vanlife

04: Week Two

(Spent two hours uploading the right photos for this post yesterday and then the site bugged out and I lost it all, so... there's that. Hit save all the time kids.)

This week we: 

Camped in a subdivision

Consumed an obscene amount of Philly cheese steak sandwiches

Finished with Ragbrai in a blaze of glory,

Drove to Chicago.

Swam in Lake Michigan at sunset (Montrose Beach)

Then said peace to our awesome friend Nikolai.

Moved in with our pal Gemma.

Watched a 12 hour play, depicting 32 Greek tragedies

Went to one of seven Baha'i temples on earth north of Chicago - a place for anyone to pray/reflect/renew

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Ate Chicago pizza at Lou Malnati's

Helped Gemma's roommate move out then cleaned their apartment

We used Tinder for the first time and saw the movie Almost Famous for free in millennium park 

Then...

We ended up working for Ben Eine from London on a huge mural

Luc painted with him for two days

I took photos of the process that might be used to promote his show coming up at Vertical Gallery

Luc got two free meals out of it, and we get to go to an art show Saturday

Plus be a part of a lasting mark on Chicago.


Then...

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We saw Gemma do a part reading on a rooftop...

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...got a few free sides at a teriyaki place called Glaze from a cool fellow (s/o Jeremy) who shared our hometown in the West -- he even lived on Alki at one time!

And walked for miles and miles and miles...


TRAVEL LESSONS

Along the way we're learning all manner of things about the power of curiosity. Plus developing a variety of skills that will come in handy for any forthcoming zombie apocalypses or family camping trips. 

  • Emotional management / maturity: We've all got needs, moods, wants, etc. On the road, we've got to respect and adjust to your own emotions, as well as those of your companions and hosts along the way.
  • Camping skills: cooking on camp stove or over fires, identifying essentials and packing.
  • Navigation skills: map reading and like. Some places don't have cell reception! (wha??!?!?) Ya, no joke. We try to use the map as much as possible for highways and such, reserving GPS for in the city. We're even using a compass out here.
  • How to make fast friends: We've both had a lot of practice with this from bar tending, barista-ing, and past travels, but this trip is a reminder of how important it is to be able to open up to people. 
  • Adapting to new environments: RAGBRAI was utter chaos and every day brought us to a new town or two where we had to find the campground, find each other, set up camp and get ourselves fed somehow. Now we're in Chicago and it's a different kind of adaptation -- but that training will prepare us for the rest of the journey. CHANGE IS THE ONLY CONSTANT!
  • Budgeting and money managing: this part is hard. We worked like crazy to save up for this trip, and naturally everything was more expensive than we hoped on the way out of town, but we're doing pretty good. We use an app called Splitwise, to split our expenses, as recommended by Nikolai, and it takes a lot of the money stress out. 
  • Patience. Always. I'm seeing more and more the way travel has changed me in this way. I used to complain a lot as a kid, and I'm proud to notice how much I've grown out of that. (Now it usually takes like 3-5 things going wrong at once to get to me hah.)

So I mean... It's not all fun games out here. Everyday we work to maintain our bodies, our mind states, our tools/gear, our van, our campsites, our host's apartments, our chance of making this trip last for a full 3 months...

But we also get to see the direct results of that daily work.

And shoot, fun and games is a state of mind. 

So, we're in Chicago for a couple few more days, then into the Adirondack mountains of NY before making our way to catch our friend Todd in Vermont, and then Mitch in Boston. 

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The adventure continues... JOIN IN ON INSTAGRAM @THEGOODSCENE

03: Week One "On The Road"

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To recap: last week we packed up our lives into a van and hit the road, leaving fair West Seattle and our possibly hottest local summer ever behind.

Before

Before

After

After

Sam and Landon!

Sam and Landon!

We were blessed to see so many of our loved ones before we left at the street fair and beyond.

At this point, we've driven over 2000 miles -- through Washington, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, and South Dakota -- and collectively biked a few hundred miles across Iowa.

Safe to say, our baby needs a wash. 

Here she is before all the dirt and bugs.

Here she is before all the dirt and bugs.

Huge thanks to the Maddy's (Luc's cousins/family) for letting us stay our first night on Flathead Lake.

First spill.

First spill.

Ooh ya, that's a nice pack...

Ooh ya, that's a nice pack...

Our mirror.

Our mirror.

We out here.

We out here.

Currently sitting at the halfway point and reflecting via this here triplog blog.

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On the way over we tried out a couple of KOA campgrounds - Kampsites of America. It's like an RV resort, complete with wi-fi, swimming pools, and regular camp sites. Not the camping we grew up with necessarily, but pretty nice stay for $30-40 bucks a night.

We stayed in Yellowstone valley (though we didn't make it to Yellowstone National Park proper, this time.)

Had to get some monuments and national parks in along the way.

Sad to say, we rushed 'em -- had to get to Iowa.

Rushmore

Rushmore

s/o to the roadtrip art box

s/o to the roadtrip art box

Badlands

Badlands

The night time lighting ceremony at Mt. Rushmore made for a curious mix of monumentous-ness, tourists, and what may be considered near-radioactive levels of patriotism.

We love this country (godblesstheusa), but the Discovery channel video presentation may have been a little too much.

Maybe let the ol' faces speak for themselves?



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Buffalo, Wyoming brought us great barbecue and an incredibly authentic wild west experience at the Century Club - where the PBR's sell for 1.50 on draft, ($1 on happy hour.)

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Eventually, we made it to Iowa. The land of milk and honey. (Or cornfields and parallel highways.)

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RAGBRAI or Registers Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa is just ridiculous.

We started getting the hang of it by Day 2-3 -- but pretty much, 10,000 plus cyclists roll into a town and set up tents and RVs everywhere. We're talking high schools, lakeside city parks, people's front lawns... The RAGBRAI-ers descend on each town, take over for 6-18 hours then it's on to the next.

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There's approximately no service in most of Iowa (and basically no T-Mobile service at all in Montana, or Wyoming, or South Dakota.) So, we generally have to get lucky to find each other in towns when we try to link up. It's stressful at times. But probably good for ya.

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Shout out to our main man Nikolai here (follow his Instagram for another hilarious angle on the trip so far,  @zagrobot ) - he's our cycling coach, NUUN dealer (electrolyte water tablet), and chief accent officer. An awesome companion on the journey!

Shout out to our main man Nikolai here (follow his Instagram for another hilarious angle on the trip so far, @zagrobot) - he's our cycling coach, NUUN dealer (electrolyte water tablet), and chief accent officer. An awesome companion on the journey!

At night, there are food tents, crowds and concerts/events going on -- we've seen some rad/hilarious cover bands the past two nights in middle America.

It's such an interesting segment of the population out here, middle America -- we've met some real characters here in Iowa.

To quote Luc's first facebook status in a few years:

"Seeing America like never before....this country is diverse. How the states are still all united I do not know."

But she sure is beautiful.

Iowa experiences:

  • We beat some self proclaimed "rednecks" in a round of beer pong for free drinks (to be fair, it was hardly a fair fight -- they were legitimately "NASCAR drunk", astounded that we didn't have "dirt trackin'" in Seattle, and especially perturbed by the color of my shorts -- "THEM ARE MAROON SHORTS!!");
  • We came to a regular 'merican epiphany to the tune of "Party in the USA" and danced like utter mad men at a small bar's large dance party. What can you say, but #jelloshots;
  • We drank beers and camped on the lawn of multiple Iowa public high schools;
  • We camped out over-looking an epic corn field, under a giant, 200 foot wind turbine;
  • We've been treated with great kindness all over (even by the police who pulled us over at 1AM after we ran into a corn field on the walk back to camp one night);
  • We've started to understand the RAGBRAI.

"What I mean," said Ford, "is does it give you a full and satisfying life?"

- Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy

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It's been some full days and nights out here.

But the cover bands are clownin', the corn's a-growin' and the light beer's a-flowin'.

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Night seven sleeping in this blue tent -- our shelter from the dew, the midwest lightning bugs, and the rest of RAGBRAI -- and she's goin' strong.

#homeiswherethevanis


Oh, there's also this:

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Bringing us to today: these two goons ride another 65 miles.

Meanwhile, I will sit here and blog, then happily drive the support vehicle through a few more cornfields.

>>Chicago on Saturday.

Shout out to Sidecar Cafe and Beth for the interwebs and delicious coffee.

Until the next legitimately wi-fi enabled location...

#wanderon