Monthly Archives: December 2014

Why We Travel

We’ve always enjoyed travelling together. Whether to Sante Fe in the winter, Savannah in the spring, time living in Germany, racing in Oklahoma or New England or Scotland … travel has been something we’ve shared and been invigorated by.

But these adventures started at a distinct point in time … Paul and I decided to take a road trip in November of 2013. We have done other shorter adventures in the past, but this would be three weeks of traveling. We made up a loose plan to head down to New Orleans, make our way to Big Bend National Park in Texas and then wind our way back to PA. We filled our Honda Fit with all our gear, tents, running shoes, bikes etc.. and headed South. The trip went well and stirred up a desire in both of us to travel more. You can see the pictures from that trip.

Paul’s parents have been travelling around Europe for several years in a camper van, an idea which became more appealing to him as time went by. He turned 50 shortly after we arrived home and announced that he wanted to buy a Sprinter van and customize it for traveling. I thought he might be joking but he actually bought  a van via e-bay and that was that. I am glad he measured our driveway first because the van barely fits in it. The winter and spring of 2014, and later the early winter of 2014/2015 saw a huge amount of work to outfit the van with solar power, cabinets, bedding and more. You can follow that continuing story over on the build thread at Sprinter-Forum.

There is nothing better than exploring a new place to make you feel alive and present. It could be running the canyon trails in Texas, cycling in Colorado, wading across the Escalante River, camping under the stars, eating local flavors, swimming with the fishes, hiking the Wonderland trail. These are the memories I want to remain with me. I feel grateful for the possibility.

Van travel summer 2014


Paul and I took this photo in Mueller State Park, Colorado on our first stop to the West. It took 2 and 1/2 days of driving from Philadelphia to get there(sleeping at Flying J) but it was worth it! We did an initial trail run when we got there but we both could tell the altitude was getting to us. We stopped a lot and walked up hills. It was quite a change from Philadelphia. The next day I woke with a headache and slight bloody nose. Not the best sleep. Transitioning to higher altitude can take a bit.

The next day I rode my bike to Cripple Creek and found that a bit easier to breathe. The route I took was up, up, and more up. On the way back it started to rain and then lightening. I saw a few other cyclists who encouraged me to get down as fast as possible. I was cold and shivering when I returned to camp. Next time I will bring a long a jacket. I can see why cyclists love Colorado, just amazing.

I am now going to briefly summarize the rest of our trip:

Drive to Salida on the Arkansas River. I loved this artsy town full of bike shops, galleries and people canoing on the river. Stopped at Black Canyon of the Gunnison. Stay a night in Moab.0004400046Drive through Capital Reef National Park, visit Anasazi State Park. Set up camp at Calf Creek where we stayed a few days for some memorable hikes. Ride bike on Hwy 12 ( yee haa!).


Drive the loneliest Road Hwy-50 where I left my purse in a bar in Eureka. Visit Bend Oregon and find it a desirable place to live. Head to the coast and stay at Whalen Island County Park (expensive, no showers, but peaceful).


Cycle up the shore to Cape Mears. Drive to Tillamook and hit a cool farmer’s market.


Trail run at Ecola Bay State Park.


Camp at Willapa Bay (Bush Pioneer County Park, perfect quiet stop and warm showers, beach not so good). Stop at artsy coffee place in South Bend, catch ferry at Southworth/Vashon to Seattle.



Spend some time in Seattle preparing for the hiking trip. Parked the van on my sister Bridget’s dead end street. We felt completely comfortable retiring for the evening in the van. Paul also did some software work at this time. Hiked 10 glorious days on the Wonderland trail with Bridget and Brenda (this is a whole other story).


Leave Seattle (my purse was returned to me by mail, Yeah for nice people!), stop in Winthrop and day hike with Dennis and Brenda in Northern Cascades.

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Visit Zan Deery and her dog Itsy in Spokane.


Stop in Coeur d’Alene which we found interesting and full of art galleries. Definitely a tourist/vacation spot. Arrived in Missoula and explored a bit. Farmer’s market, local micro breweries, art museum, river, Roots festival. Took Josh to lunch. Too bad it was a rainy weekend.


Head to Billings then Hwy 212. Devil’s Tower, Black Hills of South Dakota, sleep at Roubaix Lake Forest Service Park.(quiet, dark, stars). Run the next day on the George S. Mickleson Trail. Visit Mt. Rushmore, Drive across S.Dakota.


Wake early and drive more. Stop at Four Daughter’s Winery in Minnesota (buy wine and cider). Head to Wisconsin on scenic roads along Mississippi River. Stay at Anne and Pat’s in Madison. Paul gets some work done and I play around with Milo and Inde my nephews. Birthday dinner with Mom, Dad, and Matt at Fox and Hounds. Dad makes me a delicious strawberry shortcake. Drive up to Michigan upper peninsula. Sleep at busy Indian Lake state park. Camp fire, soup, rain at night.


Next day run along the North Country Trail along Lake Superior. Rinse off in cold lake water. Rain, rain, and more rain. Stay at Chutes Park in Ontario (waterfall). Next stop Toronto. Glen Rouge Camp ground on edge of city. Check out town, distillery district. (Cluny- pricey but tasty) Run in the park in am. Head to Niagara Falls.


Take more scenic roads back to home.