Happy You Year.

Well, we did it. We managed to completely fall flat on our faces with regard to writing, blogging and posting anything for one calendar year. That’s a super shitty new personal best.

I’m not one to walk away from projects… or anything for that matter. I’d like to tell you that after an exceptionally challenging 2016, 2017 was stellar in comparison. I’d like to tell you that… but I can’t. That’s not to say everything went to pot, far from it. Like all things, everything did not go according to plan.

We made massive changes near the end of 2016 which changed the trajectory of 2017 as a whole. We swept away a lot of dirt and not under the carpet, mind you, more akin to an archaeological dig. If 2016 was the year of change, then 2017 was the year of sweeping changes. We used the widest brush with which to paint the broadest of strokes. The white board was not only erased, it was then disassembled and repurposed altogether.

If you’re just joining us, a little background information to bring you up to speed. We moved from an apartment building (which was a pretty sweet setup with a sweet deal) to a hundred year old house (which was another hook up). Robodog finally had his first yard, albeit a modestly sized one. Devon finally had front, side & back yard space for planter boxes to grow everything and anything under the sun… and grow she did! They say that your first year in immature soil is your hardest as it gives you your weakest yield and your shortest season. Even though she was frustrated with the quality of dirt and quantity of crops, I was blown away with what she was able to grow. I have never had a garden so I looked strongly to her for guidance. I ended up pulling up root balls while weeding so I was quickly demoted to just watering (which was closely monitored as well). It’s safe to say I have nary a green thumb to be found. I did find the clearing, demo and building of higher planter boxes fun. We even managed to create a berry patch for Jacke, complete with strawberries too. If I never see another knotweed or morning glory again, I’ll be a happy clam. We also found living in an older character home not without its own set of challenges. We were able to do our own repairs, but the upkeep for a house that was aging faster than the maintenance could handle became insurmountable. The neighbourhood was charming. A complete 180 from our last one… people actually looked you in the eye and said good morning! Come to think of it, I never did see any garbage laying around. Jack & I only ran into one skunk and one raccoon in an entire year. And let’s not forget our ridiculously sweet neighbour, who made us feel like family from the get-go. Alas, all good things must come to and end and we found ourselves closing that chapter almost one year to the day. Some places/situations run its course, then it’s time to shuffle off.

Which brings us here. We humans must continue to grow, mature and evolve or we’ll plateau and burn out. It’s astounding to think of the number of people who do not recognize this in themselves and stay stagnant. We were not designed to stay stationary. Sure, certain things stay fixed but we are in constant need of movement, personal growth.

One major, now semi-permanent change is we no longer over-extend ourselves helping others. Yes, it’s rewarding… in a very selfish way. We do this to make ourselves feel better, better about our lives, our jobs, our “insert something needing improvement here”. But… what if we just did the things that make us feel better for ourselves? It’s good to be selfish. We have zero issues with being self sufficient… but self love, self care, self maintenance? Societal taboo.

None of this “New Year, New You” BS. No… This will be our You Year. The year we take care of ourselves… and each other. We’ve made it a priority to put our own needs in front of others. Will we still be helpful? Still donate time and money? Still volunteer? Undoubtedly. But we won’t suffer personal set backs so those around us can move forward.

Our ultimate goal has always been to travel full-time with our fur family in a big rolling turd, with the end result of buying a farm for all of our creatures to live out their golden years in complete bliss.

Life isn’t linear. So… why should our story be any different?

Some chapters are roughly outlined, shelved for a time, to be reviewed at a later date.

Let me be clear, our story isn’t spectacular or remarkable by any means… and our vision remains focused.

Sometimes mixing the order of these chapters improves the story, ten-fold. Like all great chefs will tell you, some recipes can’t be put down on paper.

So when Devon sent me an ad about a property listing in the valley with a note to “just message them, for shits and giggles”, there was no way we could know that this would start a ball rolling down a different hill in another direction. Generally, these types of things don’t go in our favour, but, we’ve also had buckets of luck tossed in our vicinity a handful of times in the past few years. A divine bone being thrown at us dogs, if you will.

The application for the listing seemed jokingly easy… and when we were told that the last people “didn’t pan out”… we thought aloud “did they fill this out in crayon??”

If you’re still following along then you know that we both have a huge affinity for all animals, big and small.

Who would have known that the key to approval would be a handful of pictures of horses?

Absolutely zero of our references were contacted. None. Nada. Zilch.

We used to worry about where to park our RV without getting dinged for huge parking bills in the city. Now, our biggest concern is what corner of our property will it look best on.

We still love traveling, road trips and vacations and that will be featured here as well. But there will also be sweeping changes on our blog as we start to share our new way of living.

Our life on a farm.

– Devon & 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

*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. 🙂

Salt Lake city and the mighty mighty Bison

The vegan buffalo sandwich!
The vegan buffalo sandwich!
Yes, I drove to Salt Lake city for a sandwich, don’t judge me. It wasn’t the only reason, I LOVE SLC. The town, the people, even the religion going on in the city. 🙂 I still didn’t really have a destination for my trip so I decided to spend a few days around the SLC area and go camping up at Antelope Island. It was so peaceful.

I got in around 2pm, got my sandwich(es) and made camp. I set off to explore the island some more and was met by these two very lovely students from BYU. We talked roadtrips. I told them the best places to see the bison on the island and soon we parted ways.

I took off to the other side of the island to catch the sunset. Having been to the island once before, I had a good idea where I was heading. I was told by the park ranger earlier that evening that only four other groups were camping on the island that night… that put the head count at about a dozen people on Antelope Island that night, CRAZY!

Wandering the streets of Antelope Island
Wandering the streets of Antelope Island

I must say watching the sunset from the roof of my car was a highlight of the trip. I pulled over to the side of the road, climbed up onto the roof of my Honda Fit and just laid there taking in everything around me. No phones, no cameras, no distractions.

Bison

Watching the sun setting off in the distance and as I lay there taking in the scene, three bison walked over to my car to sniff it. Remember, I am on the roof sans phone or camera, just watching the sunset. I’m laying flat on the roof of the car so as not to startle the bison, when all of a sudden the three of them move towards the trunk of my
car to give it a sniff (I’m sure they are smelling my dog). I flip over to my stomach ever so calmly so now I am laying the entire length of my car (on the roof). I could have reached out and touched the bison but no, instead I just laid there watching in awe as they sniffed around my car, grunted a few times then wandered off. My heart was RACING. A total Jurassic park moment for me… Cue the music 🙂

After the sun set over the hills, I hopped back into my car and took off for camp. When I ran into those same three bison again, I jumped out of the car and grabbed this photo of them, wished them a peaceful night and back to camp I went. I watched a movie in the car and fell asleep being sure to set my alarm for the sunrise that would be anything but lame. 🙂 Utah, you are one of my favourite states!! 🙂

Sunset on Antelope island
Sunset on Antelope island

– Devon

Bison, Bison, BISON!!!

Bison Traffic Jam

Leaving Crazy Horse we finally made our way to Wind Cave National Park where we would be camping out for the next 3 days. This place is easily up there on my top 5 places to visit. This was the only thing left on our list before we started the drive home. We decided to stay away from Custer State Park. Instead we drove along the outside of Custer Park into Wind Cave. The energy there… it’s something else. So calm, so peaceful. This was the perfect place to spend the next few days. We quickly raced to the visitor centre to ask a few questions before camping out. The rangers are SO nice at Wind Cave, answering all our stupid questions. The park is small and a small highway runs through the park. The park campground was near empty, only 3 other campers the first night. We quickly made a fire and settled in for the night knowing when we got up the next morning we would be seeing the famous bison 🙂 I was like a kid on Christmas, so excited I could barely sleep. Having the owls hoot me to sleep helped.

Bison

The next morning it was go time. I rushed J awake even before the sun fully rose, coffee and toast, check. Now, let’s go hiking. We drove down past the visitor centre not knowing where we would be going. We go up a hill, turn the corner, hang a right at the stop sign and BOOM there they are… The bison. Making their way across the green hills and up across the road to their daily mud baths, then into the Black Hills forest surrounding Wind Cave. Hundreds of them… everywhere!! It was like Antelope Island all over again. I was speechless and near tears. The bison just sauntered around like we weren’t even there, no other cars around us, just Jade and I along with HUNDREDS of these animals. They stopped in front of our car, two came right up to the window. I admit I panicked a bit and rolled up the window while J laughed at me. Once there was a break in the road we drove down a few miles until we accidentally left the park, turning around and re-entering the park we round the corner and BOOM again we are in grid lock with the bison. Can’t say either of us were upset by this. We pulled into a look out and turned off the car and just sat with them, for what seemed like an hour. Mothers and their babies walked past us. The leaders of the group, the big, huge males sniffed our car, they knew we were there to just sit with them, not causing any harm. We watched as they bellowed at other cars and jumped out of the way of some assholes who refused to slow down for them. We just sat with them and gave them our time, and respect.

Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park

I can easily spend all day talking about the bison we encountered on this trip. It was exactly what I needed for my soul. Sitting here, going through all the pictures, I feel a sense of calm wash over me, everything is going to be ok. Weird, those lyrics JUST played in my headphones. I guess it will be ok.

J and I went to Wind Cave just for the bison. We were greeted by more prairie dogs, deer, antelope, coyotes etc. all at once. We watched as a coyote stalked the prairie dogs, J telling me we need to let him know he will be eaten but no, this is nature doing it’s thing. The bison walked up and scared the coyote away all while ruining the prairie dog’s home by peeing in it and then rolling around. Prairie dogs have it rough guys. 🙂

View from Camp @ Wind Cave
View from Camp @ Wind Cave

We sat by our campfire just taking in the sights and sounds of Wind Cave. The owls in the forest behind us, the deer roaming the hills while the sun goes down, the crackling fire, the PERFECT rolling clouds and landscape. This was my favourite part of the trip, just sitting at camp with all of nature around us. We often get so side-tracked by life, we don’t get to experience or enjoy this. 3 days in Wind Cave I will remember forever, the bison everyday, greeting us with such delight, the final day we went to go say thank you and goodbye to them. They were doing their morning walk to the forest across the road. Today was a little different, we pulled off to the side of the road and just watched as the mothers and their babies walked up to the car. The babies playing right beside us, jumping and kicking in the air having the time of their lives while we watched. The mothers let this happen, they know, we knew. It was a peaceful moment we will both remember forever.

Mama/Baby

I drove out of Wind Cave extremely relaxed, ready to take on the world. I was commenting to Jade as we made the last uphill decent towards the gates that this trip really changed how I look at things. I then slowed the car through the prairie dog maze and stopped, yelling that there were TWO bison at the top of the hill just standing there. We both looked over and Jade said, “Oh yeah! There they are!”, then got out her camera for when we got to the top of the hill. When we got there, there were no bison to be found… I swear up and down they were there, in a park full of rolling hills and far away forests it’s hard to miss TWO 1500 lb creatures. Were they there?? Or was it another “Jessie” instance?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Maybe it was some of that “Canada Magic” we’ve been told we have. 🙂

– Devon

Are We There Yet?

I’m starting to feel that twitch, that familiar tingle way down deep inside. You know the one, everybody feels it… It’s that tiny little voice somewhere inside that says, “Psst! Hey… yeah I’m talking to you. Ummm, it’s time. Let’s go!” Actually, I’ve been aching to get back out there for a while now.

I only really had one road trip last year. Around May Jade & I took off for the desert that had us meeting up with our friends Paul and Lisa. It was amazing. I could actually just sit there on the Colorado river in a lawn chair and relax. THAT is a vacation! 

In September, we also trekked down to Los Angeles. While fun, I don’t feel this was a road trip in the least. We drove, we stopped and drove some more… All the way to LA. When we got there it was action packed with Jade and  her cousins Stephen & Doug. It was go go go until it was over. I can safely say that this was a bucket list trip for Jade.

Throughout the trip I kept emailing Lisa how much I would rather be in the desert just relaxing and exploring. This constant flow of emails set about the very rapid plan for our own road trip. The minute, and I mean minute, I got home I was emailing her about where we wanted to go and what we wanted to do. It was going to be a girls road trip, just Jade, Lisa & myself. We had it planned and set before I even went back to work the following day. I was stoked. All we had to do was count down the 8 months. When you factor in your daily life and all that you do to make it through until your next vacation, there are times when you just want to curl up into a ball and give up. You better believe we counted down those days. Well… It’s been 8 months and the road trip is a go!! May 2nd Lisa & I are hitting the road. Jade decided to stay home and let me go on this adventure with Lisa. It’s good to travel apart from your significant other.  We will be gone about 11 days and we’ll hit Utah, Arizona and Nevada. We have planned out some pretty cool adventures and I know we will stumble upon some others as we go.

I told Jade to tuck away some bail money because the two of us together… who knows what will happen? I know it’s going to be an amazing time. Other than Jade, I couldn’t imagine experiencing the desert with anyone else. Lisa just gets it.

The countdown is on… 18 days left. 

Now where’s my passport?? Shit!

– Devon

The Essentials.

Everybody has them. A list of things they can’t live without during the day. Your cell phone, backpack/bag, lunch, wallet, keys, coffee in a to-go cup. These are the things that make it possible to get through the day, the work week, daily living.

The same is true when you travel. There are things, certain staples, you bring with you every time. Some out of habit, some for good luck, each serves a purpose. Which ones you pack with you are dependent on the destination & type of trip you’re taking.

Tools of the trade.
Tools of the trade.
No matter where we go, there are a few key essentials I bring every time. These may vary for you and perhaps some never even crossed your mind. I pack them for trips into the desert & for road trips into the great unknown. Whether I’m hiking in my local mountains where cougars (mountain lions) & bears call home or I’m venturing out into the wild with a map & a vague idea of where I’m going, these are the things I bring. Every time.

My essentials.
– a multi tool (like a leatherman)
– a zippo lighter
– magnesium stick & striker
– an emergency blanket
– digital camera
– canteen(s)
– granola or energy bars (organic)
– pepper spray
– a multi blade folding knife (with a serrated edge)
– a flashlight
– a straight blade folding knife
– a folding sharpening tool

Some would think this is overkill, I call it being prepared for anything. Not photographed or listed are lip balm & trail mix. It’s hard to find decent generic products to post without supporting one particular brand over another. Also, I always carry a first aid kit as I’m ticketed.

More essentials.
More essentials.
I usually carry these items in my back pack with extra water & snacks. Devon prefers I have them… I think mostly because she’s slightly accident prone & tends to fall down a few times while hiking. She has more experience outdoors than I will ever hope to have. Often I find myself deferring to her expertise in this area.

So, if you find yourself itching to go on a road trip or vacation & you’re not sure what you should bring with you, research it. Look up where you’re going, read reviews. Your essential kit will vary from mine. It’s not right or wrong, it’s the one for you. I like knowing that I’m ready for anything the universe has for me at any given moment.

These final words to live by: if your hike is an hour long, assume it’ll take two hours & bring two hours worth of water with you. And most importantly, tell someone where you’re going, when you’ll be there & when you’ll be back. Remember, rescue crews can’t find you if they don’t know where to look.

With that in mind, go out and find an adventure wherever you can.

Have fun!

– Jade