I wanted to spend our summer vacation driving our VWs up the California coast, on a mammoth 3500-mile road trip over two weeks. However, when a landslide happened near Big Sur, I knew it was probably best to move this road trip from my yearly goals to my bucket list. Instead, we opted to drive to Montana and spend a couple of weeks vacationing in my childhood playground.
Our journey began with a bit of work involved. Trish's company was sponsoring a family movie night event in Sandy, Utah. We found out that my company was sponsoring as well, so we decided to take the scenic route to Montana. We left Denver at 9 pm on Thursday, June 29, and arrived in Grand Junction, CO at 2 am. Trish needed to be in Sandy for a lunch meeting, so we woke up promptly at 6 am and got back on the road.
The event in Sandy was super-fun. We enjoyed talking to customers, handing out swag, and watching the Despicable Me 3 premiere with everyone.
We high-tailed it to Montana after that, spending two days driving along scenic I-15 through Utah, Idaho, and Montana. We arrived at the Raible Homestead on Sunday afternoon.
The next two weeks were spent rafting, hiking, hanging out with friends, driving a lot, and relaxing with good books. Rafting the Middle Fork of the Flathead was a highlight for me, especially watching Abbie do all the rapids by herself in a duckie.
We also hiked up to Lower Rumble Lake. The trail goes straight up the mountain, with no switchbacks. It can be a grueling hike. My Mom, Abbie, Jack, our two border collies (Sagan and Jake), and I made up the trail crew. About halfway up, I thought, "this isn't as hard as I remember." By the time we got to the top (90 minutes later), it was just as challenging as I remembered. It was probably 30 years since I was last at Rumble Lake; it's still as majestic as ever.
Our final event in Montana was the Bob Marshall Music Festival. We attended the first annual event last year and had a great time. This year was even better, especially since we had one of the bands camped right next to us. Trish and I loved the late night campfire sessions listening to the local pickers.
Trish and the kids flew back to avoid the long drive home. I took the slow, scenic route home with Stout the Syncro, living the #vanlife for a couple days. Waking up with a view of the Tetons was awe-inspiring, as was the view driving through the Flaming Gorge Recreation area. I used an AT&T Unite Explore MiFi device for connectivity, or worked at coffee shops along the way.
I arrived home around midnight on Wednesday, July 19. Total miles: 3450. Issues with Stout the Syncro: none.
Epilogue: On my journey home, I wrote and polished presentations for ÜberConf. I delivered those presentations that Friday and uploaded them to Speaker Deck. You can view them using the following links:
Two weeks later, and I'm writing this from the back of our van on another Raible Road Trip. This time, we're heading to central Idaho for a week-long rafting trip with family and friends. Another couple thousand miles, many more unforgettable memories. There's something special about traveling the country in a VW Van.