I have definitely been pushed outside of my comfort zone. The hardest part about being on the road surprisingly has nothing to do with actually living in a ‘van’. The living in a van part is actually pretty easy. I love being able to carry all of my belongings with me wherever I go. Seriously, I never ‘forget’ anything. If I forgot it, that means I gave it away months ago and will probably have to buy a new one. The hard part is the fact that everything outside of the van is constantly moving and changing. The constant movement and lack of consistency is what I am still trying to adjust to.
Matt and I are not ones to shy away from hard work or a challenge. I also like to think that we don’t make excuses or complain often. We remind each other every day that “we choose this”. We have a very balanced way of dealing with things that go wrong. We take turns being the ‘strong one’ figuring things out on the fly and telling the other that “everything will be fine”, while allowing one person a few minutes to have a minor breakdown.