Part One: Breaking Free

It was a long and difficult process, selling our home and all of our things, moving out of a house we had lived in for 10 years.  This did not happen overnight, and it took a lot of planning and hard work to make it come to fruition.  It is amazing all the material things you collect over the years.

Our house was no different than millions of other Americans, nestled in a pre-planned suburb, full of stuff.  Where others see comfort, wealth, and security, we see shackles and poverty.  Not the kind of poverty you expect, but a kind of poverty of life experiences.  We were 9 to 5 zombies, going to jobs we dreaded, living in a groundhog day and getting older by the day.  Each day was like a nail in the coffin of our dreams, and it seemed like there was no escape.

Downsizing

It did not start this way.  We were excited to be homeowners 10 years ago.  Young and inexperienced, we were sold on the dream of success: make more money, buy nice things, get promoted, make even more money, and buy even nicer things, ad infinitum.  Without realizing it, we were giving up piecemeal with each thing we bought, our freedom.  All that was about to change.  We put our house on the market.  We sold our things at garage sales and on Craigslist.  Enormous debts were paid in full.  Loved ones welcomed us into their home.

More powerful than the despair of starting from scratch, or the fear of the uncertain, is hope.  Hope for new beginnings, hope for a brighter future, and hope for a life full of experiences.

Part Two: Planning an Epic Adventure

Now that we had almost no bills to pay, we could start saving.  We had always dreamed of travel, but where would we go, and what would we do?  As a Christmas gift some years ago, we had received a book concerning all the national parks and national scenic trails of the United States.  This coffee table tome sat in our living room, and we would leaf through it from time to time dreaming of hiking.

Backpacking was something we had done for years.  However, with our minimal vacation time, we were able to travel the 9 hours to the nearest national parks, Big Bend, and pack for only 3 or 4 days tops every year.  What would it be like to backpack for 6 months?  So it was decided, we would walk from Mexico to Canada in 2017.

Prep

It was the Summer of 2016.  Our trip would begin in Spring 2017.  We had a lot to do, and so we got busy.  Melony has gotten a sweet new job at Gold’s Gym as a personal trainer and yoga instructor.  We were able to save money and plan and prep for our big adventure.

After leaving his employer, Travis filled his days researching gear.  This meant reading blogs, books, and watching reviews on youtube.  Soon he had assembled all the lightweight gear needed for a thru-hike of this magnitude.  Additionally, he worked to dehydrate all kinds of foods, including beef jerky, veggies, and fruit rolls for our resupply boxes.

Melony handled the logistical side of the hike, focusing on resupply and packing food boxes.  Soon our parents’ upstairs bedroom was filled with USPS priority mail flat-rate food boxes.  We read books and blogs and poured over maps.  REI hosted navigation classes, which taught us basic compass and navigation.

Additionally, we started training.  Doing strength training five days weekly and hiking as often as possible, Travis began to shed weight and get into great shape.  He also began attending Melony’s yoga classes to increase his mobility and flexibility.  All of these activities began to build aerobic fitness, strength, flexibility, coordination, and balance.  These are all important components for an athlete, which is exactly what a long-distance hiker is.

Plan

We received permits, allowing us to begin the trail on May 7th.  As things started coming together, our thoughts turned to actually getting to the trailhead.  Our Aunt Lee lives in San Deigo, and we have close friends in Seattle.  What if we did a national parks road trip?

We could mirror the trail and leave our car in Seattle with Kristen and Andy.  Then we can fly to San Diego, and Aunt Lee could take us to the trailhead in Campo.  When our hike is finished, we can get our car from Seattle and drive home.  Then things really got out of hand.  What if we visited all the national parks along the way?  And so we came up with this crazy plan…

National Parks Itinerary:

Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico

White Sands, New Mexico

Petrified Forest, Arizona

Canyonlands Island in the Sky, Utah

Canyonlands Needles District, Utah

Natural Bridges, Utah

Capitol Reef, Utah

Zion, Utah

Bryce, Utah

Grand Canyon, Arizona

Saguaro, Arizona

Joshua Tree, California

Death Valley, California

Sequoia, California

Redwoods, California

Spruce Goose, Oregon

Olympic, Washington

It is an ambitious plan, but we sure will make up for all those years we didn’t get to travel.  We set a date to leave in mid-March.  Everything was ready, and it was time to start the difficult process of saying goodbyes.  Farewells to coworkers and clients, family and friends were hard to do.  We had a big dinner with all our closest to kick things off.

Part Three: Living an Epic Adventure

We drove out of San Marcos, Texas, on March 21, 2017, embarking on a national parks adventure.  Not knowing what was in store for us just open to the experiences before us, we set off.  This Web site is dedicated to that journey and hopefully, the many others that follow.  Let it be said that travel is a great teacher and with each adventure, you return finding yourself a little bit changed.  It is with these words and pictures that we hope to inspire you to go out and see the things you dream of.

Part Four:  Adventures Continued…

I hope you have found some inspiring ideas for your next travel adventure on our site.  Click the links to explore these other amazing places:

Southwest Road Trip 2018:

Bandelier National Monument, New Mexico

Tent Rocks National Monument, New Mexico

Aztec Ruins National Monument, New Mexico

Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Hovenweep National Monument, Utah & Colorado

Goosenecks State Park, Utah

Monument Valley Navajo Tribal Park, Arizona

Organ Pipe Cactus National Monument, Arizona

Saguaro National Park East, Arizona

Tucson Mountain Park, Arizona

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