Wednesday, December 24, 2014

A Vanventuring Christmas By Sarah and Zach

As I sit to share our past few weeks,
Only rhymes come forth as I speak!
It must be this time of year, 
A time I hold so dear...
Hopefully, I won't sound too much like a geek:)

Hueco Tanks State Park got us started.
We climbed until our skin had departed.
Being tired and sore,
Kept going back for more,
Climbing is not for the fainthearted! 
On a rest day, its fun to play;)

Meeting friends on the road makes us glad.
Lauren, Alex, and Oliver are so rad!
We took on  Lobster Claw (V5)
And Skimmer (V3), such awe
Then large margaritas and tacos, we had:)

Meeting them once was just not enough,
We found them again near  a New Mexico bluff
Called Box Canyon you see
It was perfect to be
With our friends again doing our stuff. 

After three days of climbing in the desert,
We were ready to rest and not exert.
To the Very Large Array
We went and spent the day
Seeing radio waves the scientists can convert.

The antennae  making up the telescope
Are 94 feet tall and look pretty dope:)
They receive waves from space
And we can see a far away place
Where aliens might be; hey I can hope!

We came down south like birds of a feather,
But cold has been the more common weather.
With our warm sleeping bags
And sun at the climbing craggs,
We have made the best of our time together

Now we are getting ready to celebrate
This holiday season will resonate
The love that we feel
For our loved ones with zeal
We even made snowflakes to decorate!
Vanventure with decore:)

Our pretty little snowflakes ready to be strung up to decorate.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Kansas! Nov 17- Dec 11

Family time!!!!
One of the stops I was most looking forward to for this vanventure was Kansas. Zach and I had planned out at least three weeks of time so we could just be home and enjoy our friends and family. Usually, it is such a mad dash to see everybody in the short weekend we come to visit. I really wanted to have time to be there and hang out! Luckily, Kansas falls in the center of this giant country and it fit in perfectly to make our transition from east to west over Thanksgiving. 
Inside the hanger playing games.
We arrived a week before the holiday to help my parents get ready and allow Zach time to finish editing his book "Breakers of the Dawn." I also had  a very important appointment to try on my wedding dress!! I am wearing my grandmother's dress, but having it altered somewhat. I'm very excited to wear her dress and it was fun to see the progress that has been done so far! My two nieces got to come see it along with my sister, Megan, and my mom. It was so fun and makes me excited for the day it all comes together:)
The week of Thanksgiving is somewhat of a blur. Zach got to experience flying with my dad on one of his pipeline routes. It was a pretty windy and bumpy day in a small airplane following a curvy course. I have a history of losing my breakfast on such flights with Dad, but Zach has a strong stomach and thoroughly enjoyed being out there with my dad. He got to see Kansas from a slightly different view and spend time with one of my favorite people:) I also took a day to go with Dad, but my route was a little shorter and much smoother. 
Kaylee, who is five, and Olivia, who is one, came early to spend the week with us at their Nana and Grandpa Barney's house. We had so much fun running around and riding bikes with Kaylee. It was an excellent workout! For her birthday, we gave her a set of walkie talkies. They had a pretty good range on them and we went on adventures all over the airport where my parents live. Zach usually became mission control and Kaylee and I would go on the missions he assigned. Kaylee got so into these missions. Zach could tell us to do anything to go and do while he continued working on his book. It was a great week of imagination and just plain fun!
Zach watching Olivia and Kaylee play.

Kaylee and my sister Megan

Kaylee and her dad, John riding the 4 wheeler. Hold on tight:)
Olivia was a bit more shy and took time to warm up to us. With food bribes, we won her over and had fun playing games on the floor with her. She is getting big and developing such a fun little personality. I love watching her grow up!
Sweet baby Olivia!

Olivia loved pushing the little plane around.

Taking it for another spin!
Kite flying on a windy day in Kansas.
Kaylee and her Grandpa Barney:)
Thanksgiving day was a blast, as usual. We had a big meal with all the yummy favorites and played games in the living room. We have a history of going to see a movie on Thanksgiving to kick off the holiday season, but this year we went to the $5.00 Wednesday showing of "Mockingjay Part 1" and stayed home on Thursday. Nobody had any motivation for Black Friday shopping this year and we all enjoyed a relaxing day at the airport. 
Getting the name cards ready for Thanksgiving dinner!
Zach and Michelle did most of the work after Kaylee got bored:)
On Saturday, our family said goodbye to a dear friend and mentor. Uncle Bill has been a part of our lives for a very long time. He was the Associate Minister at the church I grew up in and did a lot with the children's program. Zach and I got to see him at the beginning of the summer and share our plans of the vanventure. He and his wife, Jan, were both so supportive and loving. Uncle Bill died of cancer and his service was Saturday. It was a celebration of his life and love towards others and I am glad our family got to be there together. 
Bill and Jan Boyle with Zach and I back in May 2014.
On Sunday, I got to introduce Zach to the original goob, Gabe. He was a baby I took care of when he was in the NICU almost four years ago. He is doing so great and it was so wonderful to spend a few hours with him and his mom, Ashley. She has done such an awesome job taking care of Gabe. I tried to play the video game Gabe was playing on his phone. He was trying to show me how to do it, but it was too much for him when I kept running into the walls and messing up. So, I watched him instead. He is quite the little expert! 
Ashley, Gabe and I at lunch. Zach kindly took the photo:)

Gabe the Goob!
We also got to spend time with another baby I took care of, Jaxon, and his family. They spent a long time in the NICU and hospital in general and it was so good seeing them happy and healthy! Time with these guys really made me miss working in the NICU, but I'll go back soon enough:) 
My weeks in Kansas got broken up slightly by a court case I was involved in back in Colorado Springs. One year ago, Zach and I woke up to a fight in the upstairs apartment. I woke up more then Zach and ended up being called as a witness by the District Attorney. They flew me back to Colorado Springs on Monday, Dec 1st and I was called to the stand on Tuesday. I was there all day, but was not allowed to hear any of the other testimonies, so I did a lot of people watching and waiting. My testimony was only about 30 minutes long, but I did have to swear in and the defense objected a few times just like in the movies! It was very intimidating to be up on the stand, but in the end, the defendant was found guilty of destroying my neighbors property and cell phone. I'm glad my testimony helped convey what happened and hopefully keeps him from doing this to anyone else in the future. 
Since I got a free trip to the Springs, I took advantage of that and got to spend time with my friends! It was so fun catching up with everybody. We haven't been gone very long, but my friend Julianne got married and another friend is expecting a baby! Things keep moving along. I miss being around everybody, but it was fun sharing our adventures and hearing about theirs.
While I was gone, Zach put the finishing touches on "Breakers of the Dawn" and was ready to publish when I got home! We had a launch party complete with ice cream cake and enjoyed celebrating all the hard work Zach has put into this project! You can buy the ebook on and also read his blog about writing at! I am so proud of Zach for pursuing his love of writing! I love how dedicated he is to the things he does. His passion and drive encourage me to follow my dreams and work hard to achieve my goals as well! Thank you for being such an inspiration, Zach! I love you so much!
I also got to travel up to Kansas City to visit friends from college. They all have such lovely lives up there and it was nice getting to be a part of them for a short while. Zach ended up getting  sick and having to stay home, so it was just me. Luckily, most of my friends have congregated in the same region of Kansas City, so I really didn't have too much driving! 
By the time I headed home, I was not feeling too great. I had Zach's illness as well and spent the rest of my Kansas time resting and recuperating. I was so sad to leave after having such a wonderful time, but it was time for us to head on vanventuring. My mom said she missed seeing the van parked in front of the hanger after we left, but we couldn't really call it a vanventure if the van just sat the whole time. So, we have moved the van to another spot and continued the vanventure. A few hours on the road, and I was hooked back into life out here! It is pretty great checking out new places and planning out where to go next.
We are currently in Hueco Tanks State Park near El Paso, TX. It took us two days to realize we had changed time zones, but in our daily routines, time doesn't matter much. It has been so hard getting back into shape for climbing. Between time off and being sick, we really lost a lot of our strength and fitness. I am happy to say the area is beautiful and I love being able to be outside again! These things make it easier to deal with the sore muscles. It will take us a few more days to get our strength back, but we can do it:)
Eating lunch in Hueco Tanks State Park

The view from our campsite!

The start of a lovely desert sunset.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Wasting away in Margaritaville with Zach's family!

Well I completely dropped the ball on taking pictures of our time in Atlanta with Rachel and Patrick. I guess I was just having too much fun enjoying our friends:) We loved the location and house they live in! We all walked to the little downtown area called Little Five Points. Our first night we spent going out with friends of Patrick and Rachel. They quickly became our friends as well! It was a fun night full of a few awesome dart games which pitted the boys vs the girls. Both teams took turns as the victors and we had to have a rematch before we left. It was a great night!
Sleeping in felt lovely, but as vanventurers, we found when the neighbor starts roofing his house at 7:00 am, its time to wake up. We enjoyed coffee and breakfast with Patrick and Rachel and then let them get some work done for their graduate programs. They work so hard and we are so excited for their next steps in life! Hopefully, we didn't distract them too much.
When Patrick was done with his paper, we went to an urban bouldering area in Atlanta called Boat Rock. It was a sweet area of granite boulders in the middle of a neighborhood. Apparently, the area used to be bigger, but when developers bought the land, they blew up many of the boulders. The Southeastern Climbing Coalition bought part of the area and saved the climbing from destruction. They have areas all over the southeast they have rescued. It is a cool organization!
The climbing was fun, but we were all a little worn out from our late night. We tried quite a few different climbs and Patrick was an excellent guide. It was a pretty area in the middle of the urban sprall, so Zach and I really enjoyed being outside. When we got home, Rachel and I had decided we needed to watch Legally Blonde in honor of Patrick being in law school. It was just as amazing as I remember it being. Zach fell asleep, so he has to watch it again with me sometime, but Rachel, Patrick and I laughed our way through the perils of being a law student. It was fun having Patrick explain what really goes on in law school.
Sunday, we all relaxed. We explored the shops in Little Five Points and hung out at a bar to watch the Broncos play. The boys challenged us to a rematch at darts and then we headed home. It was sad saying goodbye again, but we know we will be back to visit another time. Thanks for spending your weekend with us, Patrick and Rachel! We love you guys and can't wait to come back!!
As we headed out to our next climbing destination in Alabama, we noticed the temperatures dropping a bit. We bundled up and found some trad climbing called Jamestown. The directions were online and described going through some farm land. It had been approved by the landowners, but Zach and I were still a little leery. When we came upon a no trespassing sign, we decided to turn around. Luckily, a couple drove down the driveway on their way out and said it was okay for climbers to go through the gate. I'm glad they did, because we really enjoyed the area. The view from the top of the climbing was amazing! The climbing was fun, but we needed to keep moving because there was no camping allowed in this area.
We found an area up the road called Sand Rock. The town had made this area into a park and offered camping on top of the overlook. It was one of the higher spots in the state of Alabama and had a beautiful view of a lake and the surrounding area. The climbing was really fun and we had a blast doing both trad climbing and sport climbing. It was Veteran's Day so the park was pretty busy for a Tuesday, but it was fun meeting new people. The park also offered amazing shower facilities, so Zach and I got to refresh ourselves and it was wonderful!!
What a cool view!! Sand Rock Park in Alabama

My chef:) I was still under to covers, too cold to get up yet:)


It was cool rock an neat features! We had fun climbing here.
That night, I noticed I had a bit of some kind on my rear end. I was worried it was a spider bite or something. When I finally looked at it, however, I discovered it to be poison ivy! Apparently, on of my outdoor bathroom spots had contained a little enemy and it took the opportunity to strike when I was most vulnerable! It has been quite the experience to have poison ivy in such an awkward place...but I am happy to say it is finally getting better. I also now have a greater appreciation and understanding of the babies I take care of who get diaper rashes! Its not a pleasant place to be irritated!!
When we woke up on Wednesday, the cold temperatures did not encourage an early start. The forecast was not looking good and as we scrolled through the map on the weather app, we noticed the only warm place in the country was going to be Florida. Being that Zach has family down there we wanted to visit, it didn't take long for us to decide to beat feet down south and get out of the crazy cold that was about to embrace the rest of the country. As we headed south, Wasting Away in Margarittaville came on the radio and we felt we were headed in the right direction:)
On the way down through Georgia, we ran across a free air museum with a B1 Bomber sitting out front. I had gotten to sit in one back in Wichita as a middle school student at McConnell Air Force Base. I also remember how the B1B's would fly over church on Sunday mornings usually interrupting Dr. McConnell's sermon. They were an awesome plane to have around Wichita for awhile. We explored the museum and enjoyed seeing unique pieces of history. They had a display of P51 skies developed for winter take off and landings. It was a great place to get out and stretch our legs and continue to learn more about our country's history!
The B1 Bomber!

P-51 Mustang Skis!

The picture my cousin Michelle sent us when we were heading down to Florida:)
We enjoyed celebrating this holiday in Florida!
We enjoyed the drive, but were happy to get to King's Gate Club in Nokomis, FL. The warm temperatures and salty sea smell were a big change from our cold, crisp air further north. It was so wonderful to meet Zach's grandma, Vivian Wahrer, and his aunt and uncle, Mel and Dan. They are such great people who welcomed us into their home and community. That afternoon, we got to go see the ocean and enjoy a sunset. It was a lot cooler with the sea breeze, but there were still quite a few people swimming. It reminded me of a family vaction we had taken when I was younger to California. It was my sisters and I's first time seeing the ocean so despite the cooler temperatures, we spent time swimming in the ocean and had to defrost afterwards:)
On the beach at sunset.
The following day, we got to do some exploring with Dan and Mel after and amazing breakfast from our own personal chef, Mel! We saw a world record setting 3D chalk art drawing at the Nokomis airport, but were disappointed because it cost $5.00 a person to go up a ladder and see the 3D affect. We ended up just looking at it from the ground, which was a little distorted.
Our view of the 3D chalk art...
The best part of our day was sailing along the Intercoastal Waterway on Dan and Mel's boat. It was so fun to be out on the water. Dan showed Zach and I how to steer while under sail power. We both had a blast and even caught a glimpse of a dolphin! We were all pretty tired by the time we got home, but we enjoyed pizza with Grandma and had fun hearing her stories of traveling around the world. Zach and I have decided adventuring must run in our blood because both of our grandparents have done awesome things!
Getting ready to board the S2.

Lots of pelicans hanging out as we passed by.

The bridge opening after Mel called and requested.
The operator remembered her from bringing cookies to the operators:)

Our relaxed pilot.

Enjoying time with Dan and Mel.

My turn to drive:)

Some rowing teams practicing.

I love hearing and watching the sail go up!

The sun setting on our awesome day!

Tying the boat back in for the night.

Such a calm and lovely place to be.
In the morning, we enjoyed another Mel breakfast with egg sandwiches and monkey bread before heading out to Zach's unlce Paul's house. We had to say goodbye to Grandma because she was going to relax at home. I'm so glad we got to spend time with her and get to know her better. You are such a neat person and we can't wait to come visit again!
At Paul's house, we enjoyed a grilled steak dinner and relaxing on the patio in the sun. I was trying to soak up all I could before we headed back up north! Paul had gotten us all tickets to the Ribfest in St. Petersburg. The big act that night was going to be Lynard Skynard! We scored a lucky parking spot right up front thanks to Dan noticing a lady backing out! Paul expertly paralell parked in a small spot and we only had to walk a block to the enterance! The Ribfest was fun. We found a place to put our lawn chairs and had fun singing along with Sweet Home, Alabama and Free Bird. Zach and I also spent a fair amount of time trying to figure out which members were original. Their slogan was "Rocking for over 40 years" so we decided most of them didn't look old enough. They finally introduced everybody and only one guy was original. We had guessed he was the one:)
It was a fun night and we had a great time with everybody! Thanks for letting us be a part of your festivities!! We are constantly amazed at the generosity and love we feel from our friends and family on the road! We love you guys!
Leaving southern Florida was hard for a few reasons, the people and the warm temperatures! But we really wanted to see Zach's sister Melinda and her family. They live up near Pensacola, FL and have not been spared from the cold weather. It was a beautiful drive up the gulf coast to their house and we enjoyed a wonderful dinner with Melinda, her husband Billy, and Zach's niece and nephew, Lauren and Adrian. We loved our evening with them and had fun getting to know each other! Thank you guys so much for letting us come by on such short notice! We don't plan ahead very well on the road.
In the morning, we waited out a pretty intense thunderstorm and then headed to the Pensacola Naval Air Museum. It was another awesome museum. We even saw the Blue Angels fly overhead on a practice run! Then it was time to head north. Armed with our audio books and snacks, we started the long trek towards Kansas.
The drive ended up being a lot of fun and went by faster then expected. We pulled into my parents house on Tuesday afternoon. The snow on the ground allowed for a snowball fight to break out and we each got nailed by a snowball or two:) It was fun, but we quickly retreated to the warm house! Megan came out for dinner and it felt so good to be with everybody again! I've missed being with my family and I'm excited for these next few weeks! It will be great to hang out with everybody!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Still trying to find warm weather

During our rest day in Chattanooga, Zach and I found a music store! It took us a few tries to locate the elusive store because it had changed locations, but once inside, we found it! A cheap, decent looking mandolin. For only fifty dollars, we added another member to our vanventure. I have never played a musical instrument, so we thought it would be fun to learn together and have another evening/rainy day activity. I traded my Chaco sandals that I so far haven't worn much for this opportunity and I am pretty happy with the trade:)
Chattanooga was such a fun city to explore. The climbing is abundant and we were lucky enough to have some good weather days to enjoy the rock. We did traditional climbing on the Tennessee Wall which overlooks the Tennessee River. It was a beautiful day and the climbing was just awesome. Becca, Zach and I all took turns leading the routes and placing our own gear in the cracks. I didn't make it to the top of my climb on lead, but i did take a few falls on my gear and got to feel more confidence in my trad climbing abilities;) Zach lead a finger crack called Finger Lockin' Good (10b/c) and Becca and I both had an awesome time top roping it. Becca took on a 5.9 In Pursuit of Excellence that was so fun! My climb was a 5.8 called Passages, that was fun, but also a little scary on lead. All in all it was such a fun day and we got a lot of great climbs in!
Our crew at Tennessee Wall

View from the top of the climb!

Showing off my awesome finger locking moves:)

Zach leading Finger Lockin' Good Time.

Searching for the right gear to place.

Becca getting her trad climbing on!

On a walk in Chattanooga.
We did some rainy day bouldering with Becca at Little Rock City (LRC or Stone Fort as some people call it). This is off a golf course and very funny to see the combanation of rock climbers and golfers in the parking lot. It works out pretty well and we had fun climbing there on Halloween. Becca and I even took a shower in the club house. Apparently, in the men's bathroom, they had turned the shower into a bathroom stall so Zach was surprised to find a man behind the curtain when he headed in to take his shower...
A few climbers wore costumes for the holiday. One was and elf and one was a sumo wrestler. Their costumes only sometimes got in the way of their climbing. Our group dressed up like rock climbers, some of us cleaner then others:),  and enjoyed trying hard on different boulder problems around the area.
The weather got worse Saturday and so we decided to take another rest day. We said goodbye to Becca and went to watch the Head of the Hooch Regatta (boat race) along the Tennessee River. Apparently, the weather has to be better for the boats to get into the water, so it ended up being a bust. Zach and I had fun wandering around though and trying to stay warm. We tried to memorize information on climbing areas in the outdoor gear store, but eventually called it day and headed out to find a campsite. 
Trying to stay warm (and psyched) for the regatta.
We found an area in the Cherokee National Forest called Starr Mountain with some traditional climbs on it. The cracks were not very tall, but they were supposed to be in the sun. Camping was also free, so we were pretty happy with it. There was a State Park near the mountain as well and Zach finally got a shower. I was too cold to want to have wet hair all day, but I had commandeered a shower at the golf course a few days before. I finally got brave enough to lead the full length of a 5.8 trad climb and placed all my own gear! It was a short route, but I made it to the top without falling and I was pretty stoked! Zach lead the harder climbs and we enjoyed most of them. There were a lot of hikers walking along the path above us, so we eventually left because we were worried about rocks getting knocked down from above. It was still a fun day along another beautiful river. 
It was finally time to say goodbye to Chattanooga. Leaving the lovely state of Tennessee, we ventured into Georgia and found another awesome climbing area called Rocktown. It is a large number of boulders up on a plateau. We had snuck a picture of the guidebook map of the area, so we had better idea of where the different boulder problems were. This place is so packed full of awesome boulder problems! It was so fun exploring. We also made friends with a few other people on the road like us and they were kind enough to give us some info from their guidebooks. I started working a problem called The Belly Button (V3) and it was a blast. It had this little dish on a bulge in the rock that looked like a giant's belly button. I couldn't get all the moves the first day, but the second day we went back, I got it! It was a fun one to have worked on and gotten all the moves. 
I made it too the top!

Belly Buton!
The second day we were in Rocktown, we happened upon our now good friend Becca! It was fun seeing her again and the entire day, we spent running around together. We added two more climbers, Nick and Aaron, and had a great day working moves and hanging out. That evening, we all combined efforts in building a campfire and watched a climbing moving called The Sharp End on Zach's laptop. It was such a fun experience, we even popped popcorn! I love having these moments on the trip and getting to share them with such awesome people! Thanks for hanging out with us!!

Just hanging out.

Becca climbing on The Orb.

Getting ready to project Iron Claw (V6)

Our bouldering crew at Rocktown (Becca, Aaron, Nick, Zach and Me:)
After Rocktown, we headed back to South Carolina to spend some time with Zach's mom, Stephanie, before we head South and West on our road trip. It was great to see her again. We did a fun hike at a National Park near Abbeville, SC. The trail took us around a really pretty lake and up to a fire tower built in 1935. The trail was full of beautiful fall trees and even a few wildflowers left over. Despite the rain trying to turn us around, we a great time and all pretty tired when we got back to the car. 
Back at her house, Stephanie mended my favorite sweatshirt which had a giant hole in the back. It looks so much better now and I really like the patch:) Thanks for saving my favorite shirt!! We also made dinner and cookies and just enjoyed getting to spend time together. It was a lovely visit. 
The marsh the trail took us straight through:)
Beautiful fall colors and giant trees along our hike.
We made it to the fire tower!
Zach and his mom:)
Reading our "map" that did not have all the trails on it.

What a cutie:)

We are now settled in Atlanta, GA for the weekend with our good friends, Patrick and Rachel, from Colorado Springs. We are already loving where they live and are excited for the weekend with them!! I love getting to see people I miss and hang out:) 
Next up, we are trying to follow good weather through the South and make our way back to Kansas for Thanksgiving. It looks like a cold snap might be hitting this area, so we shall see what activities we end up doing:)