(Charisse) This state gets its’ very own blog post. Why? Because it continues to absolutely take my breath away every moment I’m in it. And really, that’s all there is to say. The photos speak for themselves. Enjoy. 😊
(Charisse) My cousin, Alyssa, and her husband, Rick, own a sustainable farm in the small town of Tipton, IA, where they raise and sell pastured chicken and eggs. https://www.augustacres.com/ Their acreage is just beautiful, with a stream running through it, and several old barns and outbuildings. We got a tour of their pastures, orchards, and garden. We got to see their home, which is a modest size, but extremely well organized and comfortable. And then, there were all the animals and their adorable gaggle of kids. We saw ducks, chickens/baby chicks, peacocks, cats/kittens, dogs, goats, sheep, cows/bulls, and a pony. I literally couldn’t help myself, and was as giddy as a little girl around so many critters.
But what really tickled our funny bone was their awkward adolescent goose, Lucky. The kids found his unhatched egg in the mouth of one of their dogs, rescued it from an untimely death (hence the name), and incubated the egg until it hatched. Apparently, wild birds do a thing called “imprinting”, and if their first exposure is to humans, they will identify/bond with humans for life, rather than their own species. Lucky is no exception. He follows Rick, Alyssa, and the kids around the farm as if he’s one of them, and even clumsily waddle-runs next to the Kubota as they drive around to do their chores. Here he is in all his awkward glory.
We’ll definitely be back soon to see how their farm and family are growing!!
(Charisse) Though Tim and I continue to fine-tune how we eat to make it as clean as possible, we both battle a bit of a sweet tooth. Freshly baked Cinnabon (unfortunately available at a lot of truck stops) and Haagen Dazs ice cream cause regrettable lapses in judgement for me, while donuts and candy bars call to Tim like sirens. In an effort to steer away from these processed monstrosities (most of the time, anyway), I’ve found three recipes that curb our cravings and are now our go-to before we line up at the Cinnabon counter. They’re all low-carb, and contain healthy fats and small amounts of sweetener.
#1 Chia Pudding: Um…chia? Isn’t that what they used to grow plants on terra cotta animals back in the 80’s??? Why yes, it is! And it’s surprisingly nutritious. It plumps up like tapioca in a rich, mousse-like pudding made with coconut milk, and it is de-lish! I often make it with cacao or cocoa powder, but made strawberry this time. So, so good. We usually eat a couple of spoonfuls after dinner.
#2 Chocolate protein bites: These chocolate-y snack bites are loaded with nutritious goodness and are a quick hit to fill you up on the go. I add a few dark chocolate chips because, you know…well, I don’t have a good reason. They just add extra yumminess.
#3 Almond flour muffins: Seriously, this one is my new favorite. The recipe calls for bananas, and I used them last time, but tried pumpkin instead today. To…die…for. The weird thing about these is they get better with age (don’t we all wish). I keep them in the fridge (they freeze well, too), and every day they taste better and better. Again, I added a few dark chocolate chips for good measure. You could certainly omit, but…who would do such a thing?
Armed with our reasonably healthy treats, we’re headed for California again this afternoon. If you struggle with hankerings for sweets, give one (or all) of these a try! They sure are working well for us. If you have questions, feel free to leave a comment, PM me on Facebook, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
(Charisse) On our way out to Cali on Tuesday, we saw something odd in the middle of nowhere, Nevada. A shrine, an artist’s expression, a bunch of random things held together by concrete…we had no idea what it was. We passed by it on I-80 before we had a chance to figure it out, wrote down the mile marker, and told ourselves we’d stop and figure it out the next time we went by. And today was that day.
Thunder Mountain Indian Monument
We found a frontage road right off the interstate and parked the truck, walking into this fenced area that held the most random collection of rusty and old stuff we’d ever seen. Some of it was held together with concrete, and some of it was thoughtfully leaned or placed or hung. A lot of glass bottles and old windshields were used in the walls. There’s a cool (but kinda sad) story about this place, and you can read about it here.
Apparently, everything on this property was found within a 50-mile radius between 1968 and present day. Some of it was cool, and some of it was downright creepy.
Worth the stop, for sure. So if you’re ever driving through the middle of nowhere in Nevada, it’s a must-see.
And just for fun, here’s a tumbleweed rolling down the road.
(Charisse) Two weeks ago, we were on a run to Tacoma, WA, and had to route through Oregon due to an impassable, snowy Snoqualmie Pass in the Cascades. And boy, did we ever win the jackpot with some awesome views along the Columbia River on our way to Portland. Best part? We stopped in Cascade Locks and got to see the Bridge of the Gods, which spans the Columbia and connects Oregon to Washington. If you’ve seen the movie Wild, it’s the bridge where Cheryl Strayed (Reese Witherspoon) ended her hike on the PCT.
Emotions bubble up for me anytime we’re anywhere near the PCT or a town we went through while hiking it. Though we hadn’t made it this far in our hike, the trail goes right over this bridge…I couldn’t help but smile thinking of all the thru hikers who had crossed through this gateway to the last state on their journey. 🙂
PS – Today marks one year from the day we started walking from the southern terminus on the US/Mexico border. It feels like yesterday/forever ago…
(Charisse) What a strange few weeks it has been for us all. Our thoughts go out to family and friends who have been impacted so far…financially, emotionally, and otherwise. You may be out of a job. Your hours may have increased depending on the industry you’re in. Your small business may already be struggling. You may be working from home amongst littles and teens (if we were nearby, we’d drop wine on your front porch). Social distancing may be taking its’ toll on your sanity. These are stressful times. Hugs to you all.
For those of you hunkering down at home, I hope you’re able to take time to enjoy the little everyday pleasures that are so easy to miss when we’re running with our hair on fire. Read a book. Do a puzzle. Start a garden with the kids. Get some sunshine and fresh air, even if it’s just in your backyard. Enjoy some new music or that hobby you love and never seem to have time for. Bake or cook something. Take a bath. Connect with people in creative ways. Snuggle with the dog. Snuggle with the kids. Snuggle with your main squeeze. Be kind to yourself during these weeks/months because stress is harmful. Find some peace every day by turning off the news and social media for a while. And don’t forget the wine.
As for us, we’re doing all of the above as often as we can. And we’re pretty darn good at social distancing, rolling down the road 22 hrs. a day. We’re working to stay positive, healthy, and prepared; controlling what we can and not worrying about the rest.
Sending lots of love and good vibes to you all from out here in Cali! Stay safe, stay healthy, stay in good spirits. And remember…
Take a little tour around our mobile work/home space! This is our 2019 Volvo VNL 860. We LOVE it!!
How will we stay healthy and active as truck drivers? We get this question a lot, and it’s a great one, because…let’s be honest. Truck drivers make up one of the least healthy populations in the country. And it’s no surprise, really. Long hours of sitting, punctuated by breaks at truck stops where a cornucopia of junky snacks, energy drinks, and McBellKingArby’s are at your fingertips. It seems inevitable…but it doesn’t have to be. So, we’re working a three-step plan to avoid becoming a statistic.
Food (and water)
Truck driving is far from the free-for-all food orgy that thru-hiking was (sad face), where our bodies metabolized anything and everything we ate. When you sit on your hinder 24/7, it’s important to make smart food choices. This job is hard on your body in lots of ways, but the biggest issue we’ve noticed is a serious lack of nutritious food available on the road. Our solution? We shop and do most of our food prep at home to stock the truck with healthy options so (most of the time, anyway) we don’t succumb to truck stop temptation. As we go out for longer periods of time, we’ll need to also shop on the road and cook in the truck, so we have a plan in place for that, too. Luckily, our company provided us with a nice, big fridge to keep all our fresh food in (it’s nearly empty now because we’re heading home today).
We’ve been trying on a low-carb, high-fat way of eating, and it really seems to be working for us in terms of keeping us full for longer and having far less cravings. Plus, most of what we’re eating is easily cut into snackable portions. Here’s what some of our daily foods look like.
Add to that, lots of water throughout the day (plus a cup or two of coffee), a light dinner of chicken, broccoli, and raw sauerkraut and/or avocado, and that’s pretty much our routine for now. Shout out to Robin TootsMagoots Grapa for educating me on this way of eating. She has been an inspiration to us in so many ways, and is truly an amazing gal. Read more about her and her bad-assery here.
Don’t get me wrong…we REALLY enjoy food…a lot. Which is why nothing is truly off limits. My philosophy has always been 90/10. If 90% of the time, you’re putting clean, nutritious food in your body, the other 10% of the time, eat what you want. Food is meant to sustain you, but is also a source of immense enjoyment. Life is short…eat that Double-Double Animal-Style In-N-Out burger!
Sometimes you eat eggs and veggies and do jumping jacks at the fuel island.
Other times, you watch Netflix and eat kettle chips and ice cream.
It’s called balance. 😉
More on our second step (sleep) and third step (fitness) in upcoming blogs. Plus, we’ll give you an inside tour of our new truck, Maximus the Road Warrior.
Our view from the shipper this morning. 😌 Driving through SoCal and seeing the Sierras and Joshua trees has us all PCT-sick today. *Sigh*
We’re having lunch with our favorite trail angel, Leslie, who let us stay with her in Wrightwood, CA when we were on the trail. She’s about an hour from the truck stop we’re at in Hesperia right now. She was so much fun, will be great to see her!
Maverick: We are back on trail, and it has been a HOT few days. Technically, we’re still in the desert, so it has been hitting mid-90’s by the afternoon. Additionally, we’ve been greeted by hordes of gnats/flies. They are not interested in your arms, legs, or any other body parts. They are interested only in entering every orifice of your face all the live long day. They dive bomb your ears and swirl around, fly up your nose, and land on your cheek to get stuck in the sweat/sunscreen cocktail that resides there. You can’t outrun them (I’ve tried), they laugh at my essential oil bug spray, and I hate using DEET. Ergo…headnet. Not sexy, but sanity-saving.
Even though this short, 50-mile stretch was hot and buggy, we cowboy camped at the top of a ridge last night, and it was BEAUTIFUL. Tons of stars, the Milky Way was right above us, and Rooster even woke up to a late night visit from a lizard when he felt little feet running across his head. One of our favorite campsites yet.
Today, we are in Kennedy Meadows at Grumpy Bear’s resupplying, showering, doing laundry, and eating some non-trail food. Tomorrow, we head into the Sierras and are in for a real treat with the views to come.
NOTE: We will likely be out of phone and internet range for the next couple of weeks, so don’t worry if you don’t hear much from us. We’ll be soaking up epic views of mountain ranges and alpine lakes, along with a sunrise Mt. Whitney summit! And we’ll have tons of great pics to share when we get back to civilization in Mammoth.
Maverick: Another week in beautiful Kernville, and we continue to make the best of this time off trail! Rooster got in three consecutive days of mountain biking last week. The first day he was the lead guide for a dozen riders, and the next day he ripped down the trail we had done a couple of weeks ago. The last day he rode with a group of guys down the infamously challenging (or as he called it, equal parts terrifying and exhilarating) local Cannell Trail. He walked away with a few scrapes, some road rash, and bruising as a result of a tumble on the last ride, but had an awesome time pushing himself on an expert level trail.
As for me, my best friend from high school (yep, that’s 30 years 😮), Angie, drove down from a business trip in San Francisco to hang with us for a few days. We had such a fantastic time and some adventures of our own, hitting up the Sequoias, Dome Rock, and some rafting on the river. We don’t see each other often, so it was a real treat to have lots of time to catch up!
The next week will be packed with holiday activities and work, getting everything ready to hit the trail again, and saying goodbye to all of our new friends at MRA. These people have all been so good to us, making us feel like family and as if we’ve always been there. We will miss them all, for sure…but the trail is calling. 🏔
Up on Cannell TrailSign at Dome Rock, a rock climbing hot spot
On top of Dome Rock (Needles behind us)
Our rafting guide friend, Nate, who is heading back home to Ashland
Maverick: It would be easy to be upset about hitting the pause button on our hike if we weren’t having so much fun at MRA and in Kernville!
This week has been busy with work, meeting new river rafting guide friends (a different tribe of outdoor enthusiasts with their own language), and getting out in the area to play! Rooster has been busy tuning up all the bikes at the campground, and was an assistant guide on a mountain bike excursion a few days ago, so he is TOTALLY in his element. I’ve been doing a variety of jobs for MRA, including landscaping, retail, and office work, and loving it.
One of the perks of working here is the access to their toys and the experts who know how to use them. Last Friday, one of the guides came up to Rooster and said, “I’m taking a raft out…do you and Maverick want to go?” Within a half hour, we had scooped up a hiker friend of ours who was in town, Hoops, and were getting our safety talk to go out on the biggest rapids any of us had been on (Class 3/3+). And it was a blast!! We got to go down a 3 mile run twice, and I almost took an unexpected swim on the second run! We were laughing the whole time, and our guide, Dakota, was awesome! We celebrated with a few beers and then brought Hoops back to our campsite for a fire with a bunch of the guides.
Yesterday, Rooster and I got to take out some mountain bikes to check out a local trail, and then drove up to see the Trail of 100 Giants. Those sequoias are so incredible! Tomorrow morning, I get to go up their outdoor climbing wall when the guides are doing a training exercise, and I’m pretty stoked about that. 😀
Who knows what else this week will bring?!