Best Laid Plans.

It’s an often repeated partial quote from a famous poem. I’m betting most people who use it have no idea of its origins or that it’s been adapted to suit modern english which lends to its applicability.

“The best laid plans of mice an’ men often go awry.” – Robert Burns

Translation: Even the most carefully prepared plans may go wrong.

We all know how much I love planning things… I’d rather have someone ram bamboo chutes up my fingernail beds. I have struggled for years to understand people’s need to have everything planned out to the millisecond in their day. The only people who thrive on that are military personnel and prisoners (and maybe Devon). I find the process both painful and completely unnecessary.

I’m quite random. I’m known for spouting off random tidbits of knowledge at any moment for no apparent reason known to mankind. I like random. Random keeps people on their toes.

Some people are fixated on needing to know absolutely everything at all times. It’s just in their DNA. I’m so very thankful that I do not have this affliction.

I have an aversion to instructions that the common man blindly follow without question. Why can’t we buck the system? Everybody has a schedule. We all have daily obligations; be it work, school or other. You’ve got to get your kids up for school, feed, clothe them, walk the dog, clean the litter box… did you remember to shower? Too late, time for dropping the tiny humans off at school. You have a huge meeting at work that you might be prepared for, if you brought the right flash stick with the powerpoint presentation on it. After work, it’s grabbing the kids, dropping them off to their after school programs then off to your hot yoga class. Damn, you forgot your yoga mat, you’ll have to borrow one from the instructor. Then it’s back across town to pick up the offspring, make dinner, bath time for the kidlets followed by bedtime… you might have an hour of “me” time to finally start reading that book that’s been collecting dust on your nightstand for six months. You pick up the book, open it and… your eyes are far too heavy to read through… and you have to do a similar routine the next day. This sounds like my personal hell. We’re already stuck in a structured timetable weekly. The system is oppressive enough. Why then, would you do the same to yourself on vacation?

Road trips were invented as a means to get out and see the country. They came about during the late 1800s, early 1900s just as the birth of the automobile came to fruition. Think Jack Kerouac or Hunter S. Thompson. Ultimately, there shouldn’t really be a destination, it’s about the journey. Your goal should be to relax, see something you’ve never seen. We should guffaw schedules. Ball up blueprints and light a campfire with them, toast some marshmallows over crumpled up, outdated maps.

To quote Bob Ross, some of our best road trips came about due in part to “happy little accidents”. We didn’t mean to turn left off of the highway three miles back but what’s this cool little town we’ve stumbled upon? We were just helping a little old Navajo lady get back to her tiny town after church… didn’t mean for it to become a six hour detour through a huge chunk of South Eastern Arizona which culminated into a huge traffic jam because of the annual Navajo Winter Fair (true story, that was our first road trip). We would have never experienced some of the greatest gifts the road has given us if we had stayed the course and followed the plan.

Devon used to get lost in the minutia. She NEEDED to sit in front of her laptop for hours on end, staring at her calendar with several websites open. She needed to call tons of places and email reams more about availability and cost. She had to scribble down copious amounts of shorthand notes that only made sense to her. This brought her a mix of great joy and grief. Grief for the workload she had dumped on herself in preparation for her vacation and joy upon completion of all the planning. She could relax knowing that everything was taken care of. All we had left was to make it to her checkpoints on schedule. I would watch her get agitated if she didn’t drive as far as she had wanted to. She would get tense if these micro milestones weren’t met and only found relief when she was “ahead” or “on time”. If she could “make up time”, even better.

Then, something changed for her. Maybe it was my influence. Perhaps my random is contagious. Mayhaps my relaxed and easy going nature rubbed off on her. Don’t get me wrong, she’s very laid-back, just never in the planning or executing stages of road trips.

Now, she’s less structured about it all. If we make it to a certain state or city on the way, sweet. If not, that’s okay too because maybe we can find some cool little place to chill for the evening until we start fresh the following day.

As we prepare ourselves for this next adventure, our only goal is to enjoy ourselves.

We’re heading down to Mexico… you read that right, Devon & Jade are going to Mexico! This was a last minute, three weeks out, thrown together trip. We want to kick back by the pool, read a book or two, maybe grab some massages at the spa.

This trip came about through a series of back & forth texts between my father-in-law’s girlfriend and Devon. The only message I got during the whole “planning” stage was: “Pack your bikini, grab my sunblock, we’re going to Mexico… are our passports still valid?” *Editor’s note: I do not wear bikinis… please give your head a shake to rid your mind of that image.

Doesn’t really matter to me, the only thing I’m planning on is doing some exploring… and plenty of relaxing.

I’m thinking the best laid plans belong on the bottom of a fire pit, under some kindling.

Adios.

– 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. 🙂

Road Woes…

I had left SLC heading south to warmer weather and to a few other places AND surprises. At about 9:30am I hit a gas station for a fill up and was texting a friend about how warm it was outside. She was telling me it was raining back home so of course, being the douche that I am, I FB some photos of the sunny weather I was having and tagged her in them.

The photo that had karma catch up with me
The photo that had karma catch up with me

Not even one hour later karma was out for me. Driving down the highway from SLC to Vegas I noticed my car shake in a weird fashion then all of a sudden, BOOM, my back passenger tire explodes!! All over the highway is tire “guts” from my car. The car swerves left then right, I’m on the e-brake trying to get it under control. I manage to get the car off the NOT AT ALL busy highway. I flick on my hazards and start looking in my wallet for my AAA card… not there… I’m looking in my glove box when I hear a honk behind me. It’s a flatbed tow truck! YAY! I’ve been saved!

1 yr old rescued shop dog :)
1 yr old rescued shop dog 🙂

This little old man with an oxygen tank strapped to his back gets out of the truck and wanders over to me. “Seems you need some help, ma’am.” Uh, duh! ☺ I explain I don’t know where I am and DO need the help. It turns out Kevin, old dude’s name, has a shop in the next town over so we get Smelly car up and on the flatbed and off we go. 10 minutes down the road, we hit the town and his gas station/shop.

My car is put up on a lift and his shop hand, a lovely dude named Bruce, gets working. Bruce was an older guy, probably my dad’s age; he had 2 rescue dogs that I played with until the damn POM (with no teeth) bit me. The best part of this story is I had ordered a new credit card before I left for my trip that I had originally planned with a friend and of course it didn’t come in time. I ended up calling my friend Rhonda and she helped me out. I have kickass friends, yo!!! I found out when I got home my new credit card arrived that Wednesday afternoon… go figure!

My car Smelly Jr jr (don't judge her name) getting new "shoes"
My car Smelly Jr jr (don’t judge her name) getting new “shoes”

Bruce and I exchanged road stories while he was fixing my car up. Sometimes you hear of women getting taken advantage of in these situations but Kevin and Bruce were AMAZING! Not only did they fix my car, they fixed a couple other potential issues for free, filled up my gas and when I asked what town I was in, gave me 2 free t-shirts saying where… BEAVER, UTAH!

So if you’re ever in Beaver Utah, stop by the Conoco and say hi to Kevin and Bruce, tell them Devon, the tattooed Canadian, sent you.

And also… NEVER EVER tease your friends about the weather and your travels or you’ll end up with karma hitting you back, sorry Ashley.

– Devon

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

Magical Lakes & Bison Sightings.

The first day of our crazy road trip started off like any other. Everything packed up & off we went. The first day of our trips are always about distance. Putting distance between us & our lives back home. Washington state is beautiful. The lush green backdrop is a constant reminder of how lucky we are to live in such a vibrant environment. The Pacific Northwest is amazing, hands down. However, if we don’t make it out of Washington on the first day of a road trip, it simply feels like we’re cross border shopping. So we moved like bandits on the run from the law. Making it all the way down into Oregon that first night.

The first hiccup of our trip has to be the moment our “new” GPS decided it would be awesome to crap out on us. It was back to reading a map for me & navigating old school. Having searched the map for a worthy camping site close to the Idaho state line, we saw a state park sign for Anthony Lakes in between La Grande & Baker City OR. Enjoying the 20 mile drive up to the park, we came upon fields of cows who were more than willing to pose for photos & seemed to enjoy the attention. Once we were on the drive up the mountain into the park, we both remarked how similar this felt to Yosemite, but on a smaller scale. The mountain tops were blanketed in mist making the whole drive up there both beautiful & mystical.Anthony Lake Oregon After arriving atop the mountain we were surprised to see it was a popular destination. We managed to snag a spot away from the groups of families. We then went for a quick walk around the area & found ourselves surrounded by crisp air & vibrant colours. The peak itself, Mount Ireland, was stunning. After a while, what I thought was a campsite we did not want to intrude upon turned out to be one of the lakes, we hiked down to the water to take in the living postcard before us. Every angle was an amazing photograph. There were a few people quietly enjoying the lake, fishing & taking their own photos. Devon picked up some discarded fishing line so it wouldn’t become a hazard to the wildlife. Then, we heard the distinct sound of a base being tuned up. Apparently, there was a wedding reception starting up. With that, it was back to the camp site.
Lake Anthony

Devon set up the site while I walked down to the camp site host for a bundle of firewood. We enjoyed a quiet dinner with the crackling of the fire pits seemingly in unison. A rather nice lady from the site across ours came over to introduce herself. She saw that we were Canadian and wanted to say hello. A fellow Canadian, we ended up having a lovely chat with her & quickly fell for her beautiful rescue German Shepard. The next morning, I walked over & gave them the remaining firewood we were unable to use up or take with us. Their dog was super sweet & quiet playful. Just seeing her made us miss our Jacke Boy that much more. We said our goodbyes, gave them some advice on travelling back home up to Victoria & started out for the day. A quick stop in historic Baker City OR for coffee & then it was on to Boise ID.Camp Dinner

I’ve never been to an REI but I can tell you this, after stopping at the one in Boise, I really want to go back! The employees are so nice, and the product selection is varied & far more cost effective than the items back home. We also stopped in at Whole Foods for some much needed food supplies for our cooler. From there it was on to Salt Lake City, Utah. The drive through Idaho went faster than it has in prior trips. I wish I could tell you that the scenery on the drive through Idaho is unreal but the reality is far more bland. We spent more time watching the roadside for deer than the landscape itself.

Antelope Island After high fiving having crossed into Utah, a state of calm washed over us. It truly feels like a vacation when we hit Utah. The drive through this section is breathtaking as you see the land change colours before your eyes. After consulting the map again for the exit to Antelope Island, Devon saw a sign for it & we started in on our next adventure. Making our way through the small town of Syracuse we found ourselves at the entrance for the Great Salt Lake State Park on Antelope Island. Paying for our entry & campsite, Devon almost drove off in a mad rush to just relax after having driven for 10 hours straight. The park ranger handed us our booklet & our campsite pass then we drove into the park. Devon remarked that the drive in seemed eerily reminiscent of Tsawassen and the drive to the ferries. The first thing we read about Antelope Island is, of course, the antelope that inhabit it, as well as the bison. There are roughly 500-700 head of bison that call the island home. The road ahead forked and we picked the left hand road because Devon read that the bison like to hang out near the water. Not 5 minutes into the drive down this road were we met with 5 bison chilling by the roadside, grazing. The biggest smile took over Devon’s face & it looked like she would cry. These creatures are so massive & gentle. They meander with not a care in the world. We stopped the car, put on the hazards & took as many photos as the bison would let us. There were three to the left of the road on the lakeside & two more to the right of the road. A giant bison lumbered slowly across the street not 5 feet from our car. Both of us slack jawed & awestruck while furiously clicking away on our cameras, the bison had no worries about our presence and took his time crossing the road. I looked over & I felt as though Devon would burst into tears, her eyes reddening, her voice shaky with excitement. We waved at these beautiful creatures, said our thank you’s & made our way down the road a bit more before turning around and heading back down toward the turn off for the campsite. We were assigned campsite #18 and as we drove up into the Bridger Bay campground Devon saw a bison in the distance and quipped, “I’ll bet you he’s at our spot.” Truer words never spoken. As we circled around the site, looking for #18, we slowly pulled up & there he was, sitting there, like an official welcomer to Antelope Island. There he was, this gorgeous animal enjoying a dust bath not 15 feet from our site. We stopped the car, grabbed our cameras and took a handful of pictures of him as he lay there, enjoying the weather. We took a few shots of the sun setting as it tangoed with the low hanging clouds creating this crazy halo above us. Looking back at the bison, he would stay there all night, as if to say, “I get it, we’re cool.” These mammals made peace with mankind long ago & now they live in harmony with the land while we get to share in their beauty. I think that he hung around all night because he knew that we needed him to be there. We appreciated his presence and will continue to be grateful that we got to share his energy all night long.Bison

We set up camp, made a fire & ate beans as our meal while quietly enjoying the bison laying within 20 feet of us. Laying down for the evening, I could not wipe the grin off of my face & I wondered why I was so happy. The moment we set foot on the ground there a calm energy washed over me & stayed the whole time we were on Antelope Island. I kept sitting up, looking for the bison as darkness fell all around. Though hot all night it was a peaceful sleep. We arose the next morning, our new bison friend had moved on. Devon was awoken by a magpie sitting on the post next to our car. He cheerily chirped & sang her awake. Once up for the day, we made a BioLite breakfast of coffee & peanut butter & banana sandwiches. There were several pheasants visiting the surrounding sites. Curious little birds, they walked about looking for food. After packing up, we decided on exploring the island a bit before leaving. We ventured down the roadway & back down the road that first took us to the bison. Sure enough, they were there again. We waited as they marched on past us. This time they galloped past, then settled down & calmly walked across the road. We grabbed a few more photos then carried on our way down the island to the Fielding Garr Ranch.Antelope island ranch A working ranch for over 100 years before stopping operation in 1981, in modern times, the ranch house is still the oldest building on its original foundation in Utah. We took the self guided tour around the ranch. I enjoyed the simplicity of the 100 year old blacksmithing equipment, while Devon wasn’t much impressed with it having being raised on a farm. Her grandfather had a dairy farm & understood the inner workings of it all while I had to stop & read about everything. She humoured me & let me read each display while she tried to say hello to the horses in the corral. Once we were finished with the tour, it was back into the car & back on the road into Salt Lake City for the most amazing vegan buffalo sandwich I have ever tasted.

– Jade

Slowing Down.

I always tease Jade that she needs to slow down, she is always on the go. She can’t sit still and she’s always finding things to keep herself occupied. But I think it’s me that really needs to slow down. When I have an idea I want to make it happen right away! I lose interest in things VERY easily. Like school. I applied for school a few months ago and it’s about to start, and I really don’t want to do it anymore. I lost interest… I am literally forcing myself to do it because at one point, not two months ago, I was dying to go to school.

I am balls out, go go go… in my head. Always wanting things to happen quickly and when on a road trip, I want to go full tilt as well. I want to experience everything and anything, as much as I can. Live fast because I probably won’t live a long life is what I always thought. And I found, on my last trip, I can and have easily missed out on things because I want to constantly go. Sure… I can see a million things but am I really taking anything in? Probably not. I know I’m not. And maybe, just maybe, being on these road trips I am not necessarily supposed to see things. Maybe I am supposed to sit and reflect with myself, just be with my thoughts and feelings. Or sitting in the moment with friends not saying a word over a campfire and just… being.

Jade and I have an upcoming road trip in August/September. This is HER road trip. This is the surprise trip that I have been casually planning for a year, giving her zero clues. We have one destination… Memphis, Tennessee. Jade wants to go to Graceland. She has always dreamed of going there. So that is where we are going to go. Other than that… no plans, no set route, no anything. We are just going to throw some clothes in a bag, grab the tent and hit the road. This will be totally different from past trips I have taken but it’s time to slow down.

I’m just not in a hurry anymore.

– Devon