After 2 weeks of feeling like all we were doing is driving we are finally back in the PNW. When we first made the decision to do the “Van Life” thing, we promised our families we would return to the PNW for the holidays. I don’t think either of us really thought about where we would be in the country or how long it actually takes to drive across it and I am not sure it would have really mattered. We want to see our families and spend time with all of them during the holidays, but boy was it a whirlwind few weeks.
After our last race in North Carolina, SwimRun NC, we went back to South Carolina to see David’s daughter and grandson. We had such a wonderful visit and it was so nice to be able to see them again. From there it was time to head west to the PNW. Our first stop was in Tuscaloosa, Alabama to visit David’s niece. She is a freshman in college at the University and has not seen any family since her mom took her to school back in August. Although we didn’t get to spend much time, it was so nice visiting, having dinner, catching up and hearing about her freshman year so far, she looks and sounds extremely happy.
From Alabama we made our way to Stillwater, Oklahoma. It was a crazy day of driving to get to Stillwater. I bet you are asking yourself why on earth would we rush to get to Stillwater, OK. Well, Stillwater is the home of the Land Run 100, a 100 mile bicycle race on red, rutted, gravel roads through the beautiful countryside surrounding Stillwater. Our goal was to make it to District Bicycles on Saturday morning for the registration party. We met the owner of District Bicycles, Bobby, back in May in Kansas, he was one of the 34 people racing the DKXL (350 miles of gravel, unsupported). He was super excited that we made the trek to Stillwater as were we. There was so much positive energy surrounding the registration, we had a great time, both registered for races (David for the Double-50k run followed by 100 mile bike the following day and me the 50k run), and spent an extra day exploring the area.
Little did we know that we would really enjoy our time in Stillwater. Much like Emporia, Kansas, Stillwater is a hidden gem in the middle of the country. A place that most people will never get to experience because most people would never even dream of going to Oklahoma on vacation. We were able to do a little Land Run course recon and some trail running before we had to move on toward the west coast.
From Stillwater we made our way to Phoenix, Arizona to visit our dear friends, Joan and Russ. On the way, we could not help ourselves, we had to make a very brief pit stop in Winslow, Arizona for a photo op on the corner. And yes, there was a flat bed Ford sitting right in front !!
Although our visit in Phoenix was less than 24 hours, we were able to spend some quality time with our friends, working out, running and catching up.
On to Las Vegas where we would help in the Orange Mud booth at the Las Vegas Rock and Roll Marathon Expo. Orange Mud has focused on making hydration packs for running and cycling but they also have lots of other fun items, like the transition towel! They are a great company, they stand by all of their products and they love supporting their customers. We happened to meet the owner, Josh, in Kansas where I became a huge fan of their products and became an ambassador. David and I had a blast helping out, promoting and selling great products and meeting so many like minded people.
We couldn’t come to Las Vegas and not find a race. Well lucky us, an old friend of mine, from way back when I was living in Vegas, has his own race management company, Bristlecone Events, and happened to have a 5k race the day we were leaving. So, before hitting the road again we participated in the race and then went back out for a second 5k to help pick up cones on the race course. Not only did we get to race but I was able to catch up with an old friend, meet his amazing wife and daughter and introduce him to David. Thank you Eric and Dawn Marie for welcoming us into your home and your space for a few days!!
From Vegas it was on to Salt Lake City for a very brief visit with some other old friends from Vegas, Melinda and Nathan. We had very little time to explore but we were there long enough to get in a nice hike in the foothills of the Wasatch Mountains. This area looks amazing and we can’t wait to come back when we have more time to really explore the area. We are hoping Melinda and Nathan want to be our tour guides as they are amazing athletes and know the region well.
From Salt Lake City we made a brief overnight stop in Boise before making it to Portland, Oregon and my brother’s house. We were able to spend 10 days with my brother, his 2 girls and his girlfriend and her daughter. We took advantage of some nice weather for some great outside time, a stop at Multnomah Falls , running up Mt. Tabor and out at Forest Park. We spent Thanksgiving with my family before heading north to Seattle to have another Thanksgiving celebration with David’s family. We will spend some time in Seattle, visiting with family and friends, racing and training and planning our 2019 journey.
We have now been on the road for 9 months and heading into this holiday season we have so much to be thankful for. We have our health, our families, the ability to travel and each other. We cherish everyday we have to make memories with each other and with others around us. We have realized that living with less has allowed us to appreciate the little things so much more and we can”t wait for more adventures in 2019.
“But the most beautiful things in life are not things. They’re people, and places, and memories, and pictures. They’re feelings and moments and smiles and laughter.” Unknown