Monday, September 29, 2008

Pam's Hot Sauce

Pam, your hot sauce rocks. In this barren land of bland, carbohydrate-filled food we're living in, your hot sauce is an oasis of spice, flavor and hope. I can't even tell you how much more enjoyable camping is because of it, but it is. Thank you.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Dear Wyoming,

I feel like we've known each other for years, and to think, we just met! Your beauty was mesmerizing when I first saw you. Remember when we enjoyed the sunset together at Lily Lake and the long stroll we took in Grand Teton National Park? I saw my first Moose with you! What great memories. Things were going so well.

Then you rained on me that morning. I guess those 300+ days of sunshine per year were meant for someone else. And what about the chili we made our last night together. Maybe if you had told me what a bad idea that was I could have avoided the next 16 hours.

I guess what I'm getting at is that I think it's time for me to move on. The time we spent together was memorable, yes, but I'm just not ready to be tied down at the moment. Please understand that it's not you, you're great. You're the best. I'm just not ready for that type of commitment yet.

Well, I guess this is it then. So long. And please, don't change.



Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Yay Tetons!




Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Idaho Is Too Great...

It's official. Idaho has a special place in my heart. The preconceived notion that Idaho was only good for potatoes has been replaced, in my head, with the following slogan:


We all know (or should know) about Sun Valley. But tucked away an hour and a half to the north is a small town (pop. 100) called Stanley that I fell in love with. Mary worked at a summer camp close to Stanley a few years back and couldn't wait to show it to me...and I'm glad she did.

The town survives on tourism in the summer (mostly rafting tours) but after labor day slowed way down. Not too good for Stanley I suppose, although I'm sure the locals would argue that, but it was great for us. It seemed like we had the place to ourselves. We camped, did some day hikes to mountain lakes, and stopped by Mary's summer camp to say hi.

Idaho was a very good week for us, outside of Stanley even. As such, I'd like to lay out the top five reasons why Idaho is too great...

5. WinCo Foods
We stumbled upon this gem of a grocery store during a gas stop in Meridian, ID. It had a Costco feel to it (warehouse layout with food stored on pallets) but you didn't buy in bulk. Just normal grocery store quantities, which is good when you are storing everything in a small cooler. The best part was how cheap it was! $0.42 mac-n-cheese, $0.82 for an eight-pack of chicken hot dogs, $0.30 for a can of tomato paste and $3.75/lb for Turkey sliced at the deli counter (to name a few...I saved the receipt I was so excited). We spent $59 and we still have more food after 10 days and only eating out once. If only there were more (we only came across one of them).

4. Free Camping
No one lives in central Idaho. Lots of land + no people = endless free campsites for Mary and Eric to stay at. Of course, the free campsites tend to have a slight deliverance feel to them, so we paid $5 to camp at the sites with some amenities, aka pit toilets. Still the large supply of freebs makes me like Idaho more. This is a picture from one of our campsites:

3. 75 mph Speed Limits
Apparently the government in Idaho understands that their citizens and visitors don't want to spend a lot of time near any metropolitan part of their state (except, of course, to shop at WinCo Foods). To facilitate this, they upped the speed limit on their interstates to a respectable 75 mph. Thank you Idaho for getting me away from Boise quicker than most other states would (legally) allow.

2. Great Mountains

You don't hear a lot of chatter about the Sawtooths or the White-Clouds, but they are some seriously cool mountains. The Sawtooths are very rugged and powerful, and the White-Clouds definitely win the award for most unique. I can't wait to get deep in there on a future trip.

1. Road Signs
Most of the time, road signs are used to display useful information to drivers. Now, I've driven a fair amount and Idaho definitely felt like it had a higher concentration of quality road signage (I'll have to discuss this with Mary's dad before stating it as fact). This makes me happy as a driver since hours on the road can get monotonous and there's nothing better to break up monotony than a quality road sign. The winners of Idaho road sign contest are best displayed visually (honorable mentions: Chuck-a-rama all you can eat buffet and the Potato Museum in Blackfoot, ID):

You're right. Idaho is too great to litter.


Clean Ratio

We're averaging one shower every five days so far.

My mustache still smells like campfire.

Monday, September 15, 2008


Just finished a three day backpacking trip in Olympic National Park. Saw some bears and heard Elk bugling, which was a first for me and very, very cool. We were on a ridge and we could hear them in the valley below, echoing throughout the mountains. Very loud. Here is what it sounds like...this is not my video, just an example for those of you unfamiliar with it. We had a quick stop in Seattle to see family and watch an 80's movie, and now we're headed out to Idaho for some Sawtooth action. We'll end up in Grand Teton National Park by this weekend to meet up with Mary's friend Bethany who also happens to be on a road trip.

A short post, I know, but the road calls.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Living Out Of A Bag

Right now we're living out of a bag, which wouldn't be all that bad except for the fact that I don't have a coffee routine anymore. I used to be fully caffeinated by 9am and now I'm just a lost soul every morning, stumbling around with 50% of my potential brain function available to me. My friend Jeremiah would say, "Well my brain works 100% without coffee" and I would say to him "Well, Jer, mine does too." The distinction I'm making here is that it runs at 50% of my brain's potential without being caffeinated. Running the numbers real quick reveals that coffee squeezes out another 100% of brain power (that's 200% caffeinated and 100% non-caffeinated). That's a pretty big gap Jer. You're missing out on some serious brain potensh here.

It's 9am and in an hour we're going to be meeting a husband and wife to sell the Civic. We met the wife yesterday (she test drove it) and Mary and I feel good about selling the car to them. So, Seattle, it appears that this is it. This was the last thing holding us back so I guess this is goodbye. Tomorrow we're planning on heading to the Olympic Mountains for a 3-day backpacking trip in the Sol Duc River area . The trail gets up pretty high, so hopefully I'll get some good pictures.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Fun Sandwich

Mary and I just got back from a 4-day backpacking trip down the coast of Vancouver Island, BC with our friends from MN, Erica and Josh. The trip was incredibly fun, but it was sandwiched between two slices of pain.

Let me explain.

Last Monday we moved out of our apartment. On our way down to Tacoma (where we're storing everything) my truck started to sputter out. Yay! I was thrilled. So we took Mary's car and made arrangements to have my truck picked up when Firestone was through figuring out and fixing the problem. Luckily, they figured out what was wrong while I still had a cell phone signal and I was able to ok the service. $488 of pain is not the best way to start off six-months of salary-free living, although the situation could have been much, much worse I guess.

That pain quickly faded though once we actually made it to the trail. The hike was simply great. Good exercise, Great company and whales! The trail hugged to coast the entire time (rising and falling in between beach access points). The north half of the trail had kelp beds paralleling the coast line, and feeding in the kelp were gray whales (some apparently live off the coast of Vancouver Island all summer; most migrate all the way to AK). It must drop off quickly because they were pretty close to the shore.

It's tough to explain how exhilarating it is to be hiking in a forest and then to all of a sudden hear a 50-foot whale take a deep breath, but you hear it and it makes your skin tingle and your heart race. At our lunch break on the first day we saw at least five whales cruise past us within a hundred feet from shore, some closer, and we'd see many more over the next three days. There weren't any spectacular jumps or tail displays, but a whale coming up for air was enough to widen your eyes and slap a huge grin on your face.

The hike was by no means easy, but completing it over 4 days left plenty of time to lounge around and enjoy the scenery. There was beach camping complete with camp fires, suspension bridges, bear sightings, and mushrooms. All very exciting! Besides the whales, the image that's burned into my head right now is a misty, morning sea scattered with cargo ships talking to each other in bellowing fog horns.

Now we're back in Washington and we're trying to get on our way. We still need to sell Mary's car and finish storing our stuff (we were in such a hurry with the truck mess that we had to dump most of it in a friend's garage). So there's still some more pain to deal with before we're truly free, but if this trip was an indicator of what's to come, then it'll be worth it.

Click Here To See More Pictures