Category Archives: Adventures
There is no debating it, the people at Chacos have put together the worlds greatest shoe.
Some of the best uses for Chacos are:
Hiking: They really grip those rocks and don’t move around on your feet.
Backpacking: Super durable and maintenance-free. Your feet stay omfy and dry fast after you get them wet. It’s also great to not need as many pairs of socks, which always smell and are hard to wash in the sink.
At the salsa bar: Great for showing off those gringo dance moves. The chicas will be muy impressed by your super style. They come in several styles and hundreds of colors.
On the bus: Throw on some socks under your Chacos for those air conditioned rides and rock that classic dad look.
Church: That’s right, Jesus would have worn them on the pulpit. Birkenstocks? Yeah right!
In the rain: Chacos are super-waterproof and grippy even in wet conditions. However, if you’re planning to go hiking in the rain with deadly snakes and flesh eating fungi, think twice! Just don’t do it with any shoe.
This hike full of poisonous plants and animals is not recommended for Chaco-wearers. This picture is from the day I got a weird rash all over my hands and feet. Most of my fingernails and toenails died, peeled off, and looked really stupid for the next few months.
They retail for just under $99 or 3000 Thai Baht or 0.02 Bitcoin and you can get them from REI or anywhere that sells outdoor gear. If your local store doesn’t have them than you really just need a better local store or figure out how to use the internet for things other than selfies. So why don’t you stop wasting time here and get out and buy some killer sandals??
It had been a long time coming but we were finally out of the country. We sold all of our stuff in sunny San Diego, California and packed what was left in our tiny Prius and left it with my family in Arizona. From there we downsized to backpacks and left with one-way tickets to Asia and no plans of when to return. The feeling of liberation was unbelievable. I had forgotten how much joy I could get from so little; a bag of clothes, a few books, some cameras… Forget the constant struggle to work with no end in sight and the urge to consume, consume that pulls us all deeper into the system (“American dream”). We were over it.
So we had a quick night’s layover in Taipei, Taiwan, where we got to eat once and stay in a hostel and that’s about it. Taipei Youth Hostel and Capsule Hotel was space age with sliding Star Trek doors and computerized toilets. There was hope that a typhoon would hit us and force us to stay a few more days, but the weather went north and left us with just a rainy night.
Sleep was hard, our internal clocks always urging to us to wake up. Before we knew it it was morning and we were back in the airport.
Five more hours on the plane and we touched down in Singapore, Asia’s model city of cleanliness and order. We purchased three-day unlimited metro passes that were good on a variety of public transport options. It was so easy to navigate and the metro and buses were some of the easiest and cleanest we have ever seen. We soon met some friendly cartoon characters posted on all of the train cars reminding you how to not be a jerk as part of the Singapore Thoughtfulness Campaign–Stand Up Stacy, Bags Down Benny, Move Back Martin, and others showing off their perfect traveling etiquette. We soon arrived at our CouchSurfing host’s apartment. She wasn’t there but we met her children and her helper lady who showed us to our room with a view of the city. With Singapore being so expensive having a Couchsurfing host was a life saver. Our stomachs were grumbling so we headed out on the bus then the metro to the downtown area looking for a food hawker center, which is like a food court which serves all the delicious things at affordable prices. Unluckily for us the entire downtown was sectioned off for the Formula 1 race, one of the biggest events of the year. Huge track walls blocked all the major streets and it was a pain to find a way to cross it. Eventually we found an awesome food center under a shopping mall where we had our first of many, many delicious meals of the trip. My chef brain was going crazy with the new smells and layers of flavors. I couldn’t wait for more.
After eating we went to look at the skyline. The Marina Bay Sands hotel with its three towers and rooftop garden connecting the buildings was definitely dominating the view. There was also the brightly and colorfully lit Merlion that looked over the bay, watching over the city.
For our first night we were tired though so returned home pretty early. Sleep was again rough; jetlag is real folks.
Day two was a busy one. We had purchased unlimited metro passes for three days at a cost of $30 Singapore. When you leave you can sell back the card to get $10 back. Our first stop of the day was for traditional Singaporean breakfast, kaya toast. This is sweet coffee along with soft-boiled eggs and toast. The toast has butter and coconut (kaya) jam on it and you dip it in the eggs after you put soy sauce and white pepper on them. It was delicious of course.
Our next stops were our first of many temples on our journey. We went in Hindu and Buddhist temples that were near each other and the toast shop. You take off your shoes at the front and make sure you dress appropriately, females especially. The Hindu temple was my favorite with its intricate designs and wall paintings of the various deities.
We walked and walked and metro-ed too. Our next stop was Little India where we found The Teka Center, a food hawker center near the metro station. Hawker centers, like food courts, are THE place to get food in S.E. Asia. There are usually at least 20 stands selling various things and your senses go crazy. We got some biryani that was spicy spicy and roti canai (stuffed pancake) with bananas and we were in heaven. It started raining hard as we ate so we slowed our chewing to make it last through the storm.
Our next destination was the Islamic area, Kampong Glam. The shops were selling amazing textiles and we listened to the call to prayer from a massive mosque.
It was refreshing to see all of the religions existing peacefully alongside each other.
On the way back to take a nap we saw signs for a jungle trail in MacRitchie Reservoir Park and couldn’t resist. It was weird being in the city one second and feeling so far away the next. Signs warned of wild boars so we were slightly on edge.
Our Couchsurfing host was home when we got back so we got to chat about her experience as a French expat in Singapore. She was a personal trainer which was very popular in Singapore because apparently everyone wanted to be good at sports but no one was. She had been there for seven years and her two children had no real memories of France. It was their home now and they didn’t plan on leaving.
After napping we headed back into the city. We had to see the Supertree Garden and the nightly light show. We passed through the base of the Sands and what was probably the most extravagant shopping mall we had ever scene, exceeding even things in New York and Las Vegas. The joke was that shopping was the national sport of Singapore. It was more fact than fiction. We found the exit to the mall and walked through some cool lighted bridges in the impressive Botanical Gardens before posting up under one of the larger Supertrees. The Supertree Rhapsody was a 15 min long light and music show that played at 7:45pm and 8:45pm nightly. They played show tunes and the lights were very impressive, definitely the coolest thing that we saw in Singapore.
With the expense of daily life in Singapore, we had only planned two nights there. We spent most of the time jetlagged but still found time to enjoy ourselves. There are many, many more things to see, and we hope to someday go back there, maybe next time with a little more funds in our pockets.
Stay tuned for our ventures into Malaysia!!!
As soon as we entered Oregon we could tell that this thing was going to be huge. Every car was loaded down, tents and coolers strapped to the roof. The Great American Eclipse, as it was being called, was turning small towns across the nation into giant festivals with fields full of thousands of campers. Several years before, a few farmers near Madras, Oregon had noticed that the eclipse would pass right over their fields. More than 5000 campsites were sold just in those fields, with other farmers hosting similar events nearby. We arrived on Saturday in the evening; the big event to happen Monday morning. The place was already a mad house and I believe we took the last available space, with many more people circling for spots. Solartown was the name of our event and Solarfest was happening in the town a few miles away. We were already super efficient and competent campers so we had ourselves some chuckles at everyone struggling with their new tents. The town was simple with portapotties and free showers, along with a variety of food vendors that we never sampled because of the long lines and our tight budget.
We had fun meeting our neighbors and even got to hang out with our friend from home Kelly, who ended up being camped in the next field over!
We made a short video about our experience so you can get a taste of what it was like. We didn’t actually get a shot of the eclipse happening because we didn’t really try to. We wanted to be fully present. But you can see Solartown and see our reactions to the wonder! We both cried when totality happened. There was nothing that could have prepared us for those moments. If you ever get the chance to witness an eclipse, DO IT!
Here is a long-overdue short video from our travels through Cuba in January 2017. Cuba was one of the countries most devastated by recent hurricanes. They have been largely skipped in the international aid effort and the United States makes it nearly impossible to help them in any way. We are researching ways to help and will report back if we find something legitimate. Please comment if you have any ideas!!!
Please subscribe to our YouTube channel and stay tuned for more videos!!!
(Note: This post and the last one are out of order because we forgot while writing that we went to Lassen before Mt. Shasta . Oops!)
After fighting traffic jams of rented RVs in Yosemite, we were ready to get away from the crowds. DO NOT GO TO YOSEMITE IN AUGUST!!! We had learned a valuable lesson and the smoke was choking us out anyhow. Leaving a few days early, we headed northward and decided to use our extra few days to check out the lesser-visited Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California. The drive in was through beautiful forest and we were so happy to just not be in a cloud of smoke anymore. This was a terrible year for wildfires and it had affected our trip greatly. We found an awesome campground just outside the park and set up for a relaxing afternoon. Our Prius (Rock Crawler) was packed full of fun toys to keep us entertained while camping, from slack lines to hammocks we were well stocked with fun.
In the morning we drove into the park. There were very few people, but a few of the major attractions were closed because of the amount of snow still covering the paths. We saw a random geyser on the way in and could smell sulfur in the air. The views were insane and we were relieved to see that the hike up Lassen Volcano was open despite there being snow taller than me around the parking lot. The hike was steep and relatively empty when we started.
At the top there was still tons and tons of snow. We looked into the crater and saw some adventurous snowboarding ladies whom were about to ride all the way down after hiking to the top.
Seriously, don’t come here. It’s terrible and there are bears that eat Europeans and have learned how to open RV doors.
After climbing around Bishop, we made our way through to Yosemite National Park which we were super excited about. However, once in the park we realized that all our plans had to be thrown out the window because the Yosemite Valley was full of smoke from nearby forest fires.
We spent two nights camping and doing what we could (not much so we caught up on some work) but then decided to cut our loses and head for northern California where hopefully the air would be cleaner. The drive was beautiful and we covered some new territory that we had been looking forward to for a long time. In the shadows of Mount Shasta we drove around looking for free camping. We were hoping to find a spot at the free campground near Crystal Lake but they were all full. Finding space would become a battle for the next few days with everyone on the west coast traveling through on their eclipse-bound road trips. We were doing the same so couldn’t be too mad, so we jumped in the amazing lake and felt instantly better.
Refreshed, we drove a few miles away into the forest where there was lots of free dispersed camping. We found a nice spot near a river with lots of grimy hippy kids. These were like the people we are used to seeing sleeping on the beach in Ocean Beach, San Diego, so we weren’t too bothered by them. After being there only a few minutes a Forest Service ranger pulled into the area and about 10 of the hippie bums casually walked off into the woods, warning us as they went that the cops were here. Eventually the ranger came and walked through our camp, telling us to we might want to camp elsewhere. We didn’t find anyone threatening and kept to ourselves as did they. Our only complaint was that their drum circle that lasted til 2am. They were actually really good musicians, we just weren’t into it at the time.
The next day we payed for a campground with showers and laundry and enjoyed Lake Siskiyou by renting a stand-up paddleboard for the first time ever. Shasta was beautiful in the background and we hoped to come back later to hike the mountain.
On our last day in the area we hiked the McCloud River Trail, an easy, scenic hike which takes you by three different waterfalls, each with its own swimming hole and cliff jumps. We didn’t end up getting in because the cold mountain water was just too frigid! We couldn’t do it. It was great just to stick our feet in and admire the powerful waterfalls.
The eastern Sierras offer an abundance of outdoor activities and, with climbing being our main goal for this leg of the trip, Bishop was a great home base for exploring the area. We Couchsurfed with a very nice guy named Doug who showed us around town then left for work for four days. It was very generous of him to let us take over his house for that time. Gotta love Couchsurfing! Having just climbed Mt. Whitney, Doug’s house was a perfect place for us to rest our tired bones. I set up my solar panel out back and we made nice meals. Life was grand.
Before leaving on his work adventure hauling oil from the Nevada desert to Long Beach in southern California, Doug drove us around the small town telling us interesting facts. He told us about the Lone Pine earthquake around the turn of the 19th century that left the whole valley to the south 30 feet lower. He also told us about how Bishop could never expand because of the fact that all the land around the town is owned by Los Angeles County. Great amounts of water flow in from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the spring and summer, accumulating in the lakes and rivers around Bishop. This water is collected and diverted into aqueducts that carry it more than 250 miles to the dry metropolis of L.A. It seemed wrong to us, but what do we know.
After Doug left for work we drove north towards Mammoth and checked out a few hot springs near the Mammoth Airport. First we found Wild Willy’s, which was awesome at first but then a van full of adolescent French kids interrupted our scenic soak. But there were more springs down the road and we found a cool group of people at Hilltop Hotsprings, a small pool with an amazing view. Everyone soon left except a guy who owned a ski shop in Mammoth Lakes. We talked about forest fires, as one had ignited nearby. He explained his idea to drop giant fireproof tarps over the fires to extinguish them. Sure, dude.
On our second day in Bishop we headed back towards the north looking for a recommended climbing crag called Clark Canyon. We got off road for a long time then realized we went the wrong way in. Around the other side of the hills the road got bad and we took our rock-crawling Prius to its offroading limits. The area was remote and probably a lot prettier before recent wildfires had blackened most of the trees. Just when I though we could go no further, about six miles and an hour through dirt, we came to the parking spot and geared up. The rock was fun volcanic tuff and we climbed a few routes. Several ways up I found some sketchy bolts and had to downclimb, but in general the area was great and we soon found ourselves worn out and headed home.
For our third day we headed to the famous Happy Boulders near Bishop. We got out there around 8 to avoid the heat and quickly found lots of fun rocks. There were hundreds, if not thousands of problems and we hung out for a few hours sending a few popular routes such as Heavenly Path, a great rock with a scary 20+ foot top out. We wore ourselves out early again and relaxed through the hot afternoon, making dinner and catching up on some TV shows. It sure was great having our own house.
Our last day in town we wanted to do some more climbing but all the spots around Bishop had some kind of issues, so we got up in the dark and drove south to try to tackle more routes in the Alabama Hills area near Lone Pine. We wanted to send the Shark Fin rock around sunrise to capture the classic picture of the climb with Mt. Whitney in the background. It was a fun climb and we got the perfect shot. Afterwards we went to the Tall Wall near the Meat Loaf Campsite. This was my first 100+ foot lead climb– super nerve racking but the adrenaline was well worth it. We climbed a little more nearby then went and found a fun chimney but it was nearing 100 degrees and we were tired so we hit up the Pizza Factory lunch buffet in Lone Pine and drove home to nap. We were finally feeling safer climbing and it was great. If only we had a few more months to bum around the States we might actually be good! But this would not be the trip that we became climbing pros, Alex Honnold your title is safe for now.
Stay tuned for tales of our adventures in Yosemite, Northern California, Oregon for the eclipse, and back to Black Rock City for the infamous Burning Man!