Tag: Colorado

Rocky Mountain Runaround

The Colorado mountain towns are enchanting. It’s hard to see them in the distance from Denver’s city center, beckoning weekend go-getters and warriors to traverse its beauty while working the grind. It’s a nice treat for anyone to explore the Rocky Mountains, and Breckenridge, Vail and Steamboat Spinrgs, all world-renowned ski destinations are equally awesome places to visit in the summer.

We picked 4th of July weekend for a visit. The traffic up the mountain on 70 West was treacherous, but the scenery more than made up for it. The first stop was Frisco, a fun little mountain town with a scenic lake and trail system. After hunkering down accommodations for the night, it was off to Breckenridge for a little exploring.

What a town! The gondola runs right through it and its as if you are living in a snow globe, minus the snow in the summer, of course. We parked and took a stroll through town. The river runs through it and there are several restaurant and bar patios that over look the river. Even the touristy Bubba Gump’s had a quaint charm!

River running through Breckenridge
River running through Breckenridge

 

Lunch was at Downstairs at Eric’s, a divey family fun joint located downstairs on the main drag. It was like a local’s version of Dave and Buster’s. The good news was that they had cheap pitchers of PBR ($6!) and the most delicious Thai peanut wings I’ve ever tasted.

Enjoying some exploration of Downtown Breckenridge
Enjoying some exploration of Downtown Breckenridge

After strolling up and down the main drag, enjoying the scenery, we took a gondola ride up to the resort. Some mountain towns charge an arm and a leg for a lift up the mountain (Steamboat Springs in the summer is $22 one way per adult!), but in Breckenridge, it’s free! We enjoyed some mountain scenery, climbing up and up, and eventually riding down and down.

Getting Rocky Mountain High
Getting Rocky Mountain High

Next we took the scenic drive to Vail. Vail was charming in a European Resort town sort of way. Everything is ritzy, glitzy and glamorous. The hoi paloi sit around eating $18 BLT sandwiches, rocking their Ralph Lauren Polo shirts. If you can get past the dichotomy of rich mountain living, Vail is a cool spot to cruise on the free shuttle between the villages, catch some live music in the square and people watch.

Driving to Vail
Driving to Vail

We opted to save our hard-earned money on a not-so affordable-anyhow sushi dinner back in Frisco. The catch to mountain towns? Everything’s expensive! Pack groceries from home if you want to save a buck!

Instead of calling it quits and heading back to the city limits the next day, we made the pilgrimage to Steamboat Springs for the day. I love Steamboat Springs because it’s off the beaten path. Breck and Vail are relatively close to Denver, but Steamboat is a good 3 hour haul. The drive out there is unbelievably scenic, rustic and full of western charm.

Upon arriving, it being the fourth of July and all, the city was bustling with activity! Old cars revved up and down downtown Steamboat. The Yampa River, which courses through the city, was teeming with tubers, rafters and kayakers. BBQ smoke could make even a vegetarian salivate and red, white and blue adorned street lights and corners all over town.

Keepin' it classy
Keepin’ it classy

We grabbed lunch at a nifty family deli and butcher called Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. They serve up tasty Boar’s Head sandwiches, cold cuts, seafood and steaks. We enjoyed lunch on the patio, watching families float the Yampa. It was a quintessential All-American afternoon.

Good 'ol fashioned fun!
Good ‘ol fashioned fun!

Facing a daunting 3 hour journey back to Denver, we called it quits and relished in the views of the rolling mountains and hills on the way back to the city limits. Calmed by the country’s placating effects, we watched fireworks from our apartment window that were being blown off over Coor’s Field. One can say that this was on the of the best 4th of July’s in recent memories.

 

And the river runs on just the same, in Steamboat Springs, Co.
And the river runs on just the same, in Steamboat Springs, Co.

Give me a home, where the puppy dogs roam…In Evergreen, Colorado

Colorado is an amazing place for several reasons: 300 days of sunshine a year (in Denver, at least), craft beer practically free-flowing from water fountains, liberal politics, amazing festivals…I can go on and on.

So it didn’t catch me by surprise when my neighbor recommended perhaps the most amazing off-leash dog park I’ve ever seen. Among other amazing attributes that make Colorado famous, it’s probably most loved for its limitless outdoor recreation opportunities.

Elk Meadow in Evergreen, Colorado was no exception. The ride from Denver is about 35 minutes up the mountain to Jefferson County. You are immediately greeted with open spaces, amazing mountain vistas, lush evergreen trees and incredible fresh air. Mountain bikers race past your car and even McDonald’s looks worth a visit with its log cabin motif.

DSCN0946

Upon arriving in Evergreen, you’ll notice it’s a quaint mountain town with plenty of opportunity to explore its natural beauty. Elk Meadow Park spans roughly 1600 acres and offers hiking, biking and views of the Continental Divide. Most importantly for dog owners, though, it offers an off-leash dog recreation area.

The off-leash dog area is about 2 miles down the road from the main entrance to Elk Meadow Park. Once you arrive, especially if it’s a weekend, you’ll be greeted by a boatload of furry friends and their owners’ cars. We didn’t have a problem parking, as people are coming and going all day long.

DSCN0943

Enter Elk Meadow Off-Leash Park. An amazing lush landscape literally tucked into the mountains where dogs can roam free! Best of all, you can get your hike on while Fido runs alongside of you, playing with other amazing, fun dogs along the way. Β There are two spacious fenced in areas for doggy playtime, as well as nearly 3 miles in trails and a creek for the dogs to play in. TIP: There is no water here for dogs, so make sure to bring some for your furry friend! With over 107 acres to explore, you and your dog will surely get thirsty.

Everything is awesome!
Everything is awesome!

Pono, Jon and I hiked 2 loops while enjoying the great scenery. Anyone in the metro Denver area must immediately bring their dog to this park. It’s by far the best place I’ve seen. Even if you don’t have a dog, this park is worth a visit just for the hiking and views alone. The best part is, it’s only a short drive from the city. Once you get your country fix, you can head on back to the city and catch happy hour. Score!

To learn more about Elk Meadow and their Off-Leash Dog Park, visit :Β http://jeffco.us/parks/parks-and-trails/elk-meadow-dog-off-leash-area/

Hangin' with other dogs on the trail
Hangin’ with other dogs on the trail

Rockin’ out at Red Rocks, Colorado

An easy day trip for any Denverite looking to get out of the city confines is Red Rocks Amphitheater, just 15 miles west of Denver in Morrison, Colorado. The only naturally occurring, acoustically perfect amphitheater in the world, it’s well worth the price tag to see your favorite musician jam out under the stars. What’s more is that Red Rocks Park has 868 acres of land to hike and explore.

Beginning the hike: remember, Fido has to be on a leash!
Beginning the hike: remember, Fido has to be on a leash!

My sister and I took the short, pleasant drive from Denver to Red Rocks this past Saturday to do some hiking. It’s open everyday of the week, the trails opening an hour before sunrise and closing an hour after sunset, giving you ample time to explore this unique geological region. It’s at 6,450 feet elevation, so be prepared to be a little short of breath when hiking and to drink plenty of water while you acclimate. After you’ve caught your breath due to the thinning air, you’ll have to catch it again as the sight of the magnificent rock formations come into view.

DSCN0892

After parking, we decided to check out the amphitheater itself, where “all the magic happens,” so to speak. Β After climbing up what seemed like hundreds of stairs, the music venue took shape. We were between two giant monoliths, Ship Rock and Creation Rock. Whilst taking in the view, I was nearly bowled over a few times by hustling work-out fanatics. Red Rocks Amphitheater is an outdoor enthusiasts dream: fitness buffs jogged up and down the stairs, frog jumping up the bleachers and doing push ups in any space they could find. There must have been over 100 people getting their daily workout on, but it hardly felt THAT crowded. The open air and scenic view made the space feel infinite.

You'll feel small next to this thing!
You’ll feel small next to this thing!

We decided to hike the 1.4 mile loop trail called Trading Post Trail. Red Rocks park is unique because it’s comprised of two different zones simultaneously: the great plains and the high mountains. Hiking along the trails, observing the beautiful red sandstone rock formations, you are greeted by dry, arid conditions and cacti, but round the corner and you hear a bubbling stream and observe verdant, rolling hills in the background.

DSCN0902

There is no lying: in the hot, midday sun with the elevation and rocky conditions, this hike is moderate. After hiking for about 2 hours around Red Rocks park, my sister and I were beat. It’s not for the faint of heart and you have to be in good physical condition to hike the surrounding area. The views and the fresh mountain air are worth the trek.

DSCN0904

Red Rocks Park is completely free. On days of concerts, the park closes down in the early afternoon, so plan accordingly. I want to go back around sunrise or sunset to see the way the light refracts off the red rocks. On a clear day, you can see Denver’s Downtown skyline, so keep your eyes peeled!

Tips:

Bring plenty of water

Wear hiking shoes or gym shoes. The terrain gets slippery with broken rock shards.

If you bring your furry four-legged friend (as I did), they have to remain on the leash at all times.

It’s a pretty high traffic area on the weekends, so don’t expect to “escape it all.” You’ll be taking plenty of tourists’ photos, but the good news is, you’ll have someone to snap yours!

Don’t forget your camera

And oh yes…have a great time!

Life as I know it

I would like to say that I just got done traveling extensively this summer, but I’m sure part of landing in San Diego is part of my travels as well.

Part of me embarking on the road for so many years now has been to improve my travel writing and enrich my life with experiences. Ever since I left Chicago in 2010, I’ve been a lot of places and have seen a lot of things.

I signed up for a travel writing course through MatadorU, which sadly, I’m only 50 percent done with. Part of my goal of being in San Diego is to get back to working on my writing. In any case, when I first started the course, I was a little miffed over what to write about. I was a travel writer who didn’t travel. I had no idea what to talk about. How could I describe a scene from a faraway place if I hadn’t been to one?

In any case, that’s when I made the decision to travel more. Extensively, curiously, endlessly. Since then, I’ve been all over the place, but I haven’t done too much writing about it.

Since I’ve last updated, I spent the summer in Wyoming. I was shocked and surprised to end up there, but it was a beautiful summer. I was living IN the Shoshone National Forest, surrounded by amazing trees, wildlife, hiking opportunities, padding/rafting, and horseback riding.

Our backyard and playground
Our backyard and playground

Jon and I’s relationship is stronger than ever. We have been together a year now, and we also added a new addition to our family: Pono. He is a 1-year old Australian Shepherd mix who is completely high energy and the epitome of puppy. We love him.

I hate to say that I’ve been to busy to write, but it’s true. Yesterday and today were the first time I hadn’t left the house in months. We’re usually traveling around, letting the dog run around somewhere, connecting as sort of a family unit. I feel like for the first time in a long time, I have something to take care of besides me. I have a man and a pet. We go places and do things together and it fulfills me immensely.

This lil' guy
This lil’ guy

At the same time, I haven’t given up on my goals of writing. I want to tell you all of the amazing things I’ve seen and done. I want to explain to you what Stand Up Paddle Boarding the Snake River was like (somewhat terrifying, but invigorating!). I need to explain to you guys how lovely Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks are. I want to reminisce about driving cross-country 3 times in 3 months, the Badlands, Oregon, the coast of California. I still need to write about how I feel about Colorado.

The Grand Tetons
The Grand Tetons

There was a time when I felt frustrated with the mainland USA. I traveled abroad and lived in Hawaii for a year. It wasn’t until I got back and really saw America first hand (slow and intentionally) that I realized that is truly the best country and I’m proud of it. Jon and I drove through so many back roads, fished in rivers with no one around for miles, shared a river fishing experience with two juvenile grizzly bears. We watched the sunset over peaks of giant mountains and cruised on pristine lakes next to the most amazing mountains in the country. We’ve eaten our way around the U.S., trying to avoid the corporate McDonald’s road trip by eating local and finding the best food we could along the way.

Who are those little buggers?
Who are those little buggers?

Then we landed in Southern California, and that’s where we are now. For the first time in a while, we have a kitchen again. Our dog has a backyard to run around and we are nesting. It’s breezy and beautiful here. The seafood alone is great. I take a look at my life and sometimes wonder how it is that I got so lucky. How I get to travel and experience so many amazing, exotic, breathtaking moments. How I get to taste the best foods, live in the most amazing locales and have such a happy existence.

sushi
One of the better meals we’ve shared

It’s then I realize that I’m following my bliss. I opened my heart a long time ago, as scary as it was, and listened to my true desires. I wanted to expose myself naked to the world and experience. I didn’t care if would be good or bad, I wanted it. And boy, did I get it.

I’m stuck between a rock and a hard place now. I’m looking for work, somewhat desperately after spending a small fortune traveling so much. It’s back to the “real world” for now, but I vow to keep my travel memories alive by writing about them.

I finally pitched an article to a travel-zine which I haven’t made time for in over a year. I was putting it off, feeling anxious and reluctant. Then I thought about all of the incredible emotions I’ve experienced and the trips associated with them and wrote them down. And now, proudly, I can say that I have a travel repertoire. I am no longer scratching my head over what to write about. Now the hard part is which travel memory to write about. I guess that’s a first world problem.

It’s good to be back on the blog and good to stretch my fingers and my brain again. I look forward to putting some more of my thoughts out there, no matter if trivial, vain or enlightening. This is me. This is my life. And I’m going to share it.

Me and my little Pono, Badlands National Park
Me and my little Pono, Badlands National Park

Black Canyon at the Gunnison

The name alone sounds terrifyingly adventurous. Jon and I were making our way around the Rocky Mountains on our way to check out a job lead in Crested Butte, Colorado when this National Park caught my attention.

The Gunnison National Forest area is massive and beautiful, ranging from dense, pine covered forests to huge, gaping rock canyons.

The amazing drive to the North Rim of the canyon (which is supposed to be the most spectacular, and have a killer campsite right on the canyon’s rim) had unparallelled views.

Part of Curecanti National Recreation Area
Part of Curecanti National Recreation Area
Blue Mesa Lake
Blue Mesa Lake

We drove through Curecanti National Recreation Area and hit up highway 92, snaking through Crawford State Park and enjoying 2-3 hours of the most spectacular views of the Gunnison River. Let it be known that this stretch of road has many hairpin turns, high cliffs, sleep grades and overall panic but awe-inducing moments.

A particularly scary moment to capture. Standing right on the canyon's cliff
A particularly scary moment to capture. Standing right on the canyon’s cliff

We snaked around the National Park and enjoyed views like this from the top:

I'm giddy with altitude, nerves and a killer view
I’m giddy with altitude, nerves and an awesome view

It seemed like a while later we finally arrived at the North Rim of the Black Canyon at the Gunnison. There are only a handful of camping spots at this site, so arrive early if you want in! Luckily we secured our spot and set off on the easy-ish 1/3 mile hike around the chasm for a few views of the canyon at sunset.

Black Canyon at the Gunnison, North Rim
Black Canyon at the Gunnison, North Rim

IMG_5544

It's hard to convey in pictures the sheer brevity and depth of this place
It’s hard to convey in pictures the sheer brevity and depth of this place

The next morning we decided to hike a 3 mile loop from the base of camp to Exclamation Point, which offers some of the best views of the North Rim of the Canyon. This hike is moderate and can get a little hairy at times (slippery rock, cliff edges), but the views are spectacular!

The trail head is located just behind the ranger station
The trail head is located just behind the ranger station
View from Exclamation Point. Sure you can go closer, but I wasn't planning on falling in!
View from Exclamation Point. Sure you can go closer, but I wasn’t planning on falling in!

Last but not least we did the crater rim drive which offers different perspectives and cool rock formations of the canyon. It’s definitely worth the 4 mile drive.

Special shout-out to my old home!
Special shout-out to my old home!

IMG_5594

What’s one the prettier places you’ve been lately? Feel free to share!

Strawberry Park Hot Springs Forever

Steamboat Springs, Colorado is probably one of my favorite mountain towns in the Rockies. With over 12,000 full-time residents, it feels homey, not touristy.

Nature is incorporated quite well in the city making it easy for any outdoor enthusiast to get his/her outdoors on. The Yampa River runs through the town and there are paths everywhere throughout making biking, hiking, or walking easy. National Forest access is everywhere.

Not to mention, there are a bunch of great restaurants serving good food and microbrews. Plain and simple, what more could you ask for?

Strawberry Park Hot Springs, that’s what. Maybe one of the best hot springs I’ve visited to date is nestled in the mountains just outside of the city center. You have to drive almost 3 miles on a 4WD dirt road to get there, but it’s worth it.

IMG_5412

I’ve never been in a hot spring with steam actually emitting from the falls in summer. These springs were hot tub hot, about 104 degrees. Though it is summer, the springs felt amazing and soothed my achy, weary travelling bones.

The Springs
The Springs

Jon and I paid our $10 fee and made an afternoon of jumping in and out of the water. There is also access to the cold stream if you need a quick dip in to cool off. Because it was June and there was still mountain run-off fuelling the stream, we opted for the hot pools.

Happy after some R&R
Happy after some R&R

From the springs, Jon and I cruised into town on a mission to find a cheap lunch for under $20. Somehow, Jon has a knack for finding just such deals and we wandered into Sunpie’s Bistro and had an absolute blast. To our luck, it was happy hour. So there we sat, in the sun, rested next to the Yampa river, sipping our microbrews and taking in the view.

Life is good my friends
Life is good my friends

We also had some $1 tacos at happy hour. When they say their salsa is hot, believe them. They chalk them full of habanero peppers. I like to think I’m a girl who can handle my heat, but I was sweating after that salsa.

ON FIRE!
ON FIRE!

An amazing afternoon was had by the two of us in Steamboat Springs. We liked it there so much, in fact, we decided to go back and try to find work for the summer (although that didn’t pan out). Anyone looking for a place to recharge the batteries in the Rockies, Steamboat’s the place to do it.

Microbrews, food trucks and cook outs, oh my!

Mine and Jon’s trip to Colorado was nothing short of amazing.

I was happy to get of the Midwest after enduring mile after unbearable mile of flat terrain. After driving 2 days, we finally hit the Colorado border and set up camp at North Sterling State Park for the night. This was our second experience camping at a state park, and I have to say that once you go state park, you never go back. They’re clean, beautiful and often have amenities like power and water hookups for campers.

We celebrated our arrival into Colorado the best way we knew how: a cook-out! If you know anything about Jon and I, it’s that we don’t skimp on food. We’ve been dubbed foodies amongst our friends and family, and for good reason. And so, to celebrate, we cooked over an open camp fire.

IMG_5278
Nothing like steak, shrimp and veggies over an open flame

Suffice it to say that everything about Colorado is different from the Midwest. I saw my first tumble weed and spent the evening hours trying to lure the jumping trout onto my fishing pole with no luck. We enjoyed a fantastic sunset and set our sights on Fort Collins.

A view of sunset at North Sterling State Park
A view of sunset at North Sterling State Park

Once we hit Fort Collins, beer was top-of-mind. I’ve never visited any breweries in Colorado before, so it came as a shock to me just how delicious all of the beers tasted. It must be that cool, fresh mountain water that makes it so good. After a flight of beers at Fort Collins Brewery, we hit up town to visit Cooper Smith’s Pub and Brewing for lunch and a few Punjabi Pale Ales.

Happiness comes in 3 oz glasses
Happiness comes in 3 oz glasses

While Fort Collins was a haze of humidity and drunken-altitude stupor, it was time to cut ties and head to Denver to meet up with my friend Rebecca from Big Island.

We spent two days grilling out on her front porch and touring Denver with 10+ year local. She gave us a rock star tour including a food truck festival, a bar called 1-up (complete with giant Jenga), and yet another brewery called Wynkoop Brewing Company, maybe the best of the 3 breweries we visited. Not to mention, that night we grilled out yet again, but this time on the menu was crab legs and shrimp. Score for all!

Enjoy the lovely photos:

IMG_5303
Food truck frenzy for lunch
Rebecca contemplating her next move; Jon is clearly amused
Rebecca contemplating her next move; Jon is clearly amused
C'mon. You wish you were here.
C’mon. You wish you were here.

All in all, a great start to an unbelievable 10 days in Colorado. After saying goodbye to Rebecca and thanking for her generous hospitality (letting us crash in her driveway for 2 nights), we were off to Steamboat Springs for the next adventure…

Heading West: The Great American Road Trip Commences

Jon and I souped our truck and finally put the Northstar 850 SC slide in camper on top. It took two days to pack everything we own (I thought not much, but after cramming everything into every little crevice, it turns out we have a lot of crap) and finally hit the road.

Jon and I getting ready to hit the road in our Northstar Camper
Jon and I getting ready to hit the road in our Northstar Camper

We started traveling west from Chicago on I-80 with one destination in mind: The Northstar Camper factory in Waterloo, Iowa.

I’ve traveled the world over and have had lofty destinations like Sydney, Bangkok, Honolulu, San Francisco. Waterloo, Iowa was the first stop on our list, and honestly it didn’t sound like much. The idea was to shoot straight through Iowa and Nebraska and just hit up the Rockies. But as usual, travel offers you unexpected delightful surprises.

IMG_5206

We made an appointment to meet with Rex, a co-owner of Northstar, so that he could help us iron out the finer details of our camper since our dealer had zero experiences with our model.

After 5 hours of driving through boring Illinois, we arrived in Waterloo. We pulled into the Northstar Factory, and Rex greeted us with open arms.

He immediately grabbed a forklift to move other models of slide in campers out of the way and made us his first priority. The minute we got out of the car, he started caulking the roof, nailing in loose bits and firing off very useful pieces of information.

As it turns out, Northstar operates a very family-oriented business out of a smallish warehouse off a country road in Iowa. Rex, the co-owner recalled growing up on that very block.

“The carnival would roll into town and my dad was friends with the carnies. They would set up a ride in the parking lot and we’d eat hot dogs and funnel cakes and just have good old-fashioned fun,” Rex said. “Then they’d show us their RVs.”

The RV culture is alive and well in the USA. I always chalked RVers up to be bored, retired people, but once you get an RV and start going places, you realize how many awesome wanderers are really out there. A lifelong passion for building campers for lovers of RVs was born in Rex at a young age.

Rex took 2 hours out of his day to show us how to use our awning, the fridge, power system, stove, hot water heater, furnace, toilet and water system. Where we had left a valve open in the water system, he plugged it up and filled us up with 40 gallons of water with a wink of the eye. His 21-year-old cat slunk around the workshop, drinking our drained (clean) water off the floor. Meeting with Rex was like visiting an uncle: He told us stories of the road, gave us tried and true tips and even gave us an awesome alternate route to Colorado along US 30 (runs parallel to I-80, but has those small little towns to stop off at along the way).

He told us that over 40 percent of his business is overseas, with a huge interest in Australia. I recalled fondly the beautiful, wild landscapes of Australia when I was backpacking last year. One day maybe we can take our Northstar down under and really live off the grid!

After Rex fixed us up, we walked around a bit and saw the different models of Northstar campers being built. It was a really neat, home-grown production facility epitomized by sincerity and quality.

So many campers, so little time!
So many campers, so little time!

I’m very happy with our purchase and would recommend anyone to get a Northstar Camper. Also, if you have the time and you’re heading west like us, stop by and talk to Rex. He will give you all the pointers you need in the world. After all, he built the thing!

After stopping in Waterloo, Jon and I head south to Cedar Rapids and then continued on our journey west on 30. We stopped in Tama for dinner, a very small farmer town in rural Iowa before making camp at Outback Campground on top of a hill.

IMG_5226

It was a fun day full of unexpected surprises. The best feeling is the open road. Although we only finished one day on the road, we already realized the best plan is no plan. When leaving the factory, we asked Rex how much we owed him for his time. He said those golden words:

“Just get out of here and have some fun. Consider this a great start to a great trip.”

—————————————————————————————————————————————————

If you are interested in Northstar Campers, visit their website at http://northstarcampers.com/

Finding the perfect vessel

It’s official: I have itchy feet.

The only thing that makes my feet even itchier is being in a relationship with a guy who loves to travel too. At the drop of a hat, we can see ourselves anywhere at anytime. We both are aware of our freedom and the excitement associated with the open road.

Jon and I are both living in Chicago in our studio apartment. It’s a nice neighborhood and we both have good jobs. We go out to eat, get dressed up and relax just like any other normal people do.

But after a few months of hibernation after Hawaii, we both put on a few extra pounds and missed our Vitamin D. I have become increasingly burned out with work, as well as him. There’s nothing quite as exhausting as working as a server in the restaurant industry 5-6 days a week, 8 hours a day. Dealing with people in general is exhausting. Most days, we like to come home from work and just zone out.

I know this is not my personality. I typically enjoy talking to and meeting new people. But when people start talking AT you, it becomes tiring, mentally and physically.

In any case, Jon thought of an idea which I think is a good one and we’re going to try it out together. The traveling couple.

Since both of us work jobs in the hospitality industry, our schedules are pretty flexible. The industry is almost always looking for help considering the transient nature of the business. Both Jon and I have wandering attention spans and get burned out quickly. Plus, we very much enjoy leisure time.

Since our time together, we average about 3 months of work and 1 month off. This gives us enough time to save money for our next “jaunt.” I enjoy the change of scenery, and most of all, I enjoy that sweet month off.

We decided that instead of getting ourselves into a lease, furnishing a place and making a life every where we land, to instead be turtles and live with our house on our back.

For that reason, we spent weeks searching for the perfect vessel.

The romantic idea in which we put into fruition is that we would like to travel and be free agents. We want to be able to go wherever, whenever, within reason.

Both of us have never seen many parts of the United States, Canada or Mexico. So we decided on an extended road trip. This trip will be comprised of work and play. It’s going to start off with camping around various places in the United States for a few weeks, possibly a month. We are going to blow off some steam, camp, fish, hike, and reconnect.

From there, with the help of websites like www.CoolWorks.com and www.WorkingCouples.com, we plan to find seasonal work, preferably jobs that offer employee housing (many of them do), as our perfect vessel can be lived in, but is a bit tight for full-time usage. If we had to, we could, as it’s fully functional.

About our setup

The per-requisites for our vessel became clearer as our dream unfolded. This was our wishlist:

Something small

Has to be relatively stealthy (We want to off road and “boondock” meaning going off the grid for a week at a time)

Good on gas mileage (HUGE!)

Must be attached to or BE and everyday vehicle (We were looking for a Vanagon, but those are very hard to find in the Midwest!)

Affordable (Under 10K)

Relatively new with good resale value

Must have cooking space, shower and toilet,self-sustainable

—————————————————————————

As we looked, we discovered the RV world. We looked at and test drove Class A, Class B and Class C motor homes. We popped our heads in pop-ups and considered just roughing it in the back of a van with camping gear. Until we found what we were looking for.

We stopped by the Airstream dealer one afternoon on a whim, as a previous lead that day didn’t pan out. Then we saw it:

Our 2006 Northstar 850 SC Truck Camper!
Our 2006 Northstar 850 SC Truck Camper!

This camper is perfect for many reasons. It was within budget, a relatively decent year (2006), had one previous owner who took immaculate care of it and had every basic amenity we needed. PLUS, it looks stealthy enough on the back of a truck, is completely self-sustaining and would allow us to live in it for weeks, maybe even months at a time. Not only that, but if we ever wanted to, we can leave the camper behind and take our “every day” vehicle, the truck, out for a spin when need be.

Here is an overall view of the layout:

Kitchen, toilet/shower combo, dining area, bed. What else do you need?
Kitchen, toilet/shower combo, dining area, bed. What else do you need?

The inside of spacious enough. When it’s traveling, you fold it down, but when it’s time to get in and live a little, you crank up the ceiling, or pop it up, for extra head space. The unit also has an outdoor awning so we could set up a barbeque and some chairs for a nice evening under the stars.

I tried to capture a few photos, not all of them great. I’ll be updating more with time, but here are some preliminary ones:

From the outside looking in. Notice the awesome USA stickers. I want to fill that thing OUT!
From the outside looking in. Notice the awesome USA stickers. I want to fill that thing OUT!

IMAG1022

Jon checking out the storage under the bed
Jon checking out the storage under the bed
The toilet/shower combo.
The toilet/shower combo.
Hello, new lifestyle
Hello, new lifestyle

In any case, there are many new things to learn with this new lifestyle. Jon and I are studying up about waste removal, water tank capacity, electricity and power. It’s definitely going to be a learning curve, but a very fun one, I think!

We purchased a Ford F250 3/4 ton truck with 4 wheel drive and an off road package. The vehicle is used, a 2004, with about 150,000 miles on it. It has a 6.5 foot bed and extended cab for extra storage space (hello charcoal grill!) Pictures of that and the complete, put together vehicle soon to come.

I am excited for this journey on the open road. The only plan now is to head west. We both love the idea of a week or two of remote camping and hiking in Colorado (and places along the way) before trying to find some work. Oh yeah, and hot springs. We both want to find some hot springs. Shouldn’t be too bad, right?

Good times ahead, me thinks
Good times ahead, me thinks