Month: October 2016

Time to bite the Bullet

Several months of trial and error with a nearly 50-year-old aluminum camper have led to this moment… a new camper.

It was not an easy decision, even after the challenges we faced in Yellowstone, but we decided that it was time to let go of the idea we had in our heads about the Tin Can and embrace the conveniences of a newer model. So, we bit the bullet and bought a Bullet.

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The 2013 Bullet is a youngster and has almost 25 feet of interior living space (compared to 19 in the Tin Can) plus an electric slide out that provides more floor space while we’re parked. The size of the Tin Can was never really an issue for us, but we’re super excited about some of the amenities a slightly larger space affords us… like a bedroom.

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Having a dedicated bed, not a couch that has to be transformed into a bed every night and put back every morning, was a top priority for our new home.

The bathroom is similar in size but includes a ton of storage and best of all, it has a door.

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And check out my new kitchen!

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The Tin Can had zero counter space, which just wasn’t cutting it. Extra cabinets have also allowed me to pull a few more items out of storage like my bread pan and pizza cutter. I can’t wait to hit the road and break it in.

Oh, and don’t worry, we made sure there was an easily-accessible fire extinguisher in the camper, just in case.

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The Bullet will make so many things easier (like not freezing to death because now we have a working heater!) but I sure am going to miss the Tin Can. Like everything else about this trip so far, owning a house on wheels has provided endless rewards and challenges and I can’t wait to learn the nuances of our new home.

As we get the last of our things moved in, the Bullet is already starting feel like ours.

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What personal items make your house feel like a home? Let me know in the comments below.

Yellowstone top 5

Despite all of the challenges we faced in Yellowstone, the country’s first national park is one of the most interesting places I’ve ever seen.

Geysers shoot water hundreds of feet into the air next to a pool made up of bacteria that creates colors so vibrant that a camera can’t do it justice. The Rocky Mountains tower over lakes so clear you can see the pebbles dozens of feet below. Bison sprint across paved highways backed by a hill of travertine steps.

There were surprises around ever corner.

Since not everyone is lucky enough to spend a month in Yellowstone, here are my top five, favorite things about one of the oddest places I’ve ever experienced:

1. Bison – These animals are massive, stoic and everywhere. We saw herds of them along the Lamar Valley but there is nothing like seeing them run across the road in front of your truck. We were lucky enough to see them up close several times during our trip and it never got old… (Well, James might disagree since I made him pull over every time we saw one closer than 100 yards.)

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2. Mystic Falls – This hike behind Biscuit Basin was recommended by some employees we got to know during our trip. A steep climb kept traffic down on the trail and made for an unbeatable panoramic view and one of the better waterfalls we found in the park.

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3. Morning Glory – The vibrant colors of the geothermal pools left me speechless more than once. Morning Glory, which is about 1.5 miles from Old Faithful, glowed with turquoise, orange, greens and reds. I watched the sunset over the pool with only one other person in sight.

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4. Black Sand Basin – We visited most of the geyser basins in the park and Black Sand was our favorite. The Sunset Pool was spectacular, the tourists were minimal and the geysers were… small. There weren’t any massive explosions here but the small, constantly spitting geysers reminded me that we were on the world’s largest volcano and made for some hilarious, little eruptions.

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5. Mammoth Hot Springs – The stark white travertine steps of Mammoth were the strangest thing I saw in Yellowstone. How did that get there? This was one of the last things we visited on our trip and even after a month, we were shocked by the unusual formations and colors at Mammoth.

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Never have I seen so many strange and spectacular features in one place. Yellowstone is an absolute must and was definitely worth the challenges we endured.

Have you been to Yellowstone? What’s your favorite part of the park? Comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

Truth time

As I sit shivering in the freezing ranger station at Lewis Lake willing the wood-burning stove behind me to heat up, I’m counting down the hours until our stint as volunteers in Yellowstone ends.

In 56 hours and 36 minutes we’ll again be free to roam the country as we please and all I can think about is hauling ass back to Oklahoma where a comfy bed and warm shower await.

Rarely in my 30 years have I yearned for the familiar, for the convenience of home. Sure, I miss family and friends and it’s necessary to visit regularly, but usually, I can’t get out fast enough — not because I dislike Oklahoma, but because the travel bug eventually takes over and I start to crave the unfamiliar. I get antsy. I get an instinct to go, to leave my comfort zone, to experience something new and I must oblige. It’s no longer a choice.

Today, I want to go home.

56 hours and 35 minutes.

Home has always been a relative term to me. It’s not a city or a house or a room. It’s a feeling, a comfort that has been difficult to find this past month.

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The challenges that our 1968 tin can brought to Yellowstone are daunting but it’s the frustration those challenges have left me with that’s nagging at my soul. Things break, that’s expected. But four weeks of being cold and wet, four weeks of smelly pit toilets and doing dishes in frigid water, four weeks of back pain from an uncomfortable foam bed are starting to take their toll.

… 34 minutes.

I’m not writing this for sympathy or pity. This isn’t about whining or trying to win the worst day award (you’ll always win, because no matter what happens I’m still traveling). It’s not even therapeutic at this point. I’m just being honest. I vowed to be candid about our year on the road and this is about as candid as it gets.

I’m exhausted and cranky and sick of my own negative attitude … and I would do it all over again in a second.

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This is what wanderlust does to the heart. It makes you ache for something new but that doesn’t mean it will be easy. It forces you to seek out the unfamiliar despite the anxiety that’s part of the package. Wanderlust is a hunger of the soul and it is unstoppable, even by a 48-year-old Silver Streak.

“Travel, I was convinced, was not something frivolous, to be indulged in merely by the idle or the wealthy or the unshowered backpacker. It was something worth fighting for.”

– Andrew McCarthy

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