Vancouver, BC (Reworked for Adventure Pickle 08.27.21/ Original Entry 07.30.18)— And for the first time on this road trip, it feels like a vacation. We take each morning as it comes, without plan or structure. We discover an area along the Spanish Banks right outside Vancouver with no overnight towing signs and agree to park it the next couple days.
3 days in Canada
I open the van doors to let the dogs out for a walk the first morning. Trotting down by the ocean, the tide fades off for miles into the distance. We venture off into ankle-deep water, allowing us to squish our toes in the sand with each step.
I strap Olin into her pack and put her on my shoulders, as we set out to hike across the low tide. It's like nothing I have ever experienced. Just the day before, we had discovered purple starfish in Bellingham and now here we are in British Columbia. We walk about a half mile out into the ocean to where the land stops and the sea resumes. It feels like we are close enough to reach out and touch the giant barges in the deeper waters in front of us. We trek through seaweed, as the dogs frolic back and forth in the Great Pacific.
Evening approaches. Olin's father and I practice learning to walk with her, holding her soft tiny hands and taking one step at a time along the sandy shores. I embrace heartwarming views of the big bright, pink sun as it sets across the vast sky ahead. In this moment, we have nowhere else in the world to be, and I feel completely free.
Attracted to the low tide once more, we hike out at dawn to a large sandbank and take a family swim. Splashing and playing together, we aren't sunk with worries of the future- yet afloat and alive with giddy energy. The dogs spend hours running and playing in the water and sand. As the afternoon approaches, we decide to explore Vancouver... by bike.
We ride for miles along hilly paths throughout town, exploring what each block of the city has to offer and towing Olin behind her Burley Design Trailer. In Vancouver, bikes are valued equally to cars. There are designated paths throughout the whole city where we ride safely, as cars wave us on. It has a very San Diego-esque feel to it. Everyone is outside at all hours of the day, all ages, all types. The energy of this place feels optimistic and multiplied in every direction. We find a store to buy fairly priced groceries and stop for a quick snack.
I like it here and am looking forward to falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing along the Spanish Banks tonight. Olin is cracking up, and the dogs are tired.
Canada is magical. We contemplate driving further north and are reminded of the reality of our frugal budget. After a goodbye cruise around the seaport city, we tip our hats and head south to the homeland.
Mount Rainier National Park, WA (Reworked for Adventure Pickle 08.12.21/ Original Entry 08.13.18)— With each step, my calves ache and my lungs feel as though they will burst. Inhaling deeply, but there is not enough air to suffice. My heart is racing, and at times I feel like quitting. I am dizzy and angry from the climb. And, I feel alive. But this isn't about me, it's about her- the mountain.
A little over 50 miles from Seattle, Rainier is an active stratovolcano located in the Cascade Range of the Pacific Northwest. Standing 14,411 feet above sea level, Mount Rainier is home to around 26 glaciers (more than Glacier National Park). Emmons Glacier, seen in the picture above, has the largest surface area of any glacier in the contiguous United States at a whopping 4.3 square miles.
First Burroughs Summit
At the summit of First Burroughs, I cry at the sight of Mt. Rainier in all her glory. I am smitten by her glaciers and captivated in her story. I skim her from East to West, and tears begin to stream down my cheeks. With my daughter on my back, we take in the beauty of the vast object in front of us, a million times our size at least. I can't catch my breath but not so much from the climb anymore. It was her, the mountain. Standing tall and confidently ahead of us, she stole my breath and I gave her my heart.
Marmots and mountain goats appear from shadows in the distance. Mount Rainier is not for the faint of heart. She dominates the surrounding forest in the national park and will leave a mark on your existence.
Van Life Diaries
There are nights I don’t know where we will sleep and days I wonder why we are even out here on the open road— looking, searching, living. Then one day, I wake up to coffee and chats with my daughter in the parking lot of Mount Rainier National Park and even if just for a day, it all makes sense.
APPALACHIAN HIGHLANDS (July 28th, 2021) — The sense of community in and around The Appalachian Highlands is growing. With an influx of mountain biking trails, persevering small business owners, and enthusiastic local entrepreneurs, it's no surprise that folks are flocking to Northeast Tennessee! And while us locals deeply cherish our best kept secret spots, it's refreshing to feel a part of something bigger than ourselves!
The MTB Culture
The Appalachian Highlands is packed with mountain adventuring opportunities! Surrounded by national forests and full of state parks, the accessibility to hiking and mountain biking trails is endless in every direction. Johnson City boasts ample access to after-work trails from Buffalo Mountain, Tannery Knobs, and Winged Deer Park. Weekend trips and full bike days can be extended out to Pisgah, leaving countless miles of trails in-between. The access to mountain biking in our backyard unites families, tourists, volunteers, and the general public.
Mountain Biking (mtb) has contributed to the overall feeling of community in our area. The sport helps riders grow confidence, have fun, volunteer, and make new friends! Mountain Bikers fight to protect, expand, and build new trails. The mtb culture has sparked a fire in Johnson City, Erwin, and Hampton. Trek kicked off July with their monthly summer Taco Trek Ride and brought the entire community out to ride the streets together.
Recently, the community came together to fight for The Hampton Watershed trails expansion project, now backed by Carter County. Both the city and county have joined forces on this project, giving the entire community a sense of unity and growth. Brian Keith, who has consistently nurtured and maintained the Hampton trails, has kept the community informed and stoked on how to advocate for the Watershed project. It goes to show how one passionate member of a micro-culture like mountain biking can inspire the entire community leading to growth for all.
And check out plans for the Unicoi Mountain Bike Park!
The growth and rejuvenation of Tennessee's downtown areas is exciting and marvelous- there's no other way to put it. Jerome Bowers, owner of Crystal Raven in Downtown Jonesborough, discusses the importance of community and how their small business has been backed by locals and tourists alike.
Other areas on the rise: Rogersville, Tenn.
Our region, specifically in Johnson City, has become home to a very special group of out-of-the-box thinkers. Founders Forge helps startups along their entrepreneurial journey within the community. They provide coaching, workshops, and a supportive group of independent thinkers who have come together to bring new ideas to The Appalachian Highlands. David Nelson and his team of giants, fight for the underdog and provide a safe space to idea pitch and "run with it." Founders Forge hosts the annual Pitchers and Pitches event (the region's largest open pitch competition event), where aspiring entrepreneurs come out to the local ball field to pitch their ideas for prizes and potential investors.
FytFeed, founded by JC locals Dennis Ashford and Katie Houston, has a vision to "Make the world active through community." They are building the FytFeed platform to promote healthy living based around an encouraging community. Follow their Instagram page here to stay up to date on the official release of the FytFeed app, where friendly competition is encouraged! #ynot
Our community is growing! To promote the outdoors our region has to offer, don't forget the annual Meet the Mountains Festival is right around the corner. If you're interested in volunteering, you can sign up here.
Adventure Pickle Promotes adventure & conservation news! Send us a message about how you or your business is making the world a better place.
Traveler. Writer. Mom.