Have I Said This Before?

My girlfriend and I have been planning our escape for years. It was some fear and apprehensions that stopped us from taking the leap years ago and wandering our beautiful planet on a forever way of life…traveling.

We planned and saved every dollar we could. Tried to make good decisions about big purchases. Brought our company to a viable asset. Fixed everything physically wrong with our aging bodies so we could be young again. We made a goal of 2017 as our jumping off point.

Well 2017 came and went. We put our business up for sale at the beginning of 2017. We had several interested parties, but running a car dealership is not as simple as liking cars. Everyone that came to the table either faded away when they found out how much was actually involved or the banks turned them down. I fell into a deep depression that I kept hidden as best as I could.

We set ourselves up to live a good life. We built our dream home 18 years ago and are about 3-4 years away from paying it off. Our house is warm and comfortable and WAY too big for our little family of two humans and a corgi. It was a tax shelter and necessity which has now become a source of financial security, affording us freedom if we could cut the chains.

We have read countless books on becoming a minimalist. We have attended Overlanding expos and created good, healthy ties with fellow explorers and travelers living both here in the US and in foreign countries. We bought a 2015 Ford Transit 250 to build into our adventure mobile. Of course with our still busy schedule it has not had much attention. So here we sit, chained to our business and unwilling to give up our comfortable home until the sale.

To make matters worse… everyday we wake up to another mass shooting, another unarmed kid shot by cops, a narcissistic POTUS who is batshit crazy and can seriously impact our financial health, physical health and turn the world against us. Kids are taking to the streets demanding change but getting the hand by the grownups they rally against. It is just too much for my fragile psyche to be bombarded with everyday.

Why take off and leave all that we know? Why sell off everything and have nothing but freedom to show for it? Why break away from all that is comfortable and travel to third world countries where people are happy and live harmoniously with the world around them? Seriously… you need to ask!

Two Miles High : A Rocky Mountain Tail : Chapter One

Chapter One: It All Begins Here

I woke up this morning with a wave of excitement. Today was the day I had been planning for for weeks. Of course the recent course of freak spring storms has brought a good amount of snow to the higher elevations and I have been contemplating moving my hike to a bit lower elevation, but I have been training hard all spring for this one time trip.

This was my solo trip of the year… me and my dog… my favorite pack and a few miscellaneous items I carefully put together, weighed and weighed again, to be sure I wasn’t carrying more than I felt I could handle.

I had prepared 7 dinners, 7 lunches and plenty of coffee and carbs for a good morning start each day. I afforded myself the luxury of 3 cliff bars… even though they added almost 2 lbs to my load. All my water filtration gear was in order, the last thing I need is giardia or some water pathogen that would render me unable to hike on to the rondevue at the end of my seven day sojourn.

I lie in bed and go over the specifics of the hike. The three passes I have to climb, all three over two miles high. A few years ago there was a huge fire in one area I will be hiking through and I have heard that there is a lot of dead timber for almost two miles of the hike. I was also told the Trail monitors had been out and keeping the trail clear and well marked. I had six major stream crossings and one big river that I am sure has swollen far beyond its banks… but I was told that the monitors had built a makeshift backcountry bridge and the crossing was safe.

My pup jumped up on the bed and broke my trance. He was making sure I knew it was time to feed him and go for our morning walk. This was the start to our every day together… morning belly rubs, kisses, and food then a walk. This trip was going to be my break from my mundane existence… a chance to see what I was really made of. Even with months of preparation, I still felt a twinge of fear, but I am writing it off to my women’s intuition telling me to proceed with a good healthy caution.

The morning wore on at a snails pace. I packed and re packed. Checked my list and rechecked it three times until I felt I had packed everything just perfectly. Hoisted the pack on my back, adjusted the straps and shoulder pads until it sat just right and I could bend and stoop without getting off balance… last thing I needed was a twisted ankle or busted head from something as silly as falling over. I can see it now… ” hiker found wandering around in a daze from busting her head open on a rock”… great headlines. I had no intention of becoming some statistic.

I made a call to my support team. We went over my plans and the rondevu time and place seven days from now. I went over the pick up and drop off of my car. I went over the check in times and the emergency contacts. As much as I hated the added weight I brought my 32, my Garmin and my big multi tool Leatherman. These three items alone added 5 lbs to my load… that’s 5 lbs I can’t eat or won’t keep me warm or dry… 5 lbs all the same extremely necessary. I felt confident all the bases were covered. Eight am… time to get going.

I piled my pack in the back of my FJ and double checked the map and the latest weather forecast. I opened the passenger door and Breeze hopped in. He seemed to know we were off for a long walk in the woods and was as eager as I was to hit the trail. His doggy back pack held two days of his food, 6 little sausage treats and his favorite toy. All set… time to get to the trailhead. I fired up the FJ and flipped the radio to The Grateful Dead channel and set off to the High Uintas.

Arriving at the dirt road that lead to the trail I could see the damage caused by all the Spring run-offs. Patches of snow still held tight to the shady grottoes of the mountains and the few streams we crossed were flowing well beyond their banks. Rounding a corner I saw a mama moose and her cow grazing waist high in the marshes caused by the over flowing streams. Driving on the canyon opened up and I was delighted to see endless fields of yellow and blue flowers. The flowers blanketed the hill sides and fenced in pastures.

I pulled over to snap some pictures and let Breeze out. A silence overcame me and almost hurt my ears. The azure colored sky was brilliant. A soft cool breeze foretold of the cool evenings to come and yet the sun was high and felt scorching on my bare skin. The pine trees stood tall against the deep blue sky in a contrast of colors and shadows. I felt a rush of emotion overcome me. This is why I try to do this this time of year. Another thirteen miles to go.

The further in I went the worse the road became and I was glad I had good ground clearance. There were times I had to cross small roadside streams that had been diverted across the road creating pools of dark muddy water. Throwing caution to the wind, I plowed through each pool and straddled each rut and finally arrived at the trailhead.

I know that I tend to be a little absent minded so I shot a picture of the trail and area with my phone so if I got distracted I could refer back to the picture and get back on track. Breeze is pretty good with direction too so between he and I we should be good. At the check in for the trail there was a notice of high water conditions and to take care at stream crossings. I signed the register and double checked my car to be sure I didn’t forget anything. Breeze ran around marking every rock and stump. He had a puppy type hop to his movements even at 9 years old.

I secured Breeze’s pack and adjusted the straps so nothing hung low and there were no straps dangling to possibly get tangled or caught. I secured my pack and it almost immediately felt like an old friend. I chugged my celebratory Trail beer, grabbed my hiking poles, locked the car making sure the note I always put on the dash was in plain sight. It was just the final precaution I always took when hiking solo. One last look behind and we were off.

Gandaulf the Red

Over the last 25 years, we have always traveled with a dog.  Mercy “Bucket”… a 75 pound German shepherd was an awesome travel companion and member of our little family.  She passed on Mother’s Day in 2008 at 15 years old.  After a short grieving period we got Gandaulf.  We were looking for another Adventure Dog that could keep up with our travels but this time without the size and hairiness of a shepherd.  The Corgis are a working breed just like the shepherds, with a lot of the same mannerisms, easy to train and always out to please.

Gandaulf came to us as a rescue at 10 weeks old. How could a dog with such short legs keep up with our hiking, climbing, rafting and travel abroad?  He would get high centered on the Sunday papers in driveways on our walks, high centered on tennis balls… but boy could he jump! It wasn’t long before his first 2 mile hike, camping trips and rafting/fishing trips. He was a natural in the outdoors.

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Gandaulf is now 7 years old and shows no sign of slowing down.  He has been to more countries than most humans.  Every year he has his own calendar showcasing his travels… he’s a natural in front of the camera.  This adventure will be a test of his patience and travel savvy.

We have never entered another country via driving across the border.  There is a bit of trepidation on our part.  We see blogs and FB posts of people traveling with their dogs. Traveling by airplanes is such a hassle with the red tape and vaccinations he has to go through. Poor guy… but he is a trooper.  We hope crossing a border is no big deal…

We would love to hear from anyone out there with such experience for some pointers.  Dos and don’ts, etc…

Introducing “Lucky”

When Chris and I decided to “hit the road”… we vacillated between flying to one destination, settling in for a short while… getting healthy and traveling out from a home-base. In October 2016, we bought a 1998 Toyota Land Cruiser and a light went off. Why not go Overlanding?  Drive down into Mexico and through all of Central America, west coast and back up the East Coast… and wherever the road takes us.

Some modifications needed to be done in order for this stock Land Cruiser to be road worthy in Central America. We started out with an ARB Sahara front bumper. Next came upgrading the headlights to a set of LEDs… don’t want to hit a cow in the middle of the night… Next came beefing up the suspension, not too radical after all we are a couple middle aged women and a short legged Corgi. We put on a full set of “KYB Excel-G Shocks”, beefed up the tie rod ends to “Proforged Chassis Parts Tie Rod Ends” and upgraded the tires to “Yokohama Geolander A/Ts” for a nice deep tread and strong sidewalls for off-roading… but not a noisy road tire.

How did she get her name?  She’s copper penny color… pennies are LUCKY…

Lucky will become our Adventure Cruzer. Still to come… a “Geo Adventure GT-180” fold out roof top tent with annex, interior build for storage… solar panel and backup deep cycle battery with an 800 watt power inverter for charging laptops, phones and running our “Edgestar 43 quart fridge“. A mounted lock box for securing personal items during travel. Off-road lights and an 8,000 lb winch. Two middle aged gals and a Corgi as the icing on the cake.

Dreaming BIG!!!

“Hitting the Road”…What Exactly Does This Mean?

This is the post excerpt.

What a great question, and one I’ve asked myself many times. When I first thought about it I envisioned the three of us driving on the highways and byways of Mexico down to Panama, stopping at beaches and pitching our rooftop tent. Wake up in the morning and hit the road again… My mind just couldn’t wrap itself around the idea that we don’t have any place to be at any particular time. This is an alien thought to someone with a full time job and daily responsibilities. We call this idea a “vacation”… a bit of time set aside to go recreate somewhere away from home with a finite timeline.

For us it will be more of a vagabond lifestyle…with means. Belongings “on our back” or in our 1998 Land Cruiser and all the time in the world to explore destinations unknown to us for now. It will be a serious unwind from 25 years in the same business. Time to reflect on our finite existence in an undetermined amount of time…as much as it takes. To enjoy creature comforts as they present themselves, a hot shower, flush toilet, real bed, and depending on how long we’ve been on the road, people. Time enough to connect to our surroundings without the ever looming time crunch of a “vacation”. It will be a new lifestyle not set in any boundaries of time or space.

I can tell you when I originally mentioned this idea to Chris I scared myself. At first it will be hard to just relax. Then there are the unknowns, which actually is what adds spice to life and the journey, but is frightening. We’ve done it before but in a country where we felt “safe”…for some reason. With propaganda and warnings from our own government telling us it is not “safe” to travel out of our little cushy country, it makes it tough to not be looking over your shoulder.

There is no rule book. No instruction manual. No “How to for Idiots”. It’s like jumping off a pier with 100 lbs of weight strapped to your waist and having faith that you won’t sink straight to the bottom of the ocean. It’s a combination of faith mixed with a bit of crazy. There’s only one way to do it. JUST DO IT! Look forward and embrace the unknown.