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.

1 comment

  1. What an amazing journey for you both. We're excited for all the adventures that lie ahead and thank you for sharing all this. We'll live vicariously through you! Safe travels! xoxo


The Cottonwood Journals

Campfire Nostalgia