© 2019 by SAMUEL CARL 

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March 9, 2018

  Yosemite had been a goal of our road trip since its very conception. Though I would be lying through my teeth if I said that as a climber, I wasn’t a little bit intimidated about visiting this holy land. I never considered myself to be a “good” climber, and I certainly never touched anything that comes close to the immensity of Yosemite’s walls. John Muir described this valley as “the grandest of all the special temples of Nature [he] was ever permitted to enter,” and I cannot think of a better word to describe it than as a temple. Not only for the unimaginable scale, but for the primal sense of reverence that comes over you when you see it for the firs...

November 16, 2017

The iconic Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range. A quintessential high alpine, backwoods version of Yosemite. Pingora Tower sits proudly front and center in this photo, its Northeast Face rises 1,200 feet and is one of the 50 Classic Climbs of fame. Someday I’ll return for it… 

Our first stop in Wyoming was the quaint climbers town of Lander. You might know this town for the International Climber's Festival held every July. This was my only previous knowledge of the town, even though I had never actually been there. Nonetheless I knew there must be a lot of climbing in the vicinity, so we set our course. 

Lander is the most van life-friendly to...

September 6, 2017

In some places it's very difficult to take a bad photo. Great Sand Dunes NP is one of those places.  

After the San Jauns, we had plans to meet up with Kelly, a friend from back home, and do some climbing over in the Front Range. She decided to drive from Phoenix to Durango straight through, for an eight hour drive. We met her late at night in the parking lot of the Durango City Market, and headed up into the hills for some shut-eye. Thinking she was done with driving and ready to adventure in the mountains, we spent the next day driving another 6 hours to Great Sand Dunes National Park, where we did not climb a single rock or mountain. We did, howeve...

August 1, 2017

Mikhaila and I bathing in a tub of irrigation water after a day working on our friends' farm outside of Flagstaff, AZ. There were only a few dead moths floating in the water. 

On June 30th our lease expired at 12:00 noon. Months of work and planning had finally culminated to this point in time, and we were on the road before 10:00. As novice van dwellers, we had decided to spend the first week or so of our new life somewhere close to our base, just in case. We drove two hours north out of Phoenix to Flagstaff, a town with a special place in our hearts that we were familiar with, where we had a network of friends, and where the temperature wasn't in the tri...

June 30, 2017

For some reason I didn't think to snap a photo when it was completely gutted, so this is the closest thing. The sub floor, bed frame and insulation around the wheel wells are the only things installed at this point. All the dangling wires are from the original van conversion.

This is the fun part. Now that we have a solid platform to work in, it's time to start making the dream a reality. The first thing we designed and built was the bed frame. In the front half there are openings for two drawers, and a little compartment for a safe and a battery on the driver's side of the van that will eventually be concealed under the bed and behind the closet. The back...

April 22, 2017

Apparently 20 years is about the life span of a spring leaf pack on a 3/4 ton truck, because the amount of sag on our rear axle was not normal. We determined to replace them along with the rear shock absorbers in hopes of getting a better ride in the van (hehe). My buddy Mike offered his assistance and assured me that with two people working the job would be done in a weekend. Silly Mike, the Big Mountain Jalopy is actually a sentient being, and it would no sooner let go of any part of itself than you or I would let someone remove our own arm...

It started out fine. Mike and I began by removing the old shock absorbers. They came out without issue...

March 23, 2017

Mikhaila and I looking out over Lake Tahoe after buying the BMJ only hours prior from a rock climber in Reno. I swear we aren't that fat, the back end just sags like that on its own!

Back in July of last year during a backpacking trip to Rae Lakes in the Eastern Sierras, Mikhaila and I began to realize that we weren't doing as much travelling or spending as much time outdoors as we needed. Looking back I had no excuse to feel this way because I had just gotten back a month prior from a long trip to the German Alps and then on to Denmark. The feeling was probably induced by the solace of hiking through pristine valleys and over majestic mountain passes, swi...

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