Monday, March 29, 2010

Westward: Snow to Sin to Sand




Last time I was at Bryce National Park was during an "out West" family road trip when I was eight years old.  During that vacation, the Boeke family also used a Ford Econoline van for transportation (but not to sleep in).  Unlike the last time at Bryce, we are now visiting when there is snow on the ground, and that element makes for a really beautiful contrast of color and texture in the park.



Also, I remember only hiking down the trail just a little bit when I was eight.  This time, we took a three mile loop hike that got us down into the canyon.  It was the only open trail that did not require snow shoes or crampons.



Video Link


Next stop was Las Vegas, Nevada.  Not too much to do in that two horse town except throw money away; which we did.  Seriously, though, we had a good time playing some video blackjack at the bar in the Tropicana while listening to a great cover band play some classic hits.  Before we knew it, it was 3 AM and we found our way back to the Excalibur parking lot.  We slept in the van, which felt particularly rebellious while surrounded by multi-million dollar hotels.


In the morning, we found our way down to Fremont Street (shoot 'em up, bang, bang) and into the Fremont Hotel to enjoy the $6.95 Paradise Buffet. For such a cheap buffet, the quality was reasonable.  Nothing like the Bellagio by any means, but the food looked and tasted fresh and there were a few selections that were more creative than just bacon and eggs.


After stuffing ourselves much too full, we headed West, finally arriving in Manhattan Beach just in time for the sunset.  And just in time for my memory card to fill up before catching the end of the sunset.


Video Link

Thanks to Chris and Hilary for treating us to some excellent Thai food for dinner.  And an extra special thanks to Chris for keeping me out until 3 AM for a second night in a row after only four hours of sleep in Vegas.  The Fortunate Sons were totally worth it.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Pee-Pee Solution

Is it just me or do you also find that you need to pee in the middle of the night?

This being a common occurrence for both Jon and me, we decided that we needed a pee-pee solution for our trip that protected us from braving the cold, dark world outside of the van.

This is the solution and it is awesome.


It is hard to imagine my life now without the Duro-Med Non-Autoclavable Female Urinal. No more laying in a tent (or a van) wondering how long until morning and calculating how long I can hold it. No more putting shoes on, shivering in the dark and wondering if I'm splashing my shoes with pee splatter. 

If you like to camp, backpack or even travel long distances in a car, you need to buy this immediately. You won't regret it!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Hotel, Motel, Bryce Valley Inn

As promised, here is the video from earlier this morning.



Video Link

Tonight, we opted to stay in our first hotel of the journey. We went into Bryce NP and the campsites there had snow that was four feet deep.  The campsites were not much more than a wet asphalt parking spot barely cleared of snow.  We would not have even had access to the picnic tables at the sites which were still covered in snow.

Also, overnight temperatures are expected to be around 15° F.

Also, we smell bad and need showers.

Also, we are still quite addicted to Internetz.

If you are somewhere near the Bryce Valley Inn in Tropic, UT tonight, come knock on the door of room 110.  We'll have an old school hotel party.

P.S. - Bring beer.



Video Link

Canyonlands

It's getting hard to find an Internet connection out here in the wilderness! We promise that we'll still try to update whenever we get a chance.

Tuesday night, we stayed in Canyonlands National Park at the Squaw Flat campground. (Thanks for the suggestion, MB!) The site was full, but we just parked at the trailhead thinking that since we are completely self contained in the van, we are not using any park resources and that would be OK. In the morning, however, we got a visit from a park ranger who scolded us. Her logic on why why shouldn't have parked there wasn't very sound, but she had a Taser so we coughed up the $15 camp fee and went on our way. Lesson learned.



Video Link

Wednesday night we stayed in Fishlake National Forest. I have a video from the location where we stayed, but you're going to have to wait for it. The video upload keeps failing and we have much to see! Today we are headed through Capitol Reef NP and then on down to Bryce NP.

Monday, March 22, 2010

First Night in The Eagle





Video Link

Actually, the name of the place we stayed is Manti-La Sal National Forest.

More specifically, right here:


View Larger Map

Today, we picked up some groceries in Moab that should last us a couple days. We cooked up some Quesadillas for lunch in Swanny City Park. There is a bit of wine in that cup on the table. Don't tell the Mormons.


Tonight, we are off to Canyonlands NP.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

On the Road... Again!

See that little "Where Are We Now?" map in the upper left corner?  For the past four weeks, as we have prepared the van, gathered supplies and recovered from illness, it has read "Loveland, CO, USA".  Today, the map will move.

Yesterday was the first day of Spring, and a time for new beginnings.  Today, exactly one month after we left Phoenix, we are beginning our journey across the country.

We want to thank Ed and Connie for putting us up and putting up with us.  As you'll see in a future post, they did a tremendous amount of work in outfitting the van and they will continue to help us out by taking care of Asher, storing our additional stuff and minding our mail.  We wouldn't be making this journey without them.

And now, we present to you, The Eagle...



Movie Link

It is time for us to fly!

Friday, March 19, 2010

Let it Snow

It is said that the only thing constant in life is change. The weather in Colorado right now is proving that point.

It went from 65 degrees and sunny yesterday to this:





and this:
















and this:



Change is beautiful, don't you think?


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

I'm not Irish, but I am Lithuanian.  So, we made some Kugelis today.



This will likely be the last meal we cook in a real kitchen before we hit the road.  Hopefully, we can quickly figure out how to use the dutch oven that arrived today from Amazon.



Sunday, March 14, 2010

Best Kept Secret in Phoenix?

Jon and I were talking this morning and we agreed that there is only one thing that we miss about our old life in Phoenix (other than our friends, of course). That one thing is Noel.

Noel is the guy who fixed us when we were broken using myopractics and neuro-muscular therapy. And not only is he really good at that but he's a super nice guy, too.

How nice, you ask? Well, the day we moved out of our house, I hurt my back. I didn't realize it until the next morning but by the end of our going away party, I could barely stand up straight. Noel agreed to see me at 8am on SUNDAY morning before we left town. That's nice! He fixed my back and I was able to make the long two-day drive to Colorado pain-free.

Noel is not someone we wanted to keep to ourselves; if you have ANY problems with your back or your joints or your muscles or anything, definitely give him a call! If you do, please tell him hi from us and that we miss him!

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Photo courtesy of perpetualplum

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Van Progress!

The frame for the bed (with storage) is almost done! We tested out the size today and it fits great!! My dad is a woodworking genius!

Here is an overall view of the frame in the van:

Video link here.

This is how we are going to get to our storage space:

Video link here.

Just for fun, a view of our storage space from ground level:

Video link here.

And most importantly, here is my dad trying out the frame and discovering an unexpected bonus feature of the van:

Video link here.

Jon is also almost finished with his modifications to the dash:

Video link here.

Now for finishing work and the all important task of making it match the super awesome existing wood decor in the van. Go Dad Go!

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

The Pain of Paying

Jon found this totally fantastic video about money. It talks about the Currency of Pad Thai (sort of), an iPhone App that I would totally buy and Mvelopes (okay, maybe just envelopes).


Video link here.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Sicky Sickertons

Blaaaahhhhhh. Jon and I are sick. Sore throats and coughing and head congestion and mucus and weakness and whining and antibiotics sick.

But here's the pretty sunset in the Rockies tonight.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Beauty Anxiety

I am spending quite a bit of time thinking and planning what I am going to put in my travel backpack. There isn't going to be a lot of room so I am taking a tip from Ottsworld and planning to leave my vanity behind.

I have to admit, the idea of leaving my makeup behind makes me uncomfortable. Not because I want to wear makeup everyday but because it's a security blanket. It provides the ability to fit in if I need to and to escape the feeling that I am not participating in the unwritten rules of being a woman.

Don't believe me that there is a beauty standard in this country? Check this out:


Video link here. More information about Girl Culture by Lauren Greenfield here. Please note that parts of this site are NSFW.

But on the flip side, I'll be saving money. I found an article in Newsweek that estimated the lifetime cost of "cosmetic maintenance". Even if I normally spend a half to a third of this amount, that's still quite a bit quite a bit of money.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

The Centennial State

It's official. We are Coloradans.



Fun facts:
  • Highest Point: Mount Elbert (14,440 ft)
  • Lowest Point: Arikaree River (3,315 ft)
  • Motto: Nil Sine Numine
  • Animal: Rocky Mountain Bighorn Sheep
  • Bird: Lark Bunting
  • Fish: Greenback Cutthroat Trout
  • Flower: White and Lavender Columbine
  • Fossil: Stegosaurus
  • Gemstone: Aquamarine
  • Insect: Colorado Hairstreak Butterfly
  • Tree: Colorado Blue Spruce
  • Reptile: Western Painted Turtle
Although our Arizona DL's expire in 2039/2040 (at age 65) we decided to update our residence to the address where we will officially be conducting all of our business (bills, retirement accounts, pet registration, etc.).

Also, all of our remaining stuff is here.

Now that the panicked rush to get out of the house is over, we have been spending quite a bit of time paring down from our original jam-packed 6x6x12 trailer (and van space) that we used to move it all here. We have our goodies separated into that which shall kept and that which we will take on the road with us. Thanks again to Ellen's dad for building some extra shelving for us to store our extraordinarily important belongings...

Video link here.

We didn't quite fill up the whole shelf.



But we did put some temperature sensitive stuff, such as photos, baby books and... yes... buttons, down in the basement.

And, here is the pile of stuff that we will take with us in the van (if it all fits).


Other than a safety deposit box, the van, and some clothes in the guest room closet, the pictures in this blog post are a complete inventory of all of our worldly possessions.


    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Van Renovation - Part I

    Our van is looking quite different than she did when we first got her.


    Video can also be viewed here.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    Stinky Feet


    It's time to talk about our plan for personal hygeine on the road.

    Since we aren't planning on staying in any hotels that cost more than $30/night1, we are more limited in how often we will have access to showers. I originally thought that I would be fine going two days without a shower but I think I may be fooling myself. A shower every other day sounds much better, don't you think?

    The question is, where can we shower? Here are the options that I'm aware of:
    • KOA's
    • Campgrounds (if they have shower facilities available - not sure how common this is)
    • Community swimming pool showers
    • Using our solar shower if we are in a remote enough area
    • Cheap motels
    • Truck stops2
    Where else??

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    1 Excepting the occasional splurge on a $50/night hotel, of course. :)
    2I'm not so sure that I'm interested in this option. I'm worried about the cleanliness as well as the overall cost; I've read that it's $8-10/person and with two of us, we could have just stayed at a KOA.

    Photo courtesy of Viditu

    Wednesday, March 3, 2010

    Money, Money, Money!


    I am a huge fan of talking about money, or at least talking about it in a way that opens up discourse and de-tabbooifies1 it. Now that we are transitioning from making money and saving it to living off of what we've saved, I want to share our monthly travel budget with you (developed in Mvelopes).

    Here is our working budget for the US portion of our trip.


    Some details:

    1. The State Farm category covers auto insurance for the van (~$70) and life insurance (~$40).

    2. As you can see, the Lodging category is not very high. We are planning on staying with friends and family, sleeping in the van (in KOA's, state parks and Wal-mart parking lots) and couchsurfing2.

    3. The Auto category covers gas and any needed repairs (knock on wood). We will be driving approximately 10,000 miles in the next three to four months and expect to get around 15 miles per gallon. Sorry about the car emissions, planet Earth. We promise to balance it out by not driving a car for the following three to four months.

    4. The Other category is the catch-all for everything else like supplies, entertainment, etc.

    5. Jon and I both have allowances or, more accurately, discretionary money. This is vital for the sanity of our marriage. iTouch apps, anyone?

    I plan to revisit the budget at the end of the month and see where it needs to be adjusted. Anyone want to predict what might end up costing us more or less than we are planning?

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    1That's a word, right??
    2Don't worry, Mom, couchsurfing is safe. We hosted some people in Phoenix and they were lovely.

    Photo courtesy of Jeff Keen