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why you should just pack up and go.

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As a culture we plan far too much. Our calendars are so full of appointments, meetings, workouts, deadlines, and coffee dates that if we lost them we wouldn’t know where to turn. My life in college was a prime example. I was in so many groups, had so many jobs, and juggled so many assignments that I sometimes felt like a robot, trudging through my calendar and to-do list without thought.

The road trip was a big, dramatic way for me to turn this around; it was a huge success. We crossed the country without a plan. No deadline, no itinerary, no destination. Just each other, a general direction, all materials we might need, and an atlas. The result of this approach was that we never felt rushed, we were able to thoroughly enjoy the places and moments we loved and rush through those that weren’t jiving so well. The lessons I gained from these experiences have transferred into my stationary life – I’m more flexible, spontaneous, and present than before. I hope my “How to Travel Spontaneously” tips can help your next adventure provide you with the same.

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dear minimalism: can I have my home back?

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Back in March I wrote this post about minimalism. I told you that “stuff is just stuff” and that “as a culture we’re drowning in the chaos of our material lives, in our anxiety about getting rid of anything we might possibly regret.”

Then, a few days later, I took a step back and revised my original statement in this post. I argued that not all stuff is just stuff. A lot of material goods are useful to have (like tools, kitchen supplies, etc). I decided that if even if I’m moving towards a minimalist lifestyle I shouldn’t feel guilty about keeping items that I actually use on a regular basis.

When I minimized my life last spring I was preparing to move across the country. Everything had to go that wasn’t a necessity, there simply wasn’t space for anything frivolous. I won’t lie – it felt really great. I felt all the feelings that minimalist spokespersons tell us we’ll feel – liberated, less stressed, calmer, etc.

But then I moved into my new apartment last month and unpacked. Now I take back something I said in my first post about minimalism. I claimed that “For the record: I’ve never regretted getting rid of anything.” That’s no longer true.

I miss a lot of the useless stuff I left behind. 

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tour de farms.

Once I overcame the annoyance of constantly avoiding other bikers, the Tour de Farms was extremely enjoyable. Saturday morning I rode 25 miles with dozens of other Durango locals to tour small farms in the Animas Valley (David was going to join me but he decided to go get 6th place at the Silverton Alpine 50k instead, without training I should add). The annual event is hosted and coordinated by The Garden Project of Southwest Colorado and the Colorado State University Extension.

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Lined up outside the Smiley Building.

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how to make moving less formidable.

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The door closed behind my boyfriend. Then, suddenly, it was that moment. My stomach dropped into my shoes, my heart started racing, my head started spinning. I collapsed onto the couch and started sobbing uncontrollably. It was the moment I had been dreading, the moment when a single thought crossed my mind and sent me over the edge: What if we’ve made a terrible mistake?

I’m horrible with transitions, I always have been. The beginning of every semester of college was a nightmare for me. I don’t know why I thought moving across the country would be any easier. This moment was inevitable.

After college David and I lived in our little college town and worked jobs that were just okay in a place that was losing its glamour for us. We had really bad wanderlust. So we made a plan. In the spring we’d quit our jobs, get rid of all of our stuff, and drive west until we found a town we fell in love with. We did all of those things. After two and a half months on the road we found ourselves in a sublet in Durango, CO.

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what I know about the Animas disaster.

For the last month and a half I’ve had the privilege to work for the Animas River Wetlands – a certified wetlands project just outside central Durango. The project is converting old hay fields back to their previous wetland state, filtering water for the Animas River that runs through downtown Durango. The Animas is a hot spot for Durango tourism and is held dearly in the hearts of those who live here.

If you recognize the name of the river that’s probably because you heard it on last night’s news, or the night before that. A week ago today the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) accidentally released 3 million gallons of mine water from the old 1800s Gold King Mine upstream in Silverton, CO. Thursday night that water reached Durango, turning the town’s beloved river a brilliant gold color and causing chaos.

Animas River

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biking always terrified me.

Confession time.

Biking always terrified me. The fear was born at the beginning – I didn’t learn how to bike until I was seven years old, which to me was always horrifically embarrassing. I got my first nice bike when I was around ten from LL Bean, I loved it (dude, it was pink) but I didn’t really have anywhere to ride it. I lived out in the country surrounded by a combination of dirt roads perfect for my brothers’ BMX bikes and paved roads full of crazy traffic that I wasn’t allowed on. So I rarely rode. I quickly grew out of that bike and I never got a new one.

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Where were these awesome balance bikes when I was a kid?!

My first week in college I realized that Dickinson had a bike rental program. Awesome! Especially since I didn’t have a car. My new roommate and I decided to take a ride to Walmart with a new friend to get some decorations for our room. I forgot that it had been nearly a decade since I’d pedaled anything. The second I swung on to the crappy rental I realized how awkward I felt. I completely wiped out on the way there. That’s probably on the list of my life’s most embarrassing moments.

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affording “real food” might take some work.

Not all food is actually food. Most of the stuff we can buy in the grocery store is chemically designed, processed, and manufactured. In Defense of Food is Pollan’s argument against this type of consumption, describing the reasons why processed food should be avoided and laying guidelines for a healthier diet. The guidelines were the main reason I read the book – I wanted the facts behind what I already believed was a healthier way to eat. Pollan’s simple manifesto? –  “Eat Food, Not Too Much, Mostly Plants.”

You’re better off eating whole fresh foods rather than processed food products. That’s what I mean by the recommendation to ‘eat food,’ which is not quite as simple as it sounds. For while it used to be that food was all you could eat, today there are thousands of other edible food-like substances in the supermarket.

– Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food

But Pollan’s “diet” could not have been sustained a few decades ago. He admits that “There would have been no way to eat the way I propose without going back to the land and growing your own food. It would have been the manifesto of a crackpot.” But that’s beauty of living today. We have choices. Almost every town, or at least county, has a farmers market – and they’re growing in numbers every year. More small farms are in this country than there have been for decades. The “real food” is there. We have the option to eat it. And if you know anything about the benefits of this type of eating for your health and the environment then you would be crazy not to.

Except for money. 

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the “utilities” problem.

I’ve never paid a utilities bill. I’ve paid a lot of tuition, loan, and insurance bills – but never water, electric, gas, etc. Since I started living in apartments in college I’ve always lived where rent “includes utilities.” Sounds awesome, right? In college it makes a lot of sense, landlords want to avoid stupid college kids avoiding utility bills and causing them lots of problems, so they rack up the monthly rate and pay the utilities themselves. This is great… for the landlords.

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Current sublet, isn’t it cute! We have a fence, a yard, and everything.

Currently, David and I are subletting from a guy on vacation (unfortunately it’s more like house sitting but we actually have to pay… oh well). At the moment, we’re searching for a longer term apartment for August 1st. While looking around Durango for an apartment David and I find ourselves debating the “utilities problem” a lot. Rent that includes utilities can make an apartment look more pleasing, but in reality I don’t think it’s helpful. 

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2015 Road Trip:

 

    nat’l park photos – because you asked ;)

    I’ve gotten numerous requests for photos of the trip, the rest are scattered through out my posts, but here are the best photos from Utah parks!

    Grand Canyon:
    (Two pictures… because it’s all one view…)

    Zion National Park:
    (Most from the West Rim trail, because that was my favorite of the whole trip)

    Bryce Canyon National Park:
    Check out those colors. #NoFilter

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