We’re off again! Our North American road trip begins

Our new car, parked at a south Texas rest stop on the day we started our journey

We encountered an enormous thunder storm rolling across the plains as we neared Davis Mountains State Park in West Texas.  It was awesome to watch the lightning in the distance.  The storm was on full display, and, since the land stretched out far before us, there was nothing to impede our vision of it.

We arrived at the park a short time later, picked our campsite, and settled in for a few days of camping.  We turned in at about 10:00 but were awakened at midnight by sharp claps of thunder.  Now the thunderstorm was less awe-inspiring and more dangerous: we were in a tiny tent camped under trees—not the best place to be.  We lay in the tent and counted the seconds between the lightning and thunder and realized that the storm was moving closer.  Finally, we accepted that we’d better move to the car.

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One of several trees struck by lightning in a nearby campsite

Unable to sleep, we sat and watched the lightning flash violently and frequently above the mountains.  It was such a sight to behold.  After about an hour, the storm moved away from us, so we returned to the tent and fell into a heavy sleep.  I’m not sure that even the most violent storm would’ve woken us up at that point.  The next day we found out that lighting had struck several trees just a few campsites away, and a fellow camper told me that she had witnessed currents of electricity moving through the tree limbs at her campsite.

We experienced thunderstorms everyday in the Davis Mountains.  This photo is of a different storm, taken a few days later, somewhere between Ft. Davis and Marfa. Dramatic!


We’re starting another long journey, but this time, we’re staying local, taking a road trip across parts of the United States and Canada and tent camping most of the way.  What an interesting way to start our journey, with a night spent riding out a vicious thunderstorm.  I suspect this is the way much of our trip will go—a mixture of inconveniences and the occasional danger combined with a huge amount of beauty and awe.

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After a few days in the Davis Mountains, our plan is to spend most of July camping in northern New Mexico; then we’ll head to Portland and Seattle for a few weeks.  After this, it’s on to Canada and Alaska, where we’ll drive the Alaska-Canada Highway (Al-Can, for short) and camp in Denali National Park.  That should take us through September; after that, we’re not sure where we’re going.  We’ll just figure things out as we go.

Some basic facts about our status:

  • We spent the past seven months in New Braunfels, Texas, my hometown, living with my mother and seeing her through some health issues.  I took advantage of the time to write, mostly on my book about our hike through northern Spain.  My mom is much better now, and we are itching to get moving again, so we’ve decided on the U.S. road trip, something that’s always been a dream for us.
  • After being without a car for 14 months, we bought a very cute, very sporty Subaru Crosstrek in the perfect shade of blue.  We saw her on the car lot and it was love at first sight.
  • Where’s home for us?  We don’t have a permanent home, per se.  A good portion of our belongings are with us, packed precisely into bins and bags by Dale.  It was tricky figuring out how much to bring, and I’ll admit that we way overpacked, something we realized while spending a week in the Rio Grande Valley with Dale’s family prior to starting our trip.  We had to go through a “second draft” before leaving, and this delayed our kick-off a few days.  We do have a few luxuries, including a camp stove and pots and pans so that Dale can cook healthy meals for us (no, we aren’t going to subsist on hot dogs and s’mores for the duration of our trip).
  • Why, oh why, are we doing this?  What are we trying to do here?  To follow a dream, of course.  And to give me time to write.  And to escape the heat.  And to push ourselves outside of our comfort zones and move past our fears.  And to try our hand at living as simply as possible.  It doesn’t get much simpler than living in a tent.
  • Even if you don’t come out and ask, I know you’re thinking it: how do we afford to do all of this travel?  No, we’re not retired, and no, we’re not rich, either.  We’re pretty frugal and have saved some money.  We’ve also gotten adept at travel hacking.  And I take side jobs as a speech pathologist when needed.  We have to be careful; we can’t travel like this forever, but we can do it for a little while, until we figure out what it is we want to do next.

We’ll be writing a lot of blog posts about our new experiences and what it’s like to camp full-time.  I’ll be posting as regularly as possible.  Considering that we’ll often be camping in areas without wifi, that may be difficult, but we’ll do our best.  Feel free to follow along!