Sunday, December 6, 2015

Closing this chapter of the Vanventures

Leaving Becca's in the morning! Love this girl!
She headed to class on her bike and was moving much faster then us in the car:)
On our way to the Obed!!!
Our last  month on the road was filled with our favorite places, people, and all around great times. We always knew we were coming back to the Lilly Pad before we even left last year. It has the best climbing, people, and puppies anywhere!! Del has built and is working on getting his home brewery up and running! It looks great and will be an awesome addition to the Obed scene. Marte is still working on her "signature" dish to share. Zach and I got to sample quite a few and I must say, they would all be awesome in my opinion (but anything free and tasty wins in my book)! I was lucky enough to spend more time with Bryson this year and get to know her! We had a blast chatting and job hunting for her:) 
Monster remembered us!!! (we think) She is such a cool dog!

The climbing here is crazy!!

The newest dog, Big! He is another awesome pup who keeps the coyotes out.
We had some great music nights around the fire with Suzi and Decker, but also got to go to the weekly FOFI (Fellowship of Friendly Intentions) meeting in Wartburg! Suzi's husband, Jimmy, and I had lots to talk about with our shared interest in all things flying, Oshkosh, and Bob Hoover! Thanks for opening your homes and lives up to us for a bit! We love our Obed crew!!
Five hours away in South Carolina, we got to spend the week with Zach's mom, Stephanie. It was a wonderful week of hiking, great food, games, and spending time together! Thanks for hosting us and spending your week with us!!
Thanksgiving dinner!! So much yummy!!

An intense game of dominoes:)

Zach finds climbing everywhere:)

And me too apparently:)
A little friend.
A nature hike. I found donkey ears:)
To cap off our East Coast loop, we pushed down into Florida to spend time with Zach's family near Sarasota. We enjoyed spending the day with Zach's uncles, Joe and Paul, and Grandma on Saturday before going sailing and kayaking with Dan and Mel along the inter-coastal waterway and out into the Gulf of Mexico! Dan was an excellent captain and even taught the two of us to sail a little. I was convinced I would tip us over, but he kept us upright and on course. Zach pointed out a sombrero he saw floating in the water. We all looked over just in time to see it look at us and dive under the water! It was a sea turtle! On our last little bit of kayaking before the sun set, dolphins swam around us and within about 10 feet! It was a beautiful end to a beautiful few days in Florida! Zach's Grandma and I watched a Disney movie one night called the Descendants. We spent the entire movie trying to figure out what was going on, but we were able to predict every time the were going to burst out into song!! It was pretty funny:) Florida is a great place to be, especially when Kansas and Colorado are being snowed and iced on...
The back seat of the convertible! Felt good to have the ocean breeze in our hair!
Chinese food lunch with Dan, Mel, Vivian, Paul, Zach, and Joe! Awesome group!

Zach at the helm!
Trying to get used to the angle at which sailing occurs;)

Our motley crew!

I found a hatch!

Love these sunsets!

Zach and Dan.
Man over board!
Really just Zach swimming behind and floating on the MOB rescue device:)
It took us two days to drive out of Florida and into Arkansas where we found free camping and climbing near Jasper. Sam's Thrown is an area with trad climbing that we really enjoyed. My very first outdoor climbing trip was 4 1/2 years ago to Horseshoe Canyon Ranch near Jasper. It was great to take Zach back there and see how far I've come!! We challenged ourselves to climb ten routes that day which was the hardest on our soft skin and feet!! The water down in Florida did not help keep our climbing calluses, but we had a blast and climbed ourselves silly!! 
These signs mean it in Arkansas!

Looking out over the valley where Sam's Throne is!

Hanging out with a pony at Horseshoe Canyon Ranch.
On our drive to my parent's house in Kansas, we started reflecting on the past year and a few months. It has been the best way to spend our time and money! We have gained so much from having the freedom to go where we wanted, when we wanted, and do what we wanted! That freedom doesn't come along everyday in life. We get comfortable where we are and even though we want to make a change, its scary and complicated and a lot of work! This trip has given me the courage to make the changes and to see it really is not that hard or complicated. Our dream was to be able to live in a van for one year. We saved our money, made plan, and had such and amazing year!! Looking back, I don't know how we would have gone to all of those places and met or visited all of those people within one year. 
I really didn't know a lot Zach's family that well before we started this trip. The love and caring I felt along the road for the Wahrer's and Young's was amazing!!! Zach also got to meet and spend time with my loved ones in Kansas, Arizona, Oregon, Montana, and Wyoming. We felt love and support the whole way as well as learning to love and support each other in close quarters. It was an epic adventure and an amazing way to live our lives for the year! 
One more amazing thing is how excited we are for the next phase of our lives. As we put that last few miles on the van towards Kansas, we talked about how amazing this year has been, but also how we are ready for the next chapter. I have taken a travel RN position in Las Vegas and we are so happy to have a place to be for the next three months that has climbing in warm weather AND I get to be on day shift!!!! Zach is going to focus full time on his writing and I, along with many others, are very excited to see the next chapter of the Dawn Saga!! His first novel, Breakers of the Dawn, was written while he had a full time job and it is excellent! I can't wait to see what he comes up with as a full time author!! 
I was concerned going into this trip that we might end the vanventures feeling sad and disappointed to go back to a "normal" life. But it is the complete opposite! We feel this trip has allowed us to see the alternatives and realize we can do things different. I feel confident in our future and I am very happy to continue my adventure with Zach!!
My adventure buddy for LIFE:)
Thank you all for your love, support and encouragement as we took this lifestyle on! It was fun to share it with you and I really appreciate the fact that you read these posts and shared your likes and comments!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Resting our climbing muscles a bit:)

While in Kansas, Zach and I got some much needed time to hang out with my sister, Megan, my parents, and my cousin, Michelle! Megan soundly beat us in tennis on a few beautiful fall days in Wichita. My dad took us flying with him one morning for work and Michelle explored the Flint Hills with us on a 7 mile hike past Bison, cows, and lots of dog poop:) She also made us our own apple pie! It was fabulous! 
Dinner in Megan's apartment:)

Flying with my Dad:)
Our Kansas hike through the Flint Hills.

Zach walking past the Bison. Michelle and I took the long way around:)

Sneaking past the bison:)

The pie and its creator!!
Our Halloween was filled with fun in Chicago with friends, Rod and Emily, who dressed as the Bearded Lady and Beetlejuice respectively:) Zach and I went as Facebook and Peter Pan. They also took us on a touristy jaunt of the city where we got to see the iconic Bean and Zach experienced public transportation for the first time. Wonderful time with friends in a city that is pretty awesome if you have a free parking space:)
"Just think of a wonderful thought!"

My book face;)

Walking in the neighborhood!

The bean!

Action shot!

Great friends in a great city:)

With the skyline.

We walked a little extra for this view, but it was worth it:)
A morning drive out of the city brought us to Dayton, OH and dinner with Zach's Aunt and Uncle, Mary and Gary Brown. It was fun fiesta with cousins, Heidi and her kids Destiny and Cameron. Zach and Mary are encouraging each other to keep writing. Apparently, writing is a Wahrer gene:)
Up near Fryburg, we settled in with Nan and Joe for a few days. Nan took us on a tour of Wapakoneta and we found some fun stuff at the thrift shops. I also received news I had been accepted for a travel position in Las Vegas! So, I had to do some errands to get my fingerprinting done. Luckily, there is a little Mayberry nearby called Botkins. I showed up at the Police Department and Chief Glass was kind enough to do my fingerprints for free. This was after his deputy had rescued him from locking his keys in the patrol car while he was voting against the legalization of Marijuana in Ohio:) I enjoyed my episode of The Andy Griffith Show very much!
Nan organized a great dinner with all of the aunts and uncles that live nearby. We had a lot of fun catching up and just hanging out. Its a great place! Thanks for the hospitality and fun while we were there!!!
Zach's brother, Rock, and his family live a few towns over and we stopped in to say hi! Adrianna is almost 13 and we got to go to her middle school choir concert with everybody. It was a lot of fun to see her singing and dancing up on stage:) Rock took us all out to ice cream after and I really enjoyed getting to spend time where Zach grew up and lived. Rock, Krista, and Adrianna, thanks for a fun few days and can't wait til next time!!
Our niece, Adrianna, before her big concert debut!
Enjoying awesome ice cream with Rock, Krista, and Adrianna:)
After being away from climbing for a few weeks, we were anxious to get back to it. The weather looked tolerable for the New River Gorge in West Virginia and we hadn't been there yet, so we set our course for Summersville. It was a really pretty drive and we found free camping at the end! It rained the next day so we just enjoyed our van and hung out at the campground. The Summersville Dam was originally supposed to be named after a town called Gaud, near the site. But in the 1930's, they decided Gaud Dam wasn't a very appealing name and after they built the dam, Guad was flooded and doesn't exist today. So Summersville Dam works:) 
Above our campsite on the Summersville Dam. The rain was moving in and we were moving out:)
We got to climb a few days near Summersville Lake and it was great climbing!! Zach worked on a climb in a steep cave. My favorite part included the echos of the noises Zach made while climbing:) It was a lot of fun and we would have loved to stay longer, but rain moved in and was forecasted to stay around for a few days. We called our friend Becca in North Carolina and made plans to visit her.
Zach striking a pose as he's being lowered off his climbing project:)

At the top of the climb!

Love this guy!
We are currently in Chaple Hill, NC relaxing at Becca's house. When she gets done with school today, we will explore around here a bit before heading to the Obed in Tennessee. 
We are taking what good weather we can get and enjoying our time left on this leg of the vanventure!

Monday, October 26, 2015

Stopping to smell the Portland Roses:)

Since we became friends in the Obed and at the Lily Pad in Tennessee, Zach and I have been so excited to visit Portland and hang out with Charlie and Sheri! We worked our way down from Washington and finally got to meet up! It was fantastic! Not only did they have an awesome location, but they let us use their parking spot (worth quite a bit in Portland these days)!! We had a blast exploring the city and trying to do all the things on Sheri's list including Voodoo Donuts, the Rose Garden, Powell's Bookstore, walking across the many bridges of Portland and eating amazing food!!! 

Voodoo Donuts:)
A beautiful Rose in Portland's Rose Garden!
Zach enjoying conveyor belt sushi:)
Charlie is a bar tender and amazing cook in his own right and we could not have eaten better while we were there! Sheri does aerial class a few days a week, so I tagged along and watched her do her thing way up in the air on silks and a hoop! She is so strong!!  I also got up and ran to the rose garden a few mornings and took their dog, Riley, on a few walks around the neighborhood. We loved Portland and spending time with our vanventure friends!!!
Stopping to smell the roses!
So many flowers!
One weekend, Sheri and Riley took us to Smith Rocks State Park for some great sport climbing! Unfortunately, I had tweaked my wrist in Leavenworth and was taking it easy from climbing. I did get a day in and had a blast just hanging out with everybody. My cousin, Daniel and his girlfriend, Jasmine, joined us too and it was great! Climbing is a fun way to connect and share. I love it!!
Maybe a high first bolt??
Cousin climbing!
Sheri leading at Smith Rock!

Smith Rock State Park

The Portland crew!!

Charlie and Sheri's awesome view!
We also got to spend some time on the coast! In fact, Zach and I got to watch the lunar eclipse while walking on the beach in Washington! My parents and sisters were also watching the moon at the same time and it really made me feel so connected to everybody! It was a great experience. My aunt Robin had recommended taking a hike a long the Olympic Peninsula. It was a nine mile hike with three miles of it being on the beach. A shark washed up with the tide as we were walking by, It was recently dead, and pretty big! It was a beautiful hike, minus all the flies covering the seaweed...
Seals resting. They are so awkward to watch on land!

Another sea selfie:)
My aunt Robin and uncle Joe recently moved to Lincoln City, OR on the coast and we got to go see their new house! Uncle Joe also set up the Hobi sail boats for us and we tootled around Devil's Lake. They have a great place with lots of fun stuff to do and they love visitors, so go say hi!! 
Getting all the pieces out! Uncle Joe built this custom trailer for the boats:)

All set up and ready to set sail!

Out on the open lake water:)
My aunt retired from working at the Oregon State Library and we were in the area for her retirement party! It was really great to hear about all the awesome things she has done in her career! Way to go, Aunt Robin!!
In the stacks at the Oregon Library with Aunt Robin!!
Zach and I headed out to Trout Creek to climb some cracks! I had been resting my wrist and felt like I was ready to go again, but I was quickly reminded of my injury and had to sit out of climbing for a few more days! Zach climbed at Smith Rocks again before we headed decided it was time to head back East. It was a few days of driving, but we got to do some epic star gazing in eastern Oregon and enjoyed the sunrise in Idaho as we made our way across. We live in a pretty beautiful world!
Beautiful sunset in Oregon!

Crack climbing at Trout Creek is rough!

Our campsite in Trout Creek!

Mt. Hood!

Zach hiking out of Smith Rock.

We arrived in Denver just in time to see my Aunt Nancy and Uncle Barry. We all enjoyed dinner out with my sister Samantha and her three kiddos! They are getting big fast! Nancy and Barry are enjoying time between Nancy's cancer treatments and doing a Prius venture out to the coast and back! They will be stopping at some of the places we have seen and I'm so excited for them! 
We spent about a week in Denver with the nieces and nephew and had a blast!! They are high energy and Zach and I spent all of ours keeping up with them, but it was great! Olivia loves Zach because he spent about an hour pushing her on the swing! "Higher, Zach!" she'd cry:) Kaylee is now and expert on her Razor scooter so I took her out on a few runs and she was flying! I had to try really hard to keep up. We also got to go to her soccer game and watch Kaylee in action! Mister Henry is so smiley and growing into his personality well! He loves his sisters so much and we loved watching him! Zach and I took them on all day Tuesday and saw how awesome Grace (their full time nanny) is at her job! The mornings and evenings also proved to us what we already knew, that Samantha is a super mom! We loved getting to spend time with everybody!
Zach taking on two at once!

Bonding with Henry!

A future climber:)
Morning "nuggles':)

That looks like a good seat for Olivia:)

Kaylee taking a quick break from soccer!

Henry and I cheering on the team!

Working on her soccer skills:)

The whole crew!
While in Denver, we also checked in with my little buddy, Kingston and his family. I took care of him in the NICU in Wichita and he is in kindergarten now!! He also has a little brother and sister now! Their awesome mom, Meg, is keeping up and it was great fun getting to catch up for a little bit and meet the new little girl, Poppy:)
Leyton and Zach reading!

Perfect Poppy:)
Our home address has been in Palmer Lake at Zach's aunt and uncle's home. They invited us over for dinner one evening and it was funny pulling up to our "home" address:) Of course Mike had made a delicious meal and we loved getting to hang out and catch up with Fran and Mike. You guys are awesome!!
We then moved on to the Springs and caught up with our old crew! I stopped by the NICU at St. Francis and saw all the great changes they are working on. Its getting bigger! I had a great time catching up with everybody there! We had game night at our friend, TJ's apartment. He found a bomb disarming game where one person could see the "bomb" on the computer screen and the rest of us were "outside" looking at the bomb manual trying to tell him how to successfully disarm the bomb. We blew up a lot, but also had a freaking blast!
After successfully disarming a bomb!
I had a friend day and met with Brady, Julianne, Libby, and Deb to catch up and see what all is happening! I LOVED it! Our friend, Mareshah, invited us to see "Metanoia," a movie about an accomplished climber, Jeff Lowe. It was a good movie and fun to catch up with Mareshah!!

Climbing at Shelf Road.

Noel, Mareshah, me, and Chuck!
Leading at North Table Mountain. TJ keeping me safe:)
 We stayed with our friend Shanese and played video games, went climbing, and just enjoyed her a lot! We also got to meet Viktoriya and loved her too! The Springs is a great place and it was fun to get back there and say hi to everybody!
Shanese, Viktoriya, Zach and I at Shelf Road.
After a few weeks of catching up and hanging out, we have landed in Kansas and are enjoying a few peaceful days before moving on to the east! Our long term plans are to start working again in January with a travel nurse assignment. Zach will devote his time to writing full time so we can all see what happens next in the Dawn Saga!!!