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Eco-friendly Couple. Airstreamin' Across America.

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We have news…

Travis and I have spent about five months on the road. Five months of campgrIMG_2663ounds and RV parks, meeting new people and seeing old friends, soaking up the sun and relaxiIMG_1106ng as much as we can. December was spent in Texas, Arizona took up most of January, and we got a couple of weeks in California before heading to Maui at the end of February. March included time in SoCal as well as Vegas, Colorado, and Montana (skiing in Big Sky). And April was split between California again and being home in Minnesota. It is now May and we can hardly believe time could go so fast.

We have learned a lot along the way. We learned that life is not all about stuff; it’s about experiences and the people you spend time with. We learned to slow down and take advantage of what you have around you. We learned that we love to travel and will never stop. But we have also struggled a lot being on the road full time. We have sunk a lot of money into our Airstream and got burned by the company we bought her from. We are continuing to struggle with time management and balancing work and play (Travis works full time and I am working part time and finishing my master’s degree). And it’s been difficult to be away from our family and friends.

IMG_1411Because of all of this, and more, we decided to sell our Airstream last month. I know, it’s crazy. But this whole trip has been crazy. We have loved it all but are ready for the next chapter. We will continue to travel and are so excited to work our way up the west coast over the next couple of months. Along with the sale of our Airstream, we sold our Chevrolet Silverado. The reason we bought the truck was to pull the Airstream, so it didn’t make much sense to keep it. We traded it in for a 2012 Prius V and couldn’t be happier. That thing gets 45 mpg! We haven’t named her yet, but we will soon.

We are very happy with our decision, even though we lost our Airstream ‘cred’. And we hope that we will still be able to meet up with some of  our Instagram followers this summer. As we make our way up the coast we will be staying in vacation rentals (Airbnb, VRBO). We will be ending our road trip earlier than initially planned because this way of travel is a bit more expensive. But we will be taking everything we learned from this trip and traveling a lot more on the weekends when we get back to Minnesota.

Our official plan is to continue up the west coast through California, Oregon, and Washington. Then cut over through Idaho and Montana, before returning to Minnesota. When we started this trip we didn’t have an end date. But after much thought, we feel like we need to be back in Minnesota for awhile.

This may seem like a quick decision, mainly because I haven’t been blogging about it, or anything else, for the last two months. But we have been thinking about it for months. The Airstream went up on Airstream Classifieds back in February and we sold the first week in April. A lot has happened since the last blog post (Porter got neutered, we met up with a few friends in LA, we got to go to a couple of sporting events, and we went home to Minnesota for a couple of weeks). I want to tell you everything, but I think I will stop here. Maybe there will be a flashback post in the future.

Travis, Porter, and I flew back to California yesterday and will be leaving SoCal in just a few hours. We have been in LA on and off for over two months. We could not thank our gracious host enough (Thanks Marc!).  Southern California has been ‘home’ for awhile and it will hold a special place in our hearts. But we are really excited for our next adventure, and to have more than just pictures of Porter to post on Instagram.

Onward!

Looking for more pictures? Check out our Flickr account!

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Our First Guest Blog Post

Hello to all fans and readers of The Eco Travelers! Jenna and Travis were so kind as to allow me to not only crash with them for a week, but to also write on their blog about all sorts of happenings while I’ve been visiting. I am a friend of theirs from the land of 10,000 lakes not only attempting to rid myself of my pasty white skin tone, which I have yet to succeed in doing, but to also embark on the nomadic adventurous lifestyle they’ve adopted. I must say, I have a new found respect for these two after just a few days. Despite the potentially defeating obstacles placed in their paths, both Jenna and Travis exercise their resiliency and courage to continue towards their goal of traveling, all whilst maintaining a kind and positive demeanor and being gracious and attentive hosts. I could not be more grateful for these two wonderful human beings taking on a role in my life, as friends and role models, (love you guys!) Thank you in advance for reading my guest post, and if you’d like to see more photos from my visit, please follow me on Instagram : @dnaumann (I know, shameless plug, you’re welcome.)

I knew I’d IMG_6835be ecstatic when I first saw Jenna at the airport, but I was not prepared for the girly high-pitched scream I let out. Jenna greeted me with a green St. Patrick’s Day Welcome sign and a long awaited best “freund” hug (it’s just a thing we say… we’re weirdos like that.) Best freund indeed… she knew the first thing I’d want to do, after squishing her of course, would be to see the ocean.

Before they left, like many of their friends, I wrote them some letters to “Open When (insert reason).” One of my favorite to write, and Jenna’s to read, was “Open When You’re Near The Ocean.” In said letter, I describe what exactly the ocean means to me, and why I love returning. I was raised partially in Minnesota, and partially in Agoura Hills, California. They say smell can be a strong link to memories, and in my case, the ocean most certainly is. Jenna brought me to Manhattan Beach to welcome me to the West Coast. The moment my eyes caught a glimpse of the sparkly turquoise water, I swear my attitude went from a stuffy Midwesterner, to a carefree Cali kid in an instant. The scent of the salty breeze brought me back to my nine-year-old self, running down the beach with my kite, Dad and baby sister following behind. That smell always brings me back to that happy carefree time in my life, and reminds me to let go of all of that unnecessary worry we are all guilty of carrying around.   Any of you who have an opportunity to visit the ocean, whichever coast you’re on, whichever ocean you’re near… take the time to close your eyes and breathe in the ocean air. Breathe the fresh air in deeply, and exhale your worries slowly. Repeat as needed. It is so good for the soul, trust me on this.

Rejuvenated and relaxed, Jenna and Porter- can I just interrupt and gush about theProcessed with VSCOcam with kk2 preset ridiculously adorable puppy these two have? So. Damn. Cute. THOSE EARS!!! – OKAY, as I was saying, my “Cali kid” mentality had been activated, and although it was only about 9am Cali time, it was 11am Minnesota time and I needed some fuel. For those of you who don’t know me, I could have breakfast for every meal, so our delectable egg bagels and smoothies from Sacks on The Beach hit the spot. I even shared some eggs with Porter to bribe him out of his shyness and fall in love with me, and friends, I have somehow won his heart (although he still thinks my fingers are edible.)

For the entire trip, the four of us (Travis, Jenna, Porter and I,) had planned on cramming into Luna the Airstream together. I was disappointed only momentarily to learn this wouldn’t be the case. Obviously it would have been a bit cozy, like any overly polite Minnesotan would say, but I was ready for an adventure. My disappointment was quickly stifled after meeting our lovely host Marc. This is another incredibly kind and wonderful person I was fortunate enough to meet, who hosted all of us at his Torrance, California home, (If you’re reading this thank you so much Marc!) Instead of sharing approximately 100 sq. ft. (which would’ve included our beds, shower, toilet etc.) amongst three humans and a tiny dog, we had a large and spacious house to roam around and enjoy. This man is not only generous, but he is funny and kind and took a genuine interest in all of our lives. So with Marc’s house as our home base, we had more freedom to make little day trips, one of which was Santa Barbara.

Our day in Santa Barbara consisted of a very hip and trendy coffee shop, vibrant blooming flowers, and a beautiful beach full of the friendliest dogs, (Porter puppy not included.) To start, the four of us enjoyed very artfully crafted lattes at The French Press, along with some delicious scones. Jenna, Porter and I then headed to the doggie beach to soak up the sun. Arroyo Burro Beach was just plain awesome. There were IMG_6086so many happy pups running around, meeting other dogs, swimming in the ocean, and playing fetch. Puberty Porter on the other hand, was growling and barking, scaring all the nice doggies away. I met a beautiful all white dog named Thor who brought me his ball, but when his owner would near, he would take off, ball hidden in his mouth…It was time to go, and Thor was not done fetching. When Porter wasn’t yipping and snarling, he was running circles and digging holes in the sand effectively covering Jenna and I, and any other open bag or receptacle nearby. I am now the proud owner of sandy Orbit gum, (0% dentist recommended.) After a scratchy and sunburned day, we headed back to Torrance to crash. Jenna and I didn’t even shower, much to Travis’ discontent. He woke up to a sandy-backed wife to snuggle with.

IMG_6419Sprinkle in a few more meals and sleeps, and we all packed up to head to my cousin Debbie’s house in Fontana. We had some Thai food for dinner upon our arrival, and enjoyed each other’s company in her lovely blooming garden, all while little Porter chased around Zeek the cat, (who is twice his size.) There is something so comforting about family, even if it’s been a while since you’ve connected. They make you feel at home, and ground you back to the root of who you are and where you came from. They remind you of your core person, and I love that! (Thank you for hosting us Debbie and for catching me up on your life, it was wonderful to spend time with you.)

One thing I picked up on whilst visiting my lovely friends, is Jenna is adorably clumsy. Anyone else notice this about her? She dropped several things on a daily basis, one of which was an entire cup of coffee onto the floor as we tried to pack up and leave Debbie’s for Universal Studios. If you didn’t know she’s clumsy, you certainly must know, once Jenna starts doing something nice you cannot stop her. From washing your dishes, changing a lightbulb, running across the street for you…she will be on a mission and you cannot persuade her otherwise. She scurried into the kitchen and back out to clean up the coffee, and as if wiping it up wasn’t enough… she of course came back and wiped the floor to its original dry state. She is such a warm and caring person in that way, and it’s one of the reasons why I love her. Cleaned up coffee spill, check. Bags loaded into truck, check. Porter eating another dog’s poop from the front yard, check? (Yes, yes he did. He is now “Poopy Porter” in my book.) We were all set for our next adventure at Universal Studios!

I could probably write an entire blog entry on Universal. Any place or activity which makes me feel like I am 12-years-old is a win in my book. From being turned into minions in Gru’s lab, to getting soaked on the Jurrasic Park ride, we for sure felt like kids again. Jenna and I even loaded up on jelly beans and other copious amounts of sugar we did not need just for the full “reliving my childhood” effect. I’d say we would crush it if were to travel back in time to our younger selves. We most likely made all of the kids present that day envious of how cool we were…there is no doubt in my mind. I should have worn a fanny pack! Next time.

Although Universal is a very exciting and fun place, all three of us were exhausted (being a kid is hard, ok?) We IMG_6584stopped and had a delicious vegan meal at SunCafe, and proceeded to crash at our next home for the last leg of the trip. We stayed in a lovely one bedroom apartment, which had a fantastic pool with private cabanas to hang out in. I once again laid in the sun day after day, in vain. The only change I noticed was a subtle redness which disappeared before I boarded my plane home. How is it I inherited all of the whiteness of my German ancestors, while my sister has the nice Italian olive skin which browns in the shadows? So not fair. I will say, I am donning quite a few new freckles and they are a nice brown if I do say so myself. No big deal.

I begged for one final touristy adventure to round out my Cali trip, and the Santa Monica Pier delivered. You cannot go to LA without visiting this place. There are all sorts of weirdos to people watch, AND the rollercoaster and Ferris wheel are a must. I will warn you, the first hill on the coaster will make you fear for your life. For my MN peeps, it is reminiscent of the High Roller (The wooden white roller coaster) at Valley Fair. It creaks and clunks enough to induce a death grip, and my audible description of my fears may or may not have frightened the small child sitting in the very front. Whoops! The best part is, you do not get to simply exit the coaster when it returns to its drop off station. Oh no. They ask all the riders if they would like to go a second time, and if there are enough screams, they send it through again. We were sent for a second trip down near-death memory lane. I am happy to say we survived.

The Ferris wheel- wait. Why do we capitalize the f in Ferris wheel? What the heck. Ahhhh, Fun fact: It is named after IMG_6980George Washington Gale Ferris, Jr who created the first Ferris wheel in 1893. What a name! Gale? I bet kids had fun with that one in grade school. ANYWAY. The FERRIS wheel was a really great way to see the pier and take some great photos of the ocean. (Shameless plug … please visit my Instagram if you’d like to see some artsy and not so artsy photos of everything mentioned (@dnaumann.)) We capped the night off with some drinks and fell asleep watching Interstellar. Okay, I fell asleep, like a kid who spent the day going on rides, while watching interstellar.

My final day, although they were all wonderful, was quite nostalgic. Jenna took me to see the house I grew up in. I was happy to find it looks exactly the same as I remembered, the only thing missing from the driveway was my Dad’s 88’ Ford Bronco and my Minnie Mouse bike. We even hiked (sort of on someone’s property,) to this big statue of a Native American my Dad used to bring me too. He used to measure my sister and me to see how tall we’d grown and mark it right on there. Sadly our names were no longer there as it had been painted over, and there were a bunch of new houses surrounding it. Still, it was a very cool thing to go and see after 16 years, (holy crap I’m old.) Jenna even drove slowly by my old school, Sumac Elementary. By doing so, I am certain we looked like kidnappers and caused school staff to lock up the children, but let’s be real, my trip down memory lane was way more important than the school’s sense of security. I am happy to also report The Great Race of Agoura Hills is still going strong! We saw posters all over advertising for it. That was my very first race, and I am sure my Dad still has my participation trophy somewhere.

All in all, IMG_7055visiting Jenna and Travis in California was refreshing and was time well spent. It has me seriously questioning my choice to live in a state with a winter lasting more than half the year, but at least our summers are pleasant. I think a move back to Cali is in my cards sometime in the future. Thank you again for letting me guest post, and thank you to everyone for reading!

 

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Big Sky Country

3/6-3-16

So I guess we got a little nostalgic for the snow, because we decided to spend 10 days in Big Sky, Montana skiing and relaxing. We rented a house in the Meadow Village, just south of the mountain, with our friends from Maui, Jeff and David. It was great to have some space to spread out. The kitchen was huge, the bed was really comfy, and there was a hot tub that was just begging to be used.

After just a three hour drive from Billings, we arrived at our first exciting destination since Denver, Bozeman. It’s a smaller city with great restaurants and shops. It’s a college town so it has a liberal vibe, even though it’s in the middle of Montana. When we got to Bozeman (still about an hour from Big Sky), we grabbed lunch at Starky’s. They have lots of vegetarian options (I love the Southwest Salad and the Veggie Burger) and they make the best cookies on the planet. I think I have now tried them all. I love the lemon one the best. Or the sugar cookie. No, chocolate chip. Ok, I think I have a problem. :) We hit up the local co-op after lunch for all of our meals and snacks for the next ten days. The Community Food Co-op in Bozeman was amazing. I would say that it was even better than the ones we have in Minnesota (and that’s saying something).

We checked into our place on Thursday night (March 5). Mother Nature sent out her welcoming committee when we arrived. We saw five elk on the roadside just before the turn to the house. Unpacking took awhile, but it feels great to be ‘home’ (at least for awhile). We made some dinner and relaxed with some Netflix, a luxury that we got rid of when we moved into the Airstream. We continued the theme of relaxing on Friday. We went to East Slope Rentals (in the Meadow Village) to get skis so we would be ready to hit the slopes the next day. East Slope is great and only charges you for the days that you actually ski. Plus, their staff is super helpful. Porter even got a bone while we were waiting. Travis and I have owned skis for years so it was really exciting to try something new for a change.

The mountain was calling, so we finally hit the slopes on Saturday. The high was around 45 that day, but it stayed a little cooler at the higher altitudes. We skied a few runs at Big Sky and then headed over to Moonlight for tIMG_1225he rest of the day. A few of the runs were icy and a few were showing dirt and rocks, but overall I was impressed with the mountain. The only disappointment was the food at Moonlight Lodge. The cafe that served great pizzas and sandwiches is gone, replaced with a grab-and-go style cart with pre-made wraps and soup. Not cool, Moonlight, not cool. :(

Our second day on the hill was Tuesday. We didn’t get to the ticket counter until 10 so the huge price tagIMG_1173 of the ticket is a little hard to swallow (I’ve always skied open to close at Big Sky). But it did help that we both got the college discount (being a graduate student is starting to pay off. I wonder what other discounts I can get?). We went to the Shedhorn (south) side of the mountain but found that it was pretty melted and slushy. All of that sun and 40 degree heat this week will do that. For lunch we finally made it to Yeti Dogs (something we had been anticipating since our trip here last year). Let me just make a plug for this hot dog place. Yes- we are both vegetarian but they have an excellent veggie dog. Trav likes his with sauerkraut and I just like mine plain, with ketchup. Paired with a cheap 20 oz beer, we were set. Don’t miss it!

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Sin City and D-Town

2/26-3/5

We drove to Vegas. We packed the truck with food, ski gear, and clothes for two weeks. After Vegas we collected a friend, drove to Colorado for a few days, and then continued on to Montana for a 10 day ski trip. It was a crazy couple of weeks, but we made it and had a pretty great time in the mountains and snow. I guess you could call this our winter. And that’s all I really want from winter, two weeks. :)

The reason for our road trip to Vegas was a conference that Travis’ company, Westwerk was sponsoring. Prestige is a business-focused WordPress Conference with great speakers and even better swag. Thanks for the t-shirts and blanket. We love them! The WordPress industry is an anomaly out there. They are a really tight knit group of people that is willing to help out and lend a hand whenever necessary. You really don’t see that in any other industry. As an outsider, I really don’t understand too much of what they are discussing. However, I am running this blog all by myself. I can add cuts and pictures without Trav’s help. Woot! Anyway, it is amazing to get to see this crazy good of people every few months at various conferences. We are like one big, happy, technically-minded, nerdy family.

While we were in Vegas we stayed at the Riviera Resort and Casino. Don’t stay there. Oh wait, you can’t. They are closing it down in May and blowing it up! It’s one of the oldest hotels on the strip and has become a bit of a crap hole. The service was pretty terrible and the room was kinda icky. It was really just a place to sleep as we were out with friends and exploring the town most of the time.

Friday we got to explore The Strip for a few hours. We had brunch at a little French cafe under the Eiffel Tower. Porter especially loved the eggs. :) This was our first trip to Vegas so everything was new. The experience was interesting to say the least. The sheer volume of people was overwhelming to a group of introverts. But I’m glad we got to explore a bit. The most exciting part of the day was actually going back to our friend’s hotel (The Mandarin Oriental), sitting pool side, doing homework. It was so peaceful. In the midst of the Strip, it was a welcome afternoon. I guess I’m not a Vegas girl.

On Saturday, I dropped the guys off at the conference and met up with a friend to get a pedicure and have lunch. We decided to go to the Bellagio. I knew it would be expensive, but we were not disapIMG_0947pointed. We did lunch at the hotel as well. It was delicious and my pedicure was divine. The spa was beautiful! I even got a cup of tea during the massage. Pure bliss! After the appointment, I met up with another friend, from high school! We talked about old friends, high school, and what we are doing now. It was really fun! The rest of the evening was spent at the conference after party (giant beanbags, bear pong, and yummy appetizers) and then off to dinner with the folks from WPEngine. They sure do get a lot of air time on this blog. Haha! They really are a great company with amazing people.

Sunday morning we grabbed coffee from Starbucks, picked up our friend Jeff, and hit the road for Denver. The drive was fairly uneventful, until we got about an hour from Denver. Then it started to snow, the freeway went from three lanes to two (just because we couldn’t see the lines), and we were all hungry and crabby from being in the car all day. A quick stop at Old Chicago (or as my mother-in-law calls it, Chicago Pizza) and we were ready to make the rest of the trip to Westminster. Our Residence Inn was a welcome site after a day in the truck. The silver lining was that Porter took his first steps in the snow and he really liked it, for about 5 minutes, then he wants to be picked up. And because Porter was in the truck all day, he was a little terror that night. Running around like crazy and keeping his humans up way too late.

I have been working a lot on a new project for the Will Steger Foundation (my place of employment, if you didn’t know). We are creating a new curriculum using the Next Generation Science Standards as the framework. You don’t have to know what that means, just know that it’s really exciting for me. You can read about it soon, on a blog post I am putting together for work. But here is the link to the most current Climate Lessons Update that I did for work last month. Lots of stuff happening in the climate change world. And there are lots of great resources for homeschoolers.

IMG_1033Denver was really great. It was really our first trip there, except for a few trips through the airport. It was a little chilly, so our winter jackets had to come out for the first time. Porter got to wear his jackets too. If you thought he was cute before, take a look at him with a sweater on. Oh my! The best part about Denver was being able to grab lunch with my cousin. We went to Watercourse foods twice while we were there. The first time was so good that we had to goIMG_1027 back to try more. It’s an odd concept for a vegetarian to be able to chose anything from the menu. The menu was totally vegan and the food was delicious. Even better than the veggie burgers and vegan mac and cheese were the vegan milkshakes. Because we went there for two meals we got to try all of the flavors between the three of us: banana, chocolate, and chai.

After leaving Denver we spent a night in Billings (the trip all the way to Big Sky in one day would have been really long), and then left for Bozeman and Big Sky the next morning. Stay turned for another post of our crazy road trip. We spent 10 days in Big Sky, skiing and relaxing.

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SoCal Part I

2/18-2/25

We could not have been more excited to get home from Maui! But only because we got to pick up Porter right away. We missed that dog so much. Little did we know that we would spend the next week re-training him. He regressed so much in just one week. The good news was that we had the pleasure of staying at a friend’s house for the next week. It was so great to spread out a bit and have a house to live in for awhile. Although it did make watching Porter a bit more difficult. In the Airstream it’s so easy to keep an eye on him.

We relaxed a lot this week. But we also worked long days. Between the launch of the new Press75 site for Travis and beginning to write chapter one of my capstone project, life was still crazy. But we made the most of it. We cooked some delicious meals at the house and were even treated to a couple of meals with our wonderful hosts, Marc and Dana.

We were lucky enough to be a part of a wonderful article written by, Wand’rly Magazine about living eco-friendly on the road. They interviewed us about our recycling practices, why we thought a vintage Airstream was the way to go, and what we do to stay ‘green’ on the road. It’s a really great article. Nathan is a fantastic writer and this family posts great pictures on their Instagram.

We ventured out to Rodondo Beach for an afternoon over the weekend. We got tacos from a local stand and walked the beach with the dog. Or rather the sidewalk next to the beach, as dogs aren’t allowed on the beaches. It was crazy windy, but so nice to be near the ocean. The whole area south of LA is really great. Sure there is still traffic, and a ton of people, but the area is nice and it’s so close to the beach. It might not be my favorite place yet, but I think I can put it on the list of potential places to live. Plus it never really gets too cold, chilly, but not cold.

On Monday night we took Porter to Puppy Orientation Class. It was a one hour seminar to ask questions and get as much information out of the trainer as possible. We have decided to try crate training him and we will not yell at him. He’s a puppy and he needs to be kept busy. If he’s bored, he will be naughty. We might take a couple of private sessions with Porter, since we can’t enroll in their 6-week class.

We set up a date through Instagram with the Malimish family on Tuesday evening. Dan and Marlene full time in an Airstream with 3 beautiful kids. Their kids have been traveling for so long, it’s all they know. What an amazing childhood! We hung out at Rocket ship park (a neat park with a great view but the story from Marlene and the kids is to NOT go up the rocket ship slide…it’s a little scary) for awhile talking about Airstreams, campgrounds, and travel. For dinner we headed to Stacked for order-at-your-table burgers. The night was wonderful. It’s amazing how solid the bond can be with people you have only met once and know only through social media.

It’s been two weeks already that we have not been living in the Airstream. It’s nice to have a little extra space, but we really miss our little home. We were cleaning and repacking it this week and realized how much we missed it. Soon, tiny Airstream, we will be back soon. But first, a road trip! See you in Colorado!

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