The Year That Was.

If you ask anyone, last year, by and large, was a write off. It was one of the toughest years for everyone I’ve spoken to. We are no different.

It was filled with trials and tribulations, ups and downs. Friendships were ended and people moved on. We moved on. Literally. We moved from an apartment to a house (#robodog has a yard!) in a completely new neighbourhood. We’ve benefited greatly from this change. Our mental health & general wellbeing have improved tenfold and we are more at peace than ever before. You don’t know how toxic certain people are until they are no longer in your life. The neighbourhood we live in is ridiculously clean and crazy quiet, and Jacke is in love with how many new squirrel friends he has now.

Absolutely every travel goal we had for 2016 did not come to fruition. We aim to remedy this by taking more time for ourselves, both as individuals and as a couple. (A couple of what, I don’t know.)

While I could sit here and point my finger at a singular catalyst that turned our year upside down, I’m not one to dwell on the past and I definitely don’t let it dictate my future. I’m grateful for the healthy changes we’ve made and I look forward to moving on.

We hadn’t planned on dropping off the face of the earth but we’re definitely back, up and running.

– Jade

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New Year, New You.

Ten days into the new year and the cogs are already turning, getting the creative juices flowing and aligned with our renewed focus on all things travel.

For the majority of the past year you’ve seen a significant decline in our online prescence. Do not adjust your screens… this was intentional. We took a step back from writing and traveling and turned our energy toward ourselves, our friends and family.

We envision new adventures and challenges for 2016.

Some of these include:

  • Wyoming – Spending more time poking around.
  • Montana – Exploring the terrain in great detail.
  • Utah – We missed our favourite state in 2015.
  • California – We’re looking at seeing more remote locations.
  • Hawaii – This is a bucket list locale for us. Fingers crossed!

Some parks we’d really like to investigate:

  • Yosemite – Because.
  • Yellowstone – Bison, baby! (Ole Faithful too.)
  • Bryce Canyon – Slot canyons and all the reds!

Devon got herself a shiny new camera and I cannot wait for her to flex its muscles on some crazy, beautiful subject matter. It’s far too much camera for me and I’m not ashamed to admit that. She says my photography has vastly improved but I’m sticking with my trusty lil EOSm. I’m giving myself the challenge of understanding all of my settings and how to use them properly. Small victories in my near future!

image

We already have a fun trip in the planning stages for the end of February, beginning of March (for my birthday).

So, stayed tuned…

We’re baaaaaaaaaack!

– Jade

Posted in adventure, bison, Blog, buffalo, California, cameras, canon, desert, Happy, Hikes, life, living, Montana, outdoors, passion, road trip, Travel, Utah, vacation, Wyoming | 1 Comment

The seed was planted early on…

It’s back to school week!! I don’t even have children (thank god) and I am excited. A couple of my nieces are in kindergarten, one is in grade THREE and my nephew is in pre-school… where did the time go?

IMG_7017I’ve said many times I grew up a little differently than most kids. My parents divorced (for the better, they are now good friends) when I was about 5 and I moved with my mom to this tiny town and eventually moved to an even tinier place called Keats Island. I would take a small boat over to town to attend school, day in and day out. It made for random stories that I look back on fondly. I could even say I miss island life. Being from a coastal city, I remember our gym classes weren’t the “norm”… we would actually have to go outside and RUN 2km each class. We had this forest that wrapped around our school and we would run daily. We would go on snowboarding trips, beach days and even big treks to the big city (Vancouver) for a day of rock climbing.

In about grade 5 or 6 (I can’t remember I had the same teacher both years) we would have Greenpeace come in and talk to our class about the importance of the environment and my teacher would explain to us the meaning of respecting nature and all living things. Ms. Russell was her name. She knew I lived on an island and, more often than not, I would have some weird story about the commute to school. She would do roll call and right before we started class she would ask me about my ride in. Some days there was nothing to report, others, like in the fall or spring, I would tell the class stories of riding the tiny little 20 passenger ferry when pods of orcas would come right up to the windows and peer in the boat. I would talk about the dolphins that played in the wake or that one time the ferry caught on fire (under my mom’s and my seat) or when the ferry hit a “dead head” log sticking out of the water and I went flying the length of the boat, thinking I broke my wrist… see? Different/weird upbringing. I wouldn’t have changed it for the world now that I look back on it.

Trust your JourneyShe would be teaching us geography in class and asking us the capitals of countries and I would jump out of my seat to answer, eagerly waving my arm in the air. Normally I was a pretty quiet kid, but my obsession with traveling started in that class, in Ms. Russell’s class! I would dream of these far away places in other countries; the languages they would speak, the food I could try. I felt, even in Grade 5/6, I needed to see the world. I have only had ONE dream in my life that I hope to accomplish before my time is up and that is to travel to Nepal and set my eyes on Mt. Everest. I didn’t say climb it… I would like to just see it. 🙂

Ms. Russell took us on our first ever climbing experience to Cliffhanger Climbing in Vancouver. (I can’t believe I remember this far back!) I remember my instructor, a shorter girl with spiky hair who many, many years later both her and I learned we knew each other way back when. We became friends and played in a band together and toured North America. (Small world, eh?) Ms. Russell taught me to reach for the stars, to go forth and see the world and experience new things. The best education was to see the world and experience everything it could offer.

She told us of this place she used to kayak on vacation, it was called the “Bay of Fundy” in Nova Scotia. I’ve never been but you bet your ass that place has been on my list of places to see since I was 10 years old.

lookout at Canyonlands National Park

Lookout at Canyonlands National Park.

Ms. Russell, thank you for inspiring me to see and feel the world, to experience it on my own and with others. The best education you can give yourself is to immerse yourself in what you are truly passionate about. I am passionate about travel (we already knew this). I now get to travel the world, taking photos and collecting tattoos along the way!

I’m considering writing that book you always told me I should write. I hope you are well. 🙂

– Devon.

Posted in adventure, Blog, cameras, canon, change, changing, Control, desert, passion, teacher | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

*GET LOST.

Bold statement, right?

You might say this to the super annoying guy at your local coffee shop who keeps asking you for a date. Can’t he see you’re just there for the java? Buzz off, bud! Don’t you know I’m a zombie without my cuppa joe?!? Perhaps you’d yell this out the window at the impatient driver who cut you off three times in one block. Seriously?!? Are you kidding me right now? I’ll see you at the next red, pal! Piss off!!

I can tell you that I’m a little more compassionate than that. I’d probably politely turn down the guy at the coffee shop and maybe even buy his drink and I’d most certainly let that driver be. They might be having the worst day of their life. I mean ‘get lost’ in a different way.

Every time I step outside my apartment or get in the car with no set destination or time frame to be somewhere, it is my intention to go out and get lost.

This is not as easy as it might sound. I have an innate ability to either know which direction I’m going or find my way without much struggle.

The same cannot be said for Devon. She is the first person to concede that she has a horrible sense of direction and she cannot read a map. There have been a handful of disagreements over which street to turn on or whether we were going in the right direction. These are the rare times that I am not only right, but Devon admits it.

What Devon lacks in a natural compass she makes up for in her ability to get completely lost. When this happens, she always exclaims “it’s an adventure!” and nine times out of ten, it is!

Shiprock, a monadnock jutting out from the desert floor.  (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

Shiprock, a monadnock jutting out from the desert floor. (photo courtesy of Wikipedia)

There was that time our “Canadian” showed and we picked up a stranded elder Navajo lady who was waiting for her son to pick her up at church. What was explained to us as “a little bit down the road” turned out to be a four hour drive into another state (AZ) in the opposite direction of our destination, deep into Navajo country. If we hadn’t dropped Jessie off near her home, we would have never heard her stories about Shiprock (NM) and its importance to the local Navajo people. Not only does the rock formation stand guard over the town but it also takes a decent selfie.

Anthony Lake, beautifully serene.

Anthony Lake, beautifully serene.

The same can be said for our unscheduled detour to Anthony Lakes Park (OR). Not only did we pull over and hang out with cows on the way up to the park but once there, we were blown away by the beauty and serenity of the lake we camped at. We’ve driven past this detour several times over the years, never knowing what we were missing. We shared many moments of perfect stillness coupled with wonderfully deafening silence sitting lakeside. If I’m being totally honest, it felt like I had walked into a postcard. The scene before us looked far too picturesque to be real.

How they "roll" down in Cannon Beach.

How they “roll” down in Cannon Beach.

Then there was the time we drove down the Oregon coast, letting our car pick our destinations. This led us up the side of a mountain which felt like we were off-roading. This old logging road literally went nowhere but the ride up and down was pretty fun. We also ended up at Long Beach which had some very smooth white sand. We ended up in Florence on one of the whitest beaches I’ve ever seen during a dune buggy race. As we walked through the sand to the shoreline, dune buggies and ATVs zipped by all around us. Had we been better prepared, we would have rented one and bombed around with the rest of the overgrown kids.

I’m not a jealous person at all but Devon’s ability to randomly find adventure and awesome at every “wrong” turn has me a little green with envy.

Sometimes the best laid plan is to rip up the blueprint and go in the opposite direction. Sometimes the stress of a timetable zaps the fun and random out of your trip altogether. When was the last time you ended up somewhere unintentionally? On your next road trip, vacation or holiday, do yourself a kindness and plan absolutely nothing. Throw caution to the wind, think outside the box and let the open road lead you to anywhere you’ve never been before. You’ll be a better person for it and you’ll thank me later.

I wish I could get lost. I can’t even do that in my hometown. I always find my way to somewhere I’ve been before and, eventually, back home.

What’s the worst that could happen? Give it a try. The next time you step outside your front door, go ahead… *GET LOST.

– Jade

* in a good way. 🙂

Posted in adventure, Happy, Hikes, Lake, life, living, mother nature, Najavo, New Mexico, oregon, outdoors, Random, road trip, Travel, vacation | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Why I Vacation.

Vacation is today’s big bad wolf.

That’s right. Millions of people are frightened of taking time off from work. Why? They dread the pile of work awaiting them when they return and no one else can do what they do at the office. This is, essentially, a ‘martyr’ complex, believing that they’re the only ones who can do their jobs.

This is my definition of insanity. There is a certain amount of ego in this thought process. The world does not stop revolving because you’re not at work. Yes, someone else does know how to do your job. That’s called cross-training. Of course they don’t do it “your way” but the job still gets done.

There are many companies with a “use it or lose it” policy in place when it comes to vacation time. Many would prefer you to take time off while others buckle when pushed to pay out that time. Your employers want you to take some personal time. It’s healthy.

Benefits of vacation:
– Better physical health
– More productivity
– Closer family relationships
– Newer perspectives
– Increased mental power
– Lower chance of burn out
– Improved mental health

Now that you know the science behind it, here’s my reasoning. Up until eight years ago I had never taken a vacation. I had also become stagnant. I gained weight, became complacent and was no longer satisfied by activities I once enjoyed. I had all the signs of depression and burn out. It was for these reasons that I finally took my first vacation. I was already in my thirties. I have only one regret… I wish I had taken a vacation sooner. It would have spared me a lot of mental anguish.

After the constant communication, collaboration & negotiation, finally the timing was perfect. Schedules were cleared and the stars aligned. That first vacation was the breath of fresh air my soul so desperately needed.

I’m not one for the details and I certainly don’t need to know everything. The planning part I can completely do without. But everything else is pure joy. Whether you’re flying or road tripping, the process gets smoother each time. We’re like a well oiled machine now. I enjoy watching the scenery change as we make our way to our destination.

Everything is fresh and new when you’re on vacation. Even the people are nicer. It just occurred to me that they’re nicer because maybe they’re on vacation too. The process of de stressing and recharging your battery is as simple as showing up. Maybe all you need is a good hike in a national park. Perhaps a massage is in order. Lounging poolside is the key for some individuals. Some people find searching for knick knacks in gift shops a thrill. I honestly don’t care what it is that you do, just so long as you do it.

In fact, you don’t even have to go anywhere to enjoy a vacation. I’m a big fan of the “Staycation”. It does the soul wonders to turn off all of your electronics, unplug and relax in the comfort of “Porta My Yarda”. It can be as easy as not having to answer to the alarm clock in the morning and waking up on your own, naturally. Sometimes, that’s all it takes to feel re-energized.

I don’t know why North Americans find excuses for why they shouldn’t go on vacation or why they don’t deserve one. The daily grind can really chew you up. Some european countries have a mandatory thirty days off. You’re not allowed to work for thirty consecutive days. We could learn a lot from their laid back lifestyle.

Why do we, as a society, feel the need to punish ourselves for all our hard work? Shouldn’t we reward ourselves with time off? Why do some of us feel undeserving while others overindulge?

I vacation because I owe it to myself to live a happy, stress free life. I owe it to myself to get out there and see new things. I like the adventure. Each trip is filled with spontaneity. We’re not meant to stay in one place. We’re drawn to new surroundings. I can’t imagine living my life any other way.

Life is meant to be experienced.

– Jade

Posted in adventure, Blog, desert, Happy, life, living, road trip, roadtrip, Travel, vacation | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Old Idaho State Pen.

On our last road trip in the first week of September, Devon & I decided to do something we’ve never done before… we stayed in hotels the whole trip… sort of our own version of “glamping’. With four hotels booked for our annual trek down to Moab UT, we now had a time line & goals for each leg of our journey. No pressure at all for us since Devon is a champ behind the wheel & we always make good time. I shouldn’t be surprised but seeing her drive for ten hours straight is still impressive.

These stops, chosen randomly, allowed us to see & visit new places. One such place is the Old Idaho State Penitentiary, said to be the most haunted place in all of U.S. The prison, decommissioned in 1973, has been featured on several occult & afterlife programs. This was on our list of places to visit and it’s been on Devon’s radar for at least a year.

Driving down Old Penitentiary Road the area surrounding the prison is Mayberry-esk. It’s shocking to see how close to civilians the prison actually is. We were expecting it to be way out in some field surrounded by nothing. The manicured acreage & well maintained foliage belies the horrors behind the 17 foot walls. There’s a spooky feeling just pulling up to a parking stall. After asking a nice lady in a kiosk about the entrance, she points us in the opposite direction & we walk our way up the end of the road to the front doors. The hand carved stone gutters and sidewalks are a physical reminder of the hard labour the convicts were subjected to. Their punishment left behind a rugged beauty for visitors to enjoy today. Stepping up to & passing through the main entrance, you are greeted by two employees who welcome you to the prison. After visiting a small room on the left with well laid out poster boards & stories about well and lesser known prisoners, you enter the prison theatre where they’re viewing a short movie about the origins of the pen. Stepping back into the room & once again out into the main building you’re then given a map & are left to begin the self guided walking tour.

Devon in cell house 2.

Devon in cell house 2.

This is arguably the coolest & creepiest tour we’ve ever taken. Walking down a long pathway through a tidy green space we enter the first building on our right, cell house 2. Build in 1899, this housed cons in two-man cells. Each containing a “honey bucket” as a toilet. Upon our first look inside we can see that this was run down with obvious signs of a fire. The inmates rioted over living conditions & burned down several buildings in 1973. This was one of the few you were able to enter. The other side of the building was still condemned & boarded up. Devon stepped into the first cell & immediately felt an overwhelming sense of foreboding apprehension. When I stepped inside the cell, I was struck by a sense of unbearable sadness. There was definitely a chill in the air. We walked to the far side of the building & took some pictures of the burnt out upper tier then we made our way back outside & on to the next building.

Devon's prison shower.

Devon’s prison shower.

This was possibly the eeriest building we entered. The only maximum security building on site, this was a place of great sorrow & a permanent place of solitary confinement. There was nothing out of the ordinary on the first level of the building. Considered to be one of the more modern buildings, it had running water. There was a shower built into one of the walls where prisoners were forced to shower out in the open, in full view of other convicts. It was only when we made our way upstairs that Devon & I both felt an incredible sense of intense creepiness. The hair on the back of our necks stood straight up. We both felt a temperature change when we ascended the stairs to the upper tier. To the left was the dreaded death row. Only seven cells, each one outfitted with the sole occupant’s worldly possessions: a pack of cigarettes, some chewing gum, a deck of playing cards, a small radio & a tv. This was all these poor individuals had. The stark contrast between their meager belongings & our seemingly opulent lives arrives like a hard smack to the face. Left of death row was the gallows, every bit as creepy as it sounds. Below that, the drop room. Although this building wasn’t in use very long & closed promptly after it’s first & only casualty of capital punishment met his end, a heavy sense of unending dread clung to the air as though it had stood the test of time ad infinitum.

Death row cell.

Death row cell.

Old Idaho State Penitentiary was in operation for 101 years and is home to more stories with sad endings than you or I could imagine. More lives ended in the famed rose garden (six in all) than in the gallows (just one). Building number one housed the two cruelest spaces on the pens soil, the Cooler & Siberia. These were solitary confinement. The cooler, meant for singular occupancy, had cells which held 4-6 men. Siberia, built in 1926 on the other end of the building, housed twelve 3′ x 8′ cells with one inmate per cell. I stepped inside one of these cells; cramped, damp, with crude drawings etched into the walls & no windows to speak of. These cells were so small I could touch both walls with my arms outstretched. They were pitch black when the doors were closed & offered no comfort. Siberia was the last place you wanted to do your time. An untimely death would have been met with open arms rather than time there. Although the penitentiary had walls just 17 feet high, very few prisoners attempted escape. One inmate made it over the walls & down the length of Old Penitentiary Road where he managed to remove his leg iron. Upon removal of his shackles, he promptly sat down & awaited his capture & return to the pen. His leg iron is now on display in the museum at the prison.

Devon & I enjoyed our visit to the penitentiary. It was worth the trip there with plenty of stories & sorrows. I can understand why photographers go there as each building offers a different take on prison life. Some colourful, some bleak. If given the opportunity, I would definitely visit the place again. Some sites deserve more time & in a prison, all you have is time.

– Jade

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RV or Tiny House

To RV or to Tiny House.

That’s my question right now, Jade and I have had these dreams for 4 years to get an RV and travel. We’ve worked hard at eliminating our debt and saving our money, downsizing our belongings and getting things in order to hit the open road and be free.

A month ago I saw an article online about tiny houses built on trailers and you can tow them… WTH! Amazing right! I fell in love instantly, I could have all the comforts of a house and tow it behind me and travel. I started following a couple blogs about tiny houses and a few couples who travel the USA in them. It’s do-able. It makes sense.

Now I am at a cross road, RV or Tiny house. Each has its pros vs cons. I’ve made the list, it’s currently on my HUGE whiteboard beside my desk in the office. RV pro/con and Tiny house Pro/con, I add to it every day. I text myself things for the list when I get home.

My question to you is, have you experienced either? Do you live and travel in an RV or a tiny house?? I would LOVE to hear from you and hear your experiences. I would LOVE to ask a million stupid questions if you are open to it.

Please get in contact with me at:  frugaltrekker@gmail.com I want to hear from people out there living it, living the dream they have. 🙂

We are getting down to the wire on what we want and making the necessary purchases. It’s a VERY exciting time in our lives and I can’t wait. I’m not one to jump into a big life decision quickly, I pro and con the hell out of it.

-Devon.

Posted in adventure, advice, boondock, boondocking, Canada, debtfree, life, living, minimalist, Motorhome, road, roadtrip, RV, tiny, tiny house, trailer, Travel, USA, Vancouver | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment