It has been a while, and now that we are just three weeks away from our next cycle tour (a three-month honeymoon through New Zealand!) I’ve decided to catch those of you who are interested up as we have received quite a few emails asking why its been so quiet on our end.
This past year – in particular, these past six months – have turned into some of the best times for us as we have both been able to pursue our dream jobs. Kevin got on with a Forest Service repel crew (in Eastern Oregon) so he spent the summer repelling out of helicopters all over the US in order to fight wildland forest fires.
I got a job working in wilderness therapy which means that for eight days and nights at a time (with six days off in between) I get to live outside with teenagers who are sent to the program to learn healthy communication and coping skills after substantial self-harm, drug/alcohol abuse, or other unhealthy coping mechanisms that they have used to deal with underlying mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and ADHD. I absolutely love the job; I love the people I work with, the environment we create out there, the six-day off shifts that leave enough time for my own personal adventures, and the fact that I get to cook over a real fire, poop in the woods, and sleep under a tarp more days than I have to sleep in a bed.
Here are two photos of “staff town” – one in the snow and one from earlier in the season – which are the tarps that the staff sleep under. (In the snowy picture you can also see some of the student tarps.) Though the desert (our field area for most of the year besides the summer when we move to a forest) has never been my favorite, I have learned to appreciate the sunsets and sunrises out there just like I use to appreciate them wherever we were cycle touring.
The downside to our jobs was that they were located in different parts of the state – 7 hours away to be exact – so Kevin and I only saw each other a handful of times during a six-month period. Though we don’t plan on making long distance a habit, we both made the best of the situation and were able to pursue other things that we love in the meanwhile. Kevin got to go fishing (including a multi-night rafting trip down the Snake where he caught a GIANT salmon) and I discovered trail running.
After running my first marathon in April (without training) I began trail running and have since fallen in love with it. Central Oregon has hundreds upon hundreds of amazing single track trails throughout the mountains and beside beautiful rivers and lakes, and I have found that trail running is an amazing way to begin exploring them. I have also found that since I started trail running I have been considerably more happy and “satisfied” with my life – it has definitely helped with my antsiness which can get in the way when I am living in one place. I ran my first 50km race a few days ago (the very muddy photos are from that race)!
A few other highlights from this summer included a backpacking trip (with Kevin!) in the Eagle Caps – a beautiful set of mountains we are planning to move next to in April after our tour – as well as a fast-paced solo backpacking trip around the sisters (60 miles), a camping trip with my brother in Washington, a trip to Colorado to visit my best friend (and ride horses at her work), and a very rainy backpacking trip around Rainier with that same friend.
All in all, it’s been a year of change for us as we are currently moving for the third time since 2016 began. It’s also been a year that has helped set us up – career wise, location wise, and interest wise – for dreams we plan to pursue upon our return to the States in April. For now though, we are leaving all that behind as we focus on packing up our bikes, downloading maps, and preparing ourselves for three months of bikepacking through New Zealand! See y’all in a few weeks when we are in the southern hemisphere (after I get a new last name!).