Holiday Rambling

After a few months in Asia I headed home to spend the holidays with family. My flights took me from Tokyo to Indianapolis via San Francisco and it just so happened that my brother was in the Bay Area for work. With a 12 hour layover I grabbed an Uber to Palo Alto to catch a few hours of sleep in his hotel and head out for some craft beers and dinner before my next leg home.

Clemens Brothers in Palo Alto.
Clemens Brothers In Palo Alto

Back in America an arctic blast winter storm was delaying most flights and crippling transportation. Luckily my flight landed in Indianapolis, but the bus I booked to my hometown was late due to the highway being closed. I wasn’t alone being stranded in the Indy airport, and it was a bit surreal to see the staff handing out hundreds of sleeping pads to people sprawled out all over the place. Fortunately, I’m pretty good at sleeping in airports and I made a productive time of it, catching up from my jet lag.

Sleeping in the Indianapolis Airport.
My Home Away From Home

When the shuttle finally arrived I hopped in and was dropped off at the truck stop near my hometown. Because of the delay I was missing my family’s Christmas celebration, but they sent my step-brother Ryan over to pick me up. Driving back to the farm in serious whiteout conditions was a wild experience. As soon as the view forward went blank Ryan would swerve to drive on the rumble strips but over and over we just had to stop and wait for the snow to clear to figure out which side of the road we were on.

Safe and sound at home on the farm I spent a week with family celebrating the holidays. Soon enough though I was ready to head west in search of warmer weather, but my first stop was to see my brother at his place in Golden, CO, which unfortunately also had snow.

Golden, Colorado.
Terk The Truck Camper In Golden, Colorado

Tyler and I celebrated New Years with friends and then decided that we were well overdue for an actual running race. We’d signed up for the Resolute Runner 5K on New Years Day in Arvada and that morning we bundled up and toed the line to slip and slide over snow and ice for 3.1 miles.

Resolute Runners.
Resolute Runners

As the New Year began, Tyler decided he wanted to work remote somewhere for a week each month, so we booked a house in Cedar Crest, New Mexico and talked Dad into driving out from Arizona to join us. We worked during the day, explored the area in the afternoons and evenings, hiked snow covered trails, bowled in Albuquerque, and checked out a few of the local breweries.

Clemens Clan in New Mexico.
Clemens Clan In New Mexico

When Dad and Tyler headed home I didn’t really have anywhere to go, so I pointed the truck south in search of warmer weather. I drove two lane roads through the mountains, past the Punkin’ Chuckin’ Field in Estancia, through Captain where Smokey The Bear lived, and down to Roswell, Artesia and Carlsbad. It felt good to be back on the road, working from coffee shops and sleeping in Walmart parking lots.

Camping in a Walmart Parking Lot.
Home Sweet Home

I’d always known about Carlsbad Caverns, but for some reason visiting was not high on my list. I camped near the National Park and had a ticket for the first group in the morning. While some guests waited in line at the elevator I hoofed it down the switchback trail to be one of the only people in the cave. I spent a few hours wandering around the labyrinth of paths past other-worldly features almost totally alone. As it turns out, Carlsbad Caverns is very much one of my favorite places!

Carlsbad Caverns.
Carlsbad Caverns

New Mexico was great, but still too cold. The temps weren’t looking much better in California so I turned east instead and headed back to another one of my favorite National Parks, Big Bend. I moved into a campsite in Rio Grande Village, spent a few days running and biking, and strung together a 14 mile hike up Emory Peak and around the Chisos Mountains.

Chisos Mountains.
High In The Chisos Mountains

My next scheduled stop would be in Arizona, so I turned back west, grabbed a cup of coffee in Terlingua, stopped by Prada of Marfa, and made my way to Las Cruces. From there I worked a few days and spent a day in White Sands National Park. I’d always wanted to go, kept putting it off, and now I can’t wait to go back.

White Sands National Park.
White Sands National Park

While at White Sands I got a message from a friend I knew from Born To Run. He happened to be camping in a site in Alamogordo, just half an hour from the park, so with my shoes full of gypsum crystals I spun into town, picked up some beers, moved into his campground, and we spent an evening talking about ultrarunning, traveling and vanlife.

Camping in Alamogordo.
Dirtbags In Alamogordo

Next I spun across Arizona. The temps in Tucson dropped below freezing so I set my sights on staying indoors. I visited my Dad and Kathy in Presoctt, and then my buddy Ryan was heading out to Havasu City to stay with our friends Rick and Denise. I trundled in, parked Terk the Truck Camper in their garage, and we spent the week boating, pub hopping, puffing away in the cigar bar, riding electric bikes around the neighborhood, and sitting around the hot tub watching the stars.

Havasu City Boat Crew.
Lake Havasu Boat Crew

Leaving Havasu I rambled down Route 66 and made a stop at Amboy Crater to do a quick trail run. This place had been on my list for awhile and it was awesome to set out and explore a few hours along the trails. There was only 1 other person in the crater that day, so it felt like I had the place to myself!

Amboy Crater, California.
Amboy Crater

My next stop was going to be cold, but fortunately I’d be crashing at my buddy’s house in Lake Arrowhead, California. Tracy and Tyler were already there when I rolled in for a week of work, snow shoveling, hot tub sitting, and hanging out before the Super Bowl. One evening we were downtown having a beer and the bartender told us that the spot next door had just tapped a Pliny the Younger from Russian River Brewing. This beer is seasonal and notoriously hard to find, so Tyler ran over a put our names on the wait list. Less than an hour later we were seated and enjoying the super smooth triple IPA. The next morning was a little rough, but it was well worth it!

Pliny the Younger in Lake Arrowhead.
Pliny Time

After the Super Bowl I cruised over to Santa Barbara. I had a few work trips scheduled and after a month in snowy mountains I was ready for some sunshine and beach vibes in Southern California. Stopping by Shoreline Park and taking in the view over Leadbetter Beach I couldn’t help feeling like I was coming back home.

Leadbetter Beach.
Leadbetter Beach, Santa Barbara

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