Sunday, September 25, 2011

New York back to Mass

We left of on Wednesday where we used the free wifi at a great little library in Charlotte, VT.  We headed towards Burlington, but stopped at Shelbourne Vineyards first to taste their wines and take a tour of the facility and walked through the vineyard.

Most of the grapes had already been harvested, but one variety was still on the vine.  We swung into Shelbourne Museum thinking it was the farms, but soon learned our mistake and by the time we figured out the difference and where the farm was we had to rush along in order to catch the ferry at the end of the day.  We did get to see downtown Burlington and walked along, poking into bike shops and antique shops, and enjoyed the Church St. Marketplace.  We even stopped at Ben & Jerry's (since we forgot to stop at the factory on the way) to try out the Schweddy Balls ice cream, and it was gross.  I don't think I've ever finished a bowl of ice cream without wanting another bowl, but Curtis and I both had to force ourselves to finish our shared dish.  At least we can say we tried it.  

Malted milk balls and something that had the texture of a date, but tasted like rum.  In other words, gross.

We finished our Burlington tour walking along the bike paths and the pedestrian walkway on the waterfront and then headed back south to catch the ferry across Lake Champlain to New York.  We got there just in time with one spot left on the ferry and enjoyed a nice 20 minute ferry ride to Essex.  We camped out on state land just a short ways away from where we got off the ferry.  

Thursday was cloudy when we got up, but it looked like the sun would come out.  Turns out we were wrong. Or we just drove into it.  We had hoped to do a hike or a climb, but the rain was just too much we went to the best possible outdoor place we could think of on a rainy day:  Ausable Chasm.   The price was a bit steep, but we were bored and the first glimpse from the bridge was pretty impressive.  So we bought our passes and started on the hike along their inner sanctum trail around the gorge.

Elephant's Head.  Can you see it?

It was like a combination of goonies and indiana jones, and it was perfect for a rainy day.  Unfortunately the flooding from Hurricane Irene had taken out a good portion of the Inner Sanctum trail that went down into the chasm on stairs and bridges, so we missed out on a lot of the good views, but we still had fun.

Next we headed south toward Keene and were lucky enough to find Alpine Adventures guide service that gave us an insider hint on where to camp for free and also some good information on local climbs.  We found the campsite next to Chapel Pond:

and settled in for the night just before the rain started again.  The forecast did not look good for the next week, but we woke up to pretty good weather on Friday and set out for a long hike over to Big Slide in the high peaks area. 

We had hoped to do a little climbing at the summit slab, but had a hard time finding the climber's trail and by the time we did find it, the weather was iffy enough that we thought it best to head back to the same campsite again.  And guess what?  It rained!  And poured.  So much that our plans for climbing in the morning were out the window.  So we drove up and over to Lake Placid and strolled through the downtown area.  We stopped at a great bookstore (that sold art supplies too) and finally bought myself a book.  I'd made it a week without a book and was bursting at the seams.  We continued our driving tour in and out of the rain through Saranac Lakes and down rt. 30, finally stopping at Lake Durant campground on our way south.  

Now we're in Montague, Massachusetts visiting with our friend Scotti tonight and we just got back from dinner at a really great cafe: Lady Killigrew.  We'll be around Amherst tomorrow and Tuesday to visit more friends and then head back into NY on Wednesday. 

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

We're on the road

Before I jump into our happenings for the past few days, I want to thank everyone who made it out to our going away festivities in Orland on Saturday.  We had way too much food and had a wonderful time visiting with family and friends before we set out Sunday morning.  We even had a chance to show off our matching tie dyes from a craft day earlier this summer with Missy:

After breakfast with Curtis's family Sunday morning, we filled up our water jug and headed out for our big adventure.  We took our time getting to North Conway and made it just in time to fix our first meal in our fancy oven next to Echo Lake. 

Mac & Cheese with mushrooms

Echo Lake overlooking Monday's climb on Whitehorse

On Monday, we did a short little hike into Diana's Bath

 then climbed The Standard Route on Whitehorse ledge, 

Quick shot from the lunch ledge

View of Whitehorse from the parking area

and we walked around North Conway before driving over to Franconia Notch to spend the night.

North Conway downtown (for Janny)

Let's see, yesterday's challenges began with a windy, rainy, cold morning and a stove that wouldn't stay lit.  The bigger challenge: finding a place to get an oil change where we didn't have to take the bikes off the cap.  New Hampshire was a little too wet and cold for climbing Cannon and Rumney as we'd hoped, so we moved on and would our way through Vermont and got that oil change finally near Burlington.  So here we are.  We camped out at Mt. Philo State Park (a beautiful spot) and are thinking about a vineyard tour, a Burlington walkabout, and then catching the ferry over to New York and the Adirondacks tonight.  More to come later.

View from the top of Mount Philo last night (Lake Champlain on the right)

Friday, September 16, 2011

The Route

We made a list of all the places we could think of for national parks, climbing hotspots, biking areas, friends, family, and cities we want to visit and I plopped them all down on this fancy map.  (I'm sure there was an easier way to do it, but that's how I do things)  We had a rough idea of where we want to go, but this definitely made it more visible on the map.  Starting on Sunday we'll follow our little dots south all the way to the Everglades and then wind our way back up Florida to go west.  You can see how once we get over to California, we've got a bit of a fork to choose from, and we haven't quite ironed out those details. We figure we've got plenty of time to work that out on the way.  

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The New Home

Here they are folks, the moment you've all been waiting for. . . . pictures of our truck home!  First, let's start with just the exterior:

We started with our 2006 Nissan Titan with the extended cab.  It's been Curtis' work truck since we bought it and it took more than a smidge of cleaning to get it looking this nice. We bought the Leer cap this spring with our trip in mind: just a little bump up on the top for more head room and a special door on the driver's side that opens up so we have access from the outside.  We also outfitted the cap with a full rack system: tracks, 78" bars, 4 fork mount bike racks, and 4 wheel mounts.  It stands at just under 10' tall so no drive thrus, parking garages, or covered bridges for us.  

Here is what we had to work with on the inside.  With a few hours of design and a  few more hours pondering plastic tote configurations and wandering store aisles trying to find just the right size, we came up with a pretty good plan.  You can see some of the storage bins for under the platform: one for kitchen, one for winter gear, one for packs, and the bag for shoes.  I think we were just doing a dry run here to see how it all fits.

Next came the actual building part to which we owe a huge THANK YOU to our friends Nick and Toni for saving our butts.  Nick is an amazing woodworker who builds beautiful custom furniture in his spare time.  You can see a few of his pieces at  

This is the foundation of our new home!  We've got a platform for sleeping with storage below and on the left.  On the right side (see photo below left) are small hatches below our bed; there's a back one for tools and the front one holds camping gear that can also be accessed from the tailgate (the little cubby on the right).

This is just one small example of how much Nick's skills saved this project.  You see, I had in my head that I wanted the end open for our stove with dividers to make two clothing compartments and a platform on top of that for drawing or eating inside.  But how to make that happen?  Nick to the rescue!  Above you can see the perfectly constructed cubbies above, complete with dividers custom cut around the wheel well and lids nicer than I ever imagined.   Now stuff all of that full of gear and . . . Voila!

Our new home.

Would you like a tour?  We've got the kitchen to the left with our sink up above.  Behind are the chairs, followed by the awesome clothes cubbies.  Next to the right is our water storage with kitchen tote and winter gear in behind.  Next is our food with shoes and packs to the back, and then the little hatches are furthest on the right.  Our bed is a Metolius crash pad with a mattress topper for a little extra comfort.  Mom & Dad donated a duvet cover that I sewed to fit and had enough left over to make matching curtains. We even made a screen for the driver's side windoor (thanks Jane!) and for the back when we want to hang out inside with the door open.  Here's a closer look at how cozy it is

The cab is also full with our Coleman fridge and printer/scanner (my mobile office) on the passenger side, and climbing gear and art supplies on the driver side. 

And the best part?  Check this out:
That's right.  This is our propane stove and oven.  It is awesome.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

You might be wondering. . .

I can't take credit for the name of our blog.  I searched my brain for a few weeks trying to come up with something clever with no luck at all.  Curtis originally wanted "The Spanish Inquisition" with "Because no one expects it" but we found every possible version of that was claimed.  So I thought about snippets from my favorite songs or funny lines from movies we like, then started thinking about my favorite movies from when I was a kid.  And what came to mind?  Follow That Bird.  If you don't remember it, it's a Sesame Street movie from the 80s where Big Bird is trying to find his real home and it has some really sweet songs, including one with Waylon Jennings that became the inspiration for our blog name.   Check out the video below; the song starts at about 2:08.

As for our truck update, the platform is built and we're just finishing setting up our goodies in the backseat and finding proper homes for everything.  Pictures to come soon!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Day 1

Curtis & Lyndsey's Step by Step Guide to Adventure:
1.  Sell our house
2.  Sell most of our belongings
3.  Quit our jobs
4.  Sell my car
5.  Turn our truck into our new home for the next year
6.  Hit the road!

That sounds like a solid idea, right?   right?

Today is what I'm calling Day 1.  We're technically at step 4 of our plan, but today is the first full day with no house, no jobs, and no car (for me).  We'll see how this all sinks in once the holiday weekend is over and our urge to go to work needs to get reprogrammed.

Monday's to-do list is to tackle the platform and storage for the truck that will hold all of our gear.  I've sketched out the plans for a two level system with gear below and a sleeping platform above.  Hopefully my measuring and planning will come together smoothly and all the totes will fit just right with plenty of room for our bunk.

We'll have more later as the truck house starts to take shape and so much more once we take to the road.  For now, let the countdown officially begin for our departure on Sunday, September 18th.