Campfire Nostalgia.
A collection of stories, written by our favorite outdoor enthusiasts, 
curated by AC and fostered by a shared passion for camping adventures. 
Everyone has a story. A moment on a strenuous hike, laughter around the campfire, 
silence under the stars. We want to hear these stories. And this is where they will be told.

Story No. 2 is from our dear friend Kelley, of MountainMamaCooks.com.


Ten miles of dusty, desolate, winding roads were torture to my 13 year old self, especially when I’d already spent the last 4 hours in the car sandwiched between my two brothers. Just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, my dad would navigate the car up the last little climb and we’d turn a bend in the road that would give us a peek of the lake that never seemed to warm up no matter what time of year it was.








In that moment, we all exhaled as we knew what lay ahead; a weekend (or longer) of no tv’s or telephones and staying up long after our bed time. Big breakfasts and lazy mornings were sure to be on the agenda. We’d fill our days with hiking new trails and fishing our favorite holes along the river. We’d lay on warm rocks, sipping sun tea and reading our respective books. Sometimes we’d play cards and sometimes not. The grimier we got, the happier we were. My brothers and I were lucky, even if we didn’t realize it almost 25 years ago.

We grew up spending just about every weekend and summer breaks at the mouth of Wind River Mountains in Wyoming. Both my parents worked hard and these weekend getaways were their reward; A family refuge where work, social commitments and school were left behind.

We spent entire summers playing in rivers, hiking to new lakes and fishing sunup to sundown. I learned to cook pancakes and bacon in a cast iron skillet that used to be my great grandmothers. I learned to catch, gut and fry a fish for dinner. I learned that I was a better shot with the BB-gun than either of my brothers. I learned that spending time with said brothers actually wasn’t that bad. I learned a love and respect for Mother Nature that’s just as part of my life today as it was so many years ago. Most importantly, I learned that four hours in the car and a 10 mile dirt road were a very short price to pay for what I got in return.

photos: 1 / 2 / 3 / 4 / 5

The Dragon's Tail


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After checking out Bozeman and Missoula the road continued up the Rocky Mountains. National park number two on the trail north, Glacier National Park, partnered with Canada's Waterton National Park in the early 1900s to create the renowned Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park. Today, the two parks, which connect at the USA-Canada border, collaborate on conservation initiatives and wildlife preservation.

On the way to the park we camped near Flathead Lake, the largest natural freshwater lake west of the Mississippi (by surface area). The Flathead region is famous for cherry farming and the fresh Flathead cherries were plentiful, as their roadside stands dotted the highway. The conifer covered rolling hills, islands and mountains outlining the lake were reminiscent of the Pacific Northwest. 

Locked away in towering, jagged peaks, Glacier National Park is like a secret garden, with emerald green walls and endless waterfalls flowing into the sky blue rivers and deep glaciated lakes of the valley below. The drive up Going-to-the-Sun Road to Logan Pass, on the continental divide, is inspiring. A constant flow of glacier water streams through the sedimentary rock at the Weeping Wall. According to Bozeman's Rocky Mountain Museum, "some of the oldest sedimentary rocks in the entire Northern Rocky Mountain region are found in the Lewis Range of Glacier National Park and fossils of some of Earth's earliest life forms have been discovered there."

The snowfields above Logan Pass draw hikers to enjoy a three mile trail up through a grassy pass and down to Hidden Lake. Sunstroked mountain goats saunter along the boardwalk path and escape the day's heat in the patches of snow. A bighorn ram put on a show as he stood strong and stern protecting his ground. A park ranger noted this was a rare site to see.

Closed a mile and a half up the way for bear danger, the Hidden Lake trail was a short escape. For a longer day and the more adventurous, a rocky and snow-covered climb to the southeast of the Hidden Lake trail brings you through a saddle and alongside Reynolds Mountain, high above Hidden Lake. Walk along a steep mountain goat trail further southeast and over another saddle to reach the beginning of Dragon's Tail, a high ridgeline dividing the Hidden Lake area from the Sperry Glacier area.

Words can't describe the views from Dragon's Tail. It was incredible. Even a sweltering 90 degree afternoon couldn't shake that view. Pictures were taken, in every direction. At some point or another, we both remarked, "this is why we came here." We chatted. Ate some Flathead cherries. There was some silence. We soaked up the day and we hiked down, not really wanting to leave our perch atop the park.

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See more photos from Glacier and the trip here. (And we'll try to post more when we have more Wi-Fi!)

Breakfast Notes, Etc.






Here's a quick photo from yesterday's hike up above Hidden Lake. More photos from Glacier to come. (And we didn't forget, some Big Sky Brewing Co. love too!) On to Canada in the morning.


Here about Bozeman, MT / For quick photos ,follow us on Instagram here and here















After highway views in four states, reaching the Rocky Mountains was a welcoming and familiar sight. Bozeman ushered in snow-capped vistas and gorgeous waterfalls, along with brisk mountain air nights. Nestled between the Bridger Range and Gallatin National Forest, the college town ushers in summer's travelers with outdoor life and cool city scenes.

The Hyalite Canyon, in the Gallatin National Forest, is a popular hiking and camping destination. Stumbling upon this canyon in search of a campsite late Friday evening, we quickly realized we weren't the only ones in Montana looking for a little nature. Every campsite in the forest, all along a picturesque reservoir, was completely full. Luckily, most National Forests allow camping anywhere in the forest, so this was the route we took. (Always a good option when searching for cheap lodging.)

In the morning we awoke to the most amazing view and couldn't resist starting the day off with a hike up the canyon, looking to explore more of the area's beauty. The trail meandered to several waterfalls and after checking out one, we headed into town. Although we wanted to hike the 7+ miles to the peak, there was too much to do and we had little time in the area. So down the mountain we went, to tend to real world chores and enjoy a cup of joe.

Bozeman yields a smorgasbord of dinosaur fossils at the Museum of the Rockies. For those of you who are still dinosaur fans (we know we are!) - the museum holds the world's largest collection of dinosaur fossils and research. The area's geology is also described in fine detail. One interesting fact, "Rocks lying exposed in the Beartooth Mountains are among the oldest in North America. Some of the minerals in these rocks formed 4.02 billion years ago, when the Earth was young."

Main Street is home to the classic outdoor specialty shops, restaurants, and coffee shops you'd expect in a fine mountain town and the college (Montana State University) nearby adds to city's charm.  Seeing countless posters for shows and music festivals all summer long, we wished we had longer to enjoy Bozeman's best.

Details on our stop in Missoula and yesterday's chance tour at Big Sky Brewing Co. soon. Hello, Glacier. Banff and Jasper, here we come. Alaska, it won't be long.










Check out our visit to Theodore Roosevelt National Park / Subscribe to our updates by email (top right)

48 Hours On The Road





And we were off. Eager to get West, we drove the night through Minnesota, resting here and there. As daylight broke, we entered a golden North Dakota. On the Western end of North Dakota lay our first stop, Theodore Roosevelt National Park (NP).

Established in 1947 but not presented NP status until 1978, the park offered a lush canyon in the North Dakota plains carved by the Little Missouri River, a tributary of the Missouri River. The painted hills and high cliffs, shaped by wind rushing through the canyon and seasonal runoff, were dotted with sprawling prairie dog towns, that had expanded into a metropolis, and bison staking claim to the remnants of their once great expanse of land. The bison exhibited a defiant demeanor that told they weren't going to be pushed from their home once more. The Little Missouri National Grassland encompasses the NP and yields beautiful green grasses, characterizing assumptions of the Great Plains. Camping next to the Little Missouri River was a great stop, to say the least.





Just south of the park is the quaint little wild west town of Medora. It has all the modern flavors of tourism in this day and age, but on the other hand it is not too overbearing and still exudes a charm. Albeit this charm might have come from the combination of a 90 degree day and an enticing little summer pool that we could not avoid. With a dip in the local watering hole, in the company of local summer camp kids, the Medora City Pool allowed a welcome respite from the heat.

Although captivated by the painted badlands and emerald plains of Theodore Roosevelt NP, the mountains were calling and our road continued west to the Rockies.









 




Campfire Nostalgia.
A collection of stories, written by our favorite outdoor enthusiasts, 
curated by AC and fostered by a shared passion for camping adventures. 
Everyone has a story. A moment on a strenuous hike, laughter around the campfire, 
silence under the stars. We want to hear these stories. And this is where they will be told.

Story No. 1 is by AC, a brief moment during our first trip to Yellowstone National Park. 






The cool morning air, lingering from nightfall at high elevation, mingled with the warmth blasting from the heater. The windows were always down, beckoning the crisp mountain breeze and the fresh vanilla scent of ponderosa pines. We savored the temperature dichotomy during summer’s peak. The valley was dimly lit, as first light began to peak over the horizon.

“What do you think we will see today?” he playfully probed as he guided the FJ Cruiser around the bend. We were nearing the valley’s lush meadows.

“We haven’t seen a grizzly yet,” I sighed. “I’ve never seen a grizzly before. Have you?”

“Not that I can remember. No. No grizzlies. Lots and lots of black bear growing up though.”

“They kind of scare me. But at the same time, the thought of them enlivens me,” I tried to describe.

“Well, who wouldn’t be intimidated by a grizzly? They can nearly split you in half with one wave of the paw. But yes, they are brilliant animals – strong and beautiful. Don’t worry. I’m sure we’ll see some on this trip. Just keep looking!”

“As long as we see them from a good distance away, I cannot wait,” I exclaimed.

As he guided the FJ around the bend, I kept my focus on the yellow fields of balsamroot, looking for the slightest movements. Sunrise was the best time to spot wildlife and I was feeling lucky.

Continuing down the winding road, we spotted lights and movement in the distance. Two cars were parked near a shallow ridge and a family of four stood gazing west. We parked. The mother was pointing and whispering to her son, my eyes followed the path her outstretched arm framed.

“Do you see them?” he said softly.

“Three of them! A momma and two babies.”

Quickly and quietly we hurried outside, grabbing the binoculars and a camera. We walked a few steps toward the young family. Another couple was watching intently from the safety of their car.

“Are you sure we’re far enough away to be outside?” I said gingerly.

“The mother doesn’t seem to be alarmed. See, they’re walking in the other direction.”

We stood in silence. Sharing wide-eyed grins and the binoculars. Snapping a photo here and there, but concentrating on the view from our eyes rather than through the lens.

We watched their cinnamon coats ripple like ocean waves, with every step the three bears took through the tall grass. There was a rhythm to the mother’s lead. A cadence. Graceful and brute. The little bears strolled behind their mother, curiously, rebelliously straying off a bit, but not too far. Their traipse was melodic. A tender wind rustled the tall green grass, harmonizing their anthem.

Listening, fearlessly, I remarked, “This is going to be an incredible day.”

I turned to him, attentively. Smiling, the spark in his eyes said it all.



"Hello, AC here."

It goes without saying, we love camping. For the last two years, our summers were spent wandering through the woods of Northern Wisconsin and swimming the shores of Upper Michigan. We've become quite skilled at pitching tents, cooking over a campfire and roasting marshmallows. Naturally, when we decided to dive into this adventure, camping was the way of life we would pursue.

Everyone loves camping, right? We'll, most people we know love to camp. And in any case, everyone has a story about an outdoor adventure. And because I absolutely love a good story, I am all ears when someone starts telling me a tale from a camp adventure, past or present.







This adventure of ours is all about new stories, seeing them, walking them, and writing them here, so what better way to experience more camping stories than to talk to our friends. Everyone has a story. A moment on a strenuous hike, laughter around the campfire, silence under the stars. We want to hear these stories. And this is where they will be told.

So while we're away, I'll be curating and posting Campfire Nostalgia: a collection of stories, written by our favorite outdoor enthusiasts and fostered by a shared passion for camping adventures. Some will be playful and animated, others moving and inspiring, undoubtedly, they'll all provoke nostalgia of the great American tradition that is camping.

Stay tuned. The first story debuts Wednesday.



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The Story





Where do we start? It all seems a bit surreal since we aren't on the road yet.

Less than two weeks until we leave.

In less than two weeks, we will be setting sail for a summer road trip through Canada and Alaska. We're planning on taking our time, to really see it all and learn as much as we can about the Northern Rockies and ourselves.

In less than two weeks our home will be a camping tent, a black FJ Cruiser, the wilderness and the open road. The most dashing FJ Cruiser ever, it goes without saying.

In less than two weeks we will be waking up in new cities, hiking new trails and climbing new mountains. Every day will be a new adventure, a new road and a new story.

Are we ready? Without question, we couldn't be more excited for the sweet scent of evergreens, the endless views of towering rocky peaks and the incredible taste of fresh Alaskan salmon.

But are we really ready? Well we're in the middle of packing up all of our belongings for storage, packing for our trip and all the other odds and ends that go into making a big move and planning a big trip. But when is one ever truly ready for anything? We're not sure and we're not going to worry about it - life involves taking some leaps of faith and it's time for ours. It is going to be challenging, we are going to make mistakes, but that is okay. That is what this journey is all about.

So how exactly did this trip, this journey begin?

Although growing up in vastly different homes, the arid Southwest and a green Heartland, summer camping trips fill our fondest family memories – weekends fishing at the lake, morning hikes and afternoon swims – pudgy pies, gooey marshmallows stuck to our paws and campfire stories are familiar friends for us both. We were lucky kids.



Our parents and grandparents, biologists, teachers and craftsmen, lead us to always ask about our surroundings and tackle any task at hand. Our childhood heroes, naturalists and journalists like Marty Stouffer and Jack London, remain legendary in our heads and our hearts. Our treasured stories, classics like My Side of the Mountain and The Call of the Wild, fuel the fire in our chests and lead us to new roads and untamed places.

Our lives in Wisconsin have been wonderful...summer nights at the terrace, weekends camping and fishing on countless lakes, holidays canoeing the Wisconsin River, vacations hiking cliffs on crystal clear Lake Superior or adrenaline filled sunsets jet-skiing on Green Bay, snowy nights out with friends or snow days stuck inside, cozy and content...Wisconsin has been an adventure and we will miss it. But the adventures we've had in Wisconsin have only fed our hunger to see more, do more and learn more about the world around us.





We've always looked at ourselves as the traveling types, the adventurous souls. We've marked ourselves as the sort of people who would take a trip like this, but have never really done anything of this nature or magnitude, so after so many memorable seasons in Wisconsin, it is time. Time to take the test and put ourselves up to the challenge.

So in less than two weeks, we take to the western road and travel North, through US national parks in Montana, the national parks of Canada and up the legendary Alaska Highway. Once we get to the Arctic Ocean, we'll see where the road takes us.

We've been asked a lot, what will we be doing on this trip? What will a day look like for us? Honestly, we aren't completely sure, but we have a few ideas. Each day will be different. We'll drive to new cities, new parks, hike new trails, spend afternoons in mountain towns and evenings camping on a ridge above, we'll learn about each new area, meet new people and take time for the little things. We'll read more often and fish for longer and endlessly take photos of everything we see. And we'll write here.

This website has been created both as a journal and as our connection to you. It is a place for family and friends and outdoor enthusiasts alike, to come along on our journey with us. Since so many of you have requested to do so! And it is a place for us to record our trip, outline the journey and maybe share a few tips and things we learned along the way. We want to apologize, in advance, if it doesn't get updated very frequently, as we're still not sure what our wireless availability will be like on the road. Once we learn, we'll record tips for that too! Because of this, we want to encourage you to sign up for email subscriptions (top right), so you are easily notified when a trip update has been posted.

And to entertain you while we're away, we wanted to start a little side project. Enter Campfire Nostalgia, a series of short stories, curated here, and written by outdoor enthusiasts around the globe. The first, Hayden Valley Hymn, is a short story we wrote about our trip to Yellowstone a few years ago. In some ways, that trip sparked inspiration for this much bigger journey.

One last note, before we leave we wanted to take some time to thank all of you.

To our parents, thank you for all of the wisdom, support, and love you have endlessly and unconditionally given us since day one.

To our family, thank you for teaching us, for learning with us, for laughing with us and crying with us.

To our friends, near and far, thank you for becoming our extended family, for welcoming us into your homes and sharing your stories with us.

Thank you for the tips and connections everyone has immediately offered for our travels.

Last night, while celebrating America's birthday around the bonfire, some amazing friends eagerly chatted with us about our trip.
After awhile, a great question was posed, "What will you miss the most about your life now?"
It wasn't difficult to answer. We both immediately responded, "the people."

Yes, we will keep in touch with everyone, but not seeing your smiling faces every day will likely be the hardest thing on us. We are so thankful for the people we've met and the friendships we've made in Wisconsin. We will always love this place, because of the people that are here. Thank you all, for being so incredible. We can't say it enough.

So farewell Wisconsin, goodbye Madison, but to our friends, we'll see you soon.



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Please note: unless cited, all photos are our own and reserved for our use only. Due to time availability, photos are unedited. If you would like to use a photo, please contact us for permission.



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Campfire Nostalgia