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WRITING

Words I put in order. Check out this page for links to more of my writing

Reviewed: Freja

Cy Whitling

Freja

Year: 2006 (but the title says 2007?)

Make: Scion (But the engine says Toyota?)

Model: XA (not the stupid boxy one)

Capacity:

  • 5 adults who really like each other

  • 4 normal adults

  • 3 adults and five pairs of skis

  • 2 adults and 23 pairs of skis

  • 1 adult who can’t find the condo in Whistler and thus has to sleep in his Scion

Price (with salvage title) $2800

I’ve owned five cars in my short life: three trucks, one Subaru, and now, one Scion (pronounced Ski-On), and while each vehicle has had its pros and cons, none of them has proved to be as versatile, as surprising, and as stereotype defying as my current go-to ride, Freja, the Scion. She’s treated me better than any other car I’ve ever entangled myself with, and proven to be a reliable and consistent ride.

While my Instagram fills with friends buying vans, building out tiny homes, and decorating their truck campers, I’m happy with my tiny, efeminate little bug of a car. Here’s why:

Her Story

Before Freja I owned Roxanne, the Subaru Outback. She was beautiful, everything I thought I wanted out of a relationship. I can still remember her smooth curves, her powerful pistons, and her spacious trunk. She only dealt me dirty once, with a red check engine light (her namesake), and an exploded engine in the middle of Montana.

I forgave her, towed her home, and together Jake and I put a new engine in her, making an honest ride of her for the next two years. Then, as I drove to Moscow to see my family for Thanksgiving, speeding through Montana at 80 mph (the legal limit, don’t worry mom), a cow elk shattered our relationship. Literally. I was picking bits of windshield and elk hair out of my beard for a week after. She was totalled, smashed on the side of the road, leaking fluids, and with her last gasps she set me free to find another. I traded her to the tow truck guy for a ride most of the way home and then dove back into the dingy dating scene that is “Cars/Trucks for sale by Owner” on Craigslist.

It wasn’t till after Christmas that I found anything worth pursuing, a Scion XA for sale in Spokane. There were a lot of red flags initially. My texts were responded to with emojis and incomplete sentences. It turned out the car had a salvage title, not mentioned in the ad. First she came with summer tires, then she didn’t. I believed in her though.

My grandfather drove my father, three of my brothers and I up to Spokane to look at her. Her owner was a college aged girl with a thick European accent. She said the car had been totalled twice. Once when her dad hit her mom’s car with it, and again when the oil filter had fallen out on the highway. Everything had been fixed “very nice” she said. I took it for a test drive. Everything felt smooth, the windows all rolled up and down, and the stereo had this cool little plug for an iPod. I talked her down a little, and told her I’d buy it.

It turned out she’d never sold a car before and didn’t know that she needed to bring a title with her. She didn’t have it, so we drove to her house to get it. At her house my grandfather and I were met by the owner’s mother, who spoke no English. At all. She yelled aggressively at us in some language we couldn’t identify until her daughter pushed her into a room, slammed the door, and apologized. Then she disappeared to find the title. She was gone for 20 minutes while we stood awkwardly in her living room, fake tree still up in the corner. My father, waiting in the car assumed we had been kidnapped and tried to figure out what he could use as a weapon if he heard shots.

Eventually it turned out the girl had no title. At all. I was in love though, I wanted that car so badly, it had the little Ipod plug! So she loaded all the parts that had fallen off the car (grill, light, extra window tint) into the back. Then we took off for the DMV. An hour of negotiations later and we were all pretty sure that I owned the car now. I slipped her an envelope of cash, drove her home, and headed to a gas station to buy a cord to plug into that iPod jack. It worked, and better yet, she’d left Taylor Swift’s 1989 in the CD player.

The Name

Freja is the Norse god of fertility, generally portrayed as a very pregnant woman. The Scion has a similar shape, but instead of carrying an immortal wolf that will devour the universe, she’s just got a smelly skier or two and too much gear.

Image

Purists may argue that image shouldn’t matter when purchasing a car, but if that were true, Hummers wouldn’t exist, and TV wouldn’t be full of ads featuring fake families cleaning up their immaculate yards with American-made trucks. My last car, the Subaru, checked the image box perfectly: outdoorsy, practical, utilitarian, capable.

The Scion is a lot more...Sorority Girl. It’s just so cute, so compact, so perfectly proportioned to be filled with homogenous ladies on their way out for a night of clubbing, applying lipstick in the mirror I use to put my contacts in after car camping, blasting Taylor Swift on the stereo I blast Taylor Swift on. It’s the sort of car that would look perfect with those little sea turtle stickers on the back windows. You know the ones, the kind people from Kansas buy on their one trip to Hawaii and then stick on their window. Vans are cool. Trucks are cool. Subarus are cool. Scions are not cool. Yet.

I’m actually a huge fan of the image Freja conveys. Trying to camp incognito in your van, truck, or Subaru? Good luck, your vehicle will out you as a ski bum from a mile away. Not so in the Scion. The same goes for cops. Who would pull over a Scion? And if they do pull me over I can just cry my way out of the ticket, right?

Engine

Freja has a 1.5 Liter engine that has a Toyota logo on it. I like it when engines have a Toyota logo on them, it makes me trust them more.

I don’t like it when the number of liters they have is that small. There are plenty of motorcycles with bigger engines than that. Her 1.5 L engine produces 103 Horsepower. An athletic person can produce 2.5 horsepower. That means 43 people can produce as much power as my car. I’m pretty happy with that number until I try to merge onto the highway. Then it sounds like not enough people. Freja has trouble getting up to speed, she has trouble with a headwind, she has trouble when I carry passengers, she has trouble when I carry my bike. I’ve gotten used to it, she might be slow, she might be sluggish, but at least she’s efficient.

Without a bike rack she gets around 36 miles to the gallon, that’s offset by her 10 gallon tank which limits her range. That’s still a pretty good ratio of burnt dinosaur bones to gas station bathrooms though.

And when it comes to range with the gas light on Freja is unmatched. I’ve pushed her a couple times, drive 23 miles or so praying that a gas station appears, but on our last big trip, the gas light came on 44 miles away from the next town. 44 miles. 44 miles of sweating and praying and turning off the AC and gripping the wheel and drafting behind semis. 44 perfect miles where she never stuttered, never complained, just chugged on like she knew as well as her passengers did that nothing she could say or do would change the predicament we were in, other than just keeping on keeping on. Thank you Freja, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Reliability

Look at this map, it represents just a fraction of the places I’ve driven Freja in the last year and a half. Through it all I’ve had to do exactly one piece of maintenance, I had to replace her brake pads ($30 and half an hour). I change her oil every three thousand miles, I feed her cheap gas, ride her hard, and park her dirty, and in exchange she starts everytime, and goes where I need to be. When she finally fails me I won’t grudge her, she’s been more reliable than I could expect from any car.

An incomplete and inaccurate map of our travels so far.

An incomplete and inaccurate map of our travels so far.

Off Road Capability

You wouldn’t expect Freja to score well here. She’s low to the ground, front wheel drive, with tiny tires. And you’d be both so right, and so wrong. Freja has a hard time in sand. I got her incredibly stuck trying to find a camping spot on Pismo Beach, buried so deep that the bumper came off and I thought I was going to lose her to the tide. And she has a tendency to get high-centered on those banks of snow the snowplow leaves, sometimes forcing me to rock back and forth in my seat to get her unstuck. But in fresh snow she does very well, maintaining momentum uphill and exhibiting an annoying stability that makes drifting and donuts very hard to do.

On rough primitive roads she really comes alive. Her wheelbase is so small and she’s so narrow that it’s easy to dodge gaps and take lines that would devour bigger cars. There’s one road in particular, a terribly rutted, potholed, eroding, tree-rooted, moonscape-esque excuse for a road to a mountain lake that Freja just came into her own on. We were following a Jeep, the kind of Jeep with extra bags and tools and jacks strapped all over the outside, and we stayed right behind it, pushing it, chomping at the bit to pass as the bike rack scraped in and out of pothole after pothole. The Jeep’s driver was not happy that his testosterone fueled, necessarily over-equipped vehicle was being tailgated by a tiny Scion.

Capacity

The distance from the back of the trunk to the position of the shift knob when in “Drive” measures exactly 192 cm. That also happens to be the length of my longest pair of skis. They fit perfectly, and it’s easy to fit three people and their skis inside the car. It’s also possible to fit two people and 23 pairs of skis if, for instance, they were on a ski review trip and needed to get all those skis from Portland to Bend and they didn’t really care about being able to see out the back window. Not that I’ve ever done that, that would be irresponsible.

It’s also possible for a 6’ tall man to sleep in the back of Freja if he folds the seats all the way down and fills the gaps with bike gear. However, I’d only advise this if the man in question is wandering around Whistler, BC with no cell service, and no idea where the condo he’s supposed to be staying in is, and if he’s already knocked on all the doors of all the condos he could find at 2 am.

That Indefinable Quality that Makes a Winner

MJ had it. Greg Minnaar has it. Candide Thovex has it, Alex Honnold has it. Lebron might have it. Freja has it. And not just the lower case ‘it’ either. We’re talking uppercase, super serious, “Is It in you?” “It”. Game winning jumper at the buzzer, “give me the ball because I know I can score”, “I guess I’ll win at Fort William again, give me a GoPro so I can do a double backflip over a helicopter”, “I’ve always wanted to free-solo El Cap.” “It.”

Freja is overflowing with “It.” It’s not the sort of things that can be summed up in stats or miles traveled or cargo capacity. No, it’s every time she starts up after I forgot to turn the lights off. It’s every time she powers through instead of getting stuck. Every time the fuel light comes on and she keeps chugging. Every time the AC blasts cold in the desert. Every time I load her down with gear and toys and take off for a far-off and hard-to-access destination. Every weekend on the road, every run to the grocery store, every song on the radio, every twitch of the wheel. Freja has it, sorority girl exterior and all.

Conclusion

So, would I do it, would I buy her again? Would I brave the language barrier, the lack of title, the never ending effeminate car jokes of my friends and relations, the lack of cargo space, the lack of cool image? Was it worth it for four wheels, a tiny engine and a Ipod jack? Yes. Unequivocally, without the shadow of a doubt, without a glimpse of hesitation, I’d do it all again in a heartbeat. And even though my heart is straying, even though I own a truck too now, Freja will always have a special place in my soul.

 

Touchy Feely Teton Touring

Cy Whitling

I started getting all touchy-feely about touring in the Tetons last week about half way up the Glory bootpack. I’d woken up less than an hour before, skis already in a the car from a failed mission the day before, driven through Driggs, Victor, up the pass. I was on my own, I wanted to sweat out my problems on the bootpack more than I cared about the usual shared experience of backcountry skiing.

A photo from this one time that I actually skied Glory with other people.

A photo from this one time that I actually skied Glory with other people.

I stopped at the billboard to rest for a second, leaning into my poles and staring to my right at the mist shrouding the valley, sparkling all the way to the Gros Ventures. On my left I imagined I could almost pick out the bend in the road where my house sat. No smoke over there yet, that’s a good sign, I was worried I’d overstoked the fire on my way out.

Two springs ago I climbed this bootpack for the first time in camo duck hunting pants, Full Tilt boots, and a rented beacon. We stopped at the same billboard, sweating and huffing, before dropping down the gut of Glory on my first real backcountry run. It’s funny, but I still overheat and under-breathe on that bootpack two years later. That’s sort of the magic of bootpacking, if it starts feeling easy you can just go faster.

First time touring steeze.

First time touring steeze.

In those two years a lot of my life changed. I left my hometown, moved three times, eventually found myself in Teton Valley with a new job, a new group of friends, a new set of goals. I remember how exotic that first Glory bootpack was, how nervous I felt. Trying to figure out how to A-Frame my skis, unbuckling my boots, terrified to turn when we did drop in. Now I live here, I can wake up on any given morning, drive 20 minutes, run up this thing, ski a few thousand feet and get back well in time for work.

It’s a backup lap now, something to ski when I don’t have much time and I just want to drown my problems in the catharsis of simple exertion. Even though that bootpack is lined with dog poop and gets tracked out incredibly fast there’s a lot to be thankful for.

I topped out, clicked on my skis and dropped in. Icy hop turns on too-light carbon skis with too-light bindings. Chundery double eject to a long slide with both skis whipping on their leashes. When I finally stopped I sat in the tracked out ice and laughed at the sunrise.

Two days later I was in the same parking lot but headed south this time, up to Edelweiss. Sliding up the access road I remembered my first day on skins on this same road. Dodging wind drifts, trying to figure out my risers, warily watching the rest of the group as I tried to figure out kick turns. Now it’s a breeze, chatting and laughing through the waves of snow. The main bowl was tracked out, moguled like something at a resort, but the secondary bowl skier’s right of the skin track was still pretty fresh. Soft turns, popping off rollers, mellow terrain that would have blown my mind two years ago and still draws a grin on my face.

My backyard is sparkly.

My backyard is sparkly.

Two years ago I learned that skis are a most pleasurable means of mountain transportation, now though I use them like an exercise bike too, making myself wake up early and tour just to stay in shape, stay sharp, stay happy.

But all that pumping metaphorical iron isn’t just so that I can shave a couple seconds off the Glory bootpack. Instead it pays off when the skin track gets long and bushy.

That’s exactly what happened yesterday.

I tagged along with Dan and Mark (all appropriately clad in collared shirts) on Saturday to ski a couloir off Housetop. We skinned fast from the parking lot, made the yurt in just under two hours and then ran the ridgeline out to where the couloir should have been. We found a giant curling wave of a cornice, majestic in its instability, so we pushed on through the low visibility, maybe the line we were looking for dropped in one shot further along.

Rip Curl Hang Ten Shaka Brah

Rip Curl Hang Ten Shaka Brah

We poked a little further along and found something promising. The entrance was steep and mostly corniced so Mark probed for dirt and we tried to figure out how to get into this thing. The cornice was too solid and too big to cut, but Dan figured out a down-climb and got in beside it, trying to cut a chunk off with his board. He shaved and whacked the cornice but that thing wasn’t going anywhere, which made us feel much better about dropping in. Downclimb to the safe zone, glad I brought a whippet, and click in.

"Can we get in here?"

"Can we get in here?"

"How about here?"

"How about here?"

"Maybe next time we'll bring a rope."

"Maybe next time we'll bring a rope."

Always thought the board was supposed to go on your feet?

Always thought the board was supposed to go on your feet?

The visibility had gone downhill all day, and Dan dropped into the grey first. He popped down to the next safe zone and hollered back up. The choke didn’t go, there was some sort of mandatory cliff to drop, but low vis meant it was impossible to tell how big it was.

Hawt splitboard action.

Hawt splitboard action.

We dropped down to him, chucking snowballs trying to figure out if this thing was 30 feet tall or 3. Time for a council of war. A look back at the picture from last spring of this zone revealed that after the first pinch everything should be easy going. More scoping, more trying to figure out how big this cliff was. If we dropped it there would be no climbing back up out of the line.

"Anybody see where that snowball went?"

"Anybody see where that snowball went?"

More discussion before we agreed, might as well drop this thing. Mark sent it first, hoping it was small but prepared to suck up a big drop. He stomped it, turned out to safety. It was small, only around 10 feet. Dan cleared it nicely, slapped and got out of the way. I sideslipped in too far, trying to scope the rocky lip. The gut was scraped out now and there were sharks everywhere. Finally I slid into a turn and committed, too close to the edge to get settled in my stance. I caught a rock on the lip and flailed out. Lost a ski and a pole on impact and tumbled twice before I oriented myself and dug in my whippet, self arrested, and braced for sluff.

Mark making blind hucks look easy.

Mark making blind hucks look easy.

Dan taking flight.

Dan taking flight.

Me doing typical me things.

Me doing typical me things.

Everything settled and I started laughing. I was fine, nothing had slid, and the couloir opened onto the apron below me. Mark brought down my ski and pole and one by one we dropped down to the apron, huge turns in soft snow, punctuated by the occasional chunk of old avy debris.

Dan GTS-ing.

Dan GTS-ing.

Whiskey, Oreos, and Peachy O’s while we waited for the fog to clear so we could see our line. No dice, but we were confident we’d dropped one shot left of where we’d planned to.

What we would have seen if the cloud lifted, according to Mark's recon from last spring.

What we would have seen if the cloud lifted, according to Mark's recon from last spring.

A little sidehilling took us to another decision point, either wallow back uphill the way we’d come, or drop one more tantalizing shot down to the valley floor and suffer out the creekbed. The promise of untouched snow below us won out so we ripped skins and blasted huge arcs through the trees, party skiing, slashing lips, trying to pop pillows all the way down to the creekbed.

From there it was simple, just a few miles of meandering, following deer tracks across natural bridges over the creek, cutting back and forth to avoid thick brush. I opted to stick low to the creek, twice I had to bail on too-steep banks and toss my skis over the creek before clacking across rounded rocks in my boots. The second time the pillow I was skinning on collapsed into the creek and I stood in the rapidly melting pile of snow, trying to keep all my gear from freezing. Finally we hit the road, downhill skinning to the truck, and beer.

On the way home I was laughing again. Two springs ago I first felt this gurgle of fear fighting confidence in my gut on top of Glory. Yesterday I felt that uneasiness again, that feeling of extra weight. But back then all it took to get that was an hour long hike and some nice sun-warmed snow.

Now the process is so much more enjoyable. Now I get to wander 5 or 6 miles in, dodging bad puns the entire way, before we get to even make our decision on what to ski. Now I get to jump off cliffs in couloirs that I never even could have imagined existed two springs ago. Now I get to skin out long creek beds, bending under the portals of trees bowed by snow. Now I can go home and talk to people who understand why I love getting to do all this stuff, and when I wake up the next morning the Tetons fill my window. A lot to be grateful for indeed.

 

Idaho To Mexico

Cy Whitling

Or: Gimme Another Roll

When Spring Break of my sophomore year of college rolled around I was living with my two best friends in a mobile home trailer we’d bought for seven thousand dollars. How we ended up in that trailer is a long story which involves a dirty trench coat, grow lights, several hundred pounds of trash, burner phones, a too quiet Korean exchange student, a misunderstanding of the mating season for quail, and the unquenchable human desire for freedom and independence, so I’ll save that for another time.

The Mobile Home

The Mobile Home

Jake, Luke and I had been close in highschool, we’d all moved out of our parents’ houses into the trailer at the same time, and while a long winter of not enough firewood and frozen pipes had tested our friendship, we were still eager to get out and see the world.

A Spring Break Trip to Mexico sounds like a bad horror movie that ends with floating body parts drifting ashore in San Diego, but we were optimistic. This was not going to be your typical booze-fueled college party fest. After all, we had very little money, we were planning on hitting as many national parks as possible on the way, we were not going to an area known for its college parties, and we were driving the whole thing in my Subaru, Roxanne.

We were steadfast in our resolve, even as we hit roadblocks. Jake got a girlfriend and things were getting serious, Luke had college basketball tryouts in Seattle. I had nothing better to do though so I pushed hard for the trip, drawing ambitious lines on the map.

The Route

The Route

We truncated the trip to five days to keep girlfriends and potential coaches happy and stole Jake’s mom’s GPS to set our route.

We rolled out of town at 2 pm on a Friday, our drive plan was ambitious but Luke’s mom had gone to Costco for us and we were well stocked on snacks. I’d figured out how to route an Ipod through the cassette deck, but Luke’s only had the same 12 rap songs, mine was full of Simon and Garfunkel, and Jake had the same Green Day albums we’d listened to in junior high so we ended up just playing “Put the Lime in the Coconut” on repeat the entire trip. Our first stint was long, 14 hours from Moscow to Bryce Canyon. I drove the first two hours and then Luke took over and drove the rest, barely stopping for gas.

He had a family size pack of string cheese under the driver’s seat, and every few minutes would grunt “roll.” I’d hand him a roll from the back seat, he’d tear it open, stuff a string cheese inside, snarf it down in three bites and keep driving. Jake fell asleep and I drowsed. We got to Brice more than an hour ahead of schedule. The GPS was confused by Luke’s questionable driving, but we rolled into the silent park without paying under cover of darkness.

We had no idea what the point of this national park was, someone’s boss had said to stop here though. I hiked up and tried to shoot long exposure photos while the other guys slept in the car.

Finally the sun rose and we realized why this was a national park. We took off down the trail in sweatpants and cut-off jeans, wanting to see all the crazy rocks and ruining the pictures for everyone who stayed up on the overlook with their huge cameras.

An hour or two of national park gazing and we were back on the road, this time headed to the Grand Canyon.

Luke was asleep, Jake zoned out texting his lady before he finally drifted off, leaving just me with Jake’s mom’s GPS for company. We’d typed in “Grand Canyon” and neglected to bring a real map for backup, so I was a little confused when it directed me onto a side road. Each turn brought us to less and less developed roads.

The other guys woke up when we bumped onto grassy doubletrack filled with rocks and puddles. “Where ARE we?” “Dude, Cy, you suck at driving!”

“But guys, the map says we’re three miles away!”

The squiggly line did indeed end near our location, but the road was getting too overgrown to even call it a trail. A quick zoom out revealed that I’d been following the map blindly to the wrong side of the Grand Canyon. The line wiggled through the woods, and then out, across America’s famous ditch to the other side, the side tourists typically go to.

My protests were drowned out, I was not allowed to drive anymore, and we never did see the Grand Canyon. Instead we bailed to Las Vegas.

Evening #2 found me checking into a Las Vegas hotel and convincing the lady that it was ok to give us a room, even though none of us were 21. We collapsed for a nap. We’d left home 28 hours ago, we’d spent 20 of those driving, we’d seen one and a half national parks, and now we were in the City of Sin with no real plans and even less money.

The Strip overwhelmed the three Idaho boys with no desire to gamble, no means to drink, and no real context for anything. We wandered the streets, watched the fancy fountains splurt, and got lost in casinos lined with diamond lights. When we tried to take the bus home we missed our stop and ended up having to do the whole loop again. I fell asleep hating humanity.

VEGAS!!!!

VEGAS!!!!

The next morning we left early for Laguna Beach, blasting along the California coast with all the windows down. We’d spent a day there two years before and loved it, this time we were back with our own car. White Idaho bodies splashing in the sea, playing with the GoPro in the waves. We left before sunset, headed for the border.

We stopped at the last Walmart before Mexico. We had no real plan for the night so we went in and played with the fat bikes and hula hoops until a gentleman approached us asking what our plans were. We told him we were going to Ensenada. He solemnly told us that his cousin was the chief of police there and gave us his number. We didn’t know what to do, so we thanked him and retired back to the car. There was a movie theater in the parking lot, so we decided to pay for a few hours of sleep there. What I saw of the second 300 was terrible.

Back to the parking lot, three large men sleeping in one small Subaru. We woke up early and hit the road before the sun rose, cruising without stopping into Mexico. We realized we’d made it when our phones stopped working.

Pretty sure this was the border

Pretty sure this was the border

Jake chose this moment to tell us that he’d promised Morgan to check in every half hour when we were in Mexico so that she knew we hadn’t been kidnapped. That seemed excessive, and anyway, none of us had service, so she was going to have to just suck it up.

We blasted down winding roads, figured out what “Peligro” meant, what “Alto” meant, and that KMPH does not equal MPH. Finally we checked into the hotel in Ensenada.

Everything was cloudier and grimier than we’d imagined but we ran to the beach anyway, ignoring the trash, and the fact that we were the only people I saw get in the water all trip.

We spent two days not learning Spanish, wandering the market, fending off the Viagra salesmen, swimming in the ocean, and exploring. We got lost finding Arbolitos Coves and a kindly stranger took down his fence and told us to drive across his property to the too cold, too murky coves where we couldn’t muster the guts to snorkel.

Just above the Greatest Natural Bathroom Of All Time

Just above the Greatest Natural Bathroom Of All Time

Not a lot stands out from Ensenada: Luke’s revelation that all the street vendors were grabbing their ponchos from the same huge warehouse, the tour boat that visited briefly and then left, my first legal Tecate on the beach, really good fish tacos, accidentally using a ladies bathroom.

We left early, headed back for Laguna where we knew where we were allowed to park. Stopped too long at the border, dealing with beggars and vendors before we popped back to America and myriad of panicked texts from parents and girlfriends.

A day in Laguna, sun, sand and basketball, then up to Fresno. Drive through the night and crash at my grandparent’s with the rest of my family. Hug the siblings, shoot skeet with my grandfather, Jed caught a snake and found a puppy and Cotton got in a flexing contest with him

Then off to Yosemite.

Again, no plan, no map, we’re just here to see the park. Somehow we screwed up and missed the iconic valley view. Just like the Grand Canyon we never got to see Half Dome. Instead we ended up in an obscure parking lot with a sign that said there was a waterfall to see. Three miles in and we found a waterfall all right, but it was anticlimactic. Jake was ready to head back down, his sweatpants were sagging and his feet hurt. Luke and I wanted to see more so we goaded him up another four miles where we found a real waterfall fed by snow. I jumped in, Jake massaged his feet, and Luke played with my camera. I still have no idea where we were, but it was pretty neat.

Back to the car, driving out of the park at dusk. We had another night we could have spent somewhere in Nevada but Luke was ready to drive so we chased that yellow line. 16 hours straight home, disregarding speed limits, finally finishing the giant bag of string cheese.

We got back to the trailer around lunchtime on Wednesday. We’d been on the road for just over 5 days, and Roxanne’s odometer said we’d driven just under 3500 miles. We didn’t see quite as many national parks as we’d wanted to, but we ate fish tacos in Mexico, didn't get too lost or kidnapped in Las Vegas, and we got to jump in a couple of oceans.

I was just collapsing into bed when my phone buzzed. Did I want to go skiing tomorrow? Of course!