Tod and Lisa’s Year of Adventure

Life on the Road to Central America

Welcoming the New Year December 29, 2009

Filed under: USA — todandlisa @ 8:34 pm
Hello all and Happy New Years! After over a year’s absence from our blog we figured we figured we’d resurrect it for our holiday letter.  I hope this message finds you and your family healthy and looking forward to your coming year.
Our 2009 was relatively quiet and domestic compared with our travels in 2008.  The year started with a new addition to our family….Bodie, yet another rescued Cheseapeake Bay Retriever. He has been a great playmate for Alli and his world-class cuddling skills endeared him to us quickly.

Bodie tries to look proper while Alli plays with a rock

Of course Bodie had to learn how to travel, so in late February Lisa took the van and kids down to southern Arizona for a few weeks in the  sun. I enjoyed tracking her with the Spot (her Personal Locator Beacon) but grew a bit concerned when once it showed she was camping in Mexico.  Fortunately she called in often enough to let me know she was fine and still North of the border.  For a minute there I suspected she was making a run for it!  By the time I flew down for my Spring Break the family was in full vacation groove and I quickly joined in.  Among other things our sabbatical helped us develop our “chill skills” and we put them to good use while enjoying the camping and climbing at Cochise Stronghold, east of Tucson.
Summer was filled with lots of regional camping. We spent about a month of camping in the Uinta mountains outside of Logan,UT and were snowed out (in July!) of another trip to the Wind River mountains with our good friends the Gervases.  The highlight of the summer for me was having my sister Georgia’s family come to visit us in Idaho which included a camping trip to Stanley Lake in the Sawtooths.

The Muellers discover the Sawtooths

It was wonderful getting to experience the outdoors through the eyes of my nephews!

Alex shows off his captive frog

Stefan wields the worlds biggest marshmellow stick

Lisa gives a botany lesson

I did manage to get up to the Canadian Rockies for a fantastic week of climbing with my friend Peter.  The Bugaboo spires have been a dream trip of mine since I first saw a picture of them.  They certainly lived up to their reputation of long beautiful climbs.

The way down....

Tod says; "Forget the view, how do we get down?"

With the end of summer we went back to our routines (for now!) with Lisa continuing to work with her clients and me starting another year at the middle school.  I made several trips to Denver to see my parents where they moved to be closer to my sisters family. Visiting our friends the Monroes in the Tetons was our best little getaway trip. Winter break has been quiet, as we’ve enjoyed the local nordic skiing and dinners with friends.

Local winter fun with friends

After years of failing health my father passed away before Christmas.    I was fortunate to see him over Thanksgiving while he was still telling his stories of college days and the marines over a drink.  His death has reminded me of the importance of  connection, love and forgiveness.  Not just as values but as actions.  I saw my dad more in his last three years of life than I had in the previous ten, and because of that, and for other reasons as well, our relationship grew, and changed.

There are some of you out there that Lisa and I met on the road, and we may never meet again.  But that does not diminish the value of our relationship.  I have friends in Australia I haven’t seen in over 20 years but they are still a part of my life, a part of who I am.  So I want to say thank you, to all of you:  Old friends, family, fellow travelers, work colleagues and the many more who have touched us.  Thank you for your friendship and know that across the miles and infrequent contacts you still hold a place in our lives.

With love,

Tod and Lisa


Back in the US: Trading Highways for Hiking August 7, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized,USA — todandlisa @ 10:18 am

Our re-entry to the US has us dragging our feet in a lot of regards. Although we are excited about some things; such as seeing our friends and family, the weight of returning to our responsibilities in Hailey is also a bit heavy after the freedoms of the road. Updating the blog has been one of those responsibilities we’ve been avoiding so now that we’ve been back in the US for over a month now I guess it’s time to catch up with everyone. Some people still think we are in Mexico!

Canyon hiking in New Mexico

Upon leaving Oaxaca we headed north pretty directly for us. We covered over 5000 miles in June which was a quarter of the total 20,000 mile we drove during the course of the trip. Our camping consisted mostly of staying in gas stations and rest stops along the highway at the end of the days drive, some of which were surprisingly nice. Some highlights we did take in while still in Mexico were the towns of Zacateca, another beautiful colonial city in the North reminiscent of Guanajuato, and Tepotzlan, a town south of Mexico city where we hiked up a mountain side to visit some ruins that were unfortunately closed.

We had thought we would spend more time in the Northwest of Mexico exploring the Copper Canyon region but a unique opportunity came up which is what had us hustling north. Friends of ours, Matt and Mary Gervase, were planning a week long backpacking trip into the Wind River mountain range and had invited us to join them. One of the things I missed most in our travels through Central America was the ability to access mountain wilderness and the recreation that goes with that. This offer was sweetened by two things: the fact that we would be using llamas to haul most of our gear into a high camp (9 months of driving is not a great fitness program for backpacking) and I would have a chance to climb Gannett Peak, the highest in Wyoming. Quite the attractive package!

The requisite cute Alli shot. That’s Gannett Peak in the background, left of center

After much deliberation we committed to the trip and started churning out the miles. Because of recent drug violence in the border towns near New Mexico we chose to cross the border in Texas and then cut across the western part of the state. Being in the desert the roads were much more direct than any we’d been on so far so it was easy to cover big distances. Finally, in New Mexico, we took a break from the heat and the long days of by spending a few days in the mountains around Silver City, New Mexico. We enjoyed a visit to the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument and day hiking and camping amongst the high pines and sandstone cliffs.

Living in a cliff dwelling seems quite appealing to Tod

After New Mexico we had a hiccup, with Betty on our way into to Phoenix to visit my parents. I won’t call it a breakdown because it wasn’t her fault and she is sensitive about that sort of thing. On our way into the city we stopped for an oil change at one of those quick lube type places which always make me nervous. The mechanic seemed competent, or at least he was older than 17 however, shortly after the oil change, Betty stalled dead in an intersection and we were only able to limp her across the street to another oil change place. The short version of the story is that after one ride behind a tow truck, four different mechanics looking at her, and a full day wasted, someone finally figured out that a rag had been left in the engine compartment and had been sucked into the air intake. Pull the rag out and no more problems. Unfortunately this simple fix cost us about $200 to figure that out. We were really wishing we had broken down in Mexico instead where they probably would have figured it out in an hour and charged us nothing!

Trailside Columbine in the Gila National Forest

Frustrated by this and the 105 degree heat we pushed on to my parents and their new location, an assisted living center west of Phoenix. From there Lisa took Allie and Betty north to rendezvous with her family while I had a few days to catch up with my parents. Afterwards, I flew to the Bay Area to visit my new nephew, Trevor. I spent the weekend getting acquainted with the cute little guy …oh, and visiting my sisters. Then flew into Spokane, WA where Lisa and her mom picked me up. We spent the 4th of July with Lisa’s family and then, with family visits taken care of, moved on to Wyoming where our departure date for the Winds trip was fast approaching. Are you keeping up?

It’s amazing how out of practice we were at simply backpacking. We realized, as we prepared , that it had been five years since the two of us had done an extended pack trip together, mostly because Taku had not been able to hike very far those last five years. This was to be Allie’s first overnighter and we were excited to be in the Western mountains again. After buying enough food for a month and packing gear warm enough for an arctic winter we felt ready to go. First though I joined Mary and Matt in Lander, WY for a two hour crash course in Llama maintenance and upkeep. They are wonderful animals and of such a an easy going nature that they’ll rent them out to a group of novices like us for a week without hesitation. Or at least they didn’t show any. Llamas don’t spook the way horses can and are like goats in that they can eat almost anything so bringing extra food for them isn’t necessary. They are native to the mountains of Peru so are sure-footed, calm and confident. Apparently bears and mountain lions tend to stay away from them as well. Another bonus was that their soft-two toed feet didn’t hurt too bad if they accidentally stepped on you like they did Matt once.

On the trail near Double Lake

Once we learned how to properly load the llamas we were off to the trailhead to meet up with the others of our group. The first day was the hardest, even with the llama support: nine miles up hill with 3000 feet of elevation gain. The end of the trail for us, and basecamp for the climb, was 23 miles from the trailhead at the head of Dinwoody creek. We took three days to get in and were glad we took our time as we saw several folks struggling in under huge loads and tight time schedules. The camping was relaxed in spite of the voracious mosquitoes. We had been warned and were adequately prepared although it was my first time wearing a head net. I quickly learned it’s easier to eat with out the net on as I kept forgetting it was there and would stick sporks full of food into it.

Lisa and Malone talk over dinner

The group consisted of a couple from Seattle, Anne and Greg; our friends Matt and Mary and John, a ski patrol buddy of Matt’s from Hailey. Our three support llamas were Malone, Big Sandy and Pylon, who was a big talker. Everyone was pretty worldly in terms of travel and outdoor adventures so we spent many hours sharing stories around the fire. The trip up Gannett Peak went flawlessly with John, Matt and I being the climbing team. Timing and routefinding went well and the snow was perfect: plenty enough to cover the crevasses and firm with just enough for easy travel. We made the summit by 8 AM after a 2 AM start, a much faster time than we had anticipated as our camp was in the valley and not up in the moraines where most folks camp. We made the hike out in two days with lighter packs and llamas. Our last night at Double Lake was the most beautiful campsite yet with classic Winds scenery: grey granite cliffs climbing up out of clear pools of water.

From Dubois, we said goodbye to our new and old friends and headed over the mountains to visit my college buddy Dave Monroe near Driggs, Idaho. They were having a music festival at Targhee (the local ski hill) that weekend and we caught the last day and danced the evening away to Lyle Lovett and his Large Band. The time with Dave, Allison and the kids was the true highlight however. Caroline, my goddaughter, and Henry were little people now after not having seen them for a year.

Delone and his daughters: Lisa, Michelle and Kim. Notice the resemblance?

One last highlight awaited us before our travels ended for now so we cruised back across Idaho to meet up with Lisa’s family in Eastern Oregon. Delone, Lisa’s dad, had turned 70 this year and his three daughters treated him to a weekend horsepack trip into a lodge in the Wallowa Mountains. The good news is we all got to come along! Horsepacking and riding is a lot more work and expense than llama packing, I learned. I volunteered to hike in with Allie which saved me the pain in the ass (literally) of the time in a saddle. We certainly weren’t roughing it on this trip. The lodge was great with lot’s of good food and a wood fired hot tub as an evening treat. We had rented tepees which was a novel experience but I think I prefer tents overall. Lisa’s family is a fun bunch and the weekend was filled with much laughter and mirth.

The Krueger-Cregger Range Riders

Backcountry hot-tubbing??!!

So now Lisa and I are dragging our feet one more time as “move-in day” ominously approaches this weekend. Kicking around eastern Oregon these last few days looking for campsites and wifi has kept us from facing the reality of our imminent return. While seeing friends again will be great there is an essence of our experience that we know will be hard for us to maintain in face of the responsibilities of work and home. Spontaneity and the freedom from time both will suffer in the face of schedules and routines. What will we be able to hold onto? Stay tuned to find out how the transition goes…

Clean up day on Togwotee Pass after our Winds trip. Lisa heads for a much needed shower.


September 10, 2007

Filed under: USA — todandlisa @ 10:26 am

Blog update


Hi everyone…a quick blog update here….


We had a whirlwind trip through California and into Arizona, visiting Tod’s family and our Friends along the way. We’ve been so busy visiting people that we haven’t had a second to write the blog and get it up….so please know that we are alive and well and are now in Mexico driving from San Carlos south…We will post a couple quick blog entries here  – one we wrote upon entering CA and the other I quickly drafted this morning.


More to be written when we settle in somewhere later this week – so sorry for the delay!


We have been taking photos though and if you want to see them, go to Blogroll on the far right column and click to see the photo gallery.


We love you all – Tod and LIsa



RV Dirtbags August 15, 2007

Filed under: Stories,USA — todandlisa @ 1:28 pm

So it’s official, we are dirtbags.

After leaving Kim’s place in Seattle, we encounter Fife – the land of sprawling RV centers and the home to Camping World, a well-known mecca for RVers. Since we’d already used our one backup cabinet latch while on Vancouver Island, we decided to stop and grab a couple more for future cabinet dysfunctions.

Camping World was overrun with very nice Class A RVs (that7s forty feet or longer) so we felt perfectly at home as we wandered the store resisting the impulse to buy welcome mats or doilies for houses on wheels.

After 15 minutes of wandering, staring, asking for help and finally having a door latch box break open in my hands and its metallic contents rain heavily on Tod’s mending toe, we decide to leave.

“I’m getting hungry…how ‘bout you?” Tod asks me as we wander out.

“Hmmm, yep, I could use some food”, I reply

As if granted by our very evolved expressed intentions for food we don’t really need, we manifest before our very eyes a plate of hot steaming double chocolate chip cookies.

I watch as Tod makes a straight beeline for them and would have pushed small children and the elderly out of his way to grab the plate.

Once there, he slows down and saunters over casually once he notices the two friendly folks behind the table guarding the plate. Asking non-chalantly what their booth is about and oh, by the way, can he have a cookie. I must admit I’m impressed with his discreet style and am utterly convinced that they in no way suspect he was there only for the cookies.

Turns out this is a spiel for a campground membership group – the archrival of Thousand Trails which my parents belonged to since I was a child. We’d go there for family reunions and my cousin Brian would put frogs on top of my head down by the pond and I would cry. I LOVED Thousand Trails.

As I’m having these thoughts, my vision blurs to Matrix-like slowness and I watch as during a 3 minute song and dance Tod eats at least five cookies, all the time nodding thoughtfully. I hear at the end “$50 gift certificate at Camping World just to listen to the Presentation” and much to my surprise Tod says sure.

From my position crouched before a map, I look up and him and with more cookies in hand he’s heading for the door behind the cute, bubbly sales girl. I mean, I thought we were in it for the cookies.

“I have the Honda Accord” she says, “ and you can follow me to our main office. Where’s your RV”

We exchange glances. “Well, it’s sort of small, and er, older….actually it’s the 1984 camper van with brown stripes – behind the big RVs”.

She nods hesitantly and we walk off to our rig wondering if anyone in a van this small or this old has ever gotten talked into the Presentation.

“I can’t believe we’re doing this” I say. “Maybe we should just bolt for the highway once we hit the main road”.

Tod thinks this over for only a second before deciding“Nope, the $50 certificate would be great, I’m sure we can use it for something and we also get the free 3 days of camping”.

So I acquiesce, wondering if it is clear that we’re just in if for the free stuff. Will they yell at us and kick us at when they figure it out? I sit and worry about this for awhile.

Ten minutes later we arrive in front of a two story white building with Greek columns at each side of the entryway. It looks a bit ostentatious in Fife, across from the high school in an industrial district.

Entering the building we felt like we entered a bizarre sales cult. Everyone was extra nice, offering us coffee and juice, asking where we were from, what we did. It was just a little too sugar-coated and I kept thinking these guys have a great sales gig going here but we’re not going to fall for it.

We get passed off to one of the senior sales guys who is all amiable and we sit down to start the Presentation.

Again, I’m wondering whether or not they can tell we’re dirtbags posing as RVers. But Tod did just shave and I am wearing my city clothes so I suppose we are looking quite respectable.

The facade soon starts to crumble.

Question 1: How many days a year do you camp?

Tod jumps in “Well, probably about 25 days a year.” Where’d THAT number come from I wonder.

Question 2: How much do you pay when you camp?

Ahhh, the pause and furtive glances exchanged.

“$20, probably” I say.

Tod chimes in.“Yeah, but, well, that’s only when we pay.”

Another pause. The guy is starting to look at us strangely.

Tod goes on. “Our style of camping is usually to just drive up a Forest Service road and pull off to the side of it”.

A light is slowly beginning to dark in the Presenter’s eye.

“I see,” he says. I watch as he starts crossing out large portions of the questionnaire, questions to remain unasked apparently.

After going on another five minutes about the rules and regulations of the programs and how it’s significantly more flexible than Thousand Trails, he announces for the fiftieth time what must be the three greatest selling points of the program:

1. For today only (an obscure Wednesday in the middle of a month), they are waiving the $2000 entry fee.” Well that’s nice. We’d never pay that anyway.

2. “When you camp, you only pay $8 per night.” That’s great, but you also have to pay $325 for an annual fee on top of that so you’d have to spend 22 days a year at their places. Forget it.

3. (his personal favorite) “It would take you four and a half years to stay at each campground in the system.” But why would we stay in a campground in New Jersey?

“Alright” the Presenter stands up. “Now let’s begin the video”.

Panic rises in me.

“Video, what video?”

Well, the video that shows you the campgrounds in our system.

I’m looking at the water before me, wondering if something was put in it. Will we ever escape this place if the video really starts. But I simply can’t talk…this is so unlike me.

Tod, seeing my predicament jumps in.

“Wait a sec, how long is this going to take? We’ve got to get to Portland for an appointment.”

The Presenter looks at us deeply and says “It’s forty-five minutes, they should have told you that before you came over”.

I manage to start shaking my head and Tod is looking wide-eyed too. We’ve got to get out of here.

“Sorry, we can’t be here that long and nobody mentioned forty-five minutes. Really, we have to get to Portland so we’re sorry, but we’ve got to go. Plus, we’re going to Panama for the year so we couldn’t really use it then but maybe when we get back”.


“Of course,” the Presenter says. He’s is being gracious, but we’re certain that since we didn’t do the whole Presentation we’re not getting the $50. This deflates both of us a little bit.

“Let me get your $50 for Camping World. Or did you already finish shopping? I can get you a gas card instead”.

What? We can’t believe our good luck. Only half the Presentation and we still got 7 cookies, a free cup of coffee AND $50 in free gas.

As he escorts us to the door and sees our van for the first time, it all becomes clear that we are two freeloaders working a scam.

As we drive away, laughing, Tod simply says:

“$50 an hour, that’s not too bad for a dirtbag.”






Cultural Re-entry August 14, 2007

Filed under: Canada,USA — todandlisa @ 1:20 pm

It’s amazing how quickly the weeks go by. There’s so much that happens when you have the time to open yourself to new people and experiences. Currently we’re back in the states down on the south coast of Oregon in a beautiful little campground on bluffs overlooking the ocean. We’ve covered a lot of ground (for us) since last writing at the north end of Vancouver Island. Fortunately we’re here for the week as Lisa is doing her first full work week of the trip.



This view is a 10 minute walk from our campsite.

When last we checked in we were enjoying the cool maritime climate of the Johnstone Strait area. We had a great weekend with our new friends Greg and John who we met on our whale watching excursion. They live out on Malcolm Island and we mostly spent the days on their porch discussing the nature of the universe and watching boats and marine life drift by. My most powerful memory of the weekend was of sitting around their firepit on the bluff with another new friend Craig, listening to a humpback whale and her baby blow just off shore. The town parade they took us to was a treat too. It had about half the town in the parade, lasted about 15 minutes and the anticipated band from Vancouver never arrived! These guys reminded me of an old saying: “You’ll know your friends better in a moment than your acquaintances in a lifetime.”

Greg, Craig and John

Greg, Craig and John



One of the many waterfalls in Strathcona Park

During our excursions around Vancouver Island we kept hearing people talk about Strathcona Park as one of the most beautiful spots on the island. We felt obligated to check it out and they weren’t exaggerating. We spent four days of relaxed camping and hiking on the shores of Buttle lake which is nestled amongst the snowcapped central peaks of the island. Although we were loathe to leave, I felt a real need to at least visit the legendary granite cliffs of Squamish so towards the end of the week shoved off for the mainland.



Just made it! Boarded the ferry with 2 inches to spare!


What a shock! After weeks of relatively remote environments, the urban environs of the mainland felt jarring as if they were clawing at our souls. It’s amazing all the “needs” that pop up once you get around shops and stores. We managed to resist, for the most part, and caught the Nanaimo ferry to the mainland and battled our way up the construction choked highway to Squamish. To our dismay the camping scene at the base of the Chief, the major climbing area, was overwhelming with bodies packed in every corner of the campground and parking lot. We paid $9 for a parking spot (read: camping) right above the highway construction zone. Fortunately, it was made worthwhile when the next morning Tod joined a group of Quebecers and spent next two days sampling some of the areas excellent climbing and learning French. Lisa, whose knee is slow in recovering from a spring injury, meanwhile explored the bookstore, farmers market and surrounding area of Squamish with the dogs.


We knew that coming back to the states was going to be a rude awakening as we had many errands to run and miles to make. In preparation for our cultural re-entry we spent the night before crossing the border in a Walmart parking lot, where we dined on McDonald’s and shopped at Home Depot until 10PM. I think we overdid the indulgence a bit as we both felt a bit strung out from the sugar and grease as we rumbled across the border the next day. Fortunately the friendly Border Patrol only confiscated all of our dog food (we had just stocked up) and sent us on our merry way.

Walmart camping!




Once back in the US we first stopped by the beautiful town of Glacier to visit an old friend of Tod’s; Sally Hewitt. In the small world category Sally went to the same high school as Lisa and actually graduated with her uncle Dave. We had a fun evening of catching up on Jackson Hole days, where Tod, Sally and a bunch of other great people worked, and perusing Sally’s yearbooks.


After that it was mostly business as we ran errands in Bellingham, Seattle and Portland for three days. The best part was we managed to catch Lisa’s sister Kim at home, she’s a flight attendant, so we stayed with her outside of Seattle for two nights and got her to chauffer us around on some of our urban errand running. Thanks again Kim, we wouldn’t have survived without you!


Sisters shopping in Seattle


So that brings us to here. Cape Blanco state park is tucked away just north of the mouth of the Rogue River and is a classic stretch of north pacific coastline. A lighthouse, tall bluffs, whales, seals, seastacks, windswept trees, the works! Today we took a two hour hike in between some of Lisa’s phone calls and tomorrow I’ll ride my bike to town to see if I can post this entry before it get’s to much longer. ‘Til next time!



From the Mountains to the Sea July 17, 2007

Filed under: Canada,USA — todandlisa @ 2:06 pm


Since we last checked in we actually feel like we’re traveling now, We’re currently camped just outside of Tofino, a surf resort on Vancouver Island. Lisa is working today by phone in the van and I’m in the tent (mosquitoes are bad here in the temperate rain forest) with the laptop and a few books. More on our current location later, though.

For those of you that want updates in an orderly fashion I’ll attempt not to wander around to much in my remembrances. I will take some poetic license though.

4th of July on Moses Lake

Anyhow, after a great 4th of July (that’s us on the lake above) we left Lisa’s parents in Moses Lake and headed to rendezvous with our friends in the Cascades: Winthrop, WA to be specific.

It was great to catch up with everyone, Dave and Danielle are friends of mine (Tod) from Jackson days and as our lives and families have grown and changed we’ve still made a point to stay connected.

Hiking with the gang in Winthrop, WA

After a few days of visiting, hiking and swimming we were ready to head over the mountains towards our goal of Vancouver Island. Before leaving though I visited Danielle in her professional role with a stop at the Country Clinic where she is a Physician’s Assistant. Some of you may know that shortly before leaving Hailey I injured my big toe while barefoot dancing at a sendoff evening. It continued to bother me some so the X-rays Danielle took confirmed that it was a slight fracture and that there wasn’t much to do other than let it heal. With that taken care of we were off, of course we were in no rush so along the way we stopped for a beautiful hike on Washington Pass. In spite of my toe I’m still hiking and running, it only really hurts when Taku steps on it which he has managed to do several times. Lisa’s knee is still healing too from a horse riding incident awhile back so we’re keeping our ambitions low. What a bunch of gimps, Allie is about ready to dump us for new owners. By the way, you can see more photos from this hike and others on our Picasa Web Album, the link is on the side bar.


Blue Lake, Washington Pass

Blue Lake on Washington Pass


Back to travels…Canada is different from the states in many ways, some more subtle than the obvious “eh” and price of petrol ($4.60/gal). I noticed the pace of life slowing down from the moment we crossed the border. Tourist shops all closed up at five pm, cashiers who take their time bagging your groceries and chat with you about your trip, lots of people out for strolls in the evening. We are getting glimpses of a life Lisa and I hope to rediscover, or possibly learn for the first time.

Another of the goals of our journey is to reconnect with the commonness we share with the world, to challenge our fears and stereotypes in a way that only travel can, and to reaffirm the basic human generosity we all have. In the last week we’ve been given bags of cherries twice. One time by a migrant workers wife, camped nearby with her girls, who smilingly accused us of being “neat freaks and health freaks.” Those of you who know us well will find the first one laughable.


In addition to the many generous suggestions about sites to see and places to go we also had a local fellow offer us a hike to the coast on his own personally maintained trail behind his house. It’s important to understand that maintaining trails is a big deal around here as they say if you stand in one place too long you’ll become a part of the landscape. Unfortunately the maintenance was only limited to the first half mile and after that we were doing more up and down over the deadfall than forward and still couldn’t hear the coast so we decided hiking on the beach rather than to the beach was more our speed. It’s this kind of spontaneous kindness and exploration that we love about travel.


4th Anniversary dinner at Tough City Sushi, Tofino

4th Anniversary Dinner at Tough City Sushi, Tofino, B.C.

So how did we find Tofino? Word of mouth mostly, starting when Lisa met a flight attendant in Tulum, Mexico two years ago who said it was a must see. It kept coming up and now that we’re here it’s easy to see why. Miles long white beaches pushed up against old growth forest with bays and inlets at every turn. A gentle surf and mild current make this a destination surf and tourist resort. It’s also, understandably, a designated UNESCO world nature site and a federally protected park…kind of a Yellowstone by the sea. We’ve been here four days now. It took a few days to figure out the scene as it can be a bit touristy and campsites are hard to come by. It’s been well worth it though. We’ve had dinner on the beach twice now, last night cooking fresh salmon, corn and potatoes over a fire while watching the tide go out. (insert photo here) We agreed as we returned to our little campsite out by the landfill (it’s prettier than it sounds-it’s actually a logging access road into dense forest and no landfill in sight) that we could get used to this!

Beach Dining:

Beach dining:imgp1137.jpg






On our way (almost!) July 2, 2007

Filed under: USA — todandlisa @ 10:57 pm

A balmy summer Sunday finds Lisa and I enscounced at her parents in Moses Lake, WA trying to get this blog up and running. We left home and friends in Hailey Monday after a year of preparation for our big trip. In spite of our best efforts at planning and preparing it was still hectic right up until launch time: preparing the house for renters, moving our things to storage, prepping the van (Mountain Betty, or just Betty is her name) and saying goodbyes.Many thanks to our friends for the warm send off and a special thank you to a few folks helping us get on the road: Chad and Dave at Tune Up Express were thorough and gentle in all their work on Betty, Matt Gervase and James Foster for helping handle details while we’re away and John Jacoby for his custom modifications and suggestions.

Delone, Tod and Betty

Our first stop was in Cove, OR with Lisa’s sister and brother in law; Michelle and Dan Cregger. They have a great new home in this idyllic little town outside of LaGrande. They also have a new addition to the family with Lily their lab puppy.

After two nights there we moved on to Moses Lake and the hospitality of the Kruegers. Delone and I (Tod) share a birthday so on the 28th we celebrated our birthdays (my 40th) with a quiet dinner and some generous gifts from Eileen and Lisa. Saturday night was the real party with neighbors and others of the Krueger clan coming in to celebrate the birthdays and give Lisa and I yet another warm send off.

Birthday boys

One of the hard parts of the trip so far has been Taku’s health. As many of you know Taku and Allie are our kids (Chesapeake Bay Retrievers) and they are joining us on our journey. Taku is 14 now and in failing health. Strong in mind and heart but not body as his mobility is severely restricted. We’re aware that this trip is his last and are not sure how far he’ll make it. Friday morning we thought we may have to put him down but he has rallied yet again. His joy at just sitting in the van and barking at the world as it passes by tells us we made the right decision to bring him.


With a few days left of errand running Lisa and I are eager to hit the road to camp in the Cascades for a few days of relaxing and unwinding. There is a lot of effort that goes into a trip of this magnitude so it will be awhile before we settle in and slow down to the routine of travel. Our next stop is the Methow Valley in the North Cascades to visit our friends Danielle and Andrew who are building a home there. We’re excited to meet up with them and our long time friends Dave and Allison of Alta, Wyoming who will be driving out to rendezvous with us.