The Road To British Columbia
"You realize you can't always grasp so tightly to your plans – whether on vacation or in the office." - Laura, Marketing
Six months ago I spotted a van for sale in a small mountain town in Colorado. An '82 Westfalia Vanagon. I laughed it off as a dream, until four months later when I returned to the town and it was parked in the same spot with the same "for sale" sign in the window. My boyfriend and I knew we couldn't ignore it this time around – and well, sometimes the most irrational decisions in life suddenly seem the most rational. This was one of those decisions. And the timing? Couldn't have been better, we both had 10 days off from work right around the corner. With keys in hand and the calendar in our favor, we set our sights on getting to Vancouver, BC (not realizing this was a lofty goal for a van like ours).
Driving a 33-year old vehicle with less than 100 horsepower reveals a new side of patience (fact: the van broke down within 24 hours of buying it). You realize you can't always grasp so tightly to your plans, whether on vacation or in the office. Driving a more reliable car, we might have made it to Mount Rainier National Forest by nightfall. But then we wouldn't have woken up to this quiet pocket of Idaho with waterfalls-a-plenty — a prized place we probably would have passed by.
As we began to embrace the home-is-where-you-park-it mentality, we were reminded of how travel always teaches. My spirit swells at the thought of waking up somewhere undiscovered. I welcome the small pauses in perspective that the road provides — there is much to learn in miles.
If your imagination tends to run wild on road trips, stepping into our old van will take it one step further. We had no AC, no power steering, a stereo that played only on low from the back speakers. Combine that with no cell service and you learn to do the best with what you have. Put simply, there was no way to entertain ourselves with today's typical distractions. Instead, we made room for meaningful conversation, putting pen to paper, cracking open a good book, and looking inward to reflections that had long gone undiscovered. Now, I find myself back at my desk reminded that pause is important — there is a time for everything. — Laura Schmalstieg
The Road to India
"It's a rejuvenating feeling to step back from daily life – a place and time that seems to never slow down – and even for a moment be conscious of the time I am given and the places I have gone." — Chelsea, Community Team
I travel to learn. I love to read, but for me, lessons stick best when I can see it for myself. The 28 hours spent getting to India – a plane-to-train-to-rickshaw experience – was easy knowing that my best friend Taylor was waiting for me on the other side in a place she now called home. I'm a strong believer that you get more out of traveling when you share it with someone else and this trip was one of the greatest examples of that. My most treasured memories of this trip were the days we just lived her everyday life. Getting to eat breakfast from her favorite omelette vendor, meeting her co-workers, sweating through the merciless heat of summer, spending an afternoon sipping tea with her neighbors. It was incredible because after weeks of talking with her from afar, I was finally able to connect the dots of places I'd built up in my imagination.
Before I left for my trip, someone gave me the best piece of advice: enjoy each day for what it brings. How easily we forget this – at home and on the road. It's much easier to look forward than to look inward. It's much easier to see the grandeur in the next adventure than to see the beauty below your feet, especially when the place you stand seems entirely far away. Traveling India took me far beyond my comfort zone and absolutely out of my element. But that unfamiliar feeling begged from me to be-all-in. How quickly I was able to forget about deadlines, about my everyday woes and about the constant worry of "what's next."
It's a rejuvenating feeling to step back from daily life – a place and time that seems to never slow down – and even for a moment be conscious of the time I'm given and the places I have gone. — Chelsea Ruff
The Road to Oregon
"Every time you go somewhere you see something new, you learn a little more about who you are, and – perhaps more importantly – who you aren't." — Jenna, Co-Founder & CEO
I felt fully present the moment we drove out of cell service. It was the first time I had completely disconnected since we started Artifact Uprising almost three years earlier. We took the coast from Oakland, California all the way up to the San Juan islands in Washington – and it was amazing. I fell in love with the West coast in an entirely new way. With our two little girls in tow this time, my husband and I adventured like we were 22 again. It's funny how getting away can get you back to where you started.
The best decision we made on this trip was an impromptu one – to trade in all of our hotel reservations for a tent from Target. We put together a piecemeal camping kit in the aisles of the store and decided to rough it the rest of the way. For us, the simple things became the greatest things: our dirty rental car with a backseat of beach sand, the sharing of french fries across the car console, our little girls talking nonstop from the back seat asking "How much more minutes until we get there?" We never knew exactly where our next stop would be and that made all the difference. It turns out, the best stop was the stopping of our minds from racing per usual. There is a sort of magic that begins somewhere on the edge of boredom and peace - a beauty that comes in slowing your thoughts.
In the end, this is what I know: every time you go somewhere you see something new, you learn a little more about who you are and – perhaps more importantly – who you aren't. I have a great desire for my girls to learn these lessons too. I want them to grow up embracing play and spontaneity. I want them to see their parents rest and be present. And well, I want them to see that the best views in life are entirely free and entirely for the taking. — Jenna Walker
The Road to Ethiopia
"I live for this stuff. I live for the people who stop you in your tracks with their joy. I live for the kind of global exchanges that remind you - we are all in this together." — Katie, Co-Founder & CCO
With serendipity on my side, I stumbled upon an ad for a trip to Ethiopia with the non-profit Imagine1day. The ask? Join 10 others in raising enough money to build a school in Ethiopia. Typically one overrun by guilt when examining the idea of two weeks off, I let my heart trump the to-do list and hopped on that plane. In return, the world served up the life-changing trip it somehow knew I needed.
Those 14 days in Africa – and the months leading up to them – changed my life, my sense of gratitude and my world-view. I found friends, hundreds of them, along dusty paths. I drank coffee – cups upon cups – with a family that found us passing by. I learned just how good it feels to sing "Day-O" under a full moon into the wee night hours. I saw the bounty of country's crop in chaotic but communal markets. I met children filled with an incredible capacity for joy and dogged determination to make their country proud. But mostly, I learned the limitless potential in each of us to find gratitude wherever we stand.
I live for this stuff. I live for the people who stop you in your tracks with their joy. I live for the kind of global exchanges that remind you "we are all in this together." And that we must be – all together.
I beg you to find a napkin today. And fill it – front and back – with all of the things that are your making. Fill it with the trip you're putting off until the "timing is right." Fill it with ideas on that new venture you're afraid to take a risk on. Fill it with all the adjectives of the person you are and the person you hope to become. Fill it with great joy and you just may find – you've found your fuel.
I found just that in the faces of a country's people and in the spirit of the organization that brought me there. And those people taught me this: Find spaces that widen your world. Let your success be the symptom of a life well-lived. — Katie Thurmes
This weekend - and always - we tip our hats to all hands hard at work and the grind that pushes us daily to do better, make better, and be better. We remember and admit that a fire doesn't start itself, and in order to run forward we must take time to walk out, breath deep, have courage and take care. We will celebrate where we are because we are able, but we will never forget what it's like to go.