I thoroughly enjoyed exploring Canada and driving through New England, but my heart, and Tantor’s motor, were both yearning for the place we feel most at home, the Southwest. Before I could drive Tantor west though I had to park him and fly to Las Vegas for work. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I still work.
I landed in Vegas for a week long trade show (ugh…) with my main marketing client FoodTools. We worked the booth, entertained clients, and never made it back to the hotel before 4:30 AM, sometimes not even going to sleep before returning to the show for another day’s work. Sergio, Ryan, and I lose #LifeYears for every day we are in Vegas and by the end we were all ready to get back to the real world!
From Las Vegas I flew to Arizona to spend a week visiting family and finally climb to the top of Humphrey’s Peak, the tallest mountain in Arizona. I must have had a little Vegas left in me because I couldn’t help but do a mountain dance at 12,635 feet above sea level!
I flew back east and jumped in the van to drive through the Appalachian Mountains and meet my mom and stepdad for another volunteer project. This time we worked with the Mennonite Disaster Service (MDS) in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. Over the summer massive rainstorms had rolled through the valleys and dumped so much rain that many of the homes were washed away. My Uncle Ryan leads MDS construction crews around the world and he was happy to have us there to help. We spent the week sanding, mudding, and taping drywall and by the end of the week I was thankful that I live in a van. I’ll be happy if I never mud or sand drywall ever ever ever ever ever again…
After West Virginia and a quick visit home to Indiana I drove west to Arkansas, the last state that I needed to visit in the Lower 48. Only 2 more to go and they should be fun…Alaska and Hawaii! (At this point you’d probably like to make a joke about me driving my van to Hawaii…trust me, I’ve already heard it.)
I stopped to see baking industry friends in Kansas City and pulled into Denver just in time to spend the Thanksgiving holiday with my brother and friends at a hike-in-hut in the Rockies outside of Vail. We lugged in a gourmet backpacking meal and boxes of wine over 5 miles of showshoe trails for a Friendsgiving feast we’ll never forget!
From Colorado I wandered around Utah for a week, shivered through below freezing temps, scraped ice off the inside of my windshield, and luckily got a permit to hike to The Wave, a sandstone formation in Arizona.
After stopping at Horseshoe Bend I pulled into Prescott, AZ for the holidays and moved into my Grandfather’s retirement home. I slept on his living room floor and joined his group of friends for breakfast and lost my money at Bingo on Wednesday nights. I have to say, being 33 years old and living in a retirement home for a month sure does give you a unique perspective on life!
With that I wrapped up my 2016 year of adventure. I’d started with a backpacking trip through Ecuador and Peru, explored the Galápagos Islands and hiked the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, returned to North America and drove across Canada from Vancouver Island to Newfoundland, and rambled through New England and back to the Southwest for the holidays. It was a great year and I’m excited to see what 2017 has in store!
Life is good and getting better!