A blog, what a great idea! Or atleast thats how I feel right now. Right now being in the middle of the Utah Desert where it's so cold that I can hardly feel my fingers while typing this. You know, the time of our best ideas!
I’ve liked the idea of doing something like this for some time now and now that I’m homeless and hopelessly wandering around the Desert I figured this would be a good way to record some thoughts, share some photos and be a reminder of the simpler things in life.
I’m by no means a writer, poet, philosopher or anything remotely near that so here goes nothing…I guess.
I jumped into this new #VanLife trend about 9 months ago. Since then I’ve traveled to 9 states, 2 countries and seen some incredible things. I’ve also spent 3 nights in hotels while my van stayed in a nice warm mechanics shop overnight. I guess with driving somewhere near 16,000 miles in these past months 3 nights isn’t half bad. Also considering I haven’t had to pay any form of rent hardly.
Long story short I spent the summer in paradise, Haines, AK. Coincidentally Coldplay’s ‘Paradise’ is playing right now, that's how cool Haines is. Quite possibly the prettiest place on Earth surrounded by amazing people and i really didn’t want to leave. The promise of a winter job in Montana seemed close enough to where I wanted to live and be, so I headed South.
After spending some time with the family and sleeping in a real bed (still wasn’t as comfortable as my vans bed) I needed to get out and see new sights. I parked in my buddy’s apartment complex in Flagstaff, Arizona. A gateway to the desert you could call it. Ah finally, the Southwest. A place I had been dreaming about for years. Our adventures took us to the Grand Canyon and Sedona. My impression of Sedona is that it might be one of the coolest places on Earth. For many reasons, but the one that will stick around are the tacos and margaritas we had post hike. Oh and those gorgeous red rock mountains. These red rocks must be like some sort of drug, they lure you in and never let go (hence why I’m still surrounded by them).Remember that job in Montana i was talking about? Yeah it was time for that. So I headed North.
5 months of free skiing seemed like a fair enough trade off for mind numbing work. But while I headed North I made a few pit stops. Pit stops which are the reason I’m where I’m at right now. 4 hours north of Flagstaff and I find myself in Zion National Park. If words could even describe how amazing this place is...
I dropped down into the valley and went straight to the backcountry info desk. ‘I’d like a Subway permit please’. After the ranger asked me some questions that in all honesty i had no clue the actual answer to and with the help of some BS, and $15 (of course) I had a permit. Easy enough. That morning I wasn’t sure what to expect besides that all that lay between me and my first time in the Utah Canyons was a mere 4.5 miles, easy peasy. After said 4.5 miles, mainly bushwhacking and jumping over small creeks I turned the corner to see a mysterious hole carved through the canyon. To my enjoyment there were only a handful of folks in the Subway that day, and even better we were all photographers. Not a selfie stick within sight, a rare occasion nowadays in National Parks. I walked around this incredible feature for awhile and headed back down the Canyon, back home. That ‘mere’ 4.5 miles damn near killed me. But I made it back to the parking lot. Never have I been so overjoyed by having day old, slightly soggy, donuts before in my life. That night I spent $50 for a campsite, but mainly for the warm shower. Seriously people, why are campgrounds so expensive (maybe i should have a blog post just ranting about campgrounds….)? Next stop Bryce Canyon. A world of Orange hoodoos and pine trees. I did all the touristy things like watch the sunset at sunset point. But then the stars came out, and coincidentally everyone left. The whole amphitheater to myself? Don’t mind if I do. Once the sun goes down everything gets cooler, I’m not sure why but its just a simple fact. Bryce Canyon is no exception. After a night under the stars and sunrise at sunset point (like i was going to be super cliche and watch it at sunrise point). I was on to Montana.
Now you might think that Southern Utah is a fair distance from Montana. And let me tell you, it is. 700 some odd miles later and I pulled into a gas station in Lovell Wyoming. What seemed like torture was actually the beginning of an unforgettable few days. I had planned (when I say planned I mean commented on a friends Facebook post 2 days ago saying i was going to crash their weekend getaway) to meet up with old Montana friends for a few days at Bighorn Canyon. I'm not sure how this place has stayed so far under the radar, but it has and that's what makes this place one of my true ‘happy places’. Imagine this wild landscape with cliffs dropping thousands of feet, a place where Wild Horses still roam free and hidden ghost towns, with about 5 people spanning the entire landscape. Yeah thats Bighorn Canyon. I sat around for another 3 hours waiting on my friends to make the 1.5 hour drive from Billings. If there was a time i just wanted to sleep it was now, but why not stay up till 1:30 hanging out with friends in the middle of nowhere after driving 700 miles? We spent the next couple days dangling our feet off of 1,500ft cliffs during sunrise, having EDM dance parties, and eating Rocky Mountain Oysters. I'm still scarred from that last one, and I probably will be for the rest of my life. Thanks Andy. This last week on the road hardly felt real. (Lightbulb turns on). Hm maybe i don’t want to work, maybe I should just live out of my van until spring. But I had prior commitments to fill, and the hope of powder. We waved goodbye, and I was headed to Big Sky Montana. What greeted me was an absolutely ginormous resort. All this for skiing?
Monday morning, 9am. I started having flashbacks to college, and not the good ones. A large hall, filled with people. Yay for training. Training? Is is really necessary to have 2 weeks of training to be a lifty (lift operator)? In my opinion, no. But what do i know, i’m just some homeless guy with a shaggy beard living out of a van. Oh, I also felt like living in my van in the Montana mountains in the middle of winter was a bad idea so I got an apartment. Which when my roommate moved in felt just about as crammed as my van, but it was warm unlike my van when it was -15 out. I suffered through training, ah finally opening day, minus one thing-snow. So acheing for an adventure and not wanting to ride over rocks i headed South to Jackson. This should’ve been my 4th night in a hotel room but it pays to have friends scattered around the country. It was also the first and probably last time that I'll ever eat dumplings and pasta for Thanksgiving dinner, thanks Becky it was delicious. Black Friday, when most people buy pointless things for cheap, I paid the mechanic to fix my home on wheels. Something that had become a reoccurring event lately. Back to work Saturday morning. Still hardly any snow. Dodging rocks and small trees in the middle of a run isn’t much fun, not when you’re trying to avoid those things. Jump ahead two weeks later, or something like that, remember that mind numbing work reference? Yeah this is that point. It was a toasty -5 that day. I got the 'pleasure' of working the base area at one of the magic carpets. I think maybe a dozen different people rode up it, the entire day. Pro tip: using your magic carpet as a treadmill when you’re bored is a great time waster. 4 o’clock: quittin' time. Most people use that term for when works done for the day, or in my case for the next 4 months. Freedom at last!!!!! The crazy idea of living out of my van and doing nothing but taking photos and exploring the Southwest was now a reality. Holy sh!t. What did I get myself into? I'm still not sure I could answer that question, even though I seem to be doing alright thus far.
So we can fast forward to the present, because you probably don’t really want to know what I got for Christmas and how I spent the holidays in Oregon, mainly just watching Netflix FYI.
So here I am, Goblin Valley State Park. No ones here, it's cold, it's remote, it's a tad lonely. But you know what? Its not mind numbing. Its some weird exhilarating feeling. The last 5 nights have all been spent in National Parks. It's been star filled nights in Death Valley, downpours in Zion and the bitter cold in Capitol Reef. I have a plan for the next week, which will inevitably change and after that i don’t have a stinking clue what my life is gonna be. Sure parts of it can be stressful, like where am I gonna park tonight? What was that sound the van just made? But every now and then you come across a sight so overwhelmingly gorgeous, it washes away all the doubts there are to traveling around in a van, moments that blow your mind, wondering how something could be so perfect. I guess those short, sometimes rare moments are why I’m here.