2017: The year of least resistance

We spent New Years weekend snowshoeing in Colorado’s Never Summer mountain range, and as I trudged through the snow I couldn’t help but feel like this adventure was a metaphor for 2016.

As I tightened the straps on my snowshoes in the parking lot, I was excited about trying something new. But once we hit the trail things quickly changed. Snowshoeing is hard — harder than I expected. My backpack was heavy and uncomfortable. Snowshoes are clunky. There was a huge learning curve. As I willed myself uphill at 9,400 feet (possibly the toughest mile I’ve ever hiked), my boots started rubbing against my feet and the chilly air caused my cold, which I’ve now been fighting for over three weeks, to flare up again. In other words, reality set in.

I eventually made it to the yurt where we spent the next two nights taking in the incredible views of snowy peaks and night skies, soaking up the sun, eating, drinking and playing games with new and old friends.

The hike out was easier. I made it back to the car in one piece with a few tight muscles, three blisters, a handful of photographs and another incredible story to tell.

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Like snowshoeing, our yearlong travel adventure was much harder than expected. We ran into new struggles around every corner from a leaky camper to lost loved ones. Some of my biggest struggles on the road include: working out, cooking, finding campgrounds, finding freelance work, making money, tracking money, relaxing and deciding where to go next.

In the end, I have no regrets about 2016, or snowshoeing, but I am looking forward to a new year and a fresh start.

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This year, I’m going to be easier on myself, enjoy life more, worry less, tell the people I love how much I appreciate them and soak up the sunshine (both the literal and metaphorical sunshine).

Last year my resolution was to be better, to push myself a little harder than the year before. I lost 25 pounds, learned to ski, learned to cook healthier food, paid off my student loans, decluttered, moved into a camper and traveled like crazy. I’d call that a success. This year my goal is to find the path of least resistance. This isn’t meant to be lazy or to avoid challenges, lessons or personal growth, but sometimes I make things harder than they need to be. Last year, I said several times that I needed to earn our year of travel. But why? Were the years we spent budgeting, paying off debt, saving, planning, being responsible and working hard not enough?

I was blessed with the opportunity to live out another dream of mine, but for some reason, I felt guilty and found doubt in the struggles instead of embracing the journey.

Not this year. In 2017, I have been given a second chance. A second chance to travel. A second chance to soak up every minute and I’m all in.

What is your New Year’s resolution? Comment below. I’d love to hear from you.

A look back at 2016

Without question, 2016 been the craziest year ever.

This year has been more challenging and rewarding than we could have ever imagined.

Since May 23, we have:

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Along the way, we’ve enjoyed food trucks, beverages, sights and music in countless cities and towns, taken thousands of photos, reconnected with a handful of friends and family and slept in more Walmart parking lots than we care to count.

And we’re just getting started.

This week, we’re back in Colorado (again, we just can’t seem to stay away) preparing for a snowshoe trip in the mountains to ring in the new year. And after that we’re heading south for the winter.

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We have no idea what 2017 will hold but if it’s anything like this year it’s going to be one crazy adventure after another.

Thanks to everyone who’s been supporting our journey so far. We love sharing it with you.

How are you celebrating the new year? We love hearing from you. 

 

Keep Austin weird

For me, travel is all about finding local flavor and Austin has no shortage of that.

After a few days exploring Austin, I’m starting to understand the “keep Austin weird” slogan that’s plastered all over local businesses, downtown murals and social media. Austin is weird. And I like it.

We gawked over Christmas lights; drooled over food trucks; hiked; laughed ourselves silly playing retro video games in a bar made from shipping containers; scoured independent bookstores, listened to live music at historic venues; discovered curious antiques at vintage shops across the city; and had a throwback roller skate date night.

I’m not convinced my words would do this city justice so here are some images of the local, Austin flavor I loved so much. Enjoy.

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Food trucks, breweries and music are our go-to in a new place. Where do you find local flavor in a new city? 

Finding myself in Texas

I’m finally starting to feel like I’m achieving some of the travel goals I had for our yearlong adventure. I’ve been able to find some work on the road, discovered several unexpected roadside gems and have started enjoying the little things like quirky shops and Christmas decorations. Texas has been good to me in that way.

It took a while to get settled into traveling full time. Then we had a few minor setbacks that held us up a bit. But six months into our trip and I think we’re getting the hang of it. It’s nice to take a breath and see new things and meet new people and focus on enjoying life instead of stressing about the day to day. My stress hasn’t gone away completely but I feel like it’s decreased greatly, especially in the past few weeks and Texas is at least partially responsible for that change.

After a week in wine country we headed to Houston for a visit with some friends. We had the best pork chop of our lives from Perry’s Steakhouse, some five-star homemade libations courtesy Noah and got wild and crazy with a puzzle.

Visiting friends and family on the road has been one of the highlights of the trip so far.

While in Houston, we discovered the ugly Christmas sweater headquarters on 19th Street, spotted a few murals and found some gorgeous holiday decorations at the Galleria.

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I had forgotten how much fun traveling can be.

On our way from Houston to Austin we spent a bit of time in the middle of nowhere. Grassy fields and the occasional home filled our view for about an hour until we decided on an impromptu stop in La Grange. Not only is Old World Antieks my absolute favorite antique store of all time, but they had my dream tiny home.

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What an awesome find. I love the surprises like this on the road.

What’s your favorite road trip surprise? Comment below. I love hearing from you guys! 

Rest in Texas Hill Country

We had big plans for Texas Hill Country including wine, hiking and exploring, but six days into our adventure I’m relishing in the rest.

For the first time since our trip began, we spent an entire day cooped up in our hotel room watching Netflix and lounging. I wanted to be annoyed at myself for wasting the day being lazy when my time in Fredericksburg is limited, but I couldn’t. All I felt was relaxation. The rain might have been our excuse, but I think we really just needed a day off and it was lovely.

Despite cold, rainy weather, we spent only one day hunkered down in our hotel.

We’ve been exploring area wineries throughout the week drinking wine, making friends and ogling hilltop views of the vineyards.  So far, Innwood Estates has my favorites wines, Sister Creek‘s historic mill has been my favorite tasting room, Pedernales had the prettiest property and Lost Draw Cellars had the friendliest staff.

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A short detour to Luckenbach provided some fantastic music, authentic folks and rustic scenery.

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What a cool town. I understand why Waylon and Willie sing about this place.

Downtown Fredericksburg has also exceeded our expectations. Several blocks of cute, local shops and restaurants are dripping with Christmas decorations, which always provides an unfair advantage in my book.

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The rain finally subsided today and we headed to Enchanted Rock where we hiked to the top of the summit at the dome rock (1,800 feet elevation) for a panoramic view and wind gustier than Colorado’s 14,000-foot mountain peaks. We hiked about three miles from the summit around the west side of the state park and back to the trailhead.

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It was a little chillier than expected but it felt great to get outside and soak up some fresh air after nearly a week of rain. Plus, we had the best Mexican food of our trip so far at a dive-y local joint on our way back to town.

OK, so maybe I’m not that great at resting but I had fun and that’s what counts.

Overall, Fredericksburg has been a big success and a great place to celebrate our 10th anniversary. We’ll be back.

Now, on to Houston to visit some friends before heading to Austin. Thanks to everyone who has sent recommendations our way so far.

In the spirit of the Lone Star state, which is your favorite Texas town and why?

Onward and southbound

There are few things as refreshing as a week filled with family and friends and holiday fun.

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I’m feeling recharged and excited about our next adventure as we head southbound today for a few weeks in Texas hill country.

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Wine, live music, good food and relaxation are at the top of our list. And since we’re coming back to Oklahoma for Christmas and our 10th anniversary is Friday (holy cow!), we decided to splurge a little. We ditched the camper for a few weeks to stay at an inn in Fredericksburg and an AirBnB in Austin.

We’re already off to a good start with some beautiful fall weather and a detour at Turner Falls in Oklahoma on our way to the Texas border. The 77-foot falls is lighter this time of year allowing a better view of the colorful orange and peach rock that supports the multiple streams that plunge into an emerald pool below.

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And there’s a castle, right there in the middle of Davis, Oklahoma. It’s a funky, dilapidated stone complex with beautiful staircases and medieval architecture. Plus, it’s currently surrounded by the remnants of spectacular fall foliage. We’re already planning a trip back with the RV so we can spend a few days hiking.

 

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Oklahoma may not have the Rocky Mountains that I love so much but there are some incredible spots in this state and I don’t spend enough time in them when I’m home.

Over the weekend, I squeezed in two portrait sessions for some old friends in downtown Guthrie. What a cool town. This is exactly the kind of town James and I love to explore – historic buildings, amazing architecture, cute shops and local food — but because we’re always so busy when we come home we rarely get to enjoy Oklahoma. That’s going to change.

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As we head to Texas today, I’m looking forward to a break from tiny home living for a few weeks, some warmer temperatures and an anniversary celebration.

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The holiday season is always my favorite time of year and it seems this year won’t be any different.

Any recommendations you want to share for Texas hill country? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

Right at home

We have spent the last two weeks in Golden, CO while I have been helping a friend on a small project.

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It has been nice to “get my hands dirty” so to speak and get back to some of the basics of being a landman in the oil and gas industry. Often you can begin to fill like a glorified paper pusher. But getting back to running title and leasing has been refreshing.

More importantly, it has been nice to be back in Golden. Besides Buena Vista, this is the first town that we fell in love with and that felt like home, besides home.

This is the town where we originally went from being two to being one. When you leave your family and friends and move to a new place far away you have no choice but to learn to lean and rely on one another.

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This is the town where we know our favorite pizza place, local pub and the owners of the candy shop on main street. This is the town that has a Santa parade every weekend in December and goes all out for Christmas. This is the town that puts us close to the friends we have made, the ski resorts and the bustling downtown.

Traveling has been the experience of a lifetime and one I wouldn’t trade for anything. The ups and downs. The way it can challenge you to grow and expand your worldview. The way it can reinforce things you believe or create new insights you never had.

But this is the town that is comfortable. And there is something very comforting in the comfortable.

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Thankful

It’s a little cliche, but like most people this week, I’m counting my blessings.

We’re home for Thanksgiving embarking on the usual mad dash to squeeze in as many visits with friends and family as possible and I can’t stop thinking about how thankful I am.

I’m thankful for family and the flexibility to come home for one of my favorite holidays.

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I’m thankful for friends who have supported and encouraged us and our crazy adventure.

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I’m thankful for James who has put up with me for almost a decade now, including six months in a tiny home. I’m thankful we have the freedom to spend our 10th anniversary celebrating anywhere we want.

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I’m thankful for this insane, unexpected, once-in-a-lifetime adventure we’ve been on for the last 6 months.

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I’m thankful that we get to keep traveling. Thanks to some recent work that’s come my way and James’ ability to work remotely, we are able to travel through most of 2017 tacking on about 6 months to our original goal of traveling for a year.Our first state line.

And last but not least, I’m thankful for you. Thanks so much for stopping by and reading about our journey. We love sharing it with you.

What are you thankful for this holiday season? Leave a comment below. I love hearing from you guys. 

I miss Christmas

Before leaving on our adventure, we sold a ton of stuff. So much stuff. Why did we have that much stuff?

We held a garage sale, sold items on Craigslist and Facebook groups and then donated the rest of our unwanted goods to Goodwill.

I was surprised at how easy it was to give up my things. Living with less is freeing and I rarely miss stuff, but right now I miss Christmas.

We used to have boxes and tubs and totes and bags full of Christmas decorations that covered our house inside and out. James used to say it looked like Santa threw up and that’s exactly how I like it.

Next week is when I would normally start covering the house in lights and decor. But I have only a small box of mostly ornaments remaining and no tree, lights or decorations small enough to fit in our tiny home.

It’s a week before Thanksgiving and I haven’t watched a single Christmas movie yet because they’re all packed away.

OK, now that I’ve calmed myself down a little: It was totally worth sacrificing all of my stuff, including Christmas decorations, for the adventure of a lifetime.

I’m sure I’ll have some Christmas-related items in our camper soon, but for now I’m counting down the days until fried turkey and Black Friday (which provides some of the best family time and biggest laughs of my whole year).

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Regulators! minus one of our OGs, Tommy, who is taking this gem.

What’s your favorite holiday tradition? I’d love to hear from you in the comments below.

 

Chillin’ out maxin’ relaxin’ all cool

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We recently had the opportunity to spend a relaxing time in our favorite area of Colorado…Buena Vista and Salida.

It was the first time we have pulled into a campground to set up and not spent the next several days or weeks working on issues with a camper. It was the first time we have boondocked and enjoyed the luxury of having electricity, water and a comfy bed. It was the first time that we have pulled into a place and I haven’t thought to myself “how are we going to make it a year living like this?”

As you may be aware by now, we have a new home and the comforts it has provided cannot be expressed enough.

It was spectacular to enjoy a nice week in comfort, which allowed us to explore the area visiting some of our old stomping grounds and discovering some new gems.

We enjoyed a round of golf in Buena Vista, walked the river in downtown Salida and even found a free off-the-path spot to camp.

This round of our trip has reinvigorated my excitement for this year and all the things that we are going to see and explore.

Traveling doesn’t have to be hard all the time.

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