Reflecting and Wrapping up an Adventure-Some Quest

The Overview:

~49,071 miles, 4 vehicles, 4 jobs, 47 National Parks, and the 48 contiguous states in an ~$19,000 motorhome (including remodel) spending $48,600.16 over 2 years..

The Plan:
After purchasing and remodeling our new-to-us motorhome, we headed out on June 2, 2015 with the goal of visiting all 48 of the contiguous United States and each of the 47 National Parks and 152 National Forests along the way.

Since we both love the outdoors, the exploration of Parks and Forests seemed like a good way to experience something in each state and (hopefully) also highlight some of the best natural features along the way.

After going out of our way to drive through the third National Forest, we decided that wasn’t going to be an enjoyable or worthwhile part of our quest, and focused on the states and parks.

By the Numbers:

The dates:
We drove into state number 48, Maine, on May 22, 2017 (721 days after starting) and into park number 47, Acadia, the next morning.

On our two year adventure-versary (June 2, 2017 – 732 days) we were settled at family’s house – not where we started, but at a good finishing point in order to visit and take a bit of a travel break.

It took us about 450 days to return to our jumping-off point in Western Kentucky for a brief visit with our parents before returning to Michigan for a friend’s wedding.

Along the way, we picked up four different jobs:

  • Lot Managers/Sales of pumpkins, Christmas trees and fireworks, Arizona (October 2015-December 2015)
  • Personal Assistant at The Bremerton Letterpress Company, Washington (Ashley; June-July 2016)
  • Contractor at The Bremerton Letterpress Company, Washington (Matthew; May-July 2016)
  • Travel Nurse at Cape Fear Valley, North Carolina (Ashley; Nov 2016 – Feb 2017)

Each of these positions took about 3 months (though the two positions at The Bremerton Letterpress Company were at the same time), so we spent about 9 months of the journey stationary due to work commitments (roughly 37% of our time).

Travel Numbers:

Over the course of the journey we’ve used 4 different vehicles: Lady Galapagos – our trusty RV, the motorcycle, a brief stint in the CarVee – our PT Cruiser, and lucked into the use of a friend’s pickup while he was out of the area working.

  • RV
    • miles – 25,571
    • maintenance (new fridge, front brakes and left rotor, routine oil and filter changes)- $3,746.55
    • gas – $7,476.93
  • Motorcycle
    • miles – ~15,000
    • maintenance (new tires, routine oil changes) – $783.64
    • gas – $737.82
  • CarVee
    • miles -~3,500
    • maintenance – $584.11
    • gas – $529.09
  • Truck
    • miles – ~5,000
    • gas – $468.79

While these look like exact numbers, they aren’t quite. I know that there some more expenses that go under the CarVee maintenance, as well as some for the truck, but these are what I recorded.

Other financials:

One of the most common questions we receive is some form of “are you rich?” (though never worded so directly). The basic idea is that we worked and saved up some, traveled, paused to work and add more to the gas fund, and traveled more. If you’re interested in more details, here’s the break down of the last two years:

including RV no RV
 Total $67,600.16 $48,600.16
Food $10,422.29 15.42% 21.44%
RV Fuel $7,476.93 11.06% 15.38%
Other $6,318.36 9.35% 13.00%
Restaurant $4,080.56 6.04% 8.40%
Campgrounds $3,780.52 5.59% 7.78%
RV Maint $3,746.55 5.54% 7.71%
House $3,220.13 4.76% 6.63%
Cell Phone $3,120.00 4.62% 6.42%
Coffee $1,719.05 2.54% 3.54%
Entertainment $842.82 1.25% 1.73%
Motorcycle Maint $783.64 1.16% 1.61%
Motorcycle Gas $737.82 1.09% 1.52%
Propane $587.20 0.87% 1.21%
Car Maintenance $584.11 0.86% 1.20%
Car Gas $529.09 0.78% 1.09%
Truck gas $468.79 0.69% 0.96%
Laundry $182.30 0.27% 0.38%
RV $19,000.00 28.11%

this doesn’t include insurance on car, RV, or motorcycle!


Was it worth it?

Absolutely! We wouldn’t trade the experiences, time together, or knowledge gained for anything!

Mashley’s Adventures – The Conclusion of A Quest

Current Location: Campton, NH

The journey is difficult, immense.
We will travel as far as we can, but cannot in one lifetime see all that we would like to see or to learn all that we hunger to know.
~ Loren Eiseley


After our stop in Rhode Island, we continued north to Maine and into our final park for this particular quest, Acadia. It was awfully exciting to cross over that last state border and then enter Park land! Last year, our goal was to visit New England in the fall, to see the fabled colors of the changing leaves. And, seeing the variety of trees displayed across the hills, we can only imagine that they live up to the descriptions. However, we’ve really been loving the underrated spring colors – vibrant shades of green with splashes of white, pink and purple as the flowering trees are blooming and showing off. Plus, since we visited just before Memorial Day there were only a handful of other visitors in the area. Some of the stores and campgrounds were not yet open, but with more of the park to ourselves we were more than satisfied with the trade-off!

The moment we crossed into Maine. Last state!

Heading into the Mount Desert Island portion of Acadia, we parked at the visitor center and hopped on our bicycles to tour the gravel carriage roads through the park. We pedaled past some amazing views of and over Eagle Lake and Jordan Pond and ate lunch overlooking Bubble Pond. Back at the RV we traded pedal bikes for the motor bike and worked our way down half of the park loop and back up through the town of Bar Harbor. It was finally check-in time at the campground so we headed that way to get settled for the night.

Bridge along the Carriage Roads

View from the bicycles of Eagle Lake in Acadia.

Farther along on the bicycles we came to Jordan Pond.

Cadillac Mountain is the first place in the continental US to experience dawn, so we had to be there for the experience! Unfortunately, since the sun rises just before 5 that meant that our alarms sounded all too early and we had to hop on the motorcycle for the chilly ride. Hitting snooze too many times, we just barely made it for the sunrise itself, though the colors in the sky during our approach were spectacular and well worth the early start. It was a cloudy day, which kept it cool and limited views but made for dramatic, scarlet colors during the sunrise. Once the sun was up we stayed on the peak while making tea and eating a light breakfast. After eating we hopped back on the motorcycle to complete the loop road and explore a bit more before migrating over to another section of the park, the Schoodic Peninsula, the quieter and less visited area of Acadia.

Sun rising on Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park

Schoodic Woods Campground is only a couple years old and we really enjoyed being somewhere that looked new! It’s probably one of our favorite campgrounds of the last couple years with big, private sites and easy access to biking and hiking trails. We were also among the first to pull in this year, since it was opening day of the season, and the rangers and volunteers were in exceptionally good spirits. After settling in we grabbed our bags and headed out to explore some of the nearby hiking trails. The next morning we set out on bicycles to check out the one-way loop around the peninsula. It runs along the coastline, so we got to enjoy crashing waves and views of the mountains across the harbor almost the whole ride. Rain was moving in for the afternoon, so it was overcast and windy – the cool temperatures and threatening rain kept us moving along. We stopped to explore the visitor center at the Schoodic Institute Education and Research Center, learning about the Naval Communications Base that was there until just recently and the various education opportunities afforded. The wind seemed to be picking up so we beelined back to the RV. Just after returning we noticed the first few raindrops falling, so our timing worked out quite well!

View from one of the Hike-In sites at Schoodic Woods Campground

Winter Harbor

Watching the angry sea crash onto the granite coastline on Schoodic Point

Schoodic Point

View from the Park Loop Road on the Schoodic Peninsula

* all 47 National Parks in the Contiguous US!!
* each of the lower 48 States!
* ~55,000 miles traveled

Our visit wasn’t nearly long enough, but we forgot to take into account Memorial Day Weekend when making our reservation and the impending hoards of campers flocking to the campgrounds… so we ended up heading into New Hampshire, aiming for the White Mountain National Forest. We didn’t have high expectations of finding a campsite, but luckily did manage to find a delightful spot in a forest campground off the Kancamagus Highway (I still don’t know how to pronounce this), where we tucked in for the weekend. It seems that we beat the bulk of the crowd. Whew! Saturday morning we hopped on the motorcycle for a trip along the White Mountains Trail, a national scenic byway. It heads along the Kancamagus Highway through the mountains. As in Maine, the views are spectacular, with the spring foliage and flowers exceeding expectations.

The White Mountains in NH

Just above Lower Falls in the White Mountains

A roadside cascade in White Mountains National Forest

We’ve enjoyed the rural sections of New England more than expected. It reminds us of the Pacific Northwest a little, except less crowded, which greatly appeals to us. We do hear horrible things about the bugs, which we’ve been able to miss thus far between cool temperatures and windy days, so there’s always that to consider.

A completed journey and full map – well mostly, just ignore Hawaii and Alaska down there – adventures for another date.

Our next short adventure is in the works – having one of our nieces join us for a trip to the Outer Banks in North Carolina. While in the Kentucky area, it made sense to pick her up from Tennessee en route to Maine, though we ended up moving too far north for that to be feasible. Now we’re meandering south for a couple days break before sharing an adventure with her. Maybe we’ll spark in her some wanderlust and a love for our nation’s public lands 🙂

Longer-term plans are still in the works, with a variety of options being considered. Until then, we’re basking in our completed quest of visiting each of the Lower 48 states and the National Parks there-in. If there is one thing we’ve learned from our journey, it’s that there is still so much to explore and our options are limitless.

Matthew & Ashley

Mashley’s Adventures – The Great Urban Marathon

Current Location: Charlestown, RI

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over civilized people are beginning to find that going to the mountains is going home; that wilderness is necessity.
~ John Muir


The past few days since our last update have been a blur of cities, blacktop, and some new states. After leaving Shenandoah we were in limbo for a couple of days, waiting to see if one of the nieces could join us for the trip up to Maine, to our last state and National Park. While waiting, we meandered a bit further each day, through Maryland and into Delaware. Finally, as we were closer to Maine than eastern Tennessee, we solidified our plans and headed on our way.

As we were leaving Shenandoah we picked up a hitchhiker (one of Matthew’s unspoken goals for the quest). Lance was a delightful retired gentleman who was backpacking through the park and meeting up with some friends further up the Skyline Drive. We were more than happy to give him a lift part of the way and enjoyed a delightful conversation with a fellow adventurer.

Not feeling quite brave enough to head through D.C. in the RV during evening rush hour, we found a rest area just short of the city to break and ended up spending the night. Early the next morning we rose and headed on, beating traffic and watching the sun rise on the horizon. We hated to skip D.C. but between pending thunderstorms and the struggle of urban RV parking, felt it best to return at a later date when we can fully explore and enjoy the experience (maybe via train!).

On through Maryland and into Delaware. Exhausted and bleary-eyed we paused to unload the motorcycle and head into downtown Dover for a much-needed break. We ended up at the Brunch n Lunch and thoroughly enjoyed some delightful meals. Matthew finally tried chicken-n-waffles, along with maple gravy and a side of chicken-fried bacon. (This may also be known as heart-attack-on-a-plate, but we’ve been curious about the chicken and waffle combo for a couple of years now.) It was delicious and quite a treat that morning. Ashley’s falafel macaroons were wonderfully presented and also fabulous. Feeling quite rejuvenated, we returned to the RV and headed a bit up the road to a nearby visitor center. Though it was unexpectedly hot we paused there for most of the day, waiting on word about our potential travel companion and getting some chores done around home.

falafel macaroons

chicken-n-waffles with maple gravy

As our allotted time ran low we headed on up the road to a nearby Walmart for the night. In the morning we solidified plans for a separate, later trip with our niece and were able to head north without concern. Never fans of cities, we decided to push through and get past the urban sprawl ahead of us in New Jersey and through New York City!

  • 46 National Parks (of 47 in the Contiguous US, aaaahhhhhhh!)
  • 45 States (of the lower 48, hey-oh!)
  • $100+ in tolls in one day (boo!)

After perusing the maps we settled on a direct route, hopping on I-95 and following it all the way into Maine. This means paying some tolls, which we’ve avoided for the vast majority of the trip thus far. Matthew’s not a fan, sometimes to Ashley’s frustration. She commented, “what if we are paying more in gas going around than just going through?” The toll out of Delaware was a few dollars, no surprise. Then we continued on through the length of New Jersey and were a bit caught off guard by the $30+ fee. But it was the entire length of the state and we are a large vehicle. Crossing the George Washington Bridge into New York, however, thoroughly surprised and disgusted us with a $60+ amount, that’s right, $63 just to cross a stupid bridge. And it wasn’t even that great of a bridge. We were pondering what happens if someone didn’t have the cash on hand? No cards accepted and there’s certainly not a place for us to turn around…do you get arrested? do you get a bill sent to your home address in addition to an extra fee? Luckily we didn’t have that problem, though we both rode in stewed frustration from this point on. Ashley did say to disregard her previous statement about avoiding toll roads.

Sometimes we enjoy visiting cities, though not nearly as much while in the RV. During this quest we’ve mostly avoided them. We just aren’t city folk, much preferring the wilderness. Each time we venture into a city we find ourselves thinking that the poor residents just don’t know how bad their lives really are. But, we do realize that it’s just not our type of place, we do know that there is a lot of culture and diversity to be had in a city, and we’re glad that people thrive on the bustle, leaving the wild places empty for people like us. Though we loved the forested hills and sleepy towns of upstate NY, traveling through the Bronx and other parts of the city along I-95 certainly don’t inspire us to come back to the area any time soon.

Glad to rush through we continued into Connecticut for the night and then into Rhode Island, to a nearby state park. After a few nights of not enough poor sleep and some pretty focused driving, we enjoyed the chance to spend a restful day in the woods. At ~850 campsites we’re pretty sure it’s the largest campground either of us have ever been to (which seems odd since it’s the smallest state), but our site is nice and secluded. After a night’s pause we’ll be heading on up into Maine to explore the final park, in the final state of our current quest.

tucked into the woods in Burlingame State Park, RI

home sweet home

enjoying pond view in Burlingame State Park, RI

Whew, it’s been a blur over the last few days.

Drawing close,

Matthew & Ashley

Mashley’s Adventures – Appalachian Country

Current Location: Smyrna, DE

The voyage of discovery is not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.
~ Marcel Proust


This week’s update is a little delayed (meaning it’s over 2 weeks late, oops!) so we have a few things to share with you. As of the last email we had just surprise visited our families in Kentucky (which was really fun!). We finished up our time there with a huge RV spring cleaning, both inside and out. I went through and reorganized many of our storage compartments and cabinets, goodwilled some items, and deep cleaned the window crevices to remove 46 national parks worth of sand and dirt that had accumulated. The NPS tells you to take nothing and leave only with memories, but we could have made a small mouse-sized beach complete with dunes with all the sand I found hiding in odd nooks and crannies. Matthew handled most of the outside, and it was no better. Having spent the last few months driving through desert sands, mountain sleet, and bug clouds, our front end looked like a morbid modern art painting. When we left Moab, the red dust blowing about had stuck to all the bug explosions on the front of our rig, creating a very interesting and colorful pattern of splatters. Very embarrassing (for me anyway). All this to say, we were really dirty and spent a lot of time cleaning. Now I can look at our home unashamedly (at least for a little while, until the bug swarms start again).


We left west Kentucky and moved east to Mammoth Cave National Park. Being Kentucky natives, we have visited the cave in the past, so for this visit we decided it would be fun to explore the above ground section of the park. There is a lot of very nice hiking and bicycling that we really enjoyed. The Mammoth Railway Bike Path ran right by our campground so we spent an excellent day enjoying some pedaling on it’s wooded, gravel path. Other than one heart pounding moment on the trail when Matthew and I almost ran over a snake it was a very pleasant ride. There were scattered thunderstorms during our visit, so we also played about a thousand rounds of UNO. This UNO marathon sparked an idea and Matthew suggested we start a Lifetime UNO Tournament (where we will keep a running score until one of us dies). Right now Matthew is winning, but I have at least 40 years to regain my lead, so the odds seem pretty good.

the River Styx Spring at Mammoth Cave

the Echo River Spring at Mammoth Cave

CCC stone cabin that housed chlorination plant

On the railroad bike & hike trail

From Mammoth Cave we made an overnight stop in Lexington, KY to visit some dear friends. We had a blast catching up with them and also got to indulge in our most favorite donut/coffee shop of all time, North Lime Coffee and Donuts. If you ever go through Lexington you should stop just to go there. Best. Donuts. Ever. We may have gone twice during our 16 hour stay in the area; there is no such thing as shame when it comes to North Lime.

visiting North Lime Lex

  • 46 National Parks (of 47 in the Contiguous US; Holy Cow we’re almost there!!)
  • 40 States (of the lower 48, woot-woot!)

On to West Virginia we headed and happily stumbled upon New River Gorge National River. What a beautiful area amongst the rolling Appalachian Mountains! We spent a night here and motorcycled down in to the gorge the next day for a little refreshing scenery before heading on to Shenandoah National Park in Virginia.

New River Gorge bridge in West VA – a world-record holder

The coolest bathroom

At Loft Mountain Campground in Shenandoah we snagged a superb campsite, right on the edge of the ridge with a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and the Appalachian Trail about 10 steps down from our site, separated only by a thin line of trees. The sunsets from here were stunning, with the layers of blue and purple rolling mountains draped against the backdrop of a glowing pink sky and orange sun. Complete with a gentle breeze, the smell of moist air and spicy pine, and the chittering song of birds. This part of the country may not be as dramatic and awe-inspiring as the West, but it has a quiet, subtle beauty that is all it’s own.

sunset reflection

Sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah

Sunset over the Blue Ridge Mountains in Shenandoah

We spent 4 days in Shenandoah, enjoying some motorcycling along Skyline Drive, a day of hiking on the Appalachian Trail, and generally just absorbing the pretty views and sunsets. By happy chance, we even met a fellow nomad at a little coffee shop called The Blue Elk Coffeeshop in Elkton, VA while doing some online route research. He and his wife are wedding photographers, originally from the area, and currently traveling and living full-time in their truck camper. It was fun to sit and chat about our common interests in RVs, travel, and coffee (you can see some of their beautiful photos on instagram

Hiking on the AT

lunch on the AT, overlooking Skyline Drive through the Blue Ridge Mountains

Now we’re on the road again, headed over to Maryland and Delaware for a bit of a U.S. history lesson.

Putzing along,

Ashley & Matthew

Mashley’s Adventures – Mountains and Hot Springs and a pause

Current Location: Benton, KY

You rest now. Rest for longer than you are used to resting. Make a stillness around you, a field of peace. Your best work, the best time of your life will grow out of this peace.
~ Peter Heller


Looking at the weather last week, we realized that we had only a one day window to visit Rocky Mountain National Park without being snowed in. So we sped up to make it in time and enjoyed a day’s visit. Though it was sunny and dry down at the visitor center as we climbed up into the mountains snow covered the ground. We layered up and headed out onto the snow-covered trail to Nymph and Dream Lake. It was easy enough to follow existing tracks and we quickly arrived at Nymph Lake, enjoying the view of the mountains around us and the empty trail. We walked around the frozen lake and on to Dream Lake, though we turned around before reaching the end since it had snowed over-night and the trail was far less obvious and it had begun snowing, obscuring any view. Almost back at the parking lot we checked out what we could see of Bear Lake.

heading to Nymph Lake

rocky outcrop above Nymph Lake

next to Dream Lake

hiking beside Dream Lake

After lunch we hiked up to the nearly frozen Alberta Falls and then explored the open roads of the park, enjoying the views of the mountains and across the valleys.

elk in the valley

Since weather was moving in we headed on, trying to beat the worst of Denver’s evening traffic. Still not sure if we managed that, but we ended up working our way south, back through part of Kansas (still not our, um, favorite place) and then into and across Oklahoma, which we found much more visually interesting.

crossing Route 66 in Oklahoma

It seems that the storms were also migrating east, it was very windy. The worst gas mileage on the trip thus far was on the nice flat Kansas land. The wind, coming right at us, pushed us back, dropping our mileage. Ironically, we had the best for the prior tank, climbing through the mountains.

On we headed to Hot Springs, AR. In the park, we hiked up Peak Trail to the Mountain Tower and back down to explore Bathhouse Row. It’s a different type of park, set right inside the city. Thus, we didn’t have high expectations, but we ended up really enjoying it. Touring Fordyce Bathhouse was fascinating. It’s been restored and shows off the “state-of-the-art” technology and methods used in the 1920s. The Ozark Bathhouse holds the art collection, mostly creations of past Artists in Residence. Matthew really enjoyed seeing the work that’s been created from the program – and was encouraged to see that “I could do that!”

hot spring water

showing off on the Promenade

Ashley found her dream shower – 17 nozzles!

lifesized – not something Matthew feels like he could do

fresh hot spring water

  • 44 National Parks (of 47 in the Contiguous US)
  • 38 States
  • 6.3 mpg, the worst yet!

And since then we’ve been taking a break – it feels like we’ve constantly been on the go since leaving North Carolina in February. So we’re ready for a break. After visiting Hot Springs we moved on a bit more and surprised both our families by appearing in their driveways. What fun it was to get to catch them off-guard and to spend a few days visiting. We’re currently parked and sitting still, doing a deep-clean of the RV (inside and out), catching up on some maintenance, and generally enjoying a bit of a break while soaking up time with loved ones.

In a few more days we’ll continue on, beginning the final leg of our trip, the loop up through the north east. Until then, we’re enjoying a bit of recuperation.

Catching our breath,

Matthew & Ashley

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 – Dunes, Dwellings, Canyons, and Crescents

Current Location: Moab, UT

The sky overhead,
the earth below,
the mountains around.
I stand in the middle place –
at home.
~ Dr. Rina Swentzell


What a lot of country we’ve seen since our last email! Or so it seems… After leaving Santa Fe we headed north into Colorado (now we’ve visited all of the western states!) We found a great spot of wild camping on BLM land outside of Great Sand Dunes National Park. Ashley had been to a section of the Park before, and wasn’t super excited about returning, so imagine her surprise that we loved it! Continue reading

Mashley’s Adventures – More Enchantment

Current Location: Santa Fe, NM

Let us be grateful to the people who make us happy; they are the charming gardeners who make our souls blossom.
~ Marcel Proust


After visiting the Petrified Forest last week we headed back east to Santa Fe for a visit with Ashley’s Aunt and Uncle (Karen and Craig). It’s so easy for time to slip by without keeping in touch with those who are a part of our lives. So we delight in the opportunity to visit, get to know family better/as adults, and to learn about how they live their daily lives.

This week has been no exception. During the weekend Karen and Craig took us to their family ranch in northern New Mexico, and boy was it beautiful. Surrounded by solitude and wide open spaces, it was truly a special place. We loved hiking around the property and experiencing New Mexico in a more intimate way.

Yesterday, back in Santa Fe, we made a visit to the famous Meow Wolf. It was a super cool place but incredibly hard to explain, like an art exhibit and interactive children’s museum rolled into one and on steroids with a mysterious underlying plot that revealed itself as you interacted with the facility. This is a horrible explanation; it’s a place you just have to go experience for yourself. Matthew especially loved it and has now been perusing their careers page to see if he’s qualified to work for them 🙂

New Mexico, particularly the Santa Fe area, has enchanted us indeed. The more we experience here the more we love it, and we haven’t even skimmed the surface of what this beautiful and culturally rich state has to offer.

But, we have our goals to work toward and alas we must mosey along. Today we’re heading north, into Colorado, to begin our loop through the Colorado and remaining two Utah National Parks.

Into the mountains,
Matthew & Ashley

Mashley’s Adventures – The Land of Enchantment

St. James Tea Room

Current Location: Albuquerque, NM

The first fall of snow is not only an event, it is a magical event. You go to bed in one kind of a world and wake up in another quite different, and if this is not enchantment then where is it to be found?
~ J. B. Priestley


After getting blown about by the wind in our last email, we continued on west, over the mountains, for a day exploring White Sands National Monument near Alamogordo, NM. Ashley’s had, shall we say, a less-than-thrilling experience in sand dunes before so she wasn’t really excited to visit these. Surprisingly, we both had a really fun time and spent the day laughing, smiling, and feeling like kids. For fun we buried Ashley in the sand, ran and jumped down the dunes, hiked away from the crowd to have an area all to ourselves, and then waited to watch the sun set behind the dunes before heading out for the evening. White Sands is unlike any sand dunes we’ve been to previously in that the sand is made of gypsum, which really does make them white! It felt so pure and beautiful there, with this large swath of glistening white dunes surrounded by mountains. Being composed of gypsum also makes the dunes quite cool to the touch and many areas are hard-packed and easy to walk on.

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Mashley’s Adventures – Deserts, Mountains, and Caves

The cacti were blooming

Current Location: Mayhill, NM

A traveler! I love this title. A traveler is to be reverenced as such. His profession is the best symbol of our life. Going from ________ to _______; is the history of every one of us.
~ Henry David Thoreau


Wowzers, has it been a full week! Our last email was sent just before losing any kind of signal for a few days as we headed into Big Bend National Park. Though we didn’t get to back-country camp, we lucked into a great spot in the Rio Grande Village Campground – tucked right into the trees on the back of the campground with a beautiful view of Mexico’s Maderas Del Carmen. It was private with plenty of space, and was in the “generator free” zone so nice and quiet! We saw a javelina and a handful of roadrunners in the campground throughout our stay.

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