Mashley’s Adventures – Canyons and Contemplations

Painted Wall in Black Canyon

Current Location: Monument, CO

True happiness is to enjoy the present, without anxious dependence on the future, not to amuse ourselves with either hopes or fears but to rest satisfied with what we have, which is sufficient, for he that is so wants nothing.
~ Seneca

~~~~~//~~~~~

Even though it’s only been a few days since our last update, we’ve still managed to cover some ground – changing states and visiting another National Park! Over the weekend we rode into the northern portion of Canyonlands called Island in the Sky for another visit and then on Sunday we packed up and headed out.

We headed east, returning to Colorado in order to visit Black Canyon of the Gunnison. It’s a relatively new park, only having been instated in 1999, though it’s been a National Momument since the mid 1900s. Even though there isn’t snow on the ground and the roads are all open, it’s still a bit early in the season to visit. On the one hand, that means that we’ve been avoiding crowds and it’s been peacefully quiet, but that’s because it’s been chilly during our visit. We hopped on the motorcycle for a trip down into the canyon on the East Portal Road to ride alongside the Gunnison River. It was quite a steep ride down, Ashley kept sliding forward on her seat! Being inside the canyon is a unique experience. It’s beautiful, but also intimidating. Like being inside a slot canyon that has teeth!

At the bottom of Black Canyon, next to the Gunnison River

The Gunnison River

After checking out the visitor center and watching the park movie about the early exploration of the canyon (including the use of inflatable mattresses to raft the river!) we continued to the end of the road to check out the overlooks. Unfortunately, the weather was threatening rain/snow so we didn’t stay out for long and retreated to the RV to warm back up. While the weather wasn’t as bad as predicted, there were some snow patches still sticking in the morning, though they melted quite quickly.

  • 42 National Parks (of 47 in the Contiguous US)
  • 16% grade on the road
  • 36 States

Pictures fail to capture the colors, depth, and general sensation of the canyon.

Looking down into Black Canyon

These last few months everyone’s been asking about our upcoming plans, both for the next leg of our quest and the”what’s next” after we finish. As for the next leg of the quest, we have only a handful of states and National Parks left to visit and the current plan is to finish visiting them all by the end of July. After exploring what we can of Rocky Mountain National Park here in Colorado, we can head back east through Oklahoma and Arkansas (Hot Springs NP) then to Mammoth Cave before working our way up through New England to Maine and back down to Savannah, GA in July for a family get-together. Three weeks later we have a 25-day permit to hike the John Muir Trail in California.

We’ve considered spending more time here in the west, exploring more deeply and finding a job to add more to the gas fund, but with the fixed family meet-up in July and the JMT in August, we’d be pushing our completion date into next year to avoid winter in New England. While we don’t want to rush to finish, or feel like we’re simply checking places off a list, we are eager to begin the next stage of our adventure. We’ve currently visited more parks than states, which means that we have a lot of driving ahead of us, more miles than exploration. That makes our final leg fairly straightforward to complete and gives us the option to count the JMT as the grand finale (and with Mt. Whitney being both the finish line and the highest point in the lower 48, literally ending on a high point!)

And then we get to begin our next adventure in life. After much pondering, consideration, and discussion we’ve decided to… wait and see! We have lots of ideas about what sounds best but are currently delaying the decision. It’s hard not to think about it since we’ve had so many questions from famiy and friends, but part of our rationale is that we get lost in the debate and forget to enjoy our current location and adventure over concern about the future. By focusing too much on future plans we forget to enjoy and appreciated the present, and the amazing things we are experiencing at this very moment. It’s a hard balance that we are continually striving to make. We have put out some feelers looking into future options, so we’re not ignoring it completely, but at the moment we’re aiming to appreciate the amazing journey that we’re currently on.

Adventuring appreciatively,

Matthew & Ashley

Mashley’s Adventures – The Winds of Change are Blowing

winds-of-change-are-blowing

Current Location: Mayfield, KY

The most difficult thing is the decision to act, the rest is merely tenacity. The fears are paper tigers. You can do anything you decide to do. You can act to change and control your life; and the procedure, the process is its own reward. Adventure is worthwhile in itself.
~ Amelia Earhart

~~~~//~~~~

What a crazy week! We’ve made plans, changed them, made new plans, attended a Spooktacular Halloween Party (dressed as a Park Ranger and a Moose!), ran about a million errands, and there is still a piling list of things to do. Also, it sure hasn’t felt like Fall here in Kentucky. The temperature has been keeping steadily in the 80’s, and we even had to run the RV air conditioner so we didn’t sweat to death…in November! Madness! But, a cold front should be rolling in soon, just as we begin rolling out.

That’s right! Adventure-Some will be back on the road, headed to a new destination! Now, our plans have changed quite a bit since our last email, very surprising I know. It really should just be expected by now. We are no longer going to be in Campbellsville, KY working for Amazon until Christmas. As luck would have it, Ashley got offered a Travel Nursing position in Fayetteville, North Carolina. She starts November 14th and the contract ends February 11th. We are both excited for this opportunity because 1) we get to go somewhere new 2) it gives us a way to make a substantial contribution to the bank account and travel fund while also giving us an opportunity to make this lifestyle more sustainable long term 3) and it gives us the chance to visit more states and nearby National Parks this winter!

We are grateful for the extended time we have been able to spend with our families this last month. God knows that we have missed them and they have missed us, but we can’t deny that we are itching to get back to exploring new places, seeing amazing things and accomplishing this journey we set out on 17 months ago. If there is one thing we are, it is determined šŸ˜€

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

P.S. – This change in plan does throw a loop into visits with friends over the next few months, which we hate! Pondering other ways/times to get together, however.

Mashley’s Adventures – Breaking News

breaking-news

Current Location: Mayfield, KY

If you don’t read the newspaper, then you’re uninformed. But if you read the newspaper, you’re misinformed.
~ Mark Twain

~~~~~//~~~~~

It’s been a pretty steady couple of weeks here in Adventure-Some land. Working on some saved projects, spending time with family, and searching for future jobs. As all that has taken place, however, we did manage to fit in an interview with the local paper, the Paducah Sun. (All thanks to Jim’s suggestion and introduction!) The story ran Saturday and was on the front page! Woohoo!

We’ve decided that the current best option is to move forward with Ashley finding a travel nursing job or two. A couple of contracts a year should cover most of our expenses – if these are during the winter in the south, we can continue exploring during the summer elsewhere. Matthew is still looking at options, whether that be finding a remote position with an online company so that he can work anywhere or… something else.

There’s still a lot of puzzling to do as we research options. Until then, we’re enjoying the fall weather and chance to spend time with family!

Adventuring away,

Matthew & Ashley

Ride Your Own Ride

This time last year, Ashley and I were half-way across the state of Iowa, participating in the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa, along with somewhere between 17,000-25,000 others. How many different riding styles do you think there were?

We had a great time! It was our first trip across the state and we picked up a few tips along the way. Most notably, in our mind, is the fact that you can ride the route in many different ways, each of which is well within the recommended safe guidelines. Here are a few:

Wake early and stay ahead of the crowd
This is what we ended up doing as the week went on. The course officially opens at 6 (sunrise) and by leaving then you can stay ahead of the huge throngs of people and skip the worst of the lines. We arrived in the final towns early enough to have a good array of campsite choices.

Sleep late and ride leisurely
Some friends did this, since it was their vacation. They slept late-ish and meandered their way from stop to stop, thoroughly exploring and seeing what each town had to offer. They ate supper on the road and upon arriving in the overnight town only had to set up their tent and shower before bed.

Ride fast!
While we were solidly better-than-average riders, there were definitely the “hot dogs” who flew by us on the left. I don’t know if they are professionals, serious amateurs, or just riders from the mountains who were enjoying the relative flatness of Iowa. Either way, there were lines of riders who would handily pass us by. Within this speed, I am sure there are sub categories:

  • those who slept late and rode hard all day long to arrive early at the overnight town
  • others who rode hard from stop to stop, enjoying lots of time at each location

Deviate from the route completely
We spoke to one gentleman who takes daily detours off of the route, visiting towns that have been passed by just a few miles away. They are more than happy to see him, he encounters no lines, and he gets to see something that most others don’t.

Don’t ride the whole week
Many people didn’t ride the whole week, opting for one-day passes, or multiple one-days. This requires less training, allows them to pick and choose their terrain and towns visited, and fits more easily into their schedule.

Only ride part of the day
Some groups, in order to save money on shuttle service each day, traded off riding and driving between members. One person would drive in the morning to a designated meeting spot, trade with one of the riders and ride in the afternoon.

Don’t ride at all
A lot of teams have support drivers who come along for the trip, bringing along luggage, food, drinks, and more. While they travel a different route, the supporters still get to participate in RAGBRAI, without all of the pedaling!

There are a lot of options, and I’m sure that we overlooked a number of them. Some are tailored to the amount of time you have, some are to the energy and riding ability, while others are simply designed around what and how you want to ride, or whether you want to ride at all!

Designing your ride doesn’t apply only to the RAGBRAI, or even other touring bicycle rides. It also applies to life. While it might appear that there is one route, one path to success, there are many ways to get there. Explore all of your options:

  • Maybe you can really rush for a bit and then have time for a mini-retirement.
  • Perhaps slow and steady will get you where you want to be.
  • Or maybe you should just deviate from the course that is presented to you all-together (does traveling around the country in an RV sound familiar?)
  • Step back and play a supporting role of some sort, perhaps taking care of friends and family who, in turn, provide a place for you to live.

Whatever option you decide to take, be sure to get out there and go on an adventure! You never know what you’ll find and who you might meet.

Worst Case Scenario

Well-meaning friends and family members have often asked us “What if…” questions while we were preparing for our trip.

  • What if the RV breaks down?
  • What if the RV breaks down and you can’t afford to fix it?
  • What if you run out of money?
  • What if Ashley gets pregnant? (this one seemed to come up a lot)
  • What if you get sick?
  • What if Ashley gets pregnant and has morning sickness while you’re driving?
  • What if you don’t like RVing?
  • What if you get tired of traveling?

Continue reading

Nomad Standard Time

Living on the road, without a fixed schedule, means that you live in an alternate time-zone: NST.*

Only a couple of times in the last month have we set a firm deadline, and of those all but one have been set once we had already arrived in our destination and settled into a stationary spot. The other was set months ago and has been the impetus behind our over-all rate of travel for the last month.

  
Nomad Standard Time is full of approximations, firming up as a timeframe approaches.
As we head south to visit family and friends we keep getting asked when we will arrive (so that our bundle of mail can be forwarded to us). The answer has been some variation of “we’re not sure yet” until early last week.

  
Finally, we were able to to say “we think that we will arrive sometime early next week.” Our mail has been shipped along its way – it may well still beat us there.

  
We are currently meandering south, generally aiming toward their hometown. While we could have rushed and have arrived yesterday, that would have been a fairly long day of travel. And since we are home, no matter where we go, we just don’t have to be in a rush!

  
The closer we get, the more accurately we can predict our travel plans, though they remain flexible. Talking to Aunt Joni this morning, we found out that she is busy, so we slow down our rate of travel a bit. This allows us to get some writing and other personal projects done before heading out. Today we can drive until we’re ready for a break, find a place to park for the night and then coordinate in the morning to firm up a good time to meet.

  
Don’t be offended or off-put if we don’t give you a firm schedule or time-frame of when we’ll be in a particular location. The honest answer is that we’ll get there when we get there.

Likewise, don’t be concerned about telling us that you are busy and can’t meet with us. Chances are, we can accommodate a delay to catch up with you at another time.

Remember, we live in an alternate time-zone! 

* I can’t take credit for NST. I first heard of it from Cherie of Technomadia – check out point number 5 in her letter.

The Art of Getting Lost

We bought an RV!

But that’s not the exciting part.

No, not at all. The exciting part is what we’re going to do with it. We’re going to explore the continental United States. All of it. Just driving around, hiking inĀ all of the National Parks and National Forests – and visiting whatever else happens to catch our attention along the way. No time frame, no deadline. Just the two of us in our RV, on the open road.

There will be challenges, set-backs, and plenty of wrong turns. But that’s ok – and not just because we’re expecting it. How exciting would an adventure be if there were no challenges to over come? How many fewer memories would be made if everything went along perfectly? And it’s just not a road trip unless there is at least one wrong turn somewhere along the way.

We haven’t hit the road yet, or even moved into the RV, and there have already been a few debates between us.Ā We have begun getting rid of our stuff so that we can downsize from our filled two bedroom, one car garage place into a 29′ box on wheels. But we’ll get there, together, working toward the shared goal of living in our RV and exploring the world around us.

Wrong turns? Our trip isn’t planned out. We have mapped out all of the National Parks and Forests in the US (literally – there is a map sitting on our bookshelf, filled with stickers that indicate where everything is) and we haveĀ plotted a direction to help us get started – it’s a zig zagging north, by the way. Beyond a direction for the first few months, we have only the foggiest of ideas.

That is just the beginning, though, and it’s enough to get us started.

No, we don’t have a final destination in mind. There is no set date to finish. There isĀ a big ole world out there, and we’re equipped and exited to go and explore it. To see what there is to see, for ourselves.

Won’t you come and get lost along with us?

Making the 30 in 30 Game Plan

People who collect experiences are more interesting than people who collect things.

You might notice that out of my 30 goals, only two involve buying something. I want to live a full life, and that doesn’t necessarily having a full house. These purchase goals will provide experiences to make my life richer. My wife and I have been wanting an Airstream for a few years now, and purchasing one would include the experience of remodeling and then living in it. Buying coffee for 12 strangers? The goal is to make myself meet people, coffee is just the medium.

So how do I plan on accomplishing these 30 goals in 366 days (since that leap year “bonus day” will fall in this time-frame)? By making them as automatic as possible. This means that I will be heavily relying on my calendar and automatic email reminders. I am still in the process of planning the schedule out, but here is the process that I’m using.

Know what I’m working with

You may have noticed that there is a pretty wide range of goals included on my list, free and fairly quick (#12 – read the Bible) to expensive (#13 – buy an Airstream) to time intensive (#1 – cross-country motorcycle trip). To help me come up with a realistic plan I have broken the goals into different categories based on the time and money needed to complete them.

Pre-arranged
A few of the goals have already been scheduled, and so they were the first to go on my calendar.

  • move
  • pay down school debt
  • go on 7 day backpacking trip

Long term
A number of the goals will only be reached after investing quite a bit of time (from about a month to the entire year). I am scheduling them as a recurring weekly activity, with an initial focused burst at the beginning. This beginning burst of energy will allow me to stagger their starting dates so that I don’t end up beginning a lot of new projects in February and then burning myself out. Many of these goals are free, or only incur a small cost (like gas or the purchase of a book).

  • read 1/2 of Personal MBA
  • find 576 more geocaches
  • learn 5 magic tricks
  • read the Bible
  • 30 informational interviews
  • go on 30 dates
  • make 30 things
  • learn to weld
  • some sort of fitness goal – to be further defined
  • learn to program
  • circumnavigate Land Between the Lakes
  • get in touch with old friends on a regular basis
  • buy coffee for 12 strangers
  • see moonbow (again)
  • become conversationally fluent in a language
  • become a publicly recognized expert
  • have a business of my own

Events
Most of the other goals are more of a multi-day event. Some planning, a big burst of energy, and some money, and they will be completed. These will be interspersed through the year, and combined whenever possible (ie: I can visit DC and the Grand Canyon during the cross-country motorcycle trip).

  • visit the lower 48
  • cross-country motorcycle trip
  • stop in DC to visit the Wall
  • see Grand Canyon
  • hot air balloon ride
  • see Northern Lights
  • buy an Airstream
  • take flying lessons – airplane
  • learn to sail
  • hang glide

Further Definition

Many of these goals are already pretty easy to measure (ie: go on 30 dates, go on a 7 day backpacking trip, etc). There are a few, however, that still need to be narrowed down a bit. So that I know when I have “learned to program” I will come up with a final project that I want to complete, and then I will have a definitive ending point to cross. Likewise, “learn to weld” will involve coming up with a final project to create.

I will write an explanatory post for most of these goals as I begin working on them, including the guidelines for completing each one, my detailed plan of attack, and the reasons behind each one.

Funding?

No, I don’t have a sponsor of any sort. These goals will be completed around work and my wife’s school/work schedule. The money comes from my pocket. Goal #4 (business of my own) will not only make some of the goals financially possible, but will also allow you to participate! Come back Wednesday to find out how.

The 30 in 30 Project

It’s not the outcome that matters. It’s the decision to act.
~ Chris Guillebeau

A few months ago I read Sebastian Marshall’s post about strategically checking off a bucket list and I continued to mull that idea over. I can do the same thing. Most of the items on my life list are things that I could do relatively easy with a direct application of time or money. Though I might not have the money at the moment, completing many of my goals will cost far less than I imagine, and I do have some time available if I make these goals a priority. So I came up with a new list to work toward for now.

I will be 30 in a few days. To start this decade off right I am going to focus on strategically completing a few of the goals on my bucket list, in addition to some goals that hadn’t quite made it to that list yet. In no particular order, here are the 30 things that I want to complete by February 6, 2013.

  1. cross-country motorcycle trip
  2. stop in DC to visit the Wall
  3. read 1/2 of Personal MBA
  4. have a business of my own
  5. pay down school debt
  6. become conversationally fluent in a language
  7. hot air balloon ride
  8. see Grand Canyon
  9. become a publicly recognized expert
  10. see moonbow (again)
  11. see Northern Lights
  12. read the Bible
  13. buy an Airstream
  14. take flying lessons – airplane
  15. 30 informational interviews
  16. make 30 things
  17. learn to sail
  18. hang glide
  19. go on 30 dates
  20. learn a skill of some sort – welding?
  21. some sort of fitness goal – to be further defined
  22. learn to program
  23. go on 7 day backpacking trip
  24. circumnavigate Land Between the Lakes
  25. get in touch with old friends on a regular basis
  26. move
  27. buy coffee for 12 strangers
  28. find 576 more geocaches
  29. learn 5 magic tricks
  30. visit the lower 48

Come back Monday to see how I plan on completing all of these.

List Making

A month ago everyone online seemed to be reviewing their lives in 2011 and putting together their action plans for 2012. For some reason that I couldn’t quite explain, however, I just couldn’t bring myself to do the same.

Sure, I sat down and came up with a long list of things to achieve this year, but it felt forced. And since it was forced I knew that, realistically, I wouldn’t be enthusiastic or driven enough to complete them.

Taking a break

Eventually I just decided to sit back and watch everyone else post their reviews and action plans. The stress lifted from my shoulders. I was still making progress, building things, reading and growing. Serendipity would take care of the rest.

The list grows

Apparently I was just starting too soon. Starting a new set of goals on January 1st just didn’t seem important to me, but February 6th seemed just about right. A list of goals seemed to grow of its own accord.

In a few days I will be entering my third decade upon earth. Anticipating this supposed milestone I have been tossing around ideas about how to celebrate it. Something epic, no doubt. The list that formed on its own has grown into the “30 in 30” project.

30 in 30

During my 30th year I have compiled a list of thirty things that I want complete. Some are free while others will cost a decent amount. A few won’t take me long at all though others will take the whole year. A few will involve me spending time alone but most involve others. Easy and challenging. I tried to cover many things.

30 things to complete. Friday I’ll tell you what they are.