When last we gathered ‘round the campfire, I had made my way to Pine Bluffs, Wyoming. Since then, I’ve been to Idaho and right back to Wyoming, to Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Montana, Idaho, Montana, and so on and so forth. Ah, the intricacies of knitting travel. I’ll explain in a moment.
From Pine Bluffs, I drove 541 miles to Pocatello, Idaho to meet up with Nathan and plot our exploration of Washington. I knew that I wasn’t quite ready to dive in to issue eight, so we headed for the mountains to work and finish up issue seven : michigan.
It takes a village to make a knitting magazine!
Many of you already know our photographer, Nathan. If not, meet Nathan! He lives in a truck camper with his dog, Tala. Since we met in 2019, he’s become fully immersed in the knitting community. We’ve yet to convince him to learn to knit, but he’s developed an appreciation for the work that goes into creating beautiful indie yarn; from the sheep to the mills, to the indie yarn dyers and local yarn shops. He’s very knit-worthy and his photography is a big part of what makes each issue feel as though you’ve gone traveling with us, so I guess he really doesn’t need to learn to knit (yet).
All that back and forth between Idaho, Wyoming, & Montana? It’s because we’ve spent quite a bit of time along the border areas searching for good places to boondock. With more people taking advantage of outdoor spaces than ever, it’s been challenging to find suitable camping spots. For the uninitiated – that was me three years ago! – boondocking is when you camp in a non-traditional space without any hook-ups; no water, sewer, or electricity. From Wal-Mart parking lots (those are Melissa’s favorites😉) to National Forests and everywhere in between, you might be surprised at the places you can stay without renting a spot at an RV resort.
I’ve figured out that I can go about two weeks or so boondocking before I need to head back into civilization and restock, so Nathan and I planned accordingly and set off for the mountains. We arrived at Bridger National Forest near Smoot, Wyoming and within 36 hours it was snowing. If you can picture a cat who’s just been tossed into a bathtub, that was me for the entire two days it snowed; cranky. I chose #vanlife in search of perpetual summer. Snow at the end of JUNE was not the goal.
Once the weather cleared, we enjoyed endless fields of beautiful wildflowers and the occasional wildlife spotting. Some were closer than others. I lifted my toilet seat one morning to find this guy looking up at me. Needless to say, shenanigans ensued. I finally pulled it together, remembered that I had rubber gloves and that I actually adore mice, opened the lid, and grabbed him. I set him free and ended up feeling pretty proud of myself for handling it like a boss. Little victories!
Knitting on the Edge
After a two-week stint in Bridger National Forest, we began to make our way north. We ended up spending just one night in a beautiful spot on the side of a mountain. If you read our newsletters, then you heard me talk about that particular adventure and driving along the cliff. Well, I’m pretty sure the universe was unimpressed by my dramatics, because the driving since then has been exponentially worse AND we ended up camping on a cliff for an entire week! I’m sure some of you daredevils would find that exhilarating, but I am not that daredevil. All I could think about was it raining and the ground beneath me disintegrating and the van sliding off the side of the mountain. Nathan and I had a legitimate heart-to-heart about whether a grizzly bear could push the van over the cliff (he said they can’t, but I remain skeptical) because we’re also in GRIZZLY COUNTRY! This means all food is in constant lockdown and no-one goes for walks without bear spray and music playing to warn the bears and let them know we’re not food. Real-life, folks. Real. Life.
We’ve traveled roads that CLEARLY should have been one-way, but were not. I’ve pulled as far over as I could without falling off the side of the mountain to let pass vehicles that were coming from the opposite direction. This required everyone to pull their mirrors in so as to make room. I have driven through some sketchy spots before, but this was well beyond my comfort zone. If I wasn’t so afraid of my vision blurring and inadvertently plummeting to my death, there would have been tears.
It’s been weeks of pushing myself and the van to the brink of our capabilities. Some days it feels like a challenge and some days it feels like I’ve made some questionable life choices. It’s called balance.
The Silver Lining
To be clear, it hasn’t been non-stop terror; we’ve also driven some absolutely stunning highways and seen some incredible things. Route 26 along Snake River in Wyoming is one of the most beautiful roads I’ve ever driven. Nathan begs to differ and assures me that there are much better roads out there, but that just goes to show that we all have different things that make our hearts sing! We’ll keep sharing them all with you and let you be the judge.
Speaking of incredible, Nathan woke me up in the middle of the night a couple of weeks ago to make me come outside and confirm he wasn’t losing his mind after seeing a fireball in the sky! Fortunately, that fireball was NEOWISE, and Nathan’s sanity remains intact. We didn’t know that it existed until googling to find out what we were looking at. Nathan wrote an article about it for How Stuff Works if you’d like to know how you can see it before it disappears for the next 6,000 years.
Fun fact: There are cacti in Idaho!
I feel like this is a good place to stop. We’re still somewhere in Montana. Or Wyoming. Possibly Idaho? The most important thing is that we’re no longer hanging off the side of a mountain, and for that, I’m very grateful.
Wishing all of you well this week and every week!
P.S. We made it on to our first Top Ten List!