Weekly High-Five Report: Ultimate Road-Trippers


The ultimate road trip

Everyone loves a good road trip. I’ve spent weeks cruising the backroads of the PNW and Western States, searching for snaking roads that lead to free camping spots by the river, or overgrown forest service roads with room enough for a girl and her truck. I’ve spent moonless nights at trailheads, in the parking lot of a ferry terminal, and the day-use only lot of a climbing area.

But I never spent a night in a Walmart parking lot.

Amy and Bracken Christensen on the road

On November 7th, 2010, Amy and Bracken Christensen of www.theadVANture.com took off for the ultimate road trip. They outfitted their van with everything from a garage to a kitchen to a bedroom/living room and hit the road (and the trails and mountains and rocks) for a year.

That’s right. The newlyweds road-tripped for an entire year.

I first found Amy through her life-coaching blog Expand Outdoors, where she offers wisdom and strength for adventurous women. I knew, at first glance, that I had found a kindred spirit.

Last summer, when Amy and Bracken were traveling through Seattle, we met in person, and it was as if we’d known each other for years. I asked Amy about her immediate plans for the night.

“Oh, we’ll probably find a Walmart parking lot for the night.”

“Walmart?” I asked.

Amy explained that Walmart allowed cars to park overnight, many of their lots were lit and secure and in the morning they could freshen up in the bathroom inside.

The boathouse at sunrise

I asked her if they’d prefer to stay in our boat house. I didn’t want to downplay the awesomeness of a Walmart parking lot, but I figured they’d want to stay with us. Our boat house is actually the best part of our house–sitting on Lake Washington with a small apartment over the water. In the morning, they could see Mt. Rainier from the bed. Plus the shower rocks.

The couple accepted heartily. It was already dark, and finding a Walmart at 10pm in a big city wouldn’t be easy.

Plus, I got to see their van up close the next morning. With a hobbit house feel, the van contained tiny spaces and a-place-for-everything efficiency that only a year on the road can hone.

Last week Amy and Bracken completed their year-long road-trip. They traveled 23,000 miles, biking, hiking, running and climbing their way through the Grand Canyon and Glacier National Park and everywhere in between.

This week a giant high-five goes out to Amy and Bracken Christensen for their adventurous spirit, willingness to explore the unknown and openly share their experience with the world. May the next 23,000 miles offer as much enlightenment.

5 responses »

  1. Just love this! About 10 years ago, we set off cross country in our family van with our three daughters ages 13, 11, and 6. We didn’t stay in Walmart parking lots, but we did travel 40 days and 40 nights, staying in many Hampton Inns and visiting many wonders of the country, including the Grand Canyon. I remember standing at the edge and crying as I took in the breathtaking beauty all around me, experiencing a glorious sunset, amongst the most important people in my life. An unforgettable trip that was a spiritual journey as well. Now that the kids are out and about, I’m inspired by the Christensens to think about my husband and I going off on an adventure again in the not too distant future.

  2. Kim, thank you!! Sending you a high-five right back!

    We’re still getting used to life in one place, and definitely missing the camping, visiting friends and exploring new places. (We aren’t, however, missing the Walmarts!) 🙂

    To anyone thinking about setting out (ahem Elise!), do it! It’s a wonderful, challenging and amazing adventure. (Feel free to contact us for any advice, recommendations, etc.)

  3. Kim,
    Thanks so much for the nice write up. It was great to meet you, and thanks again for the stay in the boat house. It was definitely one of the cushiest nights of our trip! Yes, the setting, view, and shower are all awesome.

    It’s strange, yet familiar to be planted in Boulder. I’m sure the adjustment will be interesting, and I’m looking forward to our next adventures!

    All the best.

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