Let’s talk trash November 6, 2017 Taos, New Mexico

Lacy/Figure 8:

I love being back in Taos.  When we spent two weeks here in August I learned that this area is called the Land of Enchantment.  Well, it certainly has enchanted the two of us.  When we drove back here Tuesday afternoon we came from the east which took us through Cimarron Canyon State Park.  The drive AND THESE MOUNTAINS are so beautiful it moved me to tears as I felt the comfort of being back in this special part of New Mexico.   Me and my mountains…I went on a FANTASTIC yesterday morning, our 1 day off from school.  I hiked up 2,500 ft. through Italians Canyon, along the Rio Hondo and into the frost line.  There was snow on the ground and frozen water as I climbed towards 11,000 feet in elevation.  It was a fabulous 5 hours.

Rob and I absolutely loved attending the Biotecture Academy orientation together yesterday and came home feeling inspired and eager to learn more.  Last week I attended solo which included various classes and a day of fieldwork where I learned how to use several power tools and spent an afternoon plastering the aquaponics trough in a greenhouse.  Every day that I came home and shared what I learned with Rob it made him want to be there right there with me.  And now he is!  We enrolled him in school today and he spent his first full day on the site with me building a bond beam form out of cans and mortar, cutting and tiring rebar for the buttresses and building footings.  All under Taos’s magnificent sky.

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This view while working! Pictured are the tire wall, cisterns and berm

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That is one happy guy after his first day…even if he is little tired 🙂

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Plans for the Earthship we worked on today

Rob works on leveling the can form for the bond beam

I get to play with power tools and plaster

A snapshot of my wonderful Sunday morning hike

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Italianos Canyon

The entire concept of sustainable living that the earthships afford someone speaks to me in volumes.  When I was a really little kid my younger sister and I wanted to be scientists who would “cleanup the earth.”  I grew up recycling and never considered myself entirely wasteful…until I lived in Kathmandu, Nepal in 2013 for four months.  I had never before seen, nor even imagined, the amount of garbage that resided in the the streets and rivers of that city.  I lived on the Bagamati River for 3 months.  Decades ago this was a beautiful clean water source that the locals drank from.  Four years ago it was filled with sewage and garbage from the community.

 

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The piles of garbage near my school

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More piles of garbage near my school

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Just a glimpse of the garbage that piled in the river that ran through the town

 

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The Himalayas hanging in the distance. Nepal is gorgeous, especially the countryside, which makes seeing it covered in garbage all the more difficult

As an American it is really difficult to understand the concept of “garbage” and what happens to it after we are done with it, where it goes and how that effects an area.  We consume, throw away and forget. Our garbage is collected and removed from our sight and our smell.  Being in Nepal and seeing piles of garbage in waterways and streets, miles of garbage piled up next to the school that I worked at (that I walked along the polluted and fragrant Basmati river to get to) opened my eyes.  Garbage is a real thing that every single person has to deal with on this planet and our planet is huge.  Seeing a place that didn’t have the infrastructure to handle garbage and being faced with it day after day where I lived awakened me to just how much waste we produce as individuals and ultimately changed me.  I think anybody who has spent time with me in the last four years would say that my return from overseas made me extremely adverse to waste.  Imagine my delight when I learned last week that Europe is outlawing throw away plastic in 2020!!  So fast forward from my wanting to cleanup the world as a kid and being unable to ignore how wasteful society generally is to discovering Earthships.  Earthship: a home that takes more from the dump than it puts into it.  A home that is built from garbage – old tires, bottles, cans.  A home that uses the environment to function rather than fossil fuels that harm it.  A sophisticated sustainable and comfortable home that uses the earth’s natural cool temperature and the sun’s heat to keep your home a constant 69-71 degrees just makes sense.  Why would we do this any other way?

Throughout mine and Rob’s journey these nearly 8 months I have had many life experiences that have felt so right as I grow and we continue to build a life together, not just a living.  Building an Earthship, in harmony with nature, respecting the earth and sun and the natural resources it provides in an effort to heal and protect the environment is absolutely what I was meant to be doing.  Over the next 4 weeks I will step outside my comfort zone and into a new world, again!  I’ll learn how to use power tools, build, plaster, mix concrete, lay glass bottles into a wall, pound earth into tires, set up a solar system and so much more.  Rob and I have come a really long way in our thinking since we left Dallas.  We lived a different lifestyle previously and for us that is not something we see ourselves ever turning back to.  We invite every single reader of our blog to visit us in our home and business when it is built by our own two hands so you can see what we are so excited about— and then come on a big fat hike with us!  With those 2 experiences we can show you what makes our hearts so full day after day.

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Back in the Land of Enchantment November 1, 2017 Biotecture Academy – Taos, New Mexico

Our first full day back in Taos and Lacy’s first full day in Biotecture School. I was very pleased to be allowed to sit in today and get an introduction, first hand from the founder of the Earthship Academy, Michael Reynolds. It was so very exciting to see Lacy get ready for a month’s long school today. Full days, 6 days a week, 1/2 class and 1/2 hands-on-building for the month of November.

This is a natural extension of our plans to own and build our own Hospitality business. Just maybe it will be an Eco-oriented, Earthship-inspired place for people to spend time out, in and become part of the environment while staying in a “living home”.

“Own your own life” was part of Mike’s speech. It resonated strongly with us recently but, in fact, it was part of both of our own dreams before we even met. Now it will be a part of us for the rest of our lives.

There were just over 40 people from around the world, from different walks of life but all drawn to a common place and time to share what they know and learn more about sustainable living. This isn’t your Uncle Hippie 70s home anymore. The architecture and environment have merged to form Biotecture. The engineering has grown from building a greenhouse against a stack of old tires to a sophisticated water, solar driven home that uses the learned techniques of Passive Solar design incorporating natural and organic processes to allow us to live off-the-grid. In the process, we can have a very hi-tech home built by our own hands out of recycled and upcycled materials.

We can’t wait to get started on our own home and guest homes someday soon. Today was just Day 1 in a long process. I hope you will come and see us along the way. We will let you know how to send us old tires, glass bottles and Ibuprofen soon.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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Love the sunsets here in Taos

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I call this “lips” mountain

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First day of school 🙂

Colorado to Canada and beyond…soaking in nature’s beauty by foot, car, plane and motorcycle September 7, 2017

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Celebrated our two year wedding anniversary in Vail with a gondola ride

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Whiskey tasting on our two year wedding anniversary

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Gizzie finds a big mushroom

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Overlooking Dillon, CO

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A rainbow right outside our front door in Dillon, CO

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Figure 8:
Our two weeks in Colorado were filled with beautiful scenery, the solar eclipse and familiar faces. The home we rented was in Dillon, near the lake, with trailheads out our front door. We were so fortunate to be able to see our friends from Dallas three different times since they were on vacation less than an hour away from the home we rented. I hiked my second 14er this summer, Mt. Elbert, in their company.

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Hiking up Mt. Elbert

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Hiking up Mt. Elbert

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Summit of Mt. Elbert

Of all the hikes I have done since we left the Pacific Crest Trail earlier this year, Meadowcreek Trail, in CO was my favorite. It began with a steady 3000 ft elevation gain along a creek and popped out into a stunning meadow reminiscent of the Eastern Sierras. It was at that point I had planned to stop and head back to the trailhead for a total of 9 miles but the view was so stunning that I just kept moving forward to see what was next. Climbing higher up the mountain I came to a ridge that overlooked the mountain tops and valley between in each direction. I stopped for a long time and soaked in the beauty before heeding the warning of the dark clouds and heading back.

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Meadowcreek trail

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Meadowcreek trail

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Meadowcreek trail

It’s true that I miss thru hiking or even multi-day hikes. I wouldn’t hesitate to start the PCT again in March and make it the whole the way this time hopefully. Rob’s knees are slowly getting better and as soon as he is ready I have already said I will be the Sherpa and carry all of our backpacking gear as long as we can hike together again. In addition to my hiking every other day, Rob and I saw an amazing flamenco concert, Rodrigo and Gabriel, at the amphitheater in Vail. What a great experience to hear such lively music while watching the sunset over the mountain and eventually being under a blanket of stars. We visited Loveland Pass, Breckenridge and Pikes Peak as well.6241778160_IMG_1014Giz does Pikes Peak:

 

IMG_7226Pikes Peak was really impressive being able to drive to the the top and Rob LOVED being able to drive on the windy climbing road that is also the race course!
Leaving Colorado on August 27th we drove back to Dallas. No, no, thankfully we are not even six months into our trip so not heading back for good. Not that we would head back to Dallas. We are definitely moving to another state when we are done, but Rob is selling a car in the Mecum auction today – a ’78 Lotus Esprit, the James Bond car from Spy Who Loved Me!

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Lotus on auction floor

And, I needed to get my helmet so I could go motorcycle riding with my dad for a few days to Canada. This is the 11th year my Pops and I have taken his motorcycle on a ten day camping trip through New Hampshire, Maine and Canada. I had a whirlwind 32 hour visit in Dallas bouncing from friend to friend catching up and sharing laughs before taking a 5am flight to New Hampshire where I met my Dad. I joined part way through the trip this year and we went to the Bay of Fundy in Canada. I have been there many times before but I just love that area where the tide changes are the highest in the world. There is a certain stillness and softness to eastern Canada that I haven’t seen elsewhere.  Being on the motorcycle trip this year (which I never expected to be since I thought I would still be on the PCT) made me realize how much I have gotten my adventurous spirit and love of the outdoors from these moments with my pops as a younger person. As he said, I took his love for adventure and took it to a whole different level.

 

View of Bay of Fundy from house we had in Alma. High tide and mid- low tide on right:

 

 

Took the bike up Mt. Washington

 

After a beautiful and relaxing weekend, my dad and I rode back to Hunter, NY, in the Catskill mountains where Rob and I were married. I am spending a quiet week here until Rob drives north from Dallas so he and I can start the epic Canada portion of our adventure! He has never been to Canada and we are going all the way to Newfoundland. We will be gone 3 1/2 weeks before coming back mid-October to NY to see my best friend/sister from another mother who will be in the country for two weeks.

At just under 6 months traveling, exploring and discovering new pieces of myself, I am in a great head space. Rob and I are planning our future and learning more about ourselves, this vast beautiful world we inhabit and our marriage along the way. I am sure we will have lots to share from our Canada trip so stay tuned!

Moving mountains and hitting the 5 month mark💞🌸

 

Two glorious days ago, August 13th, marked the 5 month anniversary of the beginning of our travels as we drove from New Mexico to Colorado. We had a very special time in Taos soaking in the spiritual nature of the land, cooking up a storm every day, watching the daily monsoons roll in, hiking and getting to know the local scene.

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Where’s Gizmo?!

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Rob enjoys a huge beer in Taos ski valley area

We had homemade salsa and guacamole in the house at all times, but Rob’s claim to fame in NM were the roasted butternut squash enchiladas covered in a hatch green chili cream sauce. Amazing! Whether we were chatting with the Taos residents at happy hour in town or nude in a hot spring on the Rio Grande (yes, we had a full 30 minute conversation with a gentleman in a spring while we were all naked. God, I love New Mexico) we learned that residents feel very passionately about Taos, its history and community.

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Lots of hiking on then Rio Grande

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IMG_5499 Rob and I both felt the connection to nature that we were searching for even though we were off the trail. I got in some amazing hiking. There is no shortage of it in the area. With our rental up we decided to travel to Colorado, 25 pounds of roasted hatch chilis in tow, to play in these mountains. We are in Dillon and have a dozen hikes right outside our door. Daddie Gizmo’s knees are slowly improving and he has been testing them out on flat hikes while I am going for the long miles and elevation gain. There is the best of both here. Our new jeep has served us well and feels like another piece of gear to help us explore and hike. We have had so much fun that we already blew a tire out in a rocky dirt road! Surprisingly, we have a plan for the next couple of months. I am going to go a motorcycle camping trip with my Dad to Canada when we leave here and Rob to Dallas to wrap a few things up. Then he is going to drive to New York and meet me in the Catskill mountains again. From there we plan to head to Eastern Canada. Rob has never been and of all the places I have been in the world I believe it to be one of the most beautiful. I will show him Cape Breton and Nova Scotia while we consume mass amounts of mussels, oysters and lobsters before we head to New Foundland where neither of us have been before. October or November will find us back in Taos.  This is the most planning we have done in a long time. We have had a windy adventure over the last 5 months and right now we are ready to take Colorado by storm. ❤️💙💛6176649648_IMG_09796176649648_IMG_0980

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Overlooking Dillon and Silverthorne where we are staying.

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Started the first day in CO with a beautiful 9 mile hike…

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…that ended in a huge waterfall

We are in a different state, but our state of mind remains the same⛰☀️🌸 August 1, 2017

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View from my hike before I got caught in the rain coming down the mountain. A nice outdoor shower 😉

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The Rio Grande!

IMG_6907Daddie Gizmo and I spent five days in LA together since we last wrote during which time we planned our next move. We decided to “play house” while he rests his knees. Our requirements while looking for a place to stay were somewhere connected to nature, secluded but close to lots of hiking and a working kitchen.  We bought a 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee in LA and drove it to New Mexico this past Saturday where we had located the perfect place for us to relax for two weeks.  The home we rented is a beautiful earth ship in a small town 15 minutes outside of Taos, El Prado.

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This window in the living room looks out onto the gorgoeous mountain range.

It’s many windows, seclusion from neighbors, and accessibility to endless hikes are just what the dr. ordered. We have spent a lot of time in the kitchen making salsas, guacamole and delicious meals. Everywhere you look in this home you are staring at the mountains and I LOVE it! We really love the laid back earthy vibe this town gives off too. I have done 2 great hikes so far that have had beautiful views.6176650448_IMG_09356176650448_IMG_09406176650448_IMG_0947

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Hiking to Wheeler Peak

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Giz feeling accomplished after making it to the peak

I love waking up in the morning, choosing a hike that will start my morning deep in nature for a few hours and then coming back to have lunch and spend the day with Daddie Gizmo. It’s funny how we almost feel like we are on vacation here, but vacation from what?!  We have been on vacation for 4 1/2 months since we left Dallas. During that time we have hiked 800 miles of the PCT, visited great friends in Seattle, spent two weeks relaxing in the Catskill mountains, enjoyed a 3 week road trip around California, several small trips to LA with the hospitality of Papa Romero and now at least two weeks in New Mexico.6176650448_IMG_09606176650448_IMG_09586176650448_IMG_09576176650448_IMG_09526176650448_IMG_0937IMG_6837 All in all, I’d say we are doing alright! We know we are going to rest somehwere for another 2 weeks when our rental is up. We attended a tour at the Earthship Biotecture/Greater World center today. We were both incredibely inspired and moved and looking into possibly doing the two week internship this month where we can learn how to build an earthship. One thing we decided for certain, that determines our forward path, is that we are going to buy land and build, with our own hands, several earth ships that will become our hospitality business. One of us will be attending the 29 day, 6 day a week academy in October to gain all the hands on experience and classroom knowledge regarding regulations that we will need to set off on our own. We were meant to be here in Taos to discover this shared passion for off the grid sustainable living.

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Loving the greenhouses

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Exposed tire walls in the mechanical room

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Beautiful fireplace in this earthship

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This bottle wall is east facing and illuminates at sunrise

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An unexpected twist July 25, 2017 (the day after Rob’s birthday!)

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Back on trail

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Everything is so green

Its hard to walk away from someone with whom you spent every day and night of the last four months, hiked nearly 800 miles through the desert and snow, took a three week road trip across California and made some the best memories of your life with. Even harder when it is your husband. This is the very struggle I went through. Daddie Gizmo and I discussed the very real possibility of one of us sustaining an injury while hiking before we even left Dallas to begin the PCT. We agreed that if one was injured, the other should finish. When it came time to put this thought into practice it was much easier said than done. I am in love with the hiking lifestyle, the simplicity and peace it fills me with, the beauty I am constantly surrounded by and the camaraderie found on the trail. DG and I shared some of the best moments of our entire relationship while hiking this year and grew in ways I never expected, both individually and as a couple, a team. Last week we decided that I would go back to where I feel more at home and myself than I have in my entire adult life, to trail, and Rob would go to LA temporarily. He would work on buying a vehicle and I would continue north to Canada. Early morning on Friday we put our packs back on for the first time in a month and traveled the mile from our campsite to the bus stop in Mammoth. Here we would each board a separate bus. Rob would go south and I north to Reno. I opted to begin the trail again in Sierra City, skipping any snow. Our farewell at the bus stop was quick as we were both getting emotional about parting ways. A four hour bus ride and 90 minute drive from a trail angel later I was dropped off at the trailhead at 3. It only took as long as getting out of the car and sitting on the side of the road to put my hiking shoes on to begin to feel a deep sense of heart break that I was going back out without my partner. All the memories and feelings of what we have experienced together flooded me as I hiked that afternoon through tears. I know I am capable of completing the hike without him, but I had not expected to be so emotional about being apart. Not knowing when I would see him next made it even more difficult. I hiked five miles in that afternoon straight up the mountain and set up my tent where I had a wide view of the Northern Sierras and could watch the sunset while laying in my tent. As I lay there I felt so comfortable and at peace feeling the wind blow on me, watching the sky turn pink and listening to the chatter of birds. That didn’t alleviate the pain in my heart I felt being there without Rob.

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Stunningly beautiful campsite

6174597616_IMG_09026174597616_IMG_0904IMG_6772The next morning I was roused by a fierce wind that indicated it was time to get up and moving. On trail and climbing by 7:30 I was still missing Rob terribly. I am not usually the sappy one in our relationship and my overwhelming emotions were actually really surprising. I thought I would get out and be so happy, hike my heart out and call him in four days when I got to Quincy to say I was continuing north. That’s how I envisioned it, but the reality was as I hiked that morning I was beginning to doubt that I should continue north. I turned south to head off trail then north again as I struggled with what to do. Finally, I sat in the corner of a switchback looking over the valley and Sierra City.

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Sitting in the corner of a switchback

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Taking in the scenery as I hike off trail

IMG_6779I bawled and thought long and hard. An hour later I had made a decision to turn back, hitch back to Reno and somehow – by bus, flight or car – return to Rob and meet him in LA. I told the trail goodbye for now and that I love her so much but I want to come back to it it with Rob. I hiked very slow back to town, savoring the last moments on trail and stopping often to just soak in the quiet and scenery. This really is a beautiful part with how lush and green everything is. The mountains are covered in manzanita. I saw a massive deer ten feet from me munching on some grass before I popped back out on the road at 1:30. The way things fell into place from there made me believe I made the right decision. As soon as I got to the road a passing car offered me a ride for the mile into town. Within that time I mentioned I was going to Reno today and they replied that they are going to Truckee after eating some lunch and I am welcome to join them. Amazing! Truckee is an hour drive from Sierra City and only 30 minutes from Reno. I didn’t even have to hitchhike which was a great way to start the 491 mile journey to LA. We arrived in Truckee at 3 where things continued to go my way when I was able to hop on a 3:50 bus to Reno. While I waited for the bus I looked to see if I could get a flight that very evening to LA. With all stars aligning I booked a 6:40 flight from Reno that would have me in LA and in my husbands arms by 8:30. I couldn’t believe how all the pieces fell into place so effortlessly. I had fully expected to have to stay in Reno Saturday night and get back somehow Sunday or Monday. When I told Rob I was coming back he was really really surprised but very very happy. We are turning our PCT journey into a section hike now. We won’t be able to complete it this year, but with any luck we can get back out there together before the season changes. There is always next year..and now that we are living on the west coast (though currently homeless) it will be easy to go back. So now we choose the next step of our adventure and continue to make memories together.  Today we are looking for a place to rent for a month anywhere in the country that is out of the city. We want to cook, relax, rehab the knees and be connected to nature and each other. Life is good 😊

Hello Again!! July 17, 2017

IMG_6751We owe all our Friends, Family, Fellow PCT Hikers and Everyone traveling along with us on the Blog an update. Sometimes these are easy to write and other times, like this, maybe not.
Completing our Thru hike has been in jeopardy ever since the second meniscus tear hit my right knee about 4 weeks ago. Now, just getting back on trail anytime soon may be out of our hands. My left knee meniscus tear accepted 3 weeks of therapy and responded very well letting us restart after Kennedy Meadows. After almost 4 weeks of rest and just a little therapy, my right knee has taken 2 little steps forward and then somehow regressed to the original pain level and difficulty just walking while it tries to lock-up in certain positions.

 

We camped on the edge of a bluff in Mendocino and fell asleep to the crashing waves below us. Bright green sea anemone awaited our discovery the next morning.

My thoughts and emotions are all over the spectrum. Guilt, that I am the factor that caused our hike to stall out. Frustration, over the pain and injury itself. Depression, over the failure of reaching our goal and losing contact with such a wonderful sense of camaraderie we had with the whole trail community. Happy that I’m not pounding away on a laptop, airplanes and a mobile phone for 60 hours a week.IMG_6747.JPG
Hiking the PCT everyday has kept our lives simple and incredibly rewarding. You achieve a big physigcal goal every day in a settling that is absolutely spectacular. Figure 8 and I have felt our relationship and marriage grow broader and deeper. Sure, these temporary question marks do cause stress. We traded the chaos and negativity of the daily news for conversations about nature, waterfalls, flora and fauna. We had successfully replaced the hustle and bustle of traffic and city noise for deer quietly moving through our campsite like we weren’t even there. We’ve had scary moments, amazing sunsets, lots of love and aches & pains but I’d still do it all over again given the chance. We’ve met the most kind hearted Trail Angels along our journey and received the support of our truest Friends and Family in the form of places to stay, logistics, care packages and encouraging words.

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We enjoyed an unbelievable view over Lake Tahoe at this campsite

Where do we go from here? For the last 3 weeks we have enjoyed the continued freedom that renting a little Jeep afforded us. We continued exploring the Eastern Sierras, circled Lake Tahoe, laid on the beach in Santa Cruz, camped on a bluff in Mendocino and wine tasted in Anderson Valley.

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Camping in redwoods in Anderson Valley

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Crazy photo booth at Bonny Doon

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Seeing a familiar face in Santa Cruz💜

Figure 8 would prefer to be back on trail. I could follow her in a car but that wouldn’t quite be the same as us experiencing things together. After being so close together for 4 months, I have a bit of separation anxiety just thinking about it.
#Vanlife is an idea we have talked about often. Buying a used Sprinter or Transit Van that we can up-fit to our own functional yet simple design and use to continue our journey. This is pretty appealing and does make some sort of logical sense.IMG_6741.JPGIMG_6748.JPG
Another option which could serve us well now is to find a month long place to stay inexpensively to rest, heal and make our best plans while I can cook for her, get beat up in Scrabble games and she can still be out on day hikes in the mountains or coast. Where… is the question? Anyone need a Paris trained personal chef for a month?
When we started our sabbatical year, we knew we would begin with our PCT hike. Then likely outfit a van to further travel in Canada or maybe even up to Alaska for another six months. We would’ve used much of this time to scout out a place on the West Coast (combination of mountains and coastline) to start a new business and a new life after the corporate world. Maybe the timing has just been jumbled up? The near term uncertainty is difficult although we still have good plans later in time.

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We looooove the coast in Mendocino

One day, in the not too distant future, we will have a B&B, little cabins to rent or something similar to make our living and continue a lifestyle we have grown to live in and love. Everyone will get a Family and Friends rate because everyone we will meet and greet will be a new Friend.
I share all these thoughts, in part, because it’s therapeutic for me to get it all out in the open. But truly, all suggested spins of the Twister Board Arrow, Compass or Map will be appreciated for our life’s next steps. We have camped most of the last three weeks and are enjoying a night in AC and wifi to try to get a game plan together. We have plenty of time and a willing ear as we sort through all sorts of options right now.