Thursday, September 2, 2010


Alright folks, I know we left you hanging…  well, not literally, but figuratively…

Gosh, February was the last time we wrote anything, man.  We suck.  Well, here goes, a blog to catch you all up on what we’ve been up to these past 6 months.  Dang, that’s as long as we were on the road.  Ok, there’s your first clue.  We haven’t been stationary for 6 months, but we were on the road for 6 months.

After Hendersonville… I think we went to Chattanooga again and went climbing, and then we headed up to NH for a few weeks.  In NH we climbed at Rumney (Kevin had been raving about it for so long, I finally got to see it!), we went backpacking in the Belknap range with Kev’s brother and his girlfriend which was super fun!  And Kev and I climbed up Mt. Monadnock, very snowy and icy and muddy.

Friday, February 19, 2010

NC or TN?

By Emily

We are now in Flat Rock, NC which is near Henderson which is near Asheville, NC!  Woo Hoo!  We are staying in the cutest little cottage that has a stove, and oven, and microwave, fridge, wireless internet, queen bed, and a screened in porch, though I don’t know how much the screened in porch will get used, it’s pretty chilly here.  It’s supposed to reach 50 tomorrow if we’re lucky. 

Tomorrow Kevin starts his WFR course, and I begin exploring Asheville!  Well, I’ll probably begin exploring Sunday by going to the UU church for services, but who’s keeping track anyway?  I have books to read, blogs to write, and an interview to prepare for.

That’s right, an interview.  Kevin had an interview on Thursday for this job in Knoxville that he really wants.  If he gets it, and gets into the graduate school program at University of Tennessee, Knoxville then we’re moving to Knoxville for sure in July.  If he doesn’t get it, then we’ll see what happens, but we’re super optimistic right now.  His interview went well, and when he suggested coming to visit the campus, they agreed.  Then, after he sent a “thank you for the interview” e-mail they wrote back saying that March 2nd from 10-2 would be a good time to come and visit.  YAY!  These are good things!  Now, all he has to do is get accepted into grad school, which shouldn’t be hard, since he’s amazing.  Speaking of amazing, he was accepted to the NOLS Professional Instructor Course in May!

As for my interview, it’s on Tuesday, and it’s for this company called The Institute of Reading, and I’m super stoked!  I’ll do some more prep work on Monday to make sure that I’m completely ready, but I have confidence that I’ll do well.  If I get this job I will need to be in Atlanta, GA for a few days in May, and then in Knoxville by June 2nd.  Not bad.

So things are good, we have lots of irons in the fire, and things are looking up.  We’re thinking that we’ll go climbing in Chattanooga next week.  My ankle is almost completely healed thanks to the amazing, talented and wonderful Elena at Yoga Central in Atlanta.  I am hooked on Yoga!  I expect this week to be full of exploring, reading, painting and writing with some Yoga thrown in for good measure.  If anyone knows of a studio in Asheville or Hendersonville that will give a good deal someone in town for a week, leave a comment!

After Chattanooga?  Well, I’m going to leave you all hanging on that one.  Will write again soon.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

What's Next?

By Emily

The Grand Adventure.  That’s what we’ve been calling this trip for a while now.  And what an adventure it’s been.  We are now in Atlanta, GA.  What’s that you say?  How did we get here?  Well my friends, that’s the story, is it not?

While hanging out in Huntington Beach and then San Diego we had a look at our dwindling finances.  We decided that we needed to settle down for a few months and make some money.  Then I sprained my ankle our first day in San Diego visiting friends.  Thankfully they were amazingly supportive and had ice readily available at their house, as well as reading material and pillows for my foot.

So, while I was recovering enough to travel we looked at our options.  We chose Tucson, AZ.  Then we chose Phoenix, AZ.  Then we got to Phoenix and decided not to stay at all but to continue on our Grand Adventure eastward.  As you can see we change our minds a lot. 

I think it’s interesting that changing one’s mind often is viewed as “wishy-washy”, viewed in a negative way.  When we thought about settling down somewhere we thought about Tucson, but after looking at the area we felt that Phoenix might better fit our needs.  And when we got to Phoenix, it just didn’t feel right.  It felt… desolate to us.  We just didn’t feel that this was a place we could call home for any length of time.  So, after a drive out to the desert and a long talk, we decided to move on.  I think that changing one’s mind when new information is presented is a good thing.  Sticking to one’s guns is also good…. It’s hard to know when to do which one, that’s for sure.

So, we continued on our Grand Adventure.  A stop in Rockwall, TX just outside of Dallas to see my best friend from college was very rewarding and eye opening.  I had not seen her since our wedding, and it was wonderful to be a part of her life for a few days.  To hear about her recent “Grand Adventure” to trade stories and share lives.  And then it was time to move on, to head to Atlanta to see my sister, my niece, my brother-in-law, and as I found out the day before we left, my mother.

We’ve been in Atlanta for five days now.  Three of them were with my mom here.  It is wonderful to be near my sister again.  I used to live 10 minutes away by bike in California, and have been five hours away by plane for the last two and a half years.  I am glad to be around, to see my niece, and to be a part of their lives.  We are here until the 19th of February, and then we head to Ashville, NC for Kevin’s WFR course, and to see where the course of our lives will bring us.  We are once again discussing our options, trying to figure out where we will be for the summer, trying to weigh the options and see what makes sense for us, both short term and long term. This is not an easy decision, and I’m sure that our plans will change many times in the next month or so based on new information received, and new towns experienced.  Wish us luck!

Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Short One With More to Come

By Emily

Our journey continues.  After much mussing and false starts we continue on our journey.  We are finding ways to recharge along they way.  Meeting old friends and new.  Huntington Beach was fun, catching up with an old friend and eating lots of delicious vegan food.  It was also expensive. 

It’s interesting how imbedded money is in our society.  The idea of barter is all but lost.  Last night we stayed with a man who we had only met the day before. He was generous and trusting, qualities that we find so rarely it seems.  He was ready and willing to invite us into his home although we had only just met they day before. Many first thoughts upon reading those last few sentences would be “What kind of person invites people into their home and then goes out for the evening leaving the new people in their home unsupervised? He must not be to bright.”  Or “What are you guys thinking staying with someone you don’t know?!”  It’s interesting.  In exchange for a place to stay and a dip in his Jacuzzi, Kevin gave him a guitar lesson this morning.  Mutually beneficial trade.  And money is a way of trade too, we get money for the services we perform and we give that money to others in order to obtain other goods or services.  

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

The Last Few Leisure Days...

Hello Blog Readers!

Emily and I have been busy busy busy the last few month or so.  I haven't written about anything since we were in Bishop!  Here's a little taste of what we've been up to.  I find it a bit ironic that here we are "taking a break" yet having such a full Itinerary!  All said and done it's been great living each day with my wife, our friends and family, getting closer, and experiencing new and different days each and every day.  Enjoy!

12/16 Sky Camp Take One.  We finally left Sacramento after 3 weeks of truck fixing enjoyment (it drives well however the thermostat is not doing it’s job quite right) and gracious understanding hospitality from our now better friends Dee and Ron.  We arrived at Point Reyes National Seashore just after dark, picked up our backcountry permits, ate dinner and hiked off into the dark foggy forest to find our campsite.  This hike starts with a mountain lion habitat warning sign and then enters thickly forested, mossy woods.  The fog makes for a 20 foot or less visibility by our headlamps.  It’s hot and wet hiking up hill.  A number of times we find that just beyond the trail there are one or more sets of reflective eyes staring us down.  Most likely deer we speculate and continue hiking… We make camp, stick our food in the food locker and go directly to bed. 

12/17 Sky Camp Take Two.  After last nights seeming epic hike Em is hesitant to inform me upon waking up that she is enjoying some lovely conjunctivitis.  We decide to hike back to the ranger station and ask about medical services.  The hike down is much different in the daytime and without the fog.  We enjoy beautiful forest and views of near distant beaches as well as our first slug sighting as we hike out. Luckily Point Reyes Station (A really nice little town) is about 5 miles away and has a clinic.  We take the truck there make an appointment, read the newspaper, have some coffee and make arrangements for a thermostat transplant in the truck.  One prescription, a bike shuttle and a few hours later we’re back on the trail to Sky Camp.  This take is a keeper.

12/18 Wildcat Camp.  The hike from Sky Camp to Wild Cat Camp is about 8 miles mostly through thick forest.  We were tired from the events of the last two days and excited to get to our camp and rest.  Upon arriving at Wild Cat Camp we were greeted by 7 or so extremely habituated deer grazing in our site (it could be argued that it was also and primarily their site).  Tired as we were, we could not resist the draw of a walk on the sandy beach that stretched south about 100 yards from our campsite.  Instead of resting we enthusiastically explored the seaside for another two miles there and back and were rewarded with a spectacular waterfall!  Back at camp we made Soleil backcountry culinary history with our first ever, CAMP STOVE PIZZA!  Fresh baked bread, pepper jack and sauce… God bless the fry bake!  12/18/09 was an excellent day. 

12/19 Coast Camp.  Unfortunately when backpacking in national parks, users are required to preregister and pay for campsites in advance.  This means that when you have a long day hiking to an amazing beach campsite and are tired and want to have a rest day… Nope.  Bad news.  You signed up for another campsite for the next night 8 miles up the coast…  Good news.  It’s a beautiful hike alone soaring cliffs by the seaside.  We reluctantly enjoyed ourselves as we delightfully dragged along.  It was as if we were in the mood for a bagel and were presented with a banquet!

12/20 Pt. Reyes Campground (See Showers Blog).  Unfortunately/fortunately again we are scheduled to leave before we feel ready.  A morning walk down the beach and some tide pool exploration before hiking up and out back to civilized life.  As we hiked out, our three-day sunny streak was broken by rain, fog, clouds and wind.  The sunny open woods transformed once again into a verdant fog enveloped rainforest.  20 slug sightings later we arrived at the ranger station.  Emily browsed the museum as I rode my bike through the rain to Point Reyes Station in my boots shorts and raincoat to a presumably re-fixed truck.  Indeed it was fixed.  I picked Em up and we found a campground with some showers.  Made dinner in the rain and slept in a very leaky truck…

12/21 The Day We Decided to Drive More.  We made a quick visit to Bolinas, CA to see what it was all about, visit to the library and a short walk on the beach before deciding to be in Portland OR for Christmas.  Begin Driving.  We took California 1 from Stinson Beach, CA to Stillwater Cove Regional Park, CA.  This would be an excellent highway to film a high-speed car chase on twisty cliff lined roads high above the sea.  Toonces look out! 

12/22 Driving.   Stillwater Cove Regional Park, CA to Trinidad, CA. Mostly burning fossil fuel between stops at various health food stores.  The 1 next to the coast is amazing.  The 1 through the mountains from Hardy to Leggett is sickening.  We passed a sign that had a car and squiggles and stated this would last the next 22 miles.  We spent what seemed like the next 2 hours in third gear experiencing a road that was most likely designed and built based on instruction from a bowl of spaghetti.  We ended the day in a private campground in Trinidad sleeping on a blanket of needles, surrounded by evergreens towering around us. 

12/23 Driving. Trinidad, CA to Portland, OR.  We made our way up the coast, and through the redwood forest, stopping at various points of interest mostly beaches with fun looking rocks to climb and then B lined it to Portland, OR on the interstate thoroughly sick of being in the car.  We met up with my brother Chris at his job site, a house in the middle of a remodel.  We set up in the street out side and did some dueling camp stoves pasta for dinner.  That night we slept in Portland, in the back of the truck, parked on a side street next to the highway.  This was the most emotionally uncomfortable I had been thus far on our trip so far. 

12/24 Twas the night before… VEGAN DONUTS!  We woke up in the morning and quickly left our curbside campsite.  We enjoyed some fine animal free pastries and blogged a bit.  We ran errands and headed out to the coast again to camp next to the beach.  We made sushi on our camp stoves, enjoyed a campfire and took moonlit walk on the beach.  We had a relaxing, quiet Christmas Eve in the tsunami hazard zone.

12/25 Take Your Shirt off!  It’s Christmas!  We hiked with brother Chris at Cape Lookout State Park.  Shirts off in the sun!  This was about a 4 mile round trip hike that took us 2 miles out into the ocean.  Whale watching is a popular pass time of this elevated, craggy, peninsula, most everyone we saw had binoculars, but no one had seen any.  Chris and I climbed down the cliffs to where the ocean meets the land found a massive sea cave that extended into the dark under the Island.  Then we drove up the coast to watch the sun set at Short Sands, one of Chris’s favorite surf spots.

12/26 Saddle Mountain and a Long Awaited Rest.  Saddle Mountain is located up 7 miles of twisty mountain road and two miles up a steep, erosion protected, guard railed fenced trail.  The trail up goes through thick forest and blow downs to exposed cliff sides with amazing views of the Pacific Ocean, Colombia River, Mt. Rainer, Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams, Mt. Hood and much of northwest Oregon and Southwest Washington.  We returned to Portland to house sit at one of Chris’ friend’s apartments.  Showers! 

12/27 Bowling, Beer and Burritos.  We did other stuff but I’m not telling.  It’s nice to take a rest day.

12/28 Waterfall Bonus Bonanza Day!  Chris, Emily and I went up into the Colombia river gorge and went on some short day hikes to check out some waterfalls.  The combination of flowing and falling water mixed with the recent inch or so of snow, forming icicles and neon green moss on black volcanic cliffs made for a magnificent scene of whites, greens, blacks and grays.  We made it a short day.  Upon our return Chris helped me weatherproof the truck to the rain.  New weather stripping and calk for the camper shell. 

12/29 Big plans get slimmed down by bad weather or A rare weather event and the Snow Man Extravaganza!  Instead of going on an epic hike in the rain/snow/wind/fog Chris and I spent the day doing city stuff while Em met up with a friend downtown.  Map, book and outdoor gear stores.  Powell’s books, in Portland is excellent.  It’s like Barns and Noble meets used bookshop, meets library of congress.  Chris and I had a slack line session that ended when it started snowing.  We went downtown to meet up with Emily and stopped by Voodoo Donuts on the East side where Chris and I played what seemed like endless games of Super Chexx (bubble hockey) on a seemingly malfunctioning game machine for only a dollar. 
When we returned to the house for the night Emily took up some painting and Chris and I went out to enjoy the snow.  We built snowmen that ranged from 2 feet tall to 15 feet long (dead snow man on it’s side).  We threw snowballs with other like-minded folks and enjoyed feeling like kids for a while.

12/30 The Revenge of a Day on the Town.  I went to Powell’s with Em, looked at some more books.  We did some computing to determine our finances.  We’ll be starting our pledge drive in January… We enjoyed a last night in Portland with Chris shooting some pool and attending a screening of “Zombieland”.  I really like that most of the things we did in town in Portland could be reached by bicycle or foot.  

12/31 Driving the “We want to get there now way”.  We drove from Portland south on Interstate 5 through the rain until we arrived in warmer dryer weather in central California.  We spent New Years Eve sleeping in our truck at a highway rest stop.  Yet another atypical holiday for the Soleils. 

1/01 Arriving ASAP in OC.  We woke up made some coffee and cereal and jumped back in the truck.  Highlights include garlic pistachios from a roadside farm stand, driving past lush orange groves adjunct to dry desert farm plots, and getting there!  We arrived at our friend Tammy’s place around 9PM after a solid 2 days of internal combustion.  The girls talked late into the night catching up and reminiscing about days of old.  Me and I settled into our latest temporary home on the floor of the living room next to the fake Christmas tree.  It was good to be at our next base camp so to speak. 

1/02 Begin Vegan tour de O.C. Irvine Farmers Market, Avocado Cilantro Humus, watch some surfers on the beach and Dinner at the Wheel of Life vegan Thai restaurant.  High of 75 Low 52.  According to my lovely wife, this is what winter is supposed to be.  Whild I don’t necessarily agree, I certainly don’t mind.

1/03 Writing day 1. Tammy and Emily go shopping, Kevin writes and reflects, and Kevin and Emily go for a date night.  Dinner at AuLac, vegan Asian food once again.  Excellent!  We took a walk on the beach and saw a movie  “Broken Embraces”.  It was really great to pretend that we had a “normal” life for the night and enjoy the warm weather. 

1/04 Getting down to business/ the options are endless…  I took an administrative day working on applying to NOLS, revising my resume, registered for a Wilderness First Responder Course, reading job postings and contemplating whether or not to attend an advanced canyoneering course.  Going back to work sounds fun…

1/05 Tammy’s Day off… Swimming in the Ocean!  Balboa Beach Climbing on the Rocks!  Pirates Cove, Corona Del Mar*.  Watching on the TV Screen!  Cloudy with a chance of Meat Balls. Dancing to the Music!  Heat Ultra Lounge.  Eating all the Food!  Hodori in L.A. (Significantly better than sardines).  Driving all the Freeways!  405, 110, 91, *Kevin and Emily Only.

1/06 Writing Day. I sat on my butt ALL DAY recovering from staying out until 5AM last night and wrote this blog.  Hope you enjoyed it.  

Monday, December 21, 2009


By Emily

Today was the shortest day of the year.  Everything is wet.  Last night we spent in Olema at an RV park with showers… SHOWERS! 

Until now I’ve backpacked mostly in dry climates.  There was a week that I backpacked in Washington for my NOLS course, but it was usually only storming in the afternoon and then was mostly sunny the rest of the time, so things had a chance to get dry.  At Point Reyes, everything stays pretty wet.  It sort of gets dry during the day, but the way we planned our trip due to my conjunctivitis incident, we had 6-8 mile days every day.  Which, if you wake up at 8:30am, have breakfast while thing are drying out in the scant sunshine and then pack up and get going by 11:00am you end up hiking until sunset.  Which when you’re approaching the shortest day of the year, comes pretty quickly.  Then when you get into your bag at night after sweating all day with no hot dry desert wind to suck away the stinky sweat before it has a chance to fully permeate your clothing, you get pretty stinky.  I don’t think I’ve ever been smellier than at the end of this four day trip.  And most of the trips I’ve been on have been 8 day trips!  I guess I’ve been spoiled with dry desert backpacking.

So now, back to the story.  We spent last night in Olema at an RV campsite with “free” showers.  When I say “free” I mean showers are included in the campsite fee of $30 to sleep in a truck and make dinner under a tarp set up between a tree, your truck and trekking poles.  I’m not sure I’d exactly call the shower’s “free”.  Let’s just say they were included.  So we showered, and had all the hot water one could ask for.  Blissfull hot water to wash away the stink built up over 4 days of trekking around the coast by the ocean.  We made burrito’s and climbed into our leaky truck.  That’s right, I said leaky.  Apparently the shell we put on the back of our truck is not so waterproof.  And as we learned last night, even if it was waterproof, we’d have to keep most of the windows shut due to the slant of the sides of the shell which means that all the windows get fogged up and we’re wet anyway.  Lame.  So now we’re in Stillwater Cove Regional Park campground with a wet mad pad, wet platform, probably wet climbing gear (which isn’t so bad really), and wet backpacks.  Basically everything is wet.  And we’re heading to Portland, OR which ironically is supposed to be dry this coming weekend to spend Christmas with Kevin’s brother Chris.  Pray for DRY!

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tuition to the School of Hard Knocks

By Emily

Conjunctivitis, an annoying infection of the eye.  The Wilderness Medicine Institute (WMI) Guide to Wilderness Medicine does not address this particular malady.  Thankfully, I know what it is.  Basically anyway.  It is a bacterial infection where they eye secretes a puss that crusts up while you sleep making it difficult to open one’s eye(s) in the morning.  In serious cases it is impossible to open the eye(s) without first softening the crust with a wet cloth.  Yuck.

Last night we hiked about 2.5 miles in the dark to get to our campsite here in Point Reyes National Seashore.  Today we hiked back out because of  a crusty eye and the need for antibiotics.  I don’t know what would happen if we left it alone, would the infection spread to the other eye?  Would it get worse in both eyes so that I couldn’t open them at all?  Would it infect more parts of my eye, slowly taking my vision?  Maybe.  And maybe not.  Maybe it would’ve been just fine and we didn’t really need to hike to Point Reyes Station to go to a clinic to see a doctor who diagnoses what I already know and writes a prescription for what I need to cure it.  But in this case, better safe than sorry, right?

It seems like since we left Bishop, CA it’s been one catastrophe after another.  Ok, maybe catastrophe is an overstatement, but it’s definitely not been easy so far.  First overheating, then a new/used engine, then another new/used engine, then 5 full days of sickness, weird engine stuff while driving the truck with its new/used engine, conjunctivitis, thermostat replacement… what’s next?  And what’s all this supposed to be teaching us?  I believe that things happen for a reason.  We don’t always know what that reason is, but often I think hardships, things not going the way you think they will or how you want them to, these moments are meant to teach us something.

When I was younger and I made mistakes that cost me money my mother would say it was “tuition to the school of hard knocks”.  I still believe this.  I always learned something then, to read the fine print, to walk carefully, to get enough sleep, to watch out for really big trucks when driving my little Miata.  Sometimes the “payment” to the school of hard knocks isn’t money, it’s time, or a sense of security, or a bad grade, or even a lost friendship.  It’s hard when things are going poorly to keep a positive outlook on life, to see the silver lining, or to think about what lesson you can learn from this latest “catastrophe”.  And even that may be a lesson in itself.  To give in to that despair costs happiness, and that too can perhaps teach us something.  That too, I believe happens for a reason.